Longest flights have been a thing since the Wright Brothers flew 852′ in 1903. A few years ago, Singapore Airlines flew the longest flight in the world which was Newark, New Jersey, to Singapore for a distance of 9,539 miles, the longest scheduled route in the world ever flown commercially with passengers. They plan to reinstate this route using the new Airbus A350s at some future date yet to be announced.
Today, the longest scheduled nonstop flight in the works is by Qatar Airways from Doha, Qatar (DOH) to Auckland, New Zealand (AKL) on a Boeing 777-200LR. The launch date is scheduled for December 3, 2016.
The longest flight currently is actually the #2 world’s longest flight by distance which is flown by Emirates from Auckland, New Zealand to Dubai, UAE. It was launched on March 1, 2016 with the return segment to Dubai on March 2.
Both Airbus and Boeing have really pushed the envelope to build airplanes that make these routes possible. The Boeing 777-200LR (77L), the Boeing 777-300ER (77W) and the Airbus A380 (380) are the ultra long haul workhorses. The airlines in question, Delta, Etihad, Emirates, Qantas and Qatar have worked hard to make the airplanes more comfortable which is definitely necessary with the block times topping out at 16:20. To that end, they’ve got Premium Economy sections which provide extra legroom, better meals, more entertainment choices, fantastic Business and First Class sections and Wifi for starters.
So let’s take a look at the top seven longest flights by distance and see how you can use a frequent flyer award to make the journey possible.
|From||Doha, Qatar (DOH)|
|To||Auckland, New Zealand (AKL)|
Qatar is a member of the oneworld Alliance, so this means that you can fly using American Airlines AAdvantage miles as they are also a oneworld member. New Zealand is in the South Pacific region as defined by American, so from the Contiguous 48 states in the U.S., you’d have to first book a Middle East award and then tack on a Europe to South Pacific award since the U.S. to South Pacific award is only valid when flying via the Pacific Ocean. Here’s what you’d have to redeem when award tickets becomes available using the current rules:
Economy Mileage SAAver – 40,000 + 42,500 = 82,500
Business/First Mileage SAAver – 70,000 + 80,000 = 150,000
First MileSAAver – 115,000 + 100,000 = 215,000
If you buy a ticket from say Houston, Texas, (IAH) and connect to the flight in Doha, you’d pay about $1,540 for a one way ticket and $2,348 round trip. The Awards have not been loaded as yet, but as New Zealand is in the same zone as Sydney, the Qatar Privilege Club Qmiles needed should be as follows:
Doha to Auckland
Economy – 35,000 Qmiles
Business – 70,000 Qmiles
First – 105,000 Qmiles
U.S. to Auckland via Doha
Economy – 60,000 Qmiles
Business – 120,000 Qmiles
First – 180,000 Qmiles
|From||Auckland, New Zealand (AKL)|
|To||Dubai, UAE (DXB)|
There is always competition between Qatar and Emirates, so, of course there’s a flight to Auckland from Dubai on Emirates. This one was announced before the Qatar flight though and is currently flying having started on March 1, 2016. This flight is currently the longest flight by distance dethroning Qantas Dallas/Ft. Worth to Sydney which held the lead since 2014.
Emirates is not a member of any of the major alliances, however, they do partner with many carriers who are actually members of the larger alliances. So if you are a member of the following airlines’ frequent flyer programs and Emirates of course, you can earn and redeem miles on this route if the agreement permits it: Alaska Airlines, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, JetBlue, Jetstar, Korean Air, Qantas, S7 Airlines, South African Airways, TAP Portugal and Virgin America. If you use your Emirates Skywards account you will need the following (note that the dollar amount may vary):
Economy Flex Plus – 122,500 + $407.40
BusinessFlex Plus – 192,500 + $788.40
Although Alaska Airlines is a earn and redemption partner, there are currently no awards in the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan charts for the South Pacific. As such, you are unable to redeem miles for this one.
The relationship with JetBlue is an earn only basis. This means that you can receive JetBlue TrueBlue points for taking this flight, but you can’t redeem TrueBlue points to take this flight.
|From||Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX (DFW)|
|To||Sydney, Australia (SYD)|
This flight was actually the world’s longest flight by distance for sometime until the two above came around. This is an Airbus A380 route operated by Qantas. Since Qantas is a part of the oneworld Alliance, then that means you can use your American Airlines AAdvantage Awards in order to take the flight. Here’s the redemption levels for one-way Awards.
