If you are going to sit in an airplane for longer than twelve hours, the destination should be worth the discomfort, especially if you are in economy class.
This article will discuss non-stop flights to ten places that are worth the effort to fly to and ten places that might not be worth the journey. Although some places are listed as not worth the long flight, that does not mean that you should not travel there if it is somewhere you really want to go.
The destinations mentioned in this article were selected based on the length of a non-stop flight- 12 hours or more - flying out of Toronto Pearson Airport (YYZ), New York John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK) or Los Angeles Airport (LAX). Therefore, there are other long-haul flights out of other airports around the world that would be on a list of longest flights but are not mentioned in this article. Similarly, there are destinations that would require 20+ hours to fly to but cannot be reached on a non-stop flight. The current longest non-stop flight is also not on this list, it goes from Auckland, New Zealand to Doha, Qatar and takes approximately 17 hours and 40 minutes.
20 (Worth it!) Dubai, United Arab Emirates - The Luxury is Worth the Long Flight!
To fly to Dubai, you will need to spend at least 12 hours on a plane if you take a direct flight. However, Dubai is accessible with non-stop flights from Toronto, New York and Los Angeles, which leaves some options in terms of duration. Despite the long flights, Dubai is becoming a more popular travel destination. The city offers extensive shopping opportunities, unique man-made islands to explore, many luxury hotels and even indoor skiing.
If you are flying from Toronto or New York, expect to spend at least 12 and a half hours on the plane. But if you are flying from Los Angeles, you are looking at a flight that is almost 16 hours long.
19 (Maybe next time) Guangzhou, China - Religious Sites Heaven?
Guangzhou is located in the southeast of China and serves as a major port for the country. While Guangzhou is considered a tourist destination, most of the major attractions in the area are the religious sites and museums. If this is your main interest when travelling, then the city might be worth the long flight. Otherwise, it might be a better idea to consider visiting the city when you are already in the area.
Whether you are flying from Toronto or New York, you are looking at a non-stop flight that will take 15 and a half hours or just over 16 hours.
18 (Worth it!) Singapore - Only a 17 Hour Flight!
The longest flight on this list, at just over 17 hours, is Los Angeles to Singapore. The small island country is located in South East Asia, but due to a history of British colonization, English is one of the official languages. Singapore is becoming a more popular travel destination for those looking for a warm, tropical destination. As well, the city is known for being very clean and quite safe. The city also has a botanical garden which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is over 150 years old. Also, the “Garden by the Bay” is a popular place for tourists to visit.
17 (Maybe next time) Beijing, China - Megacity, Mega Smog
While the direct flights to Beijing are shorter than those to Shanghai, they are not that much shorter. From both New York and Toronto, you are looking at a flight that is 13 hours and 40 minutes long.
Beijing, China is considered to be a “megacity” due to both the area of the city and the population size. The city has air quality problems due to pollution, which also creates smog. Plus, the city has a humid climate, which when combined with the smog results in high temperatures within the city. The smog can get to be so severe that Beijing has had to implement smog 'red alerts' in the recent past.
16 (Worth it!) Hong Kong - Modern Skyscraper City
Hong Kong is a growing city with a huge population. Located in southeast China, but functioning as an autonomous territory, Hong Kong is a former British Colony with an abundance of skyscrapers and its own unique culture. Due to the need to create more living space, the city is very modern in its architecture, but there are still a few more historic sites to visit as well.
To get to Hong Kong, you can take a direct flight from Toronto, New York or Los Angeles, but all of these non-stop flights will have you flying for at least 15 hours.
15 (Maybe next time) Seoul, South Korea - Plenty of Palaces and History
Seoul, South Korea is a popular destination in northeast Asia, but the direct flight is going to be long. Flying from Toronto will take you 13 hours and 35 minutes, while flying from New York will take you 14 hours and 15 minutes.
The city has five palaces that are designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites and are popular tourist sites. However, the city also often has high levels of air pollution, making it a destination that might not be suitable for all travelers. As the city is worth a visit, it would make a good destination to visit while already in Asia, rather than flying direct from North America.
14 (Worth it!) Manila, Philippines - A Mix of Intriguing Cultures
Manila is the capital of the Philippines, and while it might not be everyone’s first thought when choosing a vacation location, it is a warm climate city and it has a coast line. Manila offers a variety of attractions for tourists, including the historic walled city centre, a large urban park and various museums and zoos. As well, there are multiple historic sites associated with different religions within the city.
To get to Manila, you can take a flight that is at least 14 hours and 15 minutes long if you want to fly there non-stop from Los Angeles.
13 (Maybe next time) Taipei, Taiwan - Capital Shopping Opportunities
Taipei is the capital of Taiwan, located in the northern portion of the island. It offers numerous museums and cultural sites for visitors to see. The city is also known for its shopping opportunities and its nightlife. As the city is a good place to visit as a tourist, it would be a good place to see on a side trip if you were exploring other Asian countries. But due to the long flight, the city might not be the ideal destination to fly direct to.
