There's a "New" Number One in the Top 10 Longest Flights in the World

We have a new, yet familiar titleholder claiming the world’s longest nonstop flight. After abdicating the throne for the last five years, Singapore Airlines re-launched its Singapore (SIN) to Newark (EWR) nonstop with a brand new A350-900ULR (ultra long range) Airbus. The new Airbus range allows Singapore to resume the 9,534-mile and roughly 18 hours and 30 minutes (westward) epic long haul on October 11, 2018. Covering just a tad over 38% of the world's circumference, it’s the closest you’ll get to literally flying halfway around the world.

While the idea of sitting on an airplane for over 18 hours seems like a nightmare to many travelers, the steady launches of these marathon routes prove there is a growing market for them, with this year, in particular, providing quite a shake-up to the list of ultra-long-range routes.

2018 Was One of the Busiest Years in the Ultra-Long-Range Route Market

United kicked things off in January when the carrier flew its inaugural Houston (IAH) to Sydney (SYD) flight. This will soon be the longest route offered by a U.S.-based airline, after United nixes its Los Angeles (LAX) to Singapore (SIN) nonstop flight in favor of adding a second daily flight on the route via San Francisco (SFO). In March, Qantas launched its nonstop service from Perth (PER) to London (LHR), the first ever nonstop commercial flight linking the U.K. and Australia, at a whopping 9,010 miles.

Things quieted down over the summer, while Singapore Airlines eagerly awaited the delivery of its A350-900 ULR aircraft, ushering in “a new chapter in nonstop air travel” according to Tom Enders, the CEO of Airbus. The first was received last month, permitting the airline to reclaim the top spot for the world’s longest flight on the scheduled Singapore (SIN) to Newark (EWR) service. Subsequent deliveries of the A350 to Singapore will serve two other destinations on the top 10 longest list­— Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO). Singapore Airlines will claim the fifth spot on the longest list after United drops its LAX to SIN route as of October 27, 2018.

This October continues to be a busy month, as Philippine Airlines will also use an A350-900 variant to break into the top 10 with its nonstop service from Manila (MNL) to New York (JFK). Once this route takes flight on October 29, the top 10 list should be solidified for quite a while as no other airport pairs are scheduled to bump the following from the top spots.

(Delta has announced plans to offer a nonstop flight from the U.S. to Mumbai (BOM), but the origin airport and start date have yet to be revealed. If departing from Atlanta (ATL) the 8,510-mile flight would register at ninth). 

Longest Commercial Airline Routes By Distance

Since no flight paths are precisely the same, factors such as favorable winds, severe weather, and circumventing no-fly zones can all add to the final flight distance. Therefore, calculating exact flight distances can be tricky. To avoid confusion over which flight is the longest, the most common way to calculate the flight distance is to use the Great Circle Mapper. Generating the distance between the departure and arrival airports down to the mile, the Great Circle Mapper is widely regarded as the best tool for calculating nonstop flight lengths. By the end of October 2018, the list of the world’s longest nonstop commercial flights by distance will read as follows:

1. Newark to Singapore – Singapore Airlines 21

Distance: 9,534 mi / 15,343 km

Scheduled Flight Time: 18h 30m

Aircraft: Airbus A350-900ULR

Inaugural Flight: October 11, 2018

See our fare deals to Newark (EWR) and Singapore (SIN) from all over the US and Canada.

2. Auckland to Doha – Qatar 921

Distance: 9,032 mi / 14,535 km

Scheduled Flight Time: 17h 40m

Aircraft: Boeing 777-200 LR (soon to be an Airbus A350)

Inaugural Flight: February 5, 2017

See our fare deals to Auckland (AKL) and Doha (DOH) from all over the US and Canada. 

3. Perth to London – Qantas 9

Distance: 9,010 mi / 14,500 km

Scheduled Flight Time: 17h 20m

Aircraft: Boeing 787

Inaugural Flight: March 24, 2018

See our fare deals to Perth (PER) and London (LHR) from all over the US and Canada.

4. Auckland to Dubai – Emirates 449

Distance: 8,824 mi / 14,201 km

Scheduled Flight Time: 17h 05m

Aircraft: Airbus A380-800

Inaugural Flight: March 2, 2016

See our fare deals to Auckland (AKL) and Dubai (DXB) from all over the US and Canada. 

5. Los Angeles to Singapore – Singapore Airlines 35 & 37

Distance: 8,770 mi / 14,114 km

Scheduled Flight Time: 17h 55m

Aircraft: Airbus A350-900ULR

Inaugural Flight: November 2, 2018 (Singapore 37 to start December 7, 2018)

See our fare deals to Los Angeles (LAX) and Singapore (SIN) from all over the US and Canada.

6. Houston-IAH to Sydney – United 101

Distance: 8,596 mi / 13,834 km

Scheduled Flight Time: 17h 30m

Aircraft: Boeing 787

Inaugural Flight: January 18, 2018

See our fare deals to Houston (IAH) and Sydney (SYD) from all over the US and Canada.

7. Dallas-DFW to Sydney – Qantas 8

Distance: 8,578 mi / 13,805 km

Scheduled Flight Time: 17h 15m

Aircraft: Airbus A380-800

Inaugural Flight: September 29, 2014

See our fare deals to Dallas (DFW) and Sydney (SYD) from all over the US and Canada.

8. New York-JFK to Manila – Philippine Airlines 126

Distance: 8,520 mi / 13,712 km

Scheduled Flight Time: 16h 30m

Aircraft: Airbus A350-900

Inaugural Flight: October 29, 2018 

See our fare deals to New York (JFK) and Manila (MNL) from all over the US and Canada.

9. San Francisco to Singapore – United 1 & 29 / Singapore 31 & 33

Distance: 8,447 mi / 13,593 km

Scheduled Flight Time: 17h 20m

Aircraft:  United: Boeing 787 / Singapore: Airbus A350

Inaugural Flights: United:  June 1, 2016 / Singapore: October 23, 2016

See our fare deals to San Francisco (SFO) and Singapore (SIN) from all over the US and Canada.

10. Johannesburg to Atlanta – Delta 201

Distance: 8, 439 mi / 13, 582 km

Scheduled Flight Time: 16h 30m

Aircraft: Boeing 777-200 LR

Inaugural Flight: June 1, 2009

See our fare deals to Johannesburg (JNB) and Atlanta (ATL) from all over the US and Canada.

The Future of Marathon Nonstop Flights

As you can see, the increased range of the new fuel-efficient aircraft like the A350 and 787 have opened up more opportunities for carriers to add these ultra-long-haul flights to their route maps. With the exception of the Johannesburg (JNB) to Atlanta (ATL) route all the current top 10 longest flights have been launched within the last four years, and five out the ten took to the sky just this year.

Will we see the first 10,000+ mile commercial flight in the near future? Most likely, if Qantas gets its way with the holy grail of ultra-long-haul routes, Sydney (SYD) to London (LHR). The Australian-flag carrier has issued a challenge to manufacturers Airbus and Boeing to build a viable option for the route by 2022, and they'd promise to order the aircraft that can serve this once unthinkable nonstop option. If successful and economically sound, these new state of the art planes could connect any two major airports on earth with one single boarding pass.

Header image by Brian A Jackson via shutterstock.com

Map images via Great Circle Mapper

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