The First-Ever Direct Flight From the East Coast to New Zealand Is Coming Soon

And it's going to be long AF

An airplane from Air New Zealand taxiing at an airport. The airline will begin offering the first direct flights from the East Coast of the U.S. to New Zealand in September 2022.
Is it worth the 17 hours and 35 minutes of flight time?

Air New Zealand has announced plans to launch a direct route from the East Coast to New Zealand, making it not only the first of its kind, but also one of the longest flights in the world — a significant development, if not also a bit nightmarish, too.

Per a new report from Travel + Leisure, the new route, which will run from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to New Zealand’s Auckland International Airport, will begin service on September 17. Flights will be offered on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays by way of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which features 27 business class seats, 33 premium economy seats, 215 economy seats and 13 economy Skycouches.

“The US has always been a key market for us, and this new route cements our commitment to growing opportunities for tourism between the two countries,” Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Greg Foran said. “In the six years leading up to Covid, the US visitor numbers to New Zealand doubled so we expect our much-awaited non-stop service to be incredibly strong year-round.”

This comes off the back of the news that New Zealand will once again welcome vaccinated international travelers come May. For those not keeping tabs on the country, New Zealand began cracking down on foreigners traveling to and from China and implemented a two-week quarantine for residents returning home on February 3, 2020 — just one day after a man in the Philippines became the first person to die from COVID-19 outside of China. By mid-March, the borders were closed entirely to all non-residents, an edict that would span the entirety of the following 19 months. In July of 2021, they even cut ties with Australia, a neighbor with whom they’d formerly shared a travel bubble. They were among the most aggressive travel-related restrictions imposed at the time and earned New Zealand the designation of the most “closed-off” nation in the world. This new route is undoubtedly an attempt to breathe life into a long-stagnant industry.

Currently, the longest direct flight in the world is 18 hours and 40 minutes, from New York City (JFK) to Singapore (SIN), followed by an 18 hour and five minute flight from Auckland (AKL) to Doha (DOH). This new route, which will be 17 hours and 35 minutes long, will soon be the third.

The good news is that this year Air New Zealand was named the safest airline in the world and, in 2020, it was voted the best airline in the world, too. The bad news is that a 17 hour and 35 minute flight is still a 17 hour and 35 minute flight.

Significant, but nightmarish.


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