Qantas Flies Its Longest-Ever Commercial Flight—Right Over Antarctica

The repatriation flight broke the Australian airline's records

Qantas 787

Courtesy of Qantas

Most people don't love long flights, but that's just a part of the game for Australians who love to travel. Australian airline Qantas just set a new record for the company's longest passenger flight—a 9,333-mile journey from Buenos Aires to Darwin that took 17 hours and 25 minutes.

The lengthy trek was made by a Boeing 787-9 named "Great Barrier Reef," which carried 107 passengers, four pilots, and 17 other crew members, flying south over the edge of Antarctica.

"Qantas has always stepped up to a challenge, especially when it comes to long-haul travel, and this flight is an excellent example of the capabilities and attention to detail of our flight planning team," Captain Alex Passerini, one of the pilots on board, said in a statement. "There were some truly spectacular views as we tracked across Antarctica, which was an extra bonus for our passengers who were very glad to be coming home."

Now, there's a little bit of a caveat here—this isn't a regularly scheduled passenger flight, but a repatriation flight; under normal circumstances, the longest Qantas flight is Perth to London, a 9,009-mile journey.

And to throw another wrench in the mix, it's also not Qantas' longest-ever flight. That award goes to a 19 hour, 19-minute London-to-Sydney jaunt that covered 11,060 miles. But that undertaking was part of the airline's Project Sunrise, a research experiment studying the effects of long-haul flights on passengers. As such, it was not bookable by the public, and therefore ineligible for longest-flight contention.

The longest-ever commercial flight (that is, one bookable by paying passengers) by distance was an Air Tahiti Nui flight between Papeete in French Polynesia and Paris, covering 9,765 miles. But again, that was a special pandemic exception flight.

In normal times, the world's longest flight is between Singapore and Newark, New Jersey, which is flown by Singapore Airlines. The route spans 9,536.5 miles and takes some 18-plus hours to fly.