The Longest Flights You Can Take Around the World (and How to Survive Them)
One of the worst things you can ask a flight attendant is, “Are we there yet?” Especially if you happen to be on one of the world’s longest flights. Flying from New York to Los Angeles feels easy compared to dealing with a flight that goes halfway around the world. Even the most seasoned travelers can’t deal with some of these incredibly long flights.
Think you could survive a super long-haul flight? Read on to discover the longest flights that airlines offer around the world. These nonstop flights are the longest by time, not by miles flown, since that’s what you’re really counting when you’re crammed onto a plane with hundreds of other people. You’ll never look at a plane the same way again.
15. Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Hong Kong (HKG)
Duration: 15 hours, eight minutes
American Airlines makes its contribution to the list of the world’s longest flights with this route between Dallas and Hong Kong. Thrillist reports that the airline uses a Boeing 777-300 to make the trip — which is actually the longest flight in the American Airlines network. At 15 hours and 8 minutes, this 8,119-mile flight sounds interminable. But it’s shorter than the other trips that rank higher on the list of the world’s longest flights.
Frequent flyer tip: Choose your seat carefully. When you’re going to be stuck on the plane for an entire day, it’s worth splurging a little bit to get the right seat. Bloomberg notes that the seats nearest the engines will have the loudest noise levels. For a more comfortable trip, choose a bulkhead instead of an exit row, since an exit row may have less padding. Choose a seat in the back row if you want to increase your chances of ending up with an empty seat beside you. And use a tool like like SeatGuru or Routehappy to make sure that you don’t book an uncomfortable or inconvenient seat.
14. San Francisco (SFO) to Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Duration: 15 hours, 13 minutes
Next on the list? Etihad’s 8,154-mile flight between San Francisco and Abu Dhabi. (It’s just the first of numerous flights to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar that rank among the world’s longest flights.) Thrillist reports that Etihad flies between San Francisco and Abu Dhabi with a Boeing 777-300, a popular aircraft that frequent flyers are familiar with. 15 hours and 13 minutes sounds like a very long flight. But trust us, if you fly out of another U.S. city, you’ll definitely encounter a longer flight time.
Frequent flyer tip: Dress comfortably. Some people don’t mind going to the airport (and getting on the plane) in their pajamas. Others want to look professional, especially if they’re flying for work. Whichever camp you typically fall in, you need to make sure that you dress for comfort when you take one of the world’s longest flights. Wear layers to prepare for fluctuating temperatures. Don’t be afraid to wear sweats or pajamas if you need to sleep on the plane. You can even change once you’re on the flight, and change back into your other clothes as you approach your destination.
13. Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Dubai (DXB)
Duration: 15 hours, 17 minutes
Another long-haul flight that will take you directly from the U.S. to the gulf states? An 8,036-mile flight between Dallas-Fort Worth and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Thrillist reports that Emirates flies this route with an Airbus A380-800. CNN reports that the plane actually holds an eye-popping 615 seats. That makes it the largest capacity configuration currently in service. (AirFrance’s A380 has 538 seats.) You probably shouldn’t count on above-average legroom if you choose this flight.
Frequent flyer tip: Choose a new plane. Bloomberg notes that it also doesn’t hurt to look for a new plane when you’re booking a long-haul flight. The latest-generation planes “have made significant improvements with cabin humidity, noise levels, pressurization, and lighting.” Look for models like the Airbus A350 and Boeing 787 if you want to fly on a brand-new plane.
12. San Francisco (SFO) to Dubai (DXB)
Duration: 15 hours, 37 minutes
Need to get from San Francisco to Dubai instead of Abu Dhabi? That’ll take you an extra 24 minutes. That may not be so bad if it’s already going to take you more than 15.5 hours to log those 8,099 miles. Thrillist reports that Emirates flies this route with a A380-800. But as the publication notes, “Spending 15 hours on a plane isn’t so bad when you’re on an airline with food that actually tastes good (no, really, like, it’s won awards).”
Frequent flyer tip: Reconsider the red-eye. Even though it sounds like a good idea to book a red-eye if you need to take one of the world’s longest flights, Bloomberg reports that that’s not always the best option. In fact, you should pick a night-time flight only if you know that you can sleep well on a plane. If you can’t sleep well in an airplane seat — and can’t book a seat that lies flat into a bed — then you should choose a daytime flight instead.
