What’s Considered a Long Flight?

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The more time you will be spending in the air to get to your destination, the more planning is needed. Matters like the items you will place in your carry on luggage and the seat you will book have to be considered for you to have the most comfortable plane ride possible.

Needless to say, it is essential to be aware of the key differences between a long haul flight and a short-haul flight before you plan your upcoming trip.

So what is considered a long flight? Typically, a plane ride that lasts anywhere from 6 to 12 hours is regarded as a long haul flight. Most long haul flights are intercontinental, which means they travel between continents. However, in large countries such as Russia and the US, there are also long-distance domestic flights.

Aside from the number of hours spent flying, a flight can also be categorized as either short haul or long haul according to the definition of flight lengths by different airports and airlines, too.

Regardless of the case, the fact remains that both types of flights come with their own set of pros and cons — yes, there are benefits to enjoy even if you are about to take the dreaded long haul flight.

The way you prepare for the flight also varies tremendously if you would like to keep the travel experience as pleasing as possible.

Don’t stop reading now if you are about to ride a plane anytime soon — below you will come across some important matters about flying for a short or long period of time.

Short Distance Flight Versus Long Distance

Just like what’s mentioned above, a long haul flight is something that takes 6 to 12 hours to complete. Needless to say, if it will take you over 6 hours to get to your destination, then the flight is regarded as a long haul one.

On the other hand, a short-haul flight is any flight that takes less than 3 hours to complete. Short-haul flights, more often than not, are offered by airline companies that travel from one city to the other in the same country.

However, do take note that some countries are simply too large, and that’s why domestic airlines also tend to have long haul flights even without leaving the country or going to a different continent.

Take note that aside from short-distance flights and long-distance flights, there are also medium-haul flights — they take anywhere from 3 to 6 hours to complete.

One example of a medium distance flight is something that is offered by Singapore Airlines, which takes passengers from Singapore to Perth.

Have you heard about ultra long haul flights? To know more about these flights that will really test the patience of a passenger like you, keep on reading!

Ultra Long Distance Flights

By now, you are completely aware of the key differences between a short-haul flight and a long haul flight. Did you know that there is also what’s referred to as an ultra long haul flight?

Just like what the name suggests, it is a flight that is longer than a long haul flight, and it has actually happened many times already in the past.

There are actually many record-breaking flights in terms of the number of hours spent in the air that took place in 2018.

For instance, Singapore Airlines flew from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, the US to Singapore Changi International Airport for almost 19 hours non stop.

That longest flight in 2018 covered a distance of more than 9,500 miles — now that’s definitely longer than a typical long haul flight!

However, that’s not the only ultra long haul flight that you probably missed back 2018. There’s also Qantas Airways that flew from Perth to London for nearly 19 hours, covering a distance of over 9,000 miles without any stop.

Many airline companies have followed suit as well. For instance, back in October 2018, Philippine Airlines flew from Manila straight to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, US. The said flight is now regarded as the 8th longest flight ever.

While there are ultra long haul flights, there are also flights that are record-breakers in that their passengers do not spend a lot of their time on the plane — they have to stay in their seats for only less than 3 hours, sometimes less.

One flight that’s super short happened in 2018, too, when some airlines were taking everyone’s breath away with their ultra long haul flights. In the said flight, the airplane only spent 57 seconds in the air going from one Scottish Island to the next.

Usually, a flight between the two islands takes an average of one minute and a half to complete, but on that day, when the conditions were perfect, the journey only lasted for less than a minute!

With a flight as short as that, there’s no need for any personal item to be stashed in carry-ons, and no one will have to fight for some legroom or struggle to get some sleep.

Sadly, most flights we typically take last way longer than this world’s shortest commercial flight ever.

Pilots Need to Sleep Just Like Everybody Else on the Plane

Speaking of sleep, you may be wondering if pilots also get to enjoy some much needed Z’s during long flights. The simple answer is yes. Pilots are allowed to take a trip to dreamland while being more than 30,000 feet in the air.

But before you panic, you need to know that commercial planes, including most especially those that embark on long-distance flights, typically have two pilots each. As a matter of fact, there are also airlines in which three pilots are present during long haul flights.

There are a couple of reasons why there’s a pair of pilots on an airline.

First and foremost, it’s for safety — the combined knowledge and expertise of a couple of pilots is definitely so much better at making sure that the plane will get from point A to point B without a hitch.

Second, there are two pilots available so that one may sleep while the other takes over completely, and then after some time, the pilots can switch roles.

It’s no secret that getting some shut-eye is important to keep the brain functioning very well — passengers would definitely want the brain of a pilot to stay in excellent shape!

Not a lot of people are aware that massive commercial airplanes have sleeping quarters made exclusively for pilots who would like to rest or sleep.

Usually, they are located above first class and just behind the cockpit. Access to them can be made by taking secret ladders or stairs.

If truth be told, pilots are allowed to spend half of their time on a flight having sweet dreams, of course, one at a time only.

On the other hand, pilots who are involved with short-haul flights are required to stay awake at all times. In fact, the planes they pilot usually do not have sleeping quarters reserved for pilots.

And by the way, there are also areas on commercial planes reserved for flight attendants who would like to sleep during long flights.

Unless you are flying business or first class, sadly, it can be hard to sleep like a baby just like pilots and flight attendants who have their own private sleeping quarters.

Worry not because we have a helpful article on how to sleep comfortably in economy class.

Related Questions

Why do planes avoid flying over the Pacific Ocean?

There are a couple of reasons why. First, for safety reason, the commercial airlines, make sure that there are numerous airports along the way. Second, for maximum profits, they take the shortest route possible.

Do stopovers make long haul flights better?

If you would like to see more places on your way to your destination and you’re not in a hurry to get there, then taking a flight with stopovers is definitely a great idea.

Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay

Reed Harris

Reed is a traveler and blogger. He's planning to visit all states in the USA. He's been in 31 states so far.

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