World’s Longest Non-Stop Passenger Flights

July 6, 2010, By Alex Ion

Flying is nice; you get from place A to place B, which sometimes happen to be on different continents, in a matter of hours, but what happens when the flight is taking longer than that — well if you’re a traveler in the U.S. looking to visit Asia or the Middle East for business or pleasure, you’ll have to get used to these ultra long-haul non-stop flights.

The sun sets, as seen from a plane

Image by mbshane

The good news is that prices come cheap, while luxury reigns supreme. Airlines figure that if you’re flying from the U.S. to Asia, you must be a) a high-powered executive type who can’t afford to go eighteen hours without cell service or wifi, b) used to the extra, luxurious touch and c) rich enough to hire a lawyer if anything goes wrong. So they make it cheap (comparatively) to appease the already well-off. Very strange how that happens.

Several cheap flights to Dubai, out of Emirates Airline from various locations in the U.S including Los Angeles (flight EK 215, ETA 16.5 hours), Houston (flight EK 211, ETA 16 hours), and San Francisco (flight EK 225, ETA 16 hours) crowd the title for the World’s Longest Non-stop Passenger Flight.

Boeing 777-200LR (Emirates)
Image by ati977

The longest, however, if not the cheapest flight, happens to be between Newark and Singapore (Singapore Airlines Flight 21 ETA 18.5 hours). This flight takes you from New Jersey up through Canada and over the North Pole, through Russia, Mongolia and China — guaranteed to be a lovely ride.

Singapore Airlines Flight 21 (Airbus A340-500)
Image by muhectorprasetyo

Seating on the legendary Flight 21 consists of 100 business class lounge-esque chairs, each 30 inches wide. They serve gin cocktails and salmon florentine. You can watch over 400 movies, play over sixty computer games, listen to every song ever made, and chat up your well-heeled neighbors.

Singapore Airlines Flight 21 (Seat features)

Singapore Airlines Flight 21 (Fun Features)
(Images by juandazeng / 1 + 2)

It travels along what is known as a “Great Circle” in order, among other reasons, to avoid the difficulties that come with “chasing the sunset” across the time zones. Instead, when you look out the window as the plane is on top of the world, you can really get a sense for the spatial, three-dimensional position of the sun as the earth revolves around it. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a definite mind-trip.

If you’re looking for sun, summer surf, and airplane luxury, try out the trip from L.A. to Melbourne, on legendarily laid-back Qantas (Flight QF 094). They’ve won awards for their wine. Numerous awards. The flight takes 15.5 hours, but they’re guaranteed to be some of the most easygoing, relaxed hours you’ve spent on a plane.

Airbus A380 take off (Qantas)

Airbus A380 (Qantas)
(Images by joits / 1 + 2)

One of the few airlines to offer in-flight Internet connectivity, Qantas has already convinced me to look up prices. Internet only consists of cached pages, but still, that’s better than we’re used to. Mobile phone service? You can text on Qantas, but not make voice calls. So all your friends can receive texts like, “on the plane” “still on the plane” “omg im still on the plane this ride is lonngggg.”

Other routes in the running for the World’s Longest Non-Stop Passenger Flight include Delta Flight 201 from Atlanta to Johannesberg, South Africa. If you take that flight in about a week, you might be able to meet some World Cup fans. Hopefully they don’t bring their vuvuzelas.

Boeing 777-200LR (Delta Airways)
Image by smartjunco

The Middle Eastern cities of Dubai, Doha, and Abu Dhabi are also popular destinations for long non-stop flights. As centers of modern business and architectural gems, these cities enjoy patronage from Atlanta (Delta Flight DL 7 to Dubai, ETA 15.75 hours), Sydney (Etihad Flight EY 451 to Abu Dhabi, ETA 15 hours), and Houston (Qatar Airways Flight QR 77 to Doha, ETA 15.5 hours) among others.

Generally, non-stop passenger flights will last fifteen to eighteen hours. However, most of these planes are decked out with entertainment luxuries, so you shouldn’t have to worry about getting bored.

The atmosphere is generally jovial, simply because it’s such a strange thing to travel around the world in less than a day. I don’t think our caveman minds have quite caught up to what a remarkable achievement it is. So people are kind of out of it on long-distance airplane rides, which can make for some interesting conversations.

And isn’t travel all about the people you meet, the experiences you have?

Have you ever been on any of these flights? What’s it like folks?

Note: Below are the top 15 non-stop passenger flights by distance (via Wiki)

No. From To Airline Flight
Distance km (mi) Scheduled
1 Newark Singapore Singapore Airlines SQ 21 15,345 (9,535) 18hr 50min/18hr 40min
2 Los Angeles Singapore Singapore Airlines SQ 37 14,114 (8,770) 17hr 20min/18hr 05min
3 Johannesburg Atlanta Delta Air Lines DL 201 13,582 (8,439) 16hr 40min
4 Dubai Los Angeles Emirates EK 215 13,420 (8,339) 16hr 35min
5 Los Angeles Bangkok Thai Airways International TG 795 13,309 (8,270) 17hr 30min
6 Dubai Houston Emirates EK 211 13,144 (8,168) 16hr 20min
7 Dubai San Francisco Emirates EK 225 13,041 (8,103) 16hr 00min
8 New York Hong Kong Cathay Pacific CX 831
CX 841
12,990 (8,072) 16hr 00min
9 Newark Hong Kong Continental Airlines CO 99 12,980 (8,065) 15hr 50min
10 Doha Houston Qatar Airways QR 77 12,951 (8,047) 16hr 20min
11 New York Johannesburg South African Airways SA 204 12,845 (7,982) 15hr 10min
12 Los Angeles Melbourne Qantas QF 094 12,748 (7,921) 15hr 25min
12 Los Angeles Melbourne V Australia VA 12 12,748 (7,921) 15hr 45min
14 Detroit Hong Kong Delta Air Lines DL 27 12,645 (7,857) 15hr 45min
15 Toronto Hong Kong Cathay Pacific CX 827
CX 829
12,569 (7,810) 15hr 25min
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