The world’s longest and shortest flights

Because you’re just apoplectic to find out how you can maximize your time on an airplane, right? We covered this a while back, but things keep changing: planes keep getting bigger, stronger, and faster, routes change based on demand and somehow, we keep increasing our tolerance for being locked up and pressurized like pringles in a can. Fortunately, the world’s many airline nerds have already done the technical legwork–we just had to fact check:

  • At present, the world’s longest non-stop commercial flight is Singapore Airlines SQ21 from Newark Liberty (EWR) to Singapore Changi International (SIN) clocking in at a whopping 18 hours 50 minutes! Thankfully, the huge all-business-class Airbus A340-500 and world-famous in-flight service makes the halfway-around-the-world jaunt from New Jersey quite bearable. (In that same time, you could drive from Newark to Kansas City.)
  • The world’s shortest regularly-scheduled, non-stop commercial flight is on Scotland’s Loganair, from the island of Westray (WRY) to Papa Westray (PSV) in the Orkney Islands, clocking in at a meager 2 minutes (so I’m guessing there’s no beverage service).There are plenty of other super short commercial flights all over the world, mostly inter-island and commuter connections. The Caribbean’s LIAT flight between the islands of St. Kitt’s (SKB) and Nevis (NEV) is scheduled at 15 minutes long but rarely takes more than 5 minutes from take-off to landing.

(Photo Flickr: William James Tychonievich)

Small yet significant tips to make your long-haul flights better

All my life I have traveled Economy Class (only once did I get lucky and got an upgrade to Business Class). In my opinion, flights of up to 7 hours in Economy are tolerable, but more than that and the all the fidgeting and frustration starts getting to you.

Having lived in Australia for 3 years, I dreaded the 14 hour flights to and from Dubai (30 hours if you include transfers and waiting); that’s when I realized how seemingly trivial things could drastically change the quality of your flight.

MSN just published an article listing some of these small yet significant tips, of which I think these are the most important:

Be comfortable:
Wear loose, warm, long, comfortable clothes. Stick to flat shoes, preferably ones you can wear socks with. Being warm and comfortable in your clothes will change the nature of your flight. (It’s such a basic point, I don’t understand why so many people choose to make a fashion statement on board at the expense of being comfortable. Perhaps they should stop making movies that make people believe they will find “the one” mid air.)

Bring lip-balm: Even if you have never-cracking lips, on a long-haul flight darling, they will crack! I carry lip-balm everyday, everywhere I go, and always have it on a flight. Once I forgot it and my lips chapped like tree bark. (Yes, ouch). I kept going to the bathroom and putting that disgusting hand-lotion they keep in there on my lips. Didn’t work, and yuck, never again.

I never thought of carrying trail-mix on a flight, and I am queen of trail-mix! I always have some on me. Muesli, raisins, walnuts, and M&M’s. Simple, energetic, healthy, and tasty — it’s a great idea to carry some on a flight.

Meal choice on board:
I eat everything and am generally easy with food. But on a flight I always get the not-so-good option (or maybe it’s just that the other food looks better because I don’t have it?). So the MSN article suggests to ask the air host/hostess to pick for you. Why? Because they eat that food too so they have a good idea which meal is better. Doh!

Here are some other tips from my side that are also gold for long-haul flights:

Choose a plane with Video-On-Demand:
If you can watch movies whenever you want, and can start them anytime you choose, you will not realize how quickly time flies. Video-On-Demand is becoming more and more common in-flight these days, but it’s worth double checking whether your flight has it before booking.

Don’t put the hot towel on your face:
Yes, yes, I know it feels awesome, but don’t forget how your skin feels after! It gets super dry and unless you have moisturizer or very greasy skin, the towel on your face can leave your skin quite uncomfortable for a while.

Chew gum to keep your ears from blocking: Well, they will still block, but to a lesser extent if you chew gum as you take-off and when landing, so keep some handy!

Getting into Business/First Class when you have an Economy ticket:
Caution — try this at your own risk. I have never done this and cannot guarantee results, but I have a friend who does it often and he often gets away with it.

Wait till the last, last, last boarding call. Then go running in pretending you are late. When you enter the flight, everyone has taken their seat and if there are empty seats in First Class or Business Class, odds are that those seats are free. That’s when you go and sit in one of them. If you are unlucky, it could be that the passenger who should be in that seat is in the bathroom before take-off, but key is to think positively and act confident. What’s the worse thing that can happen? You will be asked to go to your seat and you will suffer 5 seconds of embarrassment. No big deal.

Hope these tips help! Happy long flight!