Flight length

Flight length

In aviation, the flight length is defined as the time airborne during a flight.

Short-haul flight: <3 hours
Medium-haul flight: 3 to 6 hours
Long-haul flight: >6 hours



A short-haul domestic flight is commonly categorized into being no longer than 500 mi (800 km) 1.5 hours in length, meaning that all domestic flights within a country such as the United Kingdom are short-haul. In addition to this criterion, the destination airport must be in the same country as the departure airport. Domestic flights can vary greatly in length due to some countries being larger than others.

Short-haul flights

A short-haul flight is defined by Thomas Cook Airlines as a flight under 3 hours in length.[1]

Boeing 737-7H4, a typical short-haul aircraft

A short-haul flight was defined by Cathay Pacific as flights between Hong Kong and Tokyo or Korea as well as between New York and Vancouver.[2]

A short-haul flight is defined by the UK Treasury as a flight under 2000 miles in distance. In the United Kingdom, HM Treasury levy Air Passenger Duty on all flights, according to banding by distance.

Medium-haul flight

A medium-haul flight is a flight between 3 and 6 hours.

Long-haul flights

Long-haul flights are journeys typically made by wide-body aircraft that involve long distances, typically beyond six and a half hours in length,[3] and often are non-stop flights.

Boeing 747-400, the second largest commercial airliner after the Airbus A380

Great circle distance and other factors

A flight will typically take a direct route to minimise flight length. For long-haul flights, the most direct route is a great circle around the curvature of the earth. For example, aircraft travelling west between continents in the northern hemisphere will often follow paths extending northward near or into the arctic region. The resulting route, when shown on a projected map of the world, will appear curved (despite being the shortest route). The great-circle distance between airports may therefore give an approximation of flight length.

However, a flight route will also take into account weather conditions, and air currents. A transcontinental flight in an Easterly direction will often take a more southerly route to take advantage of the jet stream.

Airline routes between San Francisco and Tokyo following the most direct great circle (top), but following the jet stream (bottom) when heading eastwards

See also


  1. ^ Eaves, Matthew (2008). How to Survive a Long Haul Flight. London: Mandival. ISBN 9780955984402. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Thomas Cook Airlines - Prices

External links

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