What Is Considered A Long Haul Flight?

With global travel becoming increasingly common, you may find yourself booking a flight overseas for business or pleasure. But how long must a flight be to be considered a long haul flight? This comprehensive guide will provide a detailed answer.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Flights longer than 6 hours are typically considered long haul flights.

In this approximately 3000 word guide, we will cover everything you need to know about long haul flights. We’ll start by defining what a long haul flight is. We’ll then look at different factors like flight duration, distance, airline classifications, and traveler perceptions.

We’ll also provide a breakdown of the most common long haul flight routes worldwide.

Defining Long Haul Flights

When it comes to air travel, the term “long haul flight” refers to a journey that covers a significant distance and requires a substantial amount of time to complete. These flights typically involve crossing multiple time zones and can be quite tiring for passengers.

Let’s delve into what makes a flight fall into the “long haul” category.

Flight Duration

One of the key factors in determining whether a flight is long haul is its duration. Long haul flights generally last for several hours, typically exceeding six hours. However, there is no specific time limit that categorizes a flight as long haul.

It can vary depending on the specific route and the airline’s schedule. Some long haul flights can last as long as 16 to 18 hours, pushing the limits of human endurance.

Distance Traveled

Another important consideration in defining a long haul flight is the distance traveled. These flights typically cover intercontinental or transoceanic routes, crossing vast distances. While there is no set distance requirement, flights that cover over 3,000 miles are generally considered long haul.

For example, a flight from New York to London or from Sydney to Los Angeles would fall into this category.

Airline Classifications

Many airlines classify their flights based on their duration and distance. They often offer different services and amenities based on the flight’s classification. For instance, some airlines may categorize flights lasting less than three hours as short haul, flights between three and six hours as medium haul, and flights over six hours as long haul.

These classifications can vary between airlines, so it’s always a good idea to check with your specific airline for their definitions.

It’s worth noting that long haul flights often provide more spacious seating arrangements, in-flight entertainment options, and complimentary meals to ensure passenger comfort during the extended journey.

Some airlines even offer premium classes, such as business or first class, with additional luxuries to enhance the travel experience.

Understanding what constitutes a long haul flight can help travelers prepare for the challenges and make appropriate arrangements for their journey. Whether you’re planning a trip halfway across the globe or simply curious about the world of air travel, knowing the definition of long haul flights is a useful piece of knowledge.

Most Common Long Haul Routes

Flights Between North America and Asia

One of the most common long haul routes is between North America and Asia. These flights can span across the entire Pacific Ocean, covering distances of thousands of miles. Some popular destinations on these routes include cities like Tokyo, Seoul, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.

Airlines such as Delta, United, and Cathay Pacific offer regular flights between these regions.

Flights Between North America and Europe

Another popular long haul route is between North America and Europe. These flights can take travelers across the Atlantic Ocean, connecting major cities like New York, London, Paris, and Rome. Airlines like American Airlines, British Airways, and Lufthansa operate frequent flights on these routes, catering to the demand of travelers between these continents.

Flights Between Europe and Asia

Flights between Europe and Asia are also considered long haul routes. Travelers can fly from cities like London, Paris, or Frankfurt to destinations in Asia such as Beijing, Singapore, or Delhi. These flights involve crossing vast distances, often over several time zones.

Airlines like Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Turkish Airlines are known for their extensive networks connecting Europe and Asia.

Flights Between Europe and Africa

Long haul flights also connect Europe and Africa. These flights can take travelers from major European cities like Paris, Amsterdam, or Madrid to popular African destinations like Johannesburg, Cairo, or Nairobi.

African airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines and South African Airways operate these routes, providing connections between these two continents.

Flights Between Asia and Australia

Flights between Asia and Australia are another common long haul route. These flights connect cities like Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane with major Asian hubs such as Singapore, Bangkok, or Kuala Lumpur.

Airlines like Qantas, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways offer regular flights on these routes, making it easier for travelers to explore both regions.

Traveler Perceptions of Long Haul

Long haul flights, typically defined as flights lasting more than 6 hours, can be a daunting prospect for many travelers. The extended time spent in the air can lead to various challenges and discomforts.

