stop over

Non-stop flight

A non-stop flight in the aviation industry refers to any flight which does not involve any intermediate stops. Many laypeople mistakenly assume that a "direct flight" is similar to a "non-stop flight". For the purpose of definition within this article, an ultra long-haul non-stop flight is considered to be a commercially operated airliner with:

  • No intermediate stop-over point within its scheduled duration
  • More than 12,000 km in route length
  • Over 15 hours of scheduled flying time

Due to great distances flown, these flights are operated via great circle route or the polar route. The longest ultra long-haul flights as of May 2007 are operated between Southeast Asia and North America.

Time determinants

Following are few dynamic factors determining the non-stop time of a commercial passenger jet.


Historically in the modern jet era, Israel's El Al set the first significant non-stop record times for both long haul flights, and later on in 1990's, ultra-long haul service. In June 1961, the longest long-haul passenger flight between Tel Aviv and New York on a Boeing 707 completed its journey in 9 hours and 33 minutes (9,137 km - 5,677 mi - 4,934 nm).

In May 1975, Iran Air began its non-stop, scheduled service between Tehran-New York using its newly acquired long-range Boeing 747SP's, completing the journey in 12 hours and 15 minutes, an absolute record for both flight time and distance (9,867 km - 6,131 mi - 5,328 nm). Although the airline's plans for its non-stop Tehran-Los Angeles flight never materialized due to the Islamic revolution in 1979, such flight would have made a leap in the time and distance records (12,222 km - 7,595 mi - 6,599 nm). Coincidentally, the Tehran-New York flight route was suspended in November 1979.

In April 1976, Pan Am set a new record for non-stop, long-haul flights with its New York-Tokyo route (10,854 km - 6,745 mi - 5,861 nm). In December of that year, the airline set yet another new record for the longest non-stop flight with its Sydney-San Francisco service, covering 11,937 km (7,417 mi - 6,445 nm) in distance. Both routes were operated by Boeing 747SP.

In the 1980s, Cathay Pacific began non-stop long-haul flights between Hong Kong to Vancouver with a Boeing 747-200 classic. While these flights were not the longest routes at the time, they were the first non-stop flights between Asia and North America (excluding Alaska).

In May 1988, the first ultra long-haul passenger flight took off from Los Angeles airport to Tel Aviv, completing its journey in 13 hours and 41 minutes (12,189 km - 7,574 mi - 6,581 nm).

In modern day aviation, Singapore Airlines introduced ultra long-haul flights on 3 February 2004 to Los Angeles and on 28 June 2004 to Newark and currently these two flights hold the record for the longest commercial passenger non-stop flights in the world based on both time and distance. The route from New York City (JFK or Newark) to Hong Kong is the longest non-stop route in the world to have more than one daily flight, and to be served by more than one airline. The route between New York and Mumbai has the maximum number of airlines operating non-stop flights in the ultra long-haul category.

Longest flights

The following table lists the world's longest non-stop scheduled passenger routes in distance order. City-pairs may be served utilising different routings on the return journey, which may therefore involve different route lengths. Different weather conditions, particularly the direction of jet streams, also have a significant impact on the time needed to complete the journey. For example, Singapore Airline's flight 22 from Singapore to Newark follows a 15,700km great circle route, while its return flight flight 21 is a 16,600km polar route over the north pole. The Singapore - Los Angeles route takes about 16 hours to complete, but takes about 18.5 hours on the return trip.

