Following on from my Railway Bucket List earlier in the year (read about that here), I’ve decided to do an Aviation Bucket List covering 10 flights that I really want to tick off at some point in my lifetime. It goes without saying that I’d like to tick off some of the great Business and First-class offerings available, but this is about the flights themselves and not the airlines or products.
World’s Longest Flight – New York (JFK) to Singapore
Previously operated into New York’s Newark airport until 2013, Singapore Airline’s New York to Singapore route returned from a short Covid hiatus in November 2020 when an Airbus A350-900ULR landed at JFK airport. The route covers a distance of 15,349km between the two airports and has a scheduled flight time of just under 19 hours and so is definitely a flight to try in a premium cabin. In fact, Singapore Airline’s seven A350-900ULRs are unique in only having Business and Premium Economy seats, ideally suited for serving the ultra-long-distance flights to New York, Seattle and San Francisco.
N.B. During the pandemic, Air Tahiti Nui actually operated a longer flight, between Papeete to Paris as the usual intermediate stop in the US wasn’t allowed. This flight totalled 15,715km and holds the record as the world’s longest domestic flight, as French Polynesia counts as an integral part of the French Republic.
World’s Longest Domestic Flight – Boston to Honolulu
At just over half the distance of the world record holder, the world’s longest regularly scheduled domestic flight is operated by Hawaiian Airlines between their Honolulu hub and Boston, Massachusetts, 8,199km away. Operated by Hawaiian’s Airbus A330-200s, these flights from the US East Coast to the Aloha state (and return) take around 10 and a half hours, so are much more manageable than the longest international flights.
World’s Shortest Flight – Westray to Papa Westray
From the world’s longest international and domestic flights, we now reach the other end of the scale with the world’s shortest flight, operated by Scotland’s Loganair. Scheduled to take a minute and a half, with flights usually taking closed to a minute, the record for the 2.7km flight is just 53 seconds. Part of a slightly longer route connecting the islands to Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Islands, the flights are operated by Britten-Norman BN2 Islanders flown by a single pilot.
World’s Shortest International Flight – St. Maarten to Anguilla
Seven times as long as the world’s shortest flight, the world’s shortest international flight is around 19.11km between Princess Juliana International Airport on the Dutch island nation of Sint Maarten and Clayton J. Lloyd International Airport on the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla. Operated by Trans Anguilla Airways using either Britten-Norman BN-2 Islanders or a Cessna 402, the flight across the Anguilla Channel takes less than 10 minutes and is used to connect Anguilla to the multiple long-haul flights that use Sint Maarten.
World’s Shortest Commercial Runway – Saba
Not far from the location of the world’s shortest international flight, is another world’s shortest, in this case the world’s shortest commercial runway located on the Dutch Caribbean Island of Saba. With commercial flights, again from St. Maarten, provided by Winair using de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters, the runway at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport on Saba is just 400m long, a similar length to most aircraft carriers, resulting in only aircraft with Short Take Off and Landing (STOL) capabilities being able to use the airport.
Beach Runway – Glasgow to Barra
From one unique runway to another, Barra airport, on the island of the same name, is famous for runways that disappear with the tide, as they are located on one of the island’s beaches. With flights operated by Loganair, using de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters, the beach is set out with three runways in a triangle, marked by permanent wooden poles at their ends. Although flights are regularly scheduled, the times of these are changed frequently to match the tides, ensuring that landing is possible on the beach runways.
United 154 Island Hopper – Honolulu to Guam
Another flight that makes it onto many aviation bucket lists is United 154, the ‘Island Hopper’ that connects Honolulu with Guam via a sixteen-hour flight and five tiny islands. Continually operated since 1968, all in all the Island Hopper is just over 7,000km long and operates three times a week in each direction. The flights even stop at an active military base, Bucholz Army Airfield on Kwajalein Atoll, with passengers only able to disembark with permission of the US Government.
Harbour Air Float Plane – Vancouver Harbour to Whistler
From a flight that operates mostly over water to one that takes off and land on water, next up on the bucket list is a Harbour Air Float Plane journey from Vancouver Harbour to Green Lake, Whistler in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. With twice daily seasonal flights between the two bodies of water, and onwards glacier tours around Whistler, these are supposedly some of the most stunning flights in the world with the bonus of flying onboard either a DHC-3 Turbine Otter or DHC-2 Beaver float plane aircraft.
World’s Most Dangerous Airport – Lukla
Constructed in 1964 under the supervision of Sir Edmund Hillary, Lukla airport was named the most dangerous airport in the world in 2010 by The History Channel due to its location on a steep hillside and the sheer cliffs and mountain at either end of the runway. Considered as the starting point for treks to Everest Base Camp, the airport sees frequent flights from a number of airlines connecting it with the capital, Kathmandu. Aircraft have to land uphill, towards the mountain, and take-off downhill, towards the sheer drop with pilots having to meet a number of strict criteria before being able to fly into the airport.
One of the World’s Most Remote Airports – St. Helena
At almost 1300km from the nearest airport, the almost as remote Ascension Island, St. Helena airport is located on the island of the same name in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. Opened in 2016, the airport has twice-weekly scheduled flights operated by SA Airlink to Johannesburg or Cape Town, with the St. Helena bound flight stopping in Namibia for refuelling. The flights from South Africa take around 6 hours, including the stop, and there are also occasionally flights from the UK via Ascension Island.
Hopefully this post has given you an insight into some of the flights on my aviation bucket list and maybe even have inspired you to visit some. Keep an eye on my social media and the blog because, who knows, I might be able to tick some of these off my list one day.