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To some, 15+ hours on a plane is the very definition of cruel and unusual punishment. To others, it represents the chance to book premium-cabin award tickets and enjoy a few of the best products in the sky for as long as possible. Today, I’ll look at the five longest flights currently operating and explore award-booking opportunities for seats in first and business class.

The “Longest Flight” Debate

Flight length can be defined by one of three metrics: the distance flown, the time flown or the distance from airport to airport. Because distance and time flown change based on weather, traffic and daily routing, I used the great-circle (orthodromic) distance via to identify the below routes as the five longest currently operating. There are planned/rumored flights longer than some below (New York-Singapore on Singapore Airlines and Dubai-Panama City on Emirates come to mind), but these are the current top five.

Use Points to Book Revenue Fare Sales

With any of the below flights, you can use transferable points to cover the revenue cost of the flight. For most of these points, you must book through that program’s travel portal. Here’s a quick rundown of the points and associated values you can use to book the flights during great fare sales:

American Express Membership Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Citi ThankYou Points 

  • Basic ThankYou points-earning cards: 1 cent per point
  • Citi Premier Card and Citi Prestige: 1.25 cents per point

There are multiple other credit card loyalty programs that allow points to be redeemed toward the revenue price of airfare. The vast majority offer a straight redemption value of 1 cent per point. These include the Navy Federal Credit Union GO Rewards, Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard miles, Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards (1.5 cents per point for Visa Signature cardholders), Bank of America Travel Rewards and Discover it miles.

If there happens to be a particularly great fare sale or a mistake fare for one of these longest flights, it could make sense for you to use the revenue-based programs or transferable points toward the cost of the program rather than transferring points or using airline miles for an award ticket.

For each of the five longest routes, I’ve listed the city pair, operating carrier, equipment flying as of publish time and the great-circle routing distance in miles from airport to airport.

1. Auckland-Doha

Operating carrier: Qatar Airways
Aircraft: 777-200LR
Flight distance: 9,032 miles


All costs are in business class (there’s no first class on Qatar’s 777-200LR) and are bookable one-way.

American AAdvantage: 80,000 miles + ~$75
British Airways Executive Club: 150,000 Avios + $249
Qantas Club: 121,000 points + $252.62
Qatar Privilege Club: 70,000 miles +$79

2. Auckland-Dubai

Operating carrier: Emirates
Aircraft: A380
Flight distance: 8,824 miles

Emirates Skywards: 154,500 miles + $245.55 for business; 210,500 + $245.55 for first
Japan Airlines Mileage Bank: Business 65,000 miles + ~$350, First 105,000 miles + ~$350

While you can use Alaska Mileage Plan to book Emirates flights, it’s not possible to use Alaska Mileage Plan to book Emirates flights from the South Pacific region.

3. Los Angeles-Singapore

Operating carrier: United
Aircraft: 787-9
Flight distance: 8,770 miles

All costs are in business class (there’s no first class on United’s 787-9) and unless otherwise noted are bookable one-way.

Air Canada Aeroplan: 77,500 miles + $5.60
ANA Mileage Club: 136,000 miles + $82.99 (must book round-trip)
Asiana Club: 67,500 miles + $23.60
Singapore KrisFlyer: 97,500 miles + $320
United MileagePlus: 75,000 + $5.60 (availability extremely limited)

4. Dallas/Ft. Worth-Sydney

Operating carrier: Qantas
Aircraft: A380
Flight distance: 8,578 miles

American AAdvantage: 80,000 miles + $29 for business, 110,000 miles + $29 for first
Alaska Mileage Plan: 55,000 miles + $42.30 for business, 70,000 miles + $42.30 for first
British Airways Executive Club: 150,000 Avios + $147.50 for business, 200,000 Avios + 169.50 for first
Qantas Frequent Flyer: 112,000 points + $436.99 for business, 168,000 points+ $436.99 for first

5. San Francisco — Singapore

Operating carriers: United and Singapore Airlines
Aircraft: United uses a 787-9, and Singapore flies an A350-900.
Flight distance: 8,447 miles

All costs are in business class (there’s no first class on the United 787-9) and unless otherwise noted are bookable one-way.

Air Canada Aeroplan: 77,500 miles + $5.60
Asiana Club: 67,500 miles + $23.60
ANA Mileage Club (must book round trip): 136,000 miles + $82.99
Singapore KrisFlyer: 97,500 miles + $125 for the United-operated flight and 88,000 miles + $23.60 for the Singapore-operated flight
United MileagePlus: 75,000 + $5.60 for the United-operated flight and 90,000 miles + $23.60 for the Singapore-operated flight

Bottom Line

If you’re going to fly any of the longest routes in the world, you might as well sit up front on an award ticket and be as comfortable as possible. With the A350-900 Ultra Long Range set to be delivered in 2018, it may not be long before many of the above routes are replaced. Remember with ultra-long flights like these, keep a bit of focus on your health and try to stay as hydrated and as active as possible.

What other ways can you book award seats up front on the longest flights in the world?

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
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  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
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  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
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  • $550 annual fee.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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