What Is the Shortest Flight?

(Last Updated On: March 8, 2022)

Of all the terrible airport things to have to sit through, sitting on the plane while it’s in the air is probably the least-bad part. Until you land and for some reason sit at the gate for 10 years before you can deplane and now everyone is standing up for absolutely no reason. Also someone is clapping. There’s always a clapper. Anyway, let’s not reminisce about airport nightmare stories and instead let’s try and minimize our time dealing with airlines. What is the shortest flight?

Westray to Papa Westray

You probably saw that the flight route in the title had the same word in both destinations should probably tell you something about how short the shortest flight is. Heck, the Westray airport looks more like where someone who has a big lawn might store their gardening equipment. 

The flight takes you between two islands in the northern region of Scotland; the Orkney Islands of Westray and Papa Westray. They’re only 1.7 miles apart (2.7 km), which means if you have a pair of binoculars or a nice-ish camera, you could probably make out the Papa Westray airport while standing at the Westray one. If you want to turn that into minutes, you might as well turn it into seconds–because the Westray to Papa Westray flight will run you on average around 80 seconds. The record sits at 53 seconds. Loganair, the airline awarded the contract by the Orkney Islands Council generally lists prices pretty cheap, so it’s also a lot better than trying to get a flight to somewhere in flyover country. Such a low price is thanks to the flight being largely subsidized as a public service obligation. If you’re American, you can kind of lump this under the “public transportation” banner. 

Seriously, those prices are heinous.

Okay, but why?

This whole deal sounds really stupid at face value–especially when you think about how much hassle going to the airport is, if you’ve ever flown a large commercial flight. Especially when you consider that the shortest commercial flight seats around eight passengers and has one pilot per flight. Little less weird when you account for the islands’ ~90 residents, though. 

The thing is bridges are expensive, and while plans to make bridges between Westray and Papa Westray have been floated, they have yet to really materialize. You could take a ferry as an alternative, though.

While the world’s shortest flight has become popular among tourists because people want to say they’ve taken the shortest flight, it’s also because there are some cool things to see if you’re into historical sites. There are a lot of archaeological sites on Papa Westray–like the Knap of Howar. It’s probably one of the oldest stone houses in Europe, so lots of people in archaeology fly over for their studies. You could also see some sea birds. 

So you’ve seen the shortest flight, see if you can tell which flights are super long here.

About the Author:

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Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and is currently studying at the University of Washington School of Law. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019; sometimes the blog is an excellent platform to answer random personal questions he has about the world. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.