Qatar Airways has launched what it says is the longest current non-stop commercial route, after completing a journey from Doha to Auckland. Flight QR920 landed on Monday after 16 hours and 23 minutes, slightly quicker than expected. The Boeing 777-200LR jet was showered with water cannons on arrival – a tradition for airlines on new routes.
Qatar’s Boeing 777-200LR is welcomed with a water cannon shower on Monday in Auckland
Measuring flights can be complicated
Longest (time) or furthest (distance) are the two key distinctions to make, but it’s not as simple as it might sound.
Qatar Airways’ new route maybe the longest by time. But the 14,535km (9,032 miles) trip is not the longest existing flight by distance – a claim currently held by Air India’s Delhi to San Francisco route which is 15,127 km.
Qatar Airways flight between Doha and Auckland had four pilots, 15 cabin crew, and catered for 2,000 cold drinks to be served.
The distance between two cities doesn’t vary for airlines of course, but they might choose to take alternate routes. For example, a carrier might choose to avoid flying over certain countries which can alter how far a plane flies from point A to point B.
But regardless of the route, flight time is dependent on headwinds or tailwinds.
For example Qatar’s return leg form Auckland to Doha is is expected to take about 18 hours because of headwinds.
“The longest flying time doesn’t always correspond with the longest distance,” says Ellis Taylor of Flightglobal.
“Of course, from a passenger perspective, the flying time is probably the best measurement.”
At 9,032 miles, flight QR920 claims the record for longest commercial flight between two points on the globe