To some, air travel may be an (increasingly unpleasant) way of getting from A to B. While it’s true that the days of dressing up and getting excited about a flight because it was an event in itself are truly long gone, there do remain a handful of flights worth booking purely for the experience and bragging rights. So, buckle up and get ready to put the following flights on your bucket list.
1. The Flight that Lands on a Beach
Much ado has been made about Maho Beach on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, which lies directly under the final approach to the nearby Princess Juliana Airport. But the Scottish island of Barra, in the Outer Hebrides, takes aviation enthusiasts on a flight path that actually ends on the beach — its runway is the only one in the world where scheduled flights land directly on the beach. This comes with some logistical issues: the runway becomes submerged by water once a day, so flights are coordinated with tide times, and the public is asked to stay off the beach when the airport wind sock is flying.
2. The World’s Longest Flight
Launched in January this year, Qatar Airways’ Doha to Auckland service travels a whopping 9,032 miles and takes an achingly long 16 hours and 10 minutes. That makes it the longest flight in the world… but it probably won’t hold on to that title for long. This month, Qantas announced plans to offer direct flights between Sydney and London (10,553 miles), Brisbane and Paris (10,287 miles), and between Melbourne and New York City (10,353 miles). Singapore Airlines is also considering re-launching its 9,534-mile, 19-hour route from Singapore and New York City, which was cancelled in 2013.
3. The World’s Shortest Flight
For comparable bragging rights but less back pain and swollen ankles, head back to Scotland for the Westray to Papa Westray flight. This route between two islands in the Orkney archipelago is the world’s shortest scheduled flight, covering only 1.9 miles — you read that right — and taking less than two minutes (although the record, aided by the wind, stands at 53 seconds).
4. The Most Expensive Flight
This one will probably have to remain unchecked-off on most people’s bucket lists, but lucky you if your pockets are so deep as to afford $38,000 for a one-way ticket between New York City and Mumbai, with a connection in Abu Dhabi. Granted, this Etihad flight is no ordinary experience. You will spend the flight seated on the leather couch in the living room, at the dining table in the dining room, or in a freshly turned-down bed in the bedroom of The Residence, a private three-room suite, which comes with the use of a chef and a butler. Worth it?
5. The Flight with the Scariest Landing
There are several contenders for this dubious accolade. Take Saba Island airport in the Caribbean, which is home to reportedly the world’s shortest commercial landing strip, at each end of which steep cliffs plunge dramatically into the surrounding sea. There’s also Courcheval Airport, where 1,722 feet up in the French Alps, pilots have to contend with blizzards and ice — oh, and a steep drop into nothing. But Antarctica’s Ice Runway — as the name suggests — is made entirely made of ice. So we’re going with that one as the most nail-biting experience of all.