Any flight can certainly feel like the longest flight of your life. If you have a kid sitting behind you kicking your seat, a crying baby sitting next to you, dramatic turbulence, angry passengers, an irritating seatmate, or runway delays, you might feel like you’ll never get off the plane. But even though some flights feel like the longest possible flight, others actually are. Read on to learn about the seven longest flights by air miles so that next time you’re on a flight, you’ll know if that flight is actually one of the longest flights or if it just feels that way.
The longest flights use a great circle route, or a route that arcs between the departure city and the destination city. Because of the curvature of the earth, if a plane flew a straight line between two points, it would actually end up being longer than a curved route. The longest great circle routes curve into the polar regions on the most extreme northern and southern parts of the earth. The number of air miles between two points does not always correspond to the length of time it will take to complete the route. Jet streams; tailwinds, headwinds, and crosswinds; and weather conditions can either add time to the flight or take time away from it. Air traffic control can also add time to a flight if a controller asks a pilot to circle an airport before landing or asks the pilot to change his or her route mid-flight.
The longest flights are those between Singapore and cities in the United States. The flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Singapore is 9,535 miles and the flight from Los Angeles, California, to Singapore is 8,770 miles. Flights from Dallas to Australian cities are also very long. The flight from Sydney to Dallas, Texas, is 8,578 miles and the flight from Dallas, Texas, to Brisbane is 8,303. Flights between Johannesburg, located in South Africa, and Atlanta, Georgia, also tops the list. Planes fly 8,439 miles between these cities. The last two flights in the top seven longest originate in Dubai, which is in the United Arab Emirates. The flight from Dubai to Los Angeles, California, is 8,339 miles long, and the flight from Dubai to Houston, Texas, is 8,168 miles long. People can certainly take trips with more miles than those listed here, but those flights are not non-stop flights. In order for a plane to fly a greater distance, it will have to stop and refuel.
It is interesting that there are no European cities in the top seven longest flights by air miles. Although flights to Europe are popular, none of the flights between a European city and cities in the Americas, Asia, or Australia are longer than the seven listed above.
Theoretically, it would be possible to take a flight longer than the seven listed above. If flights between the United Kingdom and Australia were non-stop, they would top the list. The longest possible flight would be from one point on the globe to its exact opposite on the other side of the globe. These opposing points are called antipodes. There is only one type of plane in existence that can fly non-stop between antipodes, but if it has the added weight of passengers and cargo, it is unable to fly that route. When a plan has extra weight on it, it requires more fuel. Planes flying between antipodes that are carrying passengers and cargo would require more fuel than the plane could hold, which would force it to stop mid-way through the flight to refuel.