Lufthansa prepares to operate its longest flight ever

Jan 20, 2021

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With hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, Germany’s flagship carrier, Lufthansa, is well positioned to serve much of the world without a stop. Flights to parts of Asia and Africa come in at less than 5,000 miles each way, for example, and even the West Coast of the U.S. requires less than 6,000 miles of flying.

It’s especially rare to see Lufthansa operating flights much longer than 7,000 miles, aside from regularly scheduled service between Frankfurt (FRA) and Buenos Aires (EZE), which clocks in at 7,140 miles and over 13 hours each way. When it departs on Feb. 1, Lufthansa flight 2574 will be anything but ordinary, though.

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With a total time of roughly 15 hours, the airline’s upcoming record-breaker will cover some 8,500 miles — roughly the same distance as Frankfurt to Perth, Australia (PER) — traveling from Hamburg (HAM) to Mount Pleasant (MPN), a Royal Air Force station in the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory not far from South America’s southern coast.

Flight 2574 will carry 92 passengers onboard an Airbus A350-900, with seating for almost 300. Half of the passengers are scientists headed to Antarctica, while the other half are the ship crew members that will take them the rest of the way from MPN.

Lufthansa solicited flight attendant volunteers to work the flight, and received some 600 applicants, despite the strict 14-day quarantine required for all passengers and crew.

Photo courtesy of Lufthansa.

The usual Antarctica connection through Cape Town (CPT) is currently unviable due to the pandemic, and the risk of exposure in South Africa, leaving a connection in the Falkland Islands as the only option at the moment.

After the flight, the scientists will join a ship for the rest of their journey to Antarctica, onboard a specially equipped icebreaker called the Polarstern, or “pole star.” (Notably, United’s business-class product is also named for a pole star, called Polaris.)

The Lufthansa A350, meanwhile, will return with its pilots and flight attendants as flight 2575, enroute to Munich (MUC) two days later, on Feb. 3. The aircraft will also bring home the Polarstern’s current crew, along with any waste generated during the round-trip flight to the Falklands.

Featured photo courtesy of Lufthansa.

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