‘Nearly There, Sir. Just Seventeen Hours to Go’

Can you imagine flying non-stop for 17 hours? Well, now you can experience it for real. Earlier this month, Qatar Airways announced its new route; a mind-bending 17-hour, 30-minute flight between Doha and Auckland covering 9,028 miles. Given that this is officially (for now at least) the longest airline route in the world, the announcement got a lot of press coverage.

Whether it was the right sort of press coverage, the airline will probably never tell, as all the headline writers picked up on the same thing – how tough the journey would be. The Daily Mail wrote ‘How to survive the longest flight in the world’, as did copycat Bloomberg, who also wrote, “How to Survive the Longest Flight in the World’. Traveller penned a more original headline ‘Long-haul flight tips: How to survive the world’s longest flight’.

We were particularly struck by the New Zealand Herald’s piece which included an interview with Qatar Airways cabin crew member Nate Hovee. In the article, he ‘describes how staff and passengers cope with the longest commercial flight in the world’.

We can’t see readers exactly queuing up to buy a ticket with these sorts of headlines.

Nate is clearly eyeing a promotion at the airline as he described in the article the best part of ultra-long-haul flying as “having extended quality time to interact with customers and fellow crew members”.

Yea, right. Does that include the screaming toddler in row 67 we wonder?

Qatar haven’t got long before they might lose this particular record. In fact they may be overtaken as soon as next month by Qantas which will be announcing its new direct route from London to Perth, Australia. The route will also cover 9,000+ miles and take at least 17 hours. So far so similar, except this route will cross no less than eight time zones. We suspect the crew will give up making time announcements as they’ll just get too confused.

But both airlines must be looking in their rear view mirrors at SIA, which is eyeing a relaunch of its nonstop Newark-Singapore route. That is estimated to take just under 19 hours flying time and so will take the record from both Qatar and Qantas. What Nate will make of it we won’t know.

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