A Look At The World’s Busiest Long-Haul Routes

Last week we looked at the world’s busiest international routes according to the organization OAG (Official Airline Guide) and its annual publication. Further examining the 2019 report, there were more interesting findings regarding the world’s busiest long-haul routes. Here’s what we discovered…

The latest A380 for ANA, in Emerald Green. Photo: ANA

First off, we have to define what long-haul means – to OAG at least. OAG defines long-haul as a journey that is over 4,000km. With that in mind, let’s proceed with the list:

The list of busiest long-haul routes

  1. New York to San Francisco (JFK-SFO): 15,587 flights
  2. New York to London (JFK-LHR): 14,195 flights
  3. Honolulu to Los Angeles (HNL-LAX): 11,628 flights
  4. New York to San Francisco (EWR-SFO): 11,302 flights
  5. Boston to Los Angeles (BOS-LAX): 11,262 flights
  6. Boston to San Francisco (BOS-SFO): 10,475 flights
  7. Honolulu to Tokyo (HNL-NRT): 7,644 flights
  8. Dubai to London (DXB-LHR): 7,109 flights
  9. Los Angeles to London (LAX-LHR): 6,677 flights
  10. Singapore to Sydney (SIN-SYD): 6,048 flights
Airbus A321 in air
American Airlines is, of course, one of the key players in American transcontinental flights. Photo: Airbus

What’s so interesting about the list?

Americans travel across the continent. And they do it a lot. Look at this list and you’ll see that eight of the 10 routes have one or both cities in the United States. In fact, five of the top six routes are US city pairs. New York, Boston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles feature prominently on this list.


The best place for a superjumbo. We can see from this list that some of these routes use the Airbus A380 – some quite intensely! Did you know Emirates has 43 weekly flights between London and Dubai? In fact, there are six daily services – all using the Airbus A380. On the other side of the world, ANA uses its two ‘Flying Honu’ A380s on the route. The third and final A380 in that order from Airbus has yet to be delivered, but when it arrives it is expected to operate Tokyo Haneda to Honolulu.


Additionally, British Airways flys the A380 between London and Los Angeles, while the Sydney-Singapore route is flown with both Qantas and Singapore Airlines and their A380s.

Hawaii?! We also found it interesting that Honolulu made it on the list twice. One route connecting it with Asia and the other with the United States. There are many popular vacation destinations in the world – this is clearly one of them.


Travelers to/from Japan seem to have to best on-time experience with just under 90% of HNL-NRT flights operating on time. HNL-NRT is also amazingly diverse in terms of airline choice. Major US carriers United and Delta operate on the route as well as smaller player Hawaiian Airlines. Then, of course, there are the two main carriers of Japan: ANA and Japan Airlines. In addition to this, Korean Air operates this as fifth-freedom route using an Airbus A330.

Emirates A380
Emirates has a stunning six A380 flights every day. Photo: Getty Images

The OAG’s 2020 report should be coming out fairly soon and we’re very excited to see the latest numbers.

Were you at all surprised by this list? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments.


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JFK-LAX would easily make the list (and probably at #1), but it’s 17km short of the 4000km cutoff


Always knew JFK-LHR would be popular


A bit surprised not to see LHR-SIN, or HKG – YVR…


4000km seems too short to be true long haul, it seems more like medium haul.


Be interesting to see this as total # seats available, even if back of the napkin math


Serious bad taste typo in this article! Last I looked, both Honolulu and Los Angeles are still in the United States. Thus, HNL-LAX is a domestic route! Ever hear of the term “Mainland”??? As a kamaaina, I’m offended.