[dropcap size=big]F[/dropcap]rom next February, Emirates will be cruising the longest route in commercial aviation, from its Dubai base to Panama City in Central America. The 13,821km flight will take 17 hours and 35 minutes – almost long enough to watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy twice over – and pips Qantas’ Sydney-Dallas Fort Worth service by a hair’s breadth: 17km and 40 minutes. Here’s three things to know about ultra-long-haul flights.

1. The Plane Facts:

Boeing’s twin-engined 777s, especially the 200LR variant (LR stands for Longer Range), are the most popular planes for marathon flights. Airbus’ quad-jet A340-500 fell out of contention, no thanks to high fuel costs. Singapore Airlines’ discontinued flight 21 from Newark to Singapore, which flew 18 hours and 50 minutes over 15,345km making it the all-time endurance champion, deployed the latter plane.

2. Corners Of The Earth

As of press time, all of the 30 top long-distance flights involves a North American airport. European cities do not feature on this list not for their lack of economic importance, but for their central location in the “land hemisphere”, the half of the Earth that contains the largest area of terra firma. Lucky them.

3. Excuse Me, You’re Going The Wrong Way

In a publicity stunt, a Boeing 777-200LR (the same model Emirates is deploying on the Panama route) flew non-stop from Hong Kong to London, unremarkable except that it did it the long way round: eastwards. The flight took 22 hours and 22 minutes, traversing a distance of 21,602km, instead of the normal 9,647.

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