Yesterday’s post about US Airways’ new flight from CLT (Charlotte Douglas)-HNL (Honolulu), which will only offer the choice to purchase meals, got me thinking: Could this flight, being 10 hr 28 min on the outbound, be the longest nonstop flight in the world without a free meal? After a lot of research, the answer is: almost.
I’ve put together a chart of the 20 longest nonstop flights in the world without a free meal. Of course, all of these flights offer Buy on Board (BOB) meals, or the option to pre-order a meal for a fee. Nevertheless, considering the length of these flights, is the airline industry going too far? The chart is ranked by flight time, according to each airline’s website, rather than miles flown. And since the flying time varies depending on the inbound or outbound flight, each flight is listed separately.
And voila, here it is!
As you can see, the new CLT-HNL flight on US Airways is only 7 minutes shy of the world’s actual longest flight without a free meal, HNL to SYD (Sydney) on JetStar Airways, with a flying time of a whopping 10 hours and 35 minutes!
JetStar dominates the top 20, with 12 separate flights from 7 hours and 30 minutes and longer without a free meal. JetStar, a low-cost Australian airline, operates “a la carte ” flights to Asia and Hawaii, in which on board meals can be pre-ordered for a fee before the flight.
The rest of the 8, not surprisingly, are U.S. legacy carriers flying from beyond the West Coast to Hawaii. U.S. Airways takes two places with its new CLT-HNL route. American Airlines also takes two places in the top 20, and two “runner-up” awards, with its DFW (Dallas Fort-Worth)-HNL, and DFW-OGG (Kahului, Maui) flights. Finally, United Airlines makes up the rest with is ORD (Chicago O’Hare)-HNL flight, and its ORD-OGG and KOA(Kona, Big Island)-ORD nonstops.
US Airways, American, and United all offer the option to BOB, but on a 10 hour+ flight, what happens when meals to purchase run out? The legacy carriers never stock enough meals for all pax, but rather estimate based on past sales of how many meals will be purchased. Conversely, JetStar requires you to pre-order your meal, ensuring supplies will meet the demand.
These four airlines are not the only ones to ever be on this list. Flyglobespan, a British low-cost carrier, used to operate flights from the UK to the US without a free meal, offering instead the option to pre-order a meal. Currently, Flyglobespan flights to the US include a complimentary meal.
Nor will these four airlines be the only ones on the list in the future. Ryanair, the infamous Irish low-cost carrier, plans to launch trans-atlantic service from Europe in the next few years, with promises of base fares as low as 6 British Pounds. Presumably, these flights would use a BOB option rather than complimentary meals. Those flights going beyond the East Coast would easily help Ryanair make it to the top of this list.
A last thought is whether American, United, and US Airways should rethink the current BOB scheme on flights to Hawaii from beyond the West Coast. Delta Airlines, which does not provide complimentary meals on domestic flights, makes an exception for flights from Atlanta to Hawaii and Alaska, most likely because of the long flying time. Moreover, unlike JetStar, these three airlines do not market themselves as low-cost carriers. Nevertheless, because BOB domestically appears to be here to stay, Hawaii will continue to be thrown into that domestic category, and pax heading for the islands better not come hungry!
Have you been on one of these top 20 “horror flights”? Is there a flight that would currently make the top 20 that I missed? Let me know.