Aircraft manufacturers Boeing and rival Airbus have been working hard on extending flight ranges in their 777/787 and A350/A380 programs since their introduction into service. In combination with lower fuel prices, airlines have been taken risks in flying longer routes non-stop shattering distance current operating records in the process. Experience The Skies have been following the trends since day one and have published two editions of non-stop flight titleholders thus far (2014 Edition), (2016 Edition). This third edition is expanded with more insights.
Longest Non-Stop Flight (June 2017)
The following is the top 20 longest non-stop flights in operation as of June 2017 in table and map formats:
|Aircraft type||First flight date|
|1||Auckland (AKL)||Doha (DOH)||Qatar Airways||QR 921||14,524 km (9,025 mi; 7,842 nmi)||17:30 – 17:40||Boeing 777-200LR||6 February 2017|
|2||Auckland (AKL)||Dubai (DXB)||Emirates||EK 449||14,191 km (8,818 mi; 7,663 nmi)||17:05 – 17:25||Airbus A380-800||2 March 2016|
|3||Dallas (DFW)||Sydney (SYD)||Qantas||QF 8||13,799 km (8,574 mi; 7,451 nmi)||16:50 – 17:10||Airbus A380-800||29 September 2014|
|4||Johannesburg (JNB)||Atlanta (ATL)||Delta Air Lines||DL 201||13,573 km (8,434 mi; 7,329 nmi)||16:03 – 16:55||Boeing 777-200LR||1 June 2009|
|5||San Francisco (SFO)||Singapore (SIN)||Singapore Airlines||SQ 31||13,572 km (8,433 mi; 7,328 nmi)||16:30 – 17:15||Airbus A350-900||23 October 2016|
|5||United Airlines||UA 1||16:25 – 17:25||Boeing 787-9||1 June 2016|
|7||Abu Dhabi||Los Angeles (LAX)||Etihad Airways||EY 171||13,473 km (8,372 mi; 7,275 nmi)||16:35 – 16:45||Boeing 777-200LR||1 June 2014|
|8||Dubai (DXB)||Los Angeles (LAX)||Emirates||EK 215||13,391 km (8,321 mi; 7,231 nmi)||16:00 – 16:20||Airbus A380-800||26 October 2008|
|9||Jeddah (JED)||Los Angeles (LAX)||Saudia||SV 41||13,381 km (8,315 mi; 7,225 nmi)||16:10 – 16:40||Boeing 777-300ER||31 March 2014|
|10||Doha (DOH)||Los Angeles (LAX)||Qatar Airways||QR 739||13,338 km (8,288 mi; 7,202 nmi)||16:00 – 16:15||Boeing 777-200LR||1 January 2016|
|11||Dubai (DXB)||Houston (IAH)||Emirates||EK 211||13,115 km (8,149 mi; 7,082 nmi)||16:15 – 16:45||Boeing 777-300ER||3 December 2007|
|12||Abu Dhabi (AUH)||San Francisco (SFO)||Etihad Airways||EY 183||13,098 km (8,139 mi; 7,072 nmi)||16:10 – 16:15||Boeing 777-200LR||27 April 2016|
|13||Dubai (DXB)||San Francisco (SFO)||Emirates||EK 225||13,012 km (8,085 mi; 7,026 nmi)||15:50 – 16:15||Airbus A380-800||15 December 2008|
|14||New York (JFK)||Hong Kong (HKG)||Cathay Pacific Airways||CX 831
|12,962 km (8,054 mi; 6,999 nmi)||15:40 – 16:10||Boeing 777-300ER||1 July 2004|
|15||Abu Dhabi (AUH)||Dallas (DFW)||Etihad Airways||EY 161||12,960 km (8,053 mi; 6,998 nmi)||16:05 – 16:35||Boeing 777-200LR||3 December 2014|
|16||Newark (EWR)||Hong Kong (HKG)||Cathay Pacific Airways||CX 899||12,951 km (8,047 mi; 6,993 nmi)||15:45 – 15:50||Boeing 777-300ER||1 March 2014|
|16||United Airlines||UA 179||15:55 – 16:00||Boeing 777-200ER||1 March 2001|
|18||Dallas (DFW)||Hong Kong (HKG)||American Airlines||AA 125||12,945 km (8,044 mi; 6,990 nmi)||16:20 – 17:05||Boeing 777-300ER||11 June 2014|
|19||Doha (DOH)||Houston (IAH)||Qatar Airways||QR 713||12,923 km (8,030 mi; 6,978 nmi)||15:50 – 16:40||Boeing 777-200LR||31 March 2009|
|20||Dubai (DXB)||Dallas (DFW)||Emirates||EK 221||12,911 km (8,023 mi; 6,971 nmi)||16:00 – 16:15||Boeing 777-300ER||2 February 2012|
First place continues to belong to Qatar Airways’ flight from Auckland Airport (AKL) to Doha’s Hamad International Airport (DOH) with a Boeing 777-200LR in a two class configuration with 259 seats (42 Business and 217 Economy). This flight has been in operation since February 2017.
