Would You Rather: Board an 18-Hour Flight or … Eat Glass?

On the pros and cons of the world's longest nonstop flight

By The Editors
November 21, 2016 9:00 am

We’ve had some pretty rough travel moments in our day”

  • Sleeping in a gas station parking lot in the middle of Siberia because the only road out of town was on fire
  • The forced recline of an overnight bus ride between the Mongolian border and Beijing
  • Sitting in a Singaporean McDonald’s for 12 hours because you showed up the night before the Formula 1 race and your hotel stay starts a day later than you thought

We would happily repeat any one of these again before boarding the new longest flight in the world: the 18-hour schlepp between San Francisco and New Delhi on Air India, launching December 2nd

For sure, there’s no faster way at the moment to cover the 7,700 miles between the two cities — so the question becomes, for those forced to make this trek, is it better to go one-and-done? Get it over with in one nightmarish flight? Or break it up?

Anyone looking to make the same trip now, pre-December 2nd, would have, at minimum, a layover in Newark — adding a substantial-though-by-comparison-it’s-basically-nothing three hours to the travel time. 

Despite all the carping above, we’re proponents of getting it all done at once. For one, every time you get off a plane, you run the risk of not getting onto another plane thanks to weather/maintenance/overbooking/etc. Second, the two worst parts of flying, excepting anything involving your plane plummeting to the ground, are, without question, boarding and disembarking. Bring enough gadgets, with sufficient battery time, and you can basically self-isolate in a good portion of the first two seasons of Battlestar Galactica.

Deplaning only reminds us that there’s a fascinating world of adventure, mystery and love in which we could fully participate if not for being trapped on a plane with 180 people aggressively kicking the back of each other’s seats. 


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