9 Wonderfully Obscure Long-Haul Flights

by David Derrick, Director of Air Product

New, fuel efficient aircraft and better route planning technology, along with far-reaching codeshare partnerships means today you can travel more places in less time than ever! Gone are the days where you often had to bounce through 3 or more airports before arriving at your destination. But, I have to admit, I do often long for the days where we were routed through mysterious, almost random refueling stops. Doesn’t this 1955 Pan American World Airways route map awaken your wanderlust, even a little?

Back in the early 90’s I flew my first round-the-world trip. The first place I wanted to go from California was Bali. Garuda, the national airline of Indonesia, still flew out of LAX in those days, but it was a long way. In fact, we had to stop in both Honolulu and another, very remote island called Biak. Naturally, I chose to take advantage of both stops! Looking back, that 2 day stop in Biak was one of the highlights of my trip. I didn’t know anything about the area, it’s people or its history. I turned out to be a beautiful, undeveloped tropical island with friendly people and zero tourists.

Biak

So today, are there still any routes as “random” and magical as HNL-BIK? Luckily the answer is yes. Here is a list of flights you can fly today. See you in Ascension!

Providence, Rhode Island to Praia, Cape Verde

Airline: TACV Cabo Verde Airlines
Miles: 3400
Time: 8:00 hrs
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
When: Year-round 1x per week

Why would there be a direct flight between America’s smallest state and a remote island hundreds of miles off the African coast? This flight serves New England’s 90,000 Cape Verde immigrants, who have been a presence in New England since the early 19th century. Cape Verde is an amazing destination, and a simple Google search would convince you to visit (if you like beaches, food, music, and celebrating Carnival).

Praia, Cape Verde to Recife, Brazil

Who: TACV Cabo Verde Airlines
Miles: 1800
Time: 4:00 hrs
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
When: Year-round 1x per week

If you’ve hopped over to Cape Verde, why not continue over to Brazil, only four hours away? In the early years of transatlantic flights, fuel and distance posed a problem to flight paths. Airlines flew through Recife across to Africa and then up to Europe, to minimize the distance between refueling points. Luckily there is still enough of a cultural link to support direct passenger flights. Recife is renowned for its beach party life and its Carnaval celebration in nearby Olinda.

Olinda Carnaval

Anchorage to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky

Airline: Yakutia Air
Miles: 1950
Time: 4:45 hrs
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
When: Summer seasonal 1x per week

While long ago there used to be a land bridge between Russia and Alaska, it’s now still close enough to swim between Russian and Alaskan islands in the Bering Strait. The United States purchased Alaska from the Russian Empire on March 30, 1867, for 7.2 million U.S. dollars at approximately two cents per acre ($4.74/km2).

There are still many ties between Russia and Alaska. This flight, between the Russian oblast of Kamchatka and Anchorage, exists as a bridge for Russian expats living or studying in Alaska, fly fishing, bear hunting, and business reasons.

And Alaskans travel to Kamchatka for fly fishing, bear hunting and business. It’s wild, sparsely populated, and even has volcanos.

Kamchatka

Rio De Janeiro to Luanda, Angola

Airline: TAAG Angola Airlines
Miles: 3850
Time: 10:55 hrs
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300
When: Year round, several times per week.

There aren’t many direct options between South America and Africa, yet they’re both continents with rapidly expanding economies (South Africa and Brazil are both part of BRICS, an association of five major emerging economies). Many AirTrekkers fly from Brazil to South Africa on the South African Airways Sao Paulo-Johannesburg non-stop flight. But why not throw Angola into the mix?

Brazil and Angola have ties both from sharing the same language (Portuguese) and because of historical slavery routes. Angola isn’t on most travel lists, but if you’re interested in the history of the African diaspora it might be worth a look.

Oakland to Terceira (Azores, Portugal)

Airline: Azores Express/SATA International
Miles: 5000
Time: 9:25 hrs
Aircraft: Airbus 340-300
When: Summer seasonal 1x per week

Azorean immigration to Bay Area started in the 1820’s as whalers moved to California in search for whaling waters. This was followed by subsequent migrations to the East Bay and the Central Valley in the early 1900s, and again starting in the 1960s escaping earthquakes and volcanoes. The cultural connections remain strong today. The Azores are a popular vacation destination. Retrace the ancient sea route of the Age of Discovery, or visit the World Heritage city Angra do Heroísmo.

Frankfurt to Whitehorse, Yukon Territories, Canada

Airline: Condor Flugdienst
Miles: 4500
Time: 9:30 hrs
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
When: Seasonal 1x per week
This flight from Germany to the remote Canadian wilderness has been bringing European tourists to the Yukon for 18 years! Germans do it to satisfy their “fernweh”, but there are many reasons to visit the Yukon. Beyond the obvious beauty of nature, you can find hot springs, wildlife preserves, snowmobiling, and winter sports of all sorts.

Reykjavik, Iceland to Anchorage, Alaska

Airline: Icelandair
Miles: 3400
Time: 7:10 hrs
Aircraft: Boeing 757-200
When: Seasonal, 2x per week
Why fly from a cold, lightly populated place a long way to another cold lightly populated place? First, Icelandair has greatly expanded their low-cost long-haul routes between North America and Europe within the past few years, and this is a great way to get to Europe from Alaska.

the Aurora Borealis

Shanghai to Tijuana

Airline: Aeroméxico
Miles: 6600
Time: 14:30
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
When: Year round, 5x per week

There are several reasons why a Shanghai-Tijuana route exists (and it’s a long one at almost 15 hours!) First, it allows travel between Asia and Mexico, Central America, and Latin America without needing a transit visa for the USA. It also serves the small but growing Chinese population in Mexico. There are 15,000 Chinese living in Tijuana’s “Barrio Chino” (Chinatown).

Barrio Chino

Oxford, UK (BZZ) to Ascension (ASI) to Falkland Islands to (MPN)

Airline: Royal Air Force charter
Miles: BZZ-ASI 4200, ASI-MPN 3900
Time: 9:00 hrs + 8:45 hrs
Aircraft: A340-300
When: Up to 3x per week (only 10 civilians per flight)

This flight is so obscure you can’t book it via traditional portals: it must be arranged through the Falkland Islands government office in London. It’s hard to imagine a more remote place on Earth than Ascension Island.* It’s over 1,000 miles from the nearest mainland or any other people. If you’re looking to get away from someone, this may be your place! Bonus, it has great beaches.

*Unfortunately, As of 14th April 2017,the service via Ascension has been temporarily suspended while repairs to its runway are made. These flights are now going through Sal Island, Cape Verde. The only way to visit it by sailing on the sparsely run Royal Mail Ship from Cape Town.

Make this a part of a bigger trip by taking the only other flight from the Falklands, the weekly flight from Punta Arenas in Chile. This is operated by LAN Chile every Saturday.

Talk to one of our expert Travel Planners (1-877-AIRTREKS) about how you can include these and many other fantastic flights in your own round-the-world journey.

Or, try your own route around the world via TripPlanner!