Boeing owns 75% of the top 20 list with Airbus taking the remaining 25%. The Boeing 777-200LR (long range) continues to be the aircraft type of choice for the longest non-stop flights.
Not surprisingly, the Boeing 777-200LR has the longest maximum range followed closely by the Airbus A380-800 and the new Airbus A350-900 (Insight on Airbus A350 Development). Airlines typically reserve about 10% of the range as backup in case of an emergency or airspace/airport congestions. How much reserve to have is determined by how long the aircraft will not have access to a fuel stop (e.g. more fuel for oversea flights). As such, the current maximum range of 8,555 nautical miles is likely not going to be reached.
Qatar Airways’ rein will continue until the Airbus A350-900ULR (ultra long range) enters service later in 2018 with Singapore Airlines being the launch customer (Insight on Airbus A350-900 ULR Development). This aircraft type will have a maximum range of 9,700 nautical miles which will allow the airline to operate from its hub at Singapore’s Changi Airport (SIN) either New York JFK International Airport or Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) with ease.
Besides the Airbus A350-900ULR, other long range aircraft types that have not enter service include the next generation Boeing 777 dubbed 777-8X and 9X and the stretched Airbus A350-1000. They are designed to carry more passengers while having the capability to fly further than current versions all with two engines.
Prior to the A350-900ULR enters service, the top 10 will have new entrants with previously announced flights:
- Qantas Airways will crack the top 3 with a new non-stop year-round flight between Perth Airport (PER) to London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) starting in March 2018. The flight will be flown with to be delivered Boeing 787-9 aircraft configured with a three class cabin totalling 236 seats (42 Business, 28 Premium Economy and 166 Economy). The flight will cover 14,499 kilometres (7,829 nmi) with a flight time of approximately 17 hours. The extra distance is achieved due to ~20% less seat count than the recommended two class configuration of 290. This will be Qantas Airways longest flight ever.
- United Airlines will make the top 5 with a new non-stop year-round flight between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Singapore’s Changi Airport (SIN) starting October 2017. The Star Alliance airline will also use a Boeing 787-9 aircraft configured with a two class cabin totally 252 seats (48 Business and 204 Economy split between 88 Plus and 116 Regular). The flight will cover 14,114 kilometres (7,621 nmi) with a flight time of approximately 17 h 55 m. This will be Qantas Airways longest flight ever. It will be the longest flight operated by a US carrier and from a US city.
- Air Canada will begin new non-stop seasonal service between its hub in Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to Melbourne Airport (MEL) in December 2017. While it will be using the same Boeing 787-9 aircraft for the operation like the other two carriers, its version will be configured with the most seats at 298 (30 Business, 21 Premium Economy and 247 Economy). The flight has a distance of 13,200 kilometres (7,100 nmi) and be completed in around 16 hours. This route would be operated during the winter season and will be the longest Canadian flight eclipsing Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) to Hong Kong International Airport (HKG).
Other Route Considerations
With up to 9,700 nautical mile range, the Airbus A350-900ULR can allow Singapore Airlines to fly from its home airport to the most populated cities in the world. The airline can introduce non-stop service to Washington DC, Boston, Chicago and Mexico City with this aircraft type without having any payload restrictions. Others will use the regular A350-900 and Boeing 787s to long range thinner routes to secondary cities.