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Quirky Travel Facts...

Updated: Jun 27, 2022

This article was written by Edmond Rose. Photo from Hial - barra-airport

Most of us make relatively unadventurous trips when we’re flying in, to or from the UK. We take it for granted that we can catch a flight from our local airport to the sun spots of Spain or perhaps further afield to the United States or Asia.

But there are some great curiosities flying close to home. For example, the world’s shortest scheduled flight is one in the Scottish islands. The hop from Westray to Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands covers a distance of 1.7 miles and is scheduled to take just 2 minutes!

Over in the Western isles, there’s an exciting flying experience to be had. The island of Barra uses its beach as an airstrip for its flights – when the tide’s out, of course!

When we fly, we assume that having a long enough runway to take off is the most important thing. But sometimes there are other things which airlines have to worry about. Not far from the end of the runway at London City airport stands a monument to the docklands’ heyday, a 10-storey concrete 1930s building, Millennium Mills. Aircraft taking off have to be sure they can climb higher than the mills, even on just one engine, so this has to be allowed for in planning flights from London City. That means there can be weight restrictions on aircraft taking off – one reason why British Airways’ flight to New York has to make a stop in Shannon to pick up fuel rather than flying all the way in one hop.

Speaking of long flights, how far can you fly non-stop from the UK? Until recently, the longest flight was Heathrow-Jakarta which is 7,284 miles, but Qantas’ new flight from Heathrow to Perth is a staggering 9,009 miles, almost half way round the world!

However, the winner of the longest flight in our world is Qatar Airways’ flights from Auckland to Doha at 9,032 miles – which takes over 17½ hours.

That’s a long time to sit on an aircraft!

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