Longest flight vs shortest flight: Which is better value?

Stephanie Yip 14 November 2016


Would you pay to fly for just 47 seconds?

Emirates has revealed that from December 2016, it will be offering flights between Doha and Dubai on its jumbo Airbus A380. With a journey time of just under an hour, it's the shortest flight in the world for the large aircraft.

When it comes to ALL planes serving commercial flights however, that journey time doesn't even come close to the shortest it can possibly be. That honour goes to Loganair's Westray and Papa Westray route, which typically spends a mere two minutes in the air, although that can drop down to as little as 47 seconds if the breeze is blowing the right way.

Compare that to some of the longest non-stop flights in the world, which includes Auckland to Dubai and Dallas to Sydney (both over 17 hours long) and it sounds like a breeze. Is it worth it though?

We looked at some of the longest and shortest flights in the world to see what the actual costs behind each flight per minute are. There weren't any significant spikes or drops in prices, but overall the longer the flight, the more bang for your buck. The long Delhi to San Francisco flight costs just under $1 per minute, while the short 47 second roller coaster through the air costs $13.68 per minute. See below for our comparison.

The flight costs for these journeys were taken direct from each airline's website and are either set prices or the lowest prices available at the time of publication for flights in 2017. Flight prices were converted into AUD using xe.com.

Shortest flights

Flight time Flight distance Flight cost (one-way) AUD Cost per minute (AUD) Carrier
Westray to Papa Westray 2 minutes 3.2km GBP17 $27.35 $13.68 Loganair
Cayman Brac to Little Cayman 10 minutes 24.7km USD$39.39 $51.35 $5.14 Cayman Airways
Toronto to Niagara 12 minutes 50km CAD85 $82.92 $6.91 Greater Toronto Airways
Caye Chapel to Caye Caulker 15 minutes 7.8km Flights by special request only - - Maya Island Air
Karpathos to Kasos 15 minutes 28km EUR43.70 $63.23 $2.26 Sky Express

Longest flights

Flight time Flight distance Flight cost (one-way) AUD Cost per minute (AUD) Carrier
Auckland to Dubai 17 hours 25 minutes 14,201km NZD1,277 $1,213.54 $1.16 Emirates
San Francisco to Singapore 17 hours 15 minutes 13,592km AUD1,892 $1,892 $1.83 United Airlines
Johannesburg to Atlanta 16 hours 50 minutes 13,581 km ZAR33,163 $3,237.33 $3.21 Delta
Delhi to San Francisco 16 hours 15,128km INR46,987 $918.82 $0.95 Air India
Sydney to Dallas 15 hours and 25 minutes 13,805km AUD1,347 $1,347 $1.46 Qantas

Australia's shortest and longest domestic flights

Australia's entrants for the shortest and longest flights are quite impressive, too. The shortest flight is the Harvey Bay to Maryborough route on the Sunshine Express which lasts 15 minutes.

Oddly enough, the longest direct domestic flight is Sydney to well, Sydney. This is a 12.5 hour flight and is a Qantas charter organised by Antarctica Flights. It leaves the domestic terminal of Sydney Airport, flies over the Antarctica Treaty Area for 4 hours and then returns. No passports are required and prices start from $1,199 per person.

Flights also depart from Melbourne, although they are 30 minutes shorter.

Coming a (not so) close third is the more popular (and more affordable) Gold Coast to Perth route. It takes 5 hours and 30 minutes.

Here's a video of the world's shortest flight from Westray to Papa Westray in Scotland's Orkney Islands:

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