How Fast Can You Circumnavigate the World on Commercial Flights?


This video was made possible by Skillshare. The first 200 people to sign up with the link
in the description can learn for free for two months. So here’s the question: how fast can you
circumnavigate the world on regularly scheduled, commercial flights? And before you you try to convince an airline
to start a flight around the North Pole, which technically would cross every line of longitude,
there are some rules, and they’re not even my rules. The good news is that I get to flex my French
because these are the rules of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. The bad news is that to set a record you need
to fly 22,750 miles—the length of the tropic of cancer. That number may seem rather arbitrarily set,
but as the governing body of all aviation competitions, the FAI gets to decide the rules,
but those are really the only rules. As long as you start and finish in the same
place, travel that distance, and take only commercial airlines, you can set this record. So, strategy. You’re not going to want to go this way…
at all. You see, between here and here the winds blow
strongly to the east while between here and here they blow slightly less strongly to the
west, and then that mirrors in the southern hemisphere. So, you could fly all between the tropic of
Cancer and Capricorn, that is, if you don’t want to break a record. You see, not only are these easterly winds
weaker than the westerly winds further north and south, there’s also just not much aviation
in this area of the world. More than half of the world’s population lives
north of the Tropic of Cancer which means that, by sticking in this area, you get more
flights flying faster. But the biggest difficulty is scheduling. You see, flight schedules are just arranged
in a way that can make it really difficult to find short connections. For example, nearly all of the flights from
North America to Europe leave in the evening. If you factor in time change, these flights
generally take 6 hours plus 5 or 6 hours of time change from the east coast which means
that you either have to leave in the early morning or evening in order to arrive during
the day in Europe. Out of the hundreds of daily flights crossing
the Atlantic, only 9 leave in the morning. They generally leave between 8 and 11 am eastern
then the evening departures leave between 5 and 11 pm. That means there are only really eight hours
per day when you can catch a transatlantic flight. If you want to connect on the US east coast,
all your flights need to be arranged to get you there in one of those eight hours. But enough beating around the bush, here’s
the record to beat held by David Springbett—a former insurance broker from the UK. He flew from Los Angeles to London to Bahrein
to Singapore, to Bangkok, to Manila, to Tokyo, to Honolulu, to Los Angeles in 44 hours and
6 minutes, but spoiler alert—you’re not going to beat his record, because he did it
in 1980 so he could use this—the Concorde. The Concorde was known for shuttling passengers
from London and Paris to New York in three hours, but it did have a short-lived route
between London and Singapore via Bahrain in 1979 and 80. That meant David Springbett was able to fly
this section of his trip in 8 hours and 40 minutes instead of the 13 hours it takes today
non-stop. So what’s the fastest you can fly around
the world today? Well, perhaps 53 hours and 14 minutes. This record was set on all subsonic flights
by two Australians who flew from Sydney to Los Angeles to London to Bombay to Perth to
Melbourne to Sydney, but, I have a better suggestion. Let’s say you start the very day this video
comes out—October 19th, 2017. You leave London Heathrow on the 11:25 AM
Singapore Airlines Flight to Singapore arriving at 7:30 AM the next morning, then just under
two hours later you catch the 9:25 Singapore Airlines flight to San Francisco. Even though the flight is 15 hours, thanks
to the International Date Line you arrive just 15 minutes later at 9:40 AM, still on
Friday, then you catch the 10:40 United flight to Houston, connect to the 5:50 pm United
flight to Mexico City, then get dragged off at 8:05 with just enough time to hop onto
the 9:40 PM British Airways flight to London. If all goes well, that gets you back in London
after having traveled 23,131 miles—more than the required distance—at 2:10 PM on
Saturday—50 hours and 45 minutes after you left, beating the current record. But there’s probably a better itinerary
than that, but I couldn’t find it, so, since I’m such a fan of free labor, you should
go and find it, submit it to and then, in a week, whoever has the shortest
time will get a free t-shirt and year-long membership to Skillshare, which happens to
be the best place to learn whatever you want to learn. They have over 17,000 courses about anything
and everything. They even have a course by yours truly about
how to make an educational video essay. If you decide to attempt to break this record,
you should definitely sign up for Skillshare because their iPhone and Android apps let
you download any one of their classes offline so you can learn from anywhere. The best thing is that you can learn for free
for two months by being one of the first 200 people to sign up over at and
then after that it’s as low as $10 per month. Now get out of here.


