Under 150 Miles: What Are The USA’s Shortest Routes?

The USA has 21,739 domestic flights today, November 23rd. The median length of haul is 634 miles (1,255km), more than within any continent, including Asia. But what about short flights? The US is inundated with them.

Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 717
Honolulu to Kahului is the USA’s most frequently served short route. Hawaiian’s B717s are well suited to high-intensity intra-state operations, with large numbers of cycles. Photo: Bryan S via Flickr.

Domestic US routes under 150 miles

There are approximately 305 domestic US routes under 150 miles (241km) on the day of writing, based on analyzing data submitted by carriers and available through OAG. They have over 1,800 flights or about eight in every 100 flights within the country.

As you’d expect, a large chunk is within Alaska. These include the shortest route (Point Baker to Port Protection, a whopping distance of two miles using the DHC-2 Beaver) and all of the top-10 shortest.

Over half (54%) of all sub-150-mile routes are within Alaska, but they have ‘only’ 39% of the flights. There’s a vast network breadth, providing a vital lifeline. However, the lack of population means it’s often not on a high-frequency basis.

US domestic routes under five miles
All of these routes within Alaska are under five miles (eight kilometers) as the crow flies. The USA’s shortest is Point Baker to Port Protection. Image: GCMap.

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Hawaii is key for high-frequency routes

High-frequency short routes typically involve overwater flights or hub-feeding services. Intra-Hawaii comes into its own here, as reflected in the following list of routes at less than 150 miles with nine or more departures today. The 100-mile link from Honolulu to Kahului is the most-served short route with 25 departures across Hawaiian (19) and Southwest (six).

Intra-Hawaii flights are a proper lifeline, where they’re effectively a bus service for workers and other regular commuters. Southwest entered the market and is now the second-largest airline serving the state. It also began Colorado Springs to Denver, which remains its shortest route.

  • Honolulu-Kahului: 100 miles (162km); 25 departures on November 23rd
  • Anchorage-Kenai: 59 miles (95km); 25
  • Portland to Seattle: 129 miles (208km); 20
  • Honolulu to Lihue: 102 miles (164km); 17
  • Honolulu to Molokai: 54 miles (87km); 14
  • Kahului to Molokai: 46 miles (75km); 12
  • Kahului to Kona: 84 miles (135km); 12
  • Colorado Springs to Denver: 73 miles (117km); 11
  • Chicago ORD to Milwaukee: 67 miles (108km); 10
  • Homer to Port Graham: 24 miles (38km); 9
  • Boston to Nantucket: 91 miles (146km); 9
  • Charlotte to Raleigh Durham: 130 miles (209km); 9
Alaska Airlines Dash 8
The Q400 is one of many aircraft used by Alaska Airlines from Portland to Seattle. Photo: Alaska Airlines.

A look at Portland to Seattle

The 129-mile sector from Portland to Seattle is served by Alaska Airlines (14 departures today) and Delta (six). A wide range of equipment is deployed. For Alaska, five flights are by the Dash-8-Q400 and the rest by the A320 (three), Embraer 175 (two), B737-900 (two), A321 (one), and B737-800 (one). For Delta, it’s about the Embraer 175 (four) and B737-800 (two).

In 2019, booking data suggests more than half a million Alaska passengers connected from Portland over Seattle (especially to Spokane, Anchorage, and Boise). Nearly the same volume was point-to-point, clearly reduced now given the decline in business travel, while around 130,000 transited from Seattle over Portland.

Have you flown any of the routes mentioned in this article? Let us know in the comments.