Qantas’ Record Longest Flight


Travel to Australia from New York has previously required a layover, an indirect journey necessitated by the length of the journey. However, Qantas has now completed a nonstop flight from New York to Sydney, the latest of developments in a continually growing exploration into the capabilities and limits of planes and staff on long-haul direct flights. As part of “Project Sunrise”, this journey was one of a number of test flights as Qantas anticipates being able to offer regular services of similar length flights from both the United States and the United Kingdom all the way to Australia.


How many runways does Sydney Airport have?


Sydney Airport has three runways, and in 2018 was ranked in the top 5 airports in the world for those that have 50 million passengers every year. Australia’s busiest airport, it is also one of the oldest airports that is continuing to operate, celebrating its centenary in 2019. Sydney itself enjoys a bustling tourist scene with almost 15 million domestic and international visitors in 2018, and iconic features like the Sydney Opera House making the trip worthwhile.


It will be interesting to see how tourism in Sydney, and Australia in general, is impacted by the further development of the non-stop trip, which may well encourage many more people to make the trip across the world to see down under. The flight from New York to Sydney is not the first non-stop journey of this magnitude undertaken by Qantas, but it shows their dedication to making progress in this department.


Fly from Heathrow to Perth direct


Last year, Qantas launched what was then their record long direct flight, from London Heathrow Airport to Perth Airport, spanning 14,498 kilometres. Singapore Airlines currently holds the record for the longest direct commercial flight, with their route from Singapore Changi Airport to Newark Airport in New Jersey taking 18 and a half hours. This surpassed Qatar’s 17 and a half hour route from Auckland Airport to Doha’s Hamad International Airport. For their journey, Qatar was half an hour longer than the Qantas direct flight between Perth Airport and London.


The frequent breaking of records and the various milestones having been set over the last few years show that airlines are endeavouring to offer more and more direct flights that span incredible distances in order to make it even easier for passengers to get to anywhere in the world, no matter where they are staying.


However, this growing proliferation of far-reaching direct flights raises questions about the strain on both staff and the passengers themselves. Is it good for anyone to be trapped on a flight for that many hours in one go? It is a journey that saves a lot of time, and while it is still a novelty and relatively rare offering, Qantas and other airlines offering similar direct flights will be able to price all the seats rather highly. Regardless, it has the prospect of being a monster of a journey for all those onboard.


From New York to Sydney


In spite of these concerns, there are a number of hopeful and celebratory sentiments being expressed by those that were onboard the New York to Sydney flight. From the University of Sydney, Professor Marie Carroll claimed to feel “amazingly good”, excited by her feeling that she would suffer only “minimal jet lag”. According to Carroll, there were scheduled moments of stretching to reduce any discomfort, and she spoke of the direct flight as an “experiment to see if airlines can adjust their schedule of food, beverages, exercise and lighting to be in sync with the destination time”. Another passenger, Nick Mole, similarly spoke of feeling good upon landing, attributing it in part to the eight hours of sleep he managed to get, but wouldn’t make any claims about how the direct flight would impact any amount of jet lag.


A history of breaking records


Each test journey has proven to be largely successful so far, and Qantas has more in the pipeline for the coming months. The chief executive of Qantas, Alan Joyce, has called this flight “a really historic moment” for the industry, evidently eagerly awaiting the upcoming research trips from London to Sydney in November, and then New York to Sydney in December. Joyce also said: “After nineteen hours on this flight, I think we’ve gotten this right. It feels like we’ve been on a flight a lot shorter than that.”


With success in sight, Qantas will hope to make a decision about whether the services will be offered to all commercial passengers at the end of 2019, and they would then be available in the next two or three years. Although Joyce is obviously happy with the progress Qantas is making, Reuters news agency has reported that currently no commercial aircraft has the capacity to fly a marathon route of this nature with both a full passenger and cargo load. This New York to Sydney flight had no cargo and a restricted baggage load, with the intention of reducing the likelihood of needing to re-fuel.


Time will tell how quickly aviation technology will be able to develop in order to make these services a regular reality, but all evidence so far points to them being in operation in the next few years.


Table of top 10 record-breaking distance direct flights



Airport code



Flying time

Sydney to New York



9940 miles

20 hours

Newark to Singapore



9534 miles

18.5 hours

Doha to Auckland



9027 miles

17.5 hours

Heathrow to Perth



9009 miles

17 hours

Abu Dhabi to Auckland



8843 miles

17 hours

Los Angeles to Singapore



8769 miles

17 hours

Houston to Sydney


United Airlines

8596 miles

17 hours

Dallas to Sydney


United Airlines

8557 miles

17 hours

New York to Manilla


United Airlines

8446 miles

16.5 hours

San Francisco to Singapore



846 miles

16.5 hours


Your frequently asked questions answered


How many runways does Sydney Airport have?


Sydney Airport has three runways


How far is it from Perth to Heathrow?


It is 14,498 kilometres from London Heathrow to Perth


Which car hire companies are best in Sydney?


By booking with Enjoy you compare a range of Sydney car hire companies and find the best prices. Partners include Alamo, Europcar, Keddys, Enterprise and East Coast.


How far is the world's longest direct flight?


In 2019 Qantas tested a direct flight from Sydney to New York JFK, spanning 9940 miles. Prior to that the longest flight was Newark to Singapore which is 9534 miles


Can I fly direct from Doha to Auckland?


Yes, with Qatar Airlines and it is 9027 miles taking 17 and a half hours.


Can you fly from Abu Dhabi to Auckland direct?


Yes, with Etihad Airways and it takes 17 hours.


Do Qantas fly direct from New York to Sydney?


Qantas have recently tested a direct flight from New York to Sydney. It is not known when or if it will be available to the public.


Do Qantas fly direct from London to Australia?


Yes you can fly direct from Heathrow airport to Perth.


Other useful links


Qantas Airlines

United Airlines

Sydney car Hire

Melbourne car Hire

Cairns Car Hire

Getting to know the roads in Australia

More about Enjoy