Economy Mileage SAAver – 40,000
Business/First Mileage SAAver – 80,000
First MileSAAver – 110,000
Qantas also has a relationship with Alaska Airlines which means you can redeem your Mileage Plan miles for this flight. Here’s the redemption levels for one-way Awards:
Economy – 42,500 + $40.50
Premium Economy – 47,500 + $40.50
Business – 55,000 + $40.50
First – 70,000 +$40.50
If you are a Qantas frequent flyer, you will need the following miles in order to redeem a seat:
Economy – 55,000
Premium Economy – 84,000
Business – 112,000
First – 168,000
|From||Dubai, UAE (DXB)|
|To||Panama City, Panama (PTY)|
This route was announced by Emirates in 2015. The original launch date has since been moved forward and I contacted Emirates at the end of March 2016 and was told: “Flights to/from Panama has been suspended until further notice.”
A little disappointing, but who knows what the issues are. Typically when new routes are announced there are a lot of things to iron out including government approvals. I’m sure we will hear from them soon on when it will be back in the flight schedules. Once the route can be booked, the Emirates Skywards Award levels will look like below:
Economy Flex Plus – 71,250
BusinessFlex Plus – 113,750
First Flex – 155,000
|Airline||Delta Air Lines (DL)|
|From||Atlanta, GA (ATL)|
|To||Johannesburg, South Africa (JNB)|
Delta is a member of the SkyTeam Alliance, so if you are a member of any of the SkyTeam members you can redeem your miles for travel Delta for this segment. South African Airways used to fly this route, but they no longer do. It’s hard to tell what the award mileage is for this route since Delta does not really have an award chart any longer and revenue manages award ticket. However, when I checked, here is what I found:
- Economy – 110,000 + $5,60
- Delta Comfort – 325,000 + $5.60
- Business (Delta One) – 325,000 + $5.60
As Alaska Airlines is a partner, if you redeem your Mileage Plan miles you will need the following for an Award:
- Economy – 100,000
- Business (Delta One) – 160,000
Note: As Delta does not offer one way rewards, the miles quoted here are for round trip or one-way travel.
|From||Los Angeles, CA (LAX)|
|To||Abu Dhabi, UAE (AUH)|
Etihad has the number 6 position with their 16:40 flight from Los Angeles to their hub in Abu Dhabi, UAE (AUH), from where you can pretty much get to the rest of the world. The Etihad Guest frequent flyer program is aligned with American Airlines AAdvantage although Etihad is not a member of the oneworld Alliance nor any other major Alliances. So this means that you can get on this Boeing 777-200LR for the following mileage outlays:
- Economy Mileage SAAver – 40,000
- Business/First Mileage SAAver – 70,000
- First MileSAAver – 115,000
A full list of Etihad airline partners can be found here.
Also, if you are a member of Etihad Guest, you can redeem the following miles for the flight:
- Economy – 46,333 + $29.30
- Business – 108,076 + $29.30
- First – 143,741 +$29.30
|From||Los Angeles, CA (LAX)|
|To||Dubai, UAE (DXB)|
With the seventh longest journey from Los Angeles, CA to Dubai, UAE you can actually redeem miles using the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plus since the U.S. to the Middle East is covered under an Award and Alaska Airlines has a relationship with Emirates. For this you will need:
- Economy – 42,500
- Business – 72,500
- First – 100,000
Alaska Airlines does have a note advising that when you use miles, you are not eligible for the chauffeur service which usually comes with a Business or First Class ticket. So you may want to purchase the ticket outright to ensure that you receive the full service. Business Class fares start at $4,740 USD and about $10,901 for First Class.
If you choose to redeem Emirates Skywards miles, you will need the following for a one way Award travel:
Economy Flex Plus – 71,250 miles + $269.30
Business Flex Plus – 113,750 + $754.30
First – 155,000 + $755.00
Note: Taxes and fees are quoted where it was available. These may change at time of purchase.
So now you have a pretty good idea of what it takes to get on one of the world’s seven longest flights using miles and points. I’d say that being a member of the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan program seems to be the way to get the trips for the least miles. So that may be a consideration. If not, joining the program for the particular airlines in question works as well. When you are earning miles using another airline’s program other than the airline you are flying, ensure that you book in the right fare class so you maximize the earnings.
These are long legs so there are lots of miles to be earned. Also, carriers like Emirates, Etihad and Qatar gives you added bonuses especially since the routes are new. You may not get that when you use a partner’s program.
Have you flown any of these flights or do you want to?