62 Responses

  1. Cheeseburger Monkey

    May 6, 2019 9:14 pm

    I can go faster than the speed of light
    I can go around the equator 1000 times per yoctosecond
    no actually infinity^infinity^infiniteh^ifeteh^irgehehdhhfhhnhjcfgfhcgdzgbscfnhjengkjhjrbshbcrfhhem yotta-light-years per yocto-plancktime-second

  2. Dark Shadow

    May 17, 2019 2:32 pm

    I can only imagine the condition of my body after travelling 37,000 km on Airplane spanning 15 + timezones.

  3. Z Phish

    May 21, 2019 8:52 am

    The longest flight that totally sucked for me was from Chicago to Seoul. I'll never take that flight again. I take the Narita to LAX flight now. I'm American but live in Manila (most days), but go home to Kansas once a year so my mom does not blast my FB page.

  4. Mark Venning

    June 2, 2019 1:29 am

    QF73 SYD->SFO, dep 17:40 arr 14:00
    EK226 SFO->DXB, dep 16:45 arr 19:25+1
    EK416 DXB->SYD, dep 21:30+1 arr 17:20+2
    Total distance 23,000 miles
    Total time 47 hours 40 mins

  5. Starkiller

    June 15, 2019 6:11 am

    arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr he put Melbourne as Adelaide this mother fucker

  6. eco60810

    June 23, 2019 12:20 pm

    Mon 09 Sep 11:25 LHR – SIN 07:30+1 (13h 05m) [SQ317 – A380]
    SIN layover (2h 10m)
    Tue 10 Sep 09:40+1 SIN – BNE 19:30+1 (7h 50m) [SQ245 – A350]
    BNE layover (1h 05m)
    Tue 10 Sep 20:35+1 BNE – LAX 16:15+1 (12h 40m) [QF55 – 787]
    LAX layover (1h)
    Tue 10 Sep 17:15+1 LAX – LHR 11:45+2 (10h 30) [NZ2 – 777]
    = 23,198 miles (37,333 km) in 48h 20m

  7. Jason Arcuri

    August 8, 2019 4:16 pm

    It’s faster now because of the nonstop SQ flight to Newark. You then take the Newark/Heathrow flight. Boom I beat your record

  8. Thomas Santos

    August 17, 2019 1:44 am

    easy just do a New York – London – Bahrain – Bangkok – Manila – San Francisco – Houston – New York this would be about 46 hours and 45 mins not including transfer times

  9. Aries Lee

    August 31, 2019 2:09 am

    How about:
    Start at london
    go to tiwan
    go to san fransisco
    go to brazil
    end at london o.o
    like and comment if you think it'll work
    and tellme thing i mishpelled please

  10. Aries Lee

    August 31, 2019 2:11 am

    you have 1 million subs after you said to unsubsribe…

    Wtf people listen to him(or her?)
    tell me if i mishpelled somthing worng.

  11. Harvey Vandermeer

    September 28, 2019 12:00 am

    u can take the longest flight on earth Singapore to JFK New York then take the short JFK to Singapore in 39 hours and 59 minutes

  12. Koninkrijk der Nederlanden

    October 12, 2019 1:45 am

    I Know its a little to late but you could just fly around the 60th parallel around 2-3 times and you would be there in around if my math is correct 48 hours

  13. Norbert Stósz

    October 23, 2019 12:30 pm

    I know a faster way around, altough it's from Budapest, Hungary. But it's faster.
    1: BUD 11:30》PVG 5:00 (+1)
    2. PVG 11:30 (+1)》JFK 13:25 (+1)
    3. JFK 17:50 (+1)》BUD 8:25 (+2)
    Total time: 44 h 55 m (if I am correct)

    There might be a faster one, but I only searched for flights from BUD, as I live there.


Leave a Reply