Longest flight vs shortest flight: which is better value?

Stephanie Yip 14 November 2016

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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 timeFlight distanceFlight cost (one-way)AUDCost per minute (AUD)Carrier
Westray to Papa Westray2 minutes3.2kmGBP17$27.35$13.68Loganair
Cayman Brac to Little Cayman10 minutes24.7kmUSD$39.39$51.35$5.14Cayman Airways
Toronto to Niagara12 minutes50kmCAD85$82.92$6.91Greater Toronto Airways
Caye Chapel to Caye Caulker15 minutes7.8kmFlights by special request only--Maya Island Air
Karpathos to Kasos15 minutes28kmEUR43.70$63.23$2.26Sky Express

Longest flights

 Flight timeFlight distanceFlight cost (one-way)AUDCost per minute (AUD)Carrier
Auckland to Dubai17 hours 25 minutes14,201kmNZD1,277$1,213.54$1.16Emirates
San Francisco to Singapore17 hours 15 minutes13,592kmAUD1,892$1,892$1.83United Airlines
Johannesburg to Atlanta16 hours 50 minutes13,581 kmZAR33,163$3,237.33$3.21Delta
Delhi to San Francisco16 hours15,128kmINR46,987$918.82$0.95Air India
Sydney to Dallas15 hours and 25 minutes13,805kmAUD1,347$1,347$1.46Qantas

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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