Qantas set to claim title for world's second longest flight

written by Gerard Frawley | March 23, 2018

Qantas Boeing 787-9 VH-ZNA arrives in Melbourne on October 27 2017. (Victor Pody)
Qantas’s first four Boeing 787-9’s will operate on a Los Angeles-Melbourne-Perth-London Heathrow rotation. (Victor Pody)

Qantas is a day away from claiming second place on the list of world’s longest passenger flight measured by distance.
When the Australian carrier’s 7,829nm London Heathrow-Perth nonstop service with Boeing 787-9 equipment takes off on Saturday March 24, it will trail only Qatar Airways’ 7,848nm Auckland-Doha flight.
The QF9/10 rotation, which links the continents of Europe and Australia with a regularly scheduled nonstop passenger service for the first time, will be Qantas’s second entry on the list alongside its Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth flight.
The Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth route, at 7,454nm, held the record for the world’s longest flight when it kicked off in 2011 with Boeing 747-400ERs as part of a Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth-Brisbane-Sydney rotation.
The Brisbane stop was eliminated in 2014, when Qantas upgauged the service to the Airbus A380.


VIDEO: A 2014 Qantas video on its YouTube channel explains the switch to the A380 on the Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth route.

However, Emirates knocked Qantas off the top spot in February 2016, when it began nonstop flights between Auckland and its Dubai hub (7,668nm) with the Airbus A380.
Qatar Airways then claimed the title off Emirates in February 2017, when it started Auckland-Doha (7,848) with Boeing 777-200LRs.
Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth has slid further down the table over the past couple of years, as Singapore Airlines and United commenced nonstop San Francisco-Singapore flights.
United has three entries in the top 10 with San Francisco-Singapore, Los Angeles-Singapore and Houston-Sydney. All are operated with Boeing 787-9s.
Looking ahead, Singapore Airlines (SIA) looks set to reclaim the title when it resumes Singapore-New York nonstop flights (8,285nm) later in 2018, after it takes delivery of Airbus A350-900ULRs earmarked for the route.
SIA is also planning to join United on the Los Angeles-Singapore route with the ultra long-range variant of the Airbus A350-900.
And projecting further into the future, Qantas has set Airbus and Boeing the challenge to develop an aircraft capable of flying nonstop to London and New York from Australia’s east coast with sufficient payload to make the routes economic to operate by 2022.
The Project Sunrise challenge pits the Airbus A350-900ULR against the Boeing’s 777-8X.
In still air Sydney-London Heathrow is 9,188nm, while Sydney-New York JFK is 8,646nm.
While Auckland-Doha is the world’s longest passenger flight measured by the great circle distance, it should be noted Air India’s Delhi-San Francisco flight, when operated eastwards from India over the Pacific Ocean to take advantage of tailwinds, can cover a distance of more than 8,000nm. The route is served with Boeing 777-200LR.

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VIDEO: The inaugural Air India service featured on San Francisco Airport’s YouTube channel

There are no low-cost carriers (LCC) in the top 10 longest routes.
The longest route by distance operated by an LCC is Norwegian’s London Gatwick-Singapore flight at 5,873nm which began in September 2017.

A file image of a Norwegian Boeing 787-9 at London Gatwick Airport. (Norwegian/Steve Bates)
A file image of a Norwegian Boeing 787-9 at London Gatwick Airport. (Norwegian/Steve Bates)

Current longest nonstop passenger flights by distance (nautical miles)

1. Auckland-Doha (7,848nm) – operated by Qatar Airways with Boeing 777-200LR.

AUCKLAND NEW ZEALAND February 6, 2017. A Qatar Airwayas 777 arrived at Auckland International Airport today to begin the new direct service from Doha to Auckland. (Mike Millett)
Qatar is welcomed to Auckland. (Mike Millett)

2. London Heathrow-Perth (7,829nm) – operated by Qantas Airways with Boeing 787-9 starts March 24 2018
3. Auckland-Dubai (7,668nm) – operated by Emirates Airline with Airbus A380
Emirates Airbus A380's inaugural Auckland-Dubai flight. (Mike Millett)
Emirates Airbus A380’s inaugural Auckland-Dubai flight. (Mike Millett)

4. Los Angeles-Singapore (7,621nm) – operated by United with Boeing 787-9
5. Houston-Sydney (7,470nm) – operated by United with Boeing 787-9
United Boeing 787-9 N35393 at Sydney Airport. (Kurt Ams/Sydney Airport)
United Boeing 787-9 N35393 at Sydney Airport. (Kurt Ams/Sydney Airport)

6. Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth (7,454nm) – operated by Qantas with Airbus A380
7. San Francisco-Singapore (7,339nm) – operated by United with Boeing 787-9 and Singapore Airlines with Airbus A350-900
Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 9V-SMF at San Francisco Airport. (San Francisco Airport/Twitter)
Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-900 9V-SMF at San Francisco Airport. (San Francisco Airport/Twitter)

8. Atlanta-Johannesburg (7,333nm) – operated by Delta Air Lines with Boeing 777-200LR
9. Abu Dhabi-Los Angeles (7,291nm) – operated by Etihad Airways with Boeing 777-300ER

Planned future routes

1. New York (Newark*)-Singapore (8,285nm) – to be operated by Singapore Airlines with Airbus A350-900ULR. From late 2018. (*Airport choice not confirmed)
2. Los Angeles-Singapore (7,621nm) – to be operated by Singapore Airlines with Airbus A350-900ULR. From late 2018

Singapore Airlines' first Airbus A350-900ULR. (Airbus)
Singapore Airlines’ first Airbus A350-900ULR. (Airbus)

Cathay Pacific's first Airbus A350-1000. (Airbus)
Cathay Pacific’s first Airbus A350-1000. (Airbus)

3. Manila-New York (JFK) (7,404nm) – to be operated by Philippine Airlines with Airbus A350-900ULR. From late 2018
4. Hong Kong-Washington DC (7,085nm) to be operated by Cathay Pacific with Airbus A350-1000. From September 2018

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Speculated routes

1. Sydney-London (LHR) (9,188nm) – Qantas
2. Sydney-New York (JFK) (8,646nm) – Qantas
3. Sydney-Chicago (ORD) (8,022nm) – Qantas
4. Melbourne-Dallas/Fort Worth (7,814nm) – Qantas
5. Auckland-New York (JFK) (7,672nm) – Air New Zealand

An artist's impression of the Boeing 777-8X. (Boeing)
An artist’s impression of the Boeing 777-8X. (Boeing)

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9 Comments

  • kjr

    says:

    Pity the poor sods who travel in cattle class – really tight seats!!!

  • David

    says:

    There are many on these pages who complain about items such as small seats, lack of leg room etc in economy. Clearly, the airlines have done their homework, and decided such long flights are going to work, and be economically viable. If they weren’t going to be economically viable, they wouldn’t be considering commencing them.

  • John

    says:

    @David – no one is questioning the economic viability of the what Qantas is doing – the fact that they have chosen a plane with 248 fewer seats quarrantees they will be flying full planes, The issue is that for decades the lot of economy passengers has become pooer and poorer. We have gone from wide well cushion seats with 34-35″ pitch to the hard narrow slimline seats being offered today.
    Over the same period the popluation has become bigger – both taller and wider.
    I believe that the 787 has pushed the envelope as far as it will go for economy poassengers – the very long flights combined with tight, uncomfortable seating are going to produce a lot of very grumpy customers.
    You only need to read seat reviews for the 787 – I have never seen a plane with so many bad reviews across all airlines.

  • BBJ

    says:

    Maybe we wouldn’t have to worry about “tight seats” if we have a healthy BMI. How many of those people are left?

  • Anthony Kresa

    says:

    John ? percent correct get on that Jetstar dream liner it’s anything but a dream. Even for short hops into Bali it’s a nightmare. Good luck with long haul ?

  • D bell

    says:

    No airline “really cares” about the cattle class passenger. If the airlines did, we would see 34 inch pitch as standard. I am not worried about the “new age” seat going into tiger airways. I did a syd/la sector in a 380 5 years ago, back upper deck. Had back pain for a week

  • Lynne

    says:

    Bmi!? I’m 5’2″ (1600cm) average build but 60 years old so not as flexible as once was. Seats now are better for entertainment but only ok for those who can sleep sitting upright or dosed up.

  • James

    says:

    @ David
    Spot on.
    @ John
    The seats have changed. Has the industry changed? Has the economy changed? Have the operating economics of airlines changed? The configurations are set that way for a reason. Also, they hold 236 not 248. They are not that way to “guarantee full planes.”
    If it held 300 it wouldn’t be able to do it.

  • Gary

    says:

    Anthony – The QF 7879 is premium heavy at 236 seats versus LCC Jetstar 7878 at 335 for the relatively short hops to Asia and Honolulu. The 7879 seems to be receiving good feedback on the 14 hour trans pacific journey. Lets wait for feedback from the first few flights to LHR.

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