11. Newark (EWR) to Hong Kong (HKG)
Duration: 15 hours, 38 minutes
You can fly to Hong Kong from either JFK or Newark. But if you decide you’d rather fly to Hong Kong from Newark? There’s only a 6 mile difference, but the flight will take you an hour longer. (Nobody ever accused New York commute times of making sense.) Thrillist reports that United flies this 8,062-mile route with a Boeing 777-200. United owns several versions of this aircraft, but they typically accommodate between 267 and 364 passengers.
Frequent flyer tip: Check out which plane you’ll fly on. Bloomberg reports that the plane type matters when you’re booking a long-haul flight. Routes on which an airline offers frequent service often use multiple types of aircraft, so you should check which one you’ll get before booking. Things that might not make a big difference on a short flight — like the noise level in the cabin — are worth looking into when you’ll be on a flight for 12 hours or more.
10. Houston (IAH) to Doha (DOH)
Duration: 15 hours, 47 minutes
Need a direct flight from one oil capital to another? Qatar Airways can help, but that flight isn’t going to be quick. In fact, the 8,045-mile flight takes 15 hours and 47 minutes. Thrillist reports that the airline uses a Boeing 777-200 to fly this route. However, that’s not the newest aircraft, and some passengers report that they definitely prefer the airline’s new Boeing 787 to the older 777. The 787, for instance, can actually maintain a more comfortable level of humidity, which can really make a difference on a long-haul flight.
Frequent flyer tip: Make sure that you eat. Even though flying dulls your sense of taste, and the food on the airplane isn’t much to write home about anyway, you’ll definitely need to eat something if you take one of the longest flights. Bloomberg recommends ordering ahead, or requesting a special meal (especially if you’re vegetarian) when you book. That way, you’ll get served first, and then you’ll be able to get to sleep sooner.
9. Los Angeles (LAX) to Jeddah (JED)
Duration: 15 hours, 56 minutes
Need a direct flight to Jeddah, a city on the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia? Just head to Los Angeles, where you can catch a flight with Saudia, also known as Saudi Arabian Airlines. Thrillist reports that Saudia flies this route with a Boeing 777-300. This model is one of Boeing’s best-selling aircraft and is particularly popular for long-haul, transoceanic routes. So, it unsurprising that the airline chose this model for the 8,329-mile route.
Frequent flyer tip: Start to counteract jet lag as soon as you get on the plane. You should change your watch (or your smartphone clock) to the time zone of your destination as soon as you get to your seat. And the National Sleep Foundation recommends choosing a flight that will arrive in the early evening, and staying awake until 10 p.m. local time.
8. Los Angeles (LAX) to Doha (DOH)
Duration: 16 hours, 15 minutes
The Los Angeles Times reported in 2o15 that Qatar Airways was beginning to offer daily nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Doha. Thrillist reports that Qatar flies this 8,306-mile route with a Boeing 777-200 LR. And the Times reports that the plane features 42 lie-flat business-class seats — exactly the kind that you want if you’re going to be stuck on an airplane for more than 16 hours.
Frequent flyer tip: Get as comfortable as you can as soon as you board. Bloomberg recommends removing magazines from the seat-back pocket if they reduce your legroom. Spray your favorite scent on your scarf or your blanket, and have a pair of noise-canceling headphones at the ready.
7. Houston (IAH) to Dubai (DXB)
Duration: 16 hours, 19 minutes
Surprised that another one of the world’s longest flights leaves from Houston, Texas? We think it’s even more surprising that you can catch a direct flight between Houston and Dubai. (How many people really need to take advantage of that route?) Thrillist reports that Emirates flies this long route on an Airbus A380-800. But logging those 8,164 miles will take you more than 16 hours. It’s probably not the ideal choice for going on vacation.
Frequent flyer tip: Try to fit in a workout before flying. It may sound counterintuitive. But Bloomberg recommends finding time to work out before you leave for the airport. The workout will help you counteract the effects of being sedentary for so long. And Bloomberg promises, “Your exercise high will get you through TSA, and it’ll fade in time for easy in-flight sleeping.”
6. Los Angeles (LAX) to Abu Dhabi (AUH)
Duration: 16 hours, 35 minutes
CNET reports that Etihad flies this 8,387-mile route from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles with a Boeing 777-200LR. And Digital Trends notes that the airline offers plenty of amenities along the way. Every passenger can access power ports, so no more worrying about your smartphone dying before you land. And according to Digital Trends, Etihad’s premium services “are equal (or even exceed) those of Emirates.” That says a lot when you consider Emirates’ awards and high customer satisfaction.
Frequent flyer tip: Don’t load up on salty snacks. Whether you plan to eat a full meal on the plane or just rely on snacks instead, there are right and wrong snacks to eat on one of the world’s longest flights. You don’t want to eat salty snacks because you’ll get hit not only with dehydration, but perhaps bloating, too. And think twice before overindulging in alcohol or caffeine, since both will dehydrate you and disrupt your sleep.
5. Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Sydney (SYD)
Duration: 16 hours, 50 minutes
Texans who want to take a vacation to Australia are in luck — as long as they don’t mind braving one of the world’s longest flights to get to their destination. Qantas flies nonstop between Dallas and Sydney, and you’ll log 8,589 miles if you go along for the ride. CNET reports that this Qantas flight uses the massive Airbus A380-800, which can seat up to 484 passengers. Previously, the airline used a Boeing 747 and had to stop in Brisbane on the way to Sydney to refuel.
Frequent flyer tip: Prepare your entertainment ahead of time. Investigate how much in-flight Wi-Fi will cost you. And if you want to connect, try to pay ahead of time. Go to Netflix and download the movies you want to watch for offline viewing. And make sure that you fully charge all your electronics before leaving for the airport.
4. Atlanta (ATL) to Johannesburg (JNB)
Duration: 16 hours, 55 minutes
Thrillist characterizes a flight between Atlanta and Johannesburg as “a long-ass flight.” We can’t really argue with that, since the flight covers 8,449 miles and takes almost 17 hours. CNET reports that Delta uses a Boeing 777-200LR for this incredibly long flight. Digital Trends points out that Emirates uses the same plane on its Auckland to Dubai route. However, Emirates has more amenities than Delta. For instance, only select economy seats have access to power outlets on Delta flights, so you might want to pack a portable charger for your phone.
Frequent flyer tip: Look out for your health. Bloomberg recommends that you take a few steps to avoid getting sick on one of the longest flights. Wipe down the seat-back tray, widely known as one of the germiest places on the plane. Use a sinus spray every few hours to counteract dryness and bacteria. And keep your skincare simple to avoid reactions to new or harsh ingredients.
3. San Francisco (SFO) to Singapore (SIN)
Duration: 17 hours, 15 minutes
Both Singapore Airlines and United offer flights that connect San Francisco with the island city-state. (Thrillist reports that United flies the route with a Boeing 787-200 LR, while Singapore uses an Airbus 350/900.) Digital Trends notes that both airlines are able to fly the whole 8,446-mile route thanks to new fuel-efficient, high-tech aircraft. However, Singapore offers “a higher level of service, including an in-flight entertainment system that lets passengers tailor the experience before they board, via an iOS or Android app.”
Frequent flyer tip: Don’t wake up for breakfast. We know we just said that you need to eat while you’re on your flight, but Bloomberg advises travelers not to wake up for breakfast. Most of the time, the breakfast food the airline serves will leave you disappointed. So don’t bother waking up an extra 90 minutes before you land. Get some extra shut-eye instead, and plan on eating (and caffeinating) once you land.
2. Dubai (DXB) to Auckland (AKL)
Duration: 17 hours, 25 minutes
CNET reports that this Emirates route from Auckland to Dubai is interesting “not for its distance or time” but because Auckland isn’t a large city. Nonetheless, Emirates flies an A380-800, with 491 seats, on this 8,824-mile route. The official flight time is 17 hours and 25 minutes. But CNET reported that after Emirates had offered the route for a year, the airline said the average flight time was 16 hours, 57 minutes. Digital Trends reports that Emirates also flies between Dubai and Auckland with a Boeing 777-200LR.
Frequent flyer tip: Choose an airline with a full-service arrivals lounge. If you need to look your best for a meeting or an event when you land, Bloomberg advises choosing an airline that can help you out. At a well-appointed arrivals lounge, you can take a shower and get a cup of coffee before going on your way. Plus, at a full-service lounge, staff can even press your clothes for you.
1. Doha (DOH) to Auckland (AKL)
Duration: 17 hours, 40 minutes
CNN reports that there’s an ongoing competition for the longest flight in the world between the gulf state carriers, Emirates and Qatar Airways. The current champion among the longest flights in the world — at least for now — is Qatar’s route from Auckland to Doha. The route spans 9,031 miles. In fact, Thrillist reports that it’s currently the only flight in the world to top 9,000 miles. Qatar uses a 259-seat Boeing 777-200LR to fly it.
Frequent flyer tip: Strategize about how you want to pass your time. However you’d like to spend your time when you fly, you should think about it before you leave for the airport. Invest in a good travel pillow and a comfortable eye mask if you plan to sleep. Pack some effective noise-canceling headphones if you want to listen to music or zone out with a movie. And if you want to read, make sure that you have a good book and your reading glasses in your carry-on.