Route Airline Flight Number Distance km (mi) [nm] Scheduled duration Aircraft Type First flight
Newark to Singapore Singapore Airlines SQ21 16,600 (10,314) [8,963] 18hr 40min Airbus A340-500 29 June 2004
Singapore to Newark Singapore Airlines SQ22 15,700 (9,755) [8,477] 18hr 25min Airbus A340-500 29 June 2004
Singapore to Los Angeles Singapore Airlines SQ38 14,700 (9,134) [7,937] 16hr 00min Airbus A340-500 4 February 2004
Los Angeles to Singapore Singapore Airlines SQ37 14,033 (8,771) [7,577] 18hr 10min Airbus A340-500 5 February 2004
New York to Bangkok Thai Airways International TG793 13,854 (8,659) [7,480] 17hr 00min Airbus A340-500 1 May 2005
Bangkok to New York Thai Airways International TG792 13,854 (8,659) [7,480] 16hr 55min Airbus A340-500 1 May 2005
Washington to Johannesburg South African Airways SA208 13,806 (8,578) [7,455] 15hr 25min Airbus A340-600 July 2006
Dubai to Los Angeles Emirates Airline EK215 13,420 (8,340) [7,246] 16hr 35min Boeing 777-200LR 1 September2008
Dubai to Sao Paulo Emirates Airline EK261 13,216 (8,260) [7,136] 15hr 30min Boeing 777-200LR 29 October 2007
Los Angeles to Bangkok Thai Airways International TG795 13,216 (8,260) [7,136] 17hr 10min Airbus A340-500 2 December 2005
Dubai to Houston Emirates Airline EK211 13,139 (8,164) [7,094] 17hr 05min Boeing 777-200LR 3 December 2007
Dubai to San Francisco Emirates Airline EK225 12,965 (8,103) [7,000] 16hr 00min Boeing 777-200LR 15 December2008
Doha to Houston Qatar Airways QR77 12,950 (8,047) [6,992] 16hr 45min Boeing 777-200LR 8 December 2008
New York to Hong Kong Cathay Pacific CX831/CX841 12,990 (8,055) [7,014] 16hr 00min Boeing 777-300ER 1 July 2004
Toronto to Hong Kong Air Canada
Cathay Pacific
12,990 (8,055) [7,014] 15hr 40min Boeing 777-200LR
Boeing 777-300ER
1 August 2004
1 January 2008
Newark to Hong Kong Continental Airlines CO99 12,980 (8,060) [7,009] 15hr 50min Boeing 777-200ER 1 March 2001
Los Angeles to Melbourne Qantas QF094 12,748 (7,921) [6,883] 15hr 15min Boeing 747-400ER
Airbus A380-800
October 1999
Newark to Mumbai Continental Airlines CO48 12,562 (7,806) [6,783] 15hr 10min Boeing 777-200ER 1 October 2007
Chicago to Hong Kong United Airlines UA895 12,543 (7794) [6,773] 15hr 25min Boeing 747-400 15 June 1996
Mumbai to New York Air India
Delta Airlines
12,540 (7,790) [6,771] 16hr 00min Boeing 777-200LR 1 August 2007
Tel Aviv to Los Angeles El Al LY005 12,122 (7,576) [6,545] 15hr 53min Boeing 777-200ER May 1988
Delhi to Chicago American Airlines AA293 12,044 (7,484) [6,503] 15hr 25min Boeing 777-200ER October 2005
Atlanta to Shanghai Delta Air Lines DL19 12,311 (7,650) [6,647] 15hr 40min Boeing 777-200ER 30 March 2008

  • Before 29 October 2006, the flight numbers for these 2 routes was SQ20 (SIN-LAX)/SQ19 (LAX-SIN).
  • Suspended from 1 July 2008.
  • To be suspended in October 2008.
  • Scheduled to Start.
  • Airbus A380 will operate on the route from October 20 2008
  • Started with the 777-200ER in 2006.

Future of ultra long-haul

The longest non-stop flights currently running are not the longest city pairs theoretically possible. Flights on the Kangaroo route, if flown non-stop, would exceed 17,000 km. The longest routes possible are between antipodes, or points on the earth's surface opposite each other with the earth's center directly between, a distance of 20,038 km at the equator. A theoretical nonstop flight between Buenos Aires and Shanghai (two world cities that are fairly close to antipodal) would cover a great circle distance of 19,595 km. A Madrid, Spain to Wellington, New Zealand flight would be longer still, exceeding 19,800 km.

The Boeing 777-200LR airliner can cover the distance between antipodes when devoid of payload, but its range decreases significantly with the added weight of cargo and passengers. As of 2007, no airline has plans to introduce a non-stop service longer than the Singapore-Newark run, though both Airbus and Boeing have hinted at interest in developing variants to their long-haul airliners to make a London-Sydney nonstop flight economically feasible, for which purpose the Airbus consortium will offer the special A350-900R XWB variant to British Airways.

On 10 December 2005 a Boeing 777-200LR dubbed the Worldliner completed the world's longest non-stop passenger flight traveling 13,422 miles or 21,602 kilometers eastwards (as opposed to normal westwards route for that sector which is twice shorter at 9647km) from Hong Kong to Heathrow, England in roughly 22 hours and 40 minutes. Onboard the 777-200LR were eight pilots including Suzanna Darcy-Hennemann, Boeing's first woman test pilot. Although the plane seats 301, there were only 27 passengers aboard this flight. They were a couple of Boeing executives; several Boeing 777 engineers; representatives from General Electric and a dozen journalists from around the world. This was not, however, the record for longest time staying aloft for an airliner. That record is held by a Trans World Airlines Lockheed 1649A Starliner on the inaugural London-San Francisco polar route on 1 October-2 October, 1957. The flight time was 23 hours and 19 minutes. The L-1649A was the last of the Constellation series, and the ultimate piston-engine airliner in terms of range and endurance.

See also


External links

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