When most people think of a domestic flight they likely imagine a quick hop, maybe an hour or two. In some countries even an hour would have you crossing a border in any direction. Americans may think of longer legs given the size of the country – a 6-hour flight from New York to San Francisco is not uncommon, for example. The same is likely for Russians, whose country is even wider. But there are long domestic flights that you may never have imagined, too. Did you know that some of the longest domestic flights in the world are within a Western European country?
Of course, some of this depends how you define “domestic,” and it turns out there are all sorts of arguments we could get into about that. The world is full of fun geopolitical quirks that are sure to spark discussions. In celebration of that, here’s a look at some of the longest domestic flights in the world.
The far-flung position of the Hawaiian islands in relation to the mainland US means flights from the eastern half of the country are some of the longest domestic flights in the world. In fact in terms of flights without a passport check, these could be said to be the longest in the world. These are the longest:
- Honolulu (HNL) – Boston (BOS): 5,095 miles
- HNL – New York (JFK): 4,983 miles
- HNL – Newark (EWR): 4,962 miles
- HNL – Washington Dulles (IAD): 4,817 miles
- HNL – Atlanta (ATL): 4,502 miles
- HNL – Detroit (DTW): 4,475 miles
- HNL – Chicago (ORD): 4,243 miles
France and les outre-mer
This is where things get interesting. France has shown a keen interest in keeping its overseas territories within the fold, and some of them are very far away from Paris. Its 12 “outre-mer” territories in many cases function as any other French “departement” in an official sense, so by many metrics the flights linking them to Paris can be said to be domestic.
There is a caveat though – although these places are part of France and some are even part of the European Union (French Guiana for example), they are not within the Schengen zone. That means a passport check is required at the other end. And perhaps the real test of a domestic flight is a document check? Opinions vary. In any case, these regularly scheduled flights include the longest in the world (between Paris and Reunion island) and a number of other top contenders, if you decide they count.
- St. Denis, Reunion (RUN) – Paris (CDG): 5,809 miles
- Cayenne (CAY) – Paris (ORY): 4,401 miles
- Fort de France (FDF) – Paris (ORY): 4,259 miles
- Pointe-à-Pitre (PTP) – Paris (ORY): 4,199 miles
Don’t forget the Dutch
Though somewhat overshadowed by France, the Kingdom of the Netherlands also includes some Caribbean island territories, a number of which see direct flights from Amsterdam in normal times. And in fact these could rank as some of the top domestic flights, even above many of the French ones.
- Aruba (AUA) – Amsterdam (AMS): 4,898 miles
- Curaçao (CUR) – Amsterdam (AMS): 4,871 miles
- Bonaire (BON) – Amsterdam (AMS): 4,844 miles
- St. Maarten (SXM) – Amsterdam (AMS): 4,312 miles
One to rule them all (kind of)
This is surely cheating because it’s not a regularly scheduled flight, and nor would we expect it to become one. However, this spring COVID-19 had the effect of creating the longest domestic flight ever flown – by a long shot. Again it was all flown within France. Papeete, French Polynesia to Paris flights traditionally stop in Los Angeles enroute, but on a few occasions Air Tahiti Nui, and later French Bee, flew the route nonstop. These days the routing is usually via Vancouver, for the time being. In any case, the award for longest domestic flight ever operated likely goes to this.
- Papeete (PPT) – Paris (CDG): 9,765 miles
Because of COVID-19 flight restrictions, Air Tahiti Nui is operating its service to Paris non-stop from Papeete—without its normal stop at LAX.
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 15, 2020
What about the Russians?
As mentioned, Russia is even longer across than the continental United States, so they see some very long domestic flights. In fact you could make the case that they should take the award for longest “true” domestic flight because at least one doesn’t pass over international territory or water of any kind, unlike Hawaii flights. That would be Moscow to Vladivostok which clocks in at 3,991 miles. However two other Russian routes (which do pass for a short time over water) are longer.
- Moscow (VKO) – Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (PKC): 4,227 miles
- Moscow (SVO) – Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (UUS): 4,140 miles
- Moscow (SVO) – Vladivostok (VVO): 3,991 miles
Honorable mention to the Brits
This one is a stretch because the flight is operated by the Ministry of Defence, but it’s worth mentioning. Passengers can book flights between RAF Brize Norton (BZZ) in England to Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands (MPN) with a refueling stop at Ascension Island (ASI). Both of these segments are long, and as Ascension is a “locally governing dependency” under the British crown, perhaps it counts? It’s also just a very cool flight.
- RAF Brize Norton (BZZ) – Ascension (ASI): 4,182 miles
- Ascension (ASI) – Mount Pleasant (MPN): 3,914 miles
What do you say really counts as the longest domestic flight? And are there any other contenders we’ve missed here? Let us know!