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Use Points to Sit Up Front on the 5 Longest Flights in the World

Nov. 14, 2017
6 min read
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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

  • Most MR-earning cards, such as the Platinum Card from American Express: 1 cent per point
  • Business Platinum Card® from American Express: 1.54-2 cents per point on business and first-class fares and on economy fares with your selected airline. Grandfathered cardmembers have one year from time of approval to still receive the 50% points rebate.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

  • Chase Freedom (No longer open to new applicants) and Chase Sapphire cardholders: 1 cent per point
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Chase Ink family of cards: 1.25 cents per point
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: 1.5 cents per point

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 Visa® 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.

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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?

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