Understanding traveler perceptions of long haul flights can help individuals better prepare for these journeys and make the experience more enjoyable.

Fatigue and Jet Lag

One of the main concerns for travelers on long haul flights is the potential for fatigue and jet lag. Spending several hours confined to a plane seat can leave passengers feeling exhausted and disoriented upon arrival.

Jet lag, caused by crossing multiple time zones, can disrupt sleep patterns and leave travelers feeling groggy and out of sync with their new surroundings.

To combat fatigue and jet lag, there are several strategies that travelers can employ. Staying hydrated, avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine, and adjusting sleep patterns in the days leading up to the flight can all help minimize the effects of jet lag.

Additionally, taking short naps during the flight and engaging in light exercise upon arrival can aid in adjusting to the new time zone.

In-Flight Comfort

Another aspect of long haul flights that travelers often consider is in-flight comfort. Spending hours in a cramped space can be uncomfortable and can lead to aches, pains, and stiffness. However, airlines are continuously working to improve the comfort of their long haul flights.

Many airlines now offer amenities such as larger seats, extra legroom, and adjustable headrests to enhance passenger comfort. Additionally, the availability of in-flight entertainment systems, Wi-Fi, and power outlets allows passengers to stay entertained and connected throughout the journey.

Some airlines even provide amenities like blankets, pillows, and sleep kits to help passengers get some rest during the flight.


One way to break up the monotony of a long haul flight is to include a stopover. A stopover is a layover that lasts longer than a typical connection, allowing travelers to explore a new city or country before continuing their journey.

Stopovers can provide a welcome break from the confinement of the plane and offer an opportunity to experience a new destination.

Many airlines now actively promote stopover programs, offering discounted hotel stays, city tours, and other perks to encourage travelers to extend their layovers. This not only allows passengers to stretch their legs and refresh before the next leg of their journey but also provides a chance to discover new cultures and destinations along the way.

Tips for Long Haul Flights

Choosing Your Seat Wisely

One of the key factors to consider when embarking on a long haul flight is choosing the right seat. Aisle seats provide easy access to stretch your legs and move around, while window seats offer a view and a spot to lean against.

However, if you’re someone who needs to use the restroom frequently, an aisle seat might be a better choice. Some airlines also offer seats with extra legroom or seats near the front of the plane, which can make a significant difference in comfort during a long flight.

Websites like SeatGuru can provide detailed information about the seating configuration of different aircrafts and help you make an informed decision.

Staying Hydrated

During long haul flights, it’s important to stay hydrated. The dry cabin air can cause dehydration, leading to fatigue and discomfort. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the flight and avoid excessive consumption of caffeine or alcohol, as they can contribute to dehydration.

Bringing a reusable water bottle and asking the flight attendants to refill it can help you stay hydrated without relying solely on the small cups of water offered during meal service. Additionally, using a moisturizer and lip balm can help combat the dryness of the cabin air and keep your skin feeling refreshed.

Exercising and Stretching

Sitting in the same position for a long period of time can cause muscle stiffness and discomfort. To combat this, it’s important to incorporate some exercises and stretches into your in-flight routine.

Simple exercises like ankle rolls, shoulder shrugs, and neck stretches can help promote blood circulation and prevent muscle cramps. Additionally, taking short walks up and down the aisle can help stretch your legs and provide some relief from sitting for an extended period of time.

Planning In-Flight Entertainment

Having a plan for in-flight entertainment can make a long haul flight more enjoyable. Before your flight, download movies, TV shows, or podcasts onto your electronic devices or bring along a good book to keep yourself entertained.

Many airlines now offer in-flight entertainment systems with a wide selection of movies, TV shows, and music, but it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan in case the options provided are not to your liking.

Additionally, packing noise-canceling headphones can help block out the noise of the aircraft and create a more immersive entertainment experience.


To summarize, flights longer than 6 hours are typically considered long haul. However, factors like distance traveled and airline classifications also help define long haul flights. The most common long haul routes connect major cities across continents like North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.

For travelers, these extended flights can lead to fatigue and jet lag. But with wise preparation and in-flight habits, you can make your long haul flight as comfortable as possible.

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