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Is the World’s Longest Flight the World’s Most Uncomfortable?

Until earlier this week, the title of the world’s longest commercial airline flight belonged to Delta, whose B777 service between Atlanta and Johannesburg covered 7,329 nautical miles in 15 hours and 14 minutes.

The title on Monday shifted to Qantas’ A380 flight between Dallas and Sydney: 7,452 nautical miles in 15 hours and 30 minutes.

The Qantas flight isn’t new. But it was previously operated with a B747, which required a fueling stop in Brisbane. The switch to an Airbus A380 jet now allows the airline to operate the flights non-stop.

Not only is Dallas-Sydney the longest scheduled airline route, the Airbus A380 is the largest passenger jet. Random data point, courtesy of Qantas: The volume of the A380’s three decks (including cargo/baggage hold) is 1,570 cubic meters, enough space for 35 million ping-pong balls.

More to the point, since the planes are transporting people, not ping-pong balls, Qantas’ A380s are configured to carry 484 passengers in 14 first class suites, 64 business-class fully-flat Skybeds, 35 Premium Economy seats, and 371 economy seats. The non-Premium coach seats are configured 3-4-3, and are 17.5 inches wide with a 31-inch pitch (legroom). For context, most of Southwest’s seats have a pitch of 32 or 33 inches.

More than 15 hours in a seat with less legroom than you’d enjoy on a short-haul Southwest flight? That’s a less-than-enticing prospect. This is a case where paying extra, or using frequent-flyer miles, to upgrade to Premium Economy would pay big comfort dividends. The Premium Economy seats are arranged in a more spacious 2-3-2 configuration and feature between 38 and 42 inches of legroom.

Otherwise, the world’s longest flight might be the world’s most uncomfortable flight as well.

Reader Reality Check

Fifteen-plus hours in a crusher coach seat?

This article originally appeared on

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