Recently, we have been seeing an increase in the number of ultra long haul flights introduced by airlines. The reason for this trend is twofold. Firstly, new aircraft technology means that planes like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 can operate ultra long haul flights in a profitable manner, due to their fuel efficiency. Secondly, there is also a strong demand worldwide for direct flights between key business hubs. Some of the longest flights in the world haven’t changed but the recent rise in such flights has meant some new (and extremely long) flights have been added to the list. Here are the 10 longest flights in the world in 2019 and flights on the horizon that could soon enter the top 10 list.
The top 10 longest flights
- Newark to Singapore, Singapore Airlines (9,534 miles, 18h 45m)
- Auckland to Doha, Qatar Airways (9,032 miles, 17h 50m)
- Perth to London Heathrow, Qantas (9,009 miles, 17h 20m)
- Auckland to Dubai, Emirates (8,823 miles, 17h 5m)
- Los Angeles to Singapore, Singapore Airlines (8,769 miles, 17h)
- Houston to Sydney, United Airlines (8,596 miles, 17h 15m)
- Dallas Fort Worth to Sydney, Qantas (8,557 miles, 17h)
- New York JFK to Manila, Philippine Airlines (8,520 miles, 16h 45m)
- San Francisco to Singapore, Singapore Airlines & United Airlines (8,446 miles, 16h 35m)
- Johannesburg to Atlanta, Delta Airlines (8,439 miles, 16h 25m)
What’s on the horizon in terms of ultra long haul flights?
Ultra long haul flights aren’t always workable, so sometimes they have to be taken out of operation. For example, the world’s longest flight, the Newark to Singapore route, was actually running between 2004 and 2013 but was eventually cancelled due to complaints of the flight being too expensive as a result of fuel costs. Singapore Airlines got around the issue by removing all economy seats, so what you have now is an A350-900ULR with 67 business seats and 94 premium-economy seats.
One flight could, however, knock the Newark-Singapore route out of its number one position. Qantas is planning to launch a direct flight from London to Sydney by 2022. This would be a 10,573-mile journey, taking 19 hours to complete. The airline is also planning to add other direct flights from Sydney to far-flung destinations, including Cape Town, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, and New York.
On 20 April, 2020, Qantas will begin flying nonstop between Chicago and Brisbane, covering a distance of 8,916 miles, which will make it the world’s fourth longest flight, knocking the Auckland to Dubai flight out of its place. This will also mean that both Qantas and Singapore Airlines will each hold three of the spots in the top 10 list.
The rise of ultra long haul flights will certainly appeal to many travellers who would like to travel to the other side of the world but who don’t want to significantly extend their transit time with non-direct flights. However, it can also be hard to imagine doing a 19-hour flight non-stop, let alone doing it in an economy seat, where it can be difficult to stretch or sleep properly. Yet despite ultra long haul flights being associated with disrupted sleep, jet lag, and other health issues, it seems the demand for them is strong. And until plane technology becomes more advanced, certain routes are simply going to take a very long time to traverse. Some people can tolerate such journeys, whereas others would rather split up the journey and look after their health and sanity.