From New York it will take just under 15 hours and from Toronto it will take just over 15 hours.
12 (Worth it!) Melbourne, Australia - Say hello to friendly people and friendlier penguins
Melbourne is located in the southeast of the Australian continent; it offers many attractions for visitors and the city is known to be very friendly. In the city there are numerous museums and historic buildings, often in the Victorian Era style, plus hosts the Australian Open (Tennis Grand Slam), early in the year.
Additionally, there are many sites that are accessible on a day trip from the city. These include the lush Dandenong Mountains range, epic surfing sites, the Great Ocean Road, and Phillip Island, host to a colony of penguins.
If you are looking for direct flights to Australia, flying out of Los Angeles is your best bet. Flying to Melbourne will be the longest flight, at 15 hours and 45 minutes at least.
11 (Maybe next time) New Delhi, India - Heavy Rain and Dust Storms?
New Delhi, India has a couple non-stop flight routes from the east coast of North America. From Toronto you are looking at being in the air for 13 hours and 50 minutes. If you are going from New York, its 14 hours and 10 minutes.
The city is the capital of India and has many places of interest to see if you are visiting. However, due to the city’s location, it experiences heavy rains during Monsoon season and dust storms during the dry months. Furthermore, the city is located on fault lines and is therefore prone to earthquakes. Pollution has also meant that the air in New Delhi is poor in quality.
10 (Worth it!) Auckland, New Zealand - The Shortest Flight on the List!
Auckland has a lot to offer travelers, including historic theatres, museums and bridges. There are parks and volcanic craters in and near the city providing plenty of green space to explore. The islands located in the harbour offer more natural spaces to visit. Auckland’s Sky Tower is a popular place to get views of the whole city area.
Flying to Auckland, New Zealand from Los Angeles will take you only 12 hours and 45 minutes if you take a non-stop flight. While that may seem like a long time, keep in mind that this is one of the only direct flights to New Zealand from North America, so that time period would only increase with layovers.
9 (Maybe next time) Shanghai, China - Not as much Air Pollution
Flying to Shanghai China is at least a 14-and-a-half-hour flight from Toronto, and only slightly longer if you are going from New York.
Shanghai has a huge population and is actually the most populated city in the world. The city has many parks and public green spaces to offer variation from the buildings and skyscrapers. Close to the city is the Shanghai Disneyland Resort which provides a different tourist site compared to the museums in the city. Shanghai can experience Typhoons, and is often humid and warm during the summer, but cold during the winter. Furthermore, the city has air pollution problems, although the pollution levels are not as high in Shanghai as they are in other Chinese cities.
8 (Worth it!) Tokyo, Japan - More than Just Mt. Fuji and Sushi
Tokyo, the capital of Japan, offers visitors numerous options for shopping and specialized cultural districts to see. As well, there are plenty of opportunities to try the different Japanese cuisines. Tokyo also has multiple national parks and other natural areas to visit in and around the city. Reasonably close to the city is the famous Mt. Fuji, which can be seen from the city on occasion.
If you are looking to fly direct to Tokyo, you can get a flight from Toronto or New York. Flying out of Toronto will take just under 13 hours, but if you are departing from New York it will take at least 14 hours.
7 (Maybe next time) Mumbai, India - Largest City in India
If you are looking for a non-stop flight to Mumbai, your best bet it from Toronto. However, this flight will have you up in the clouds for 14 hours and 45 minutes.
Mumbai is the largest city in India in terms of population numbers and is located on the west coast of the country. The city can get severe rainfall during monsoon season and has high temperatures throughout the year. Air pollution has caused the city to have poor air quality, but it is being monitored by the World Health Organization and the Indian government. Mumbai might not be for you if you have health concerns like asthma that the air quality could trigger.
6 (Worth it!) Sydney, Australia - 42 Wallaby Way?
Sydney, Australia is a highly popular tourist destination, especially if you like beaches and surfing. Sydney is often famous for its distinctive Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, but it also has many museums and even the oldest library in Australia. There are also aquariums and casinos for visitors to spend time in as well. The harbour and the harbour bridge are popular sites, as are the National Park, and the Botanical Garden within the city. If you prefer beaches, Bondi Beach is probably one of the most famous in Australia. You could fly to Sydney directly from Los Angeles, but it will take you 14 hours and 45 minutes at least.
5 (Maybe next time) Doha, Qatar - Future Desert Destination?
Doha, Qatar is reachable by non-stop flight from Los Angeles. However, this flight will be at least 15 hours and 25 minutes in duration.
Doha is the capital of Qatar and is located on the east coast of the country. Despite being located on the coast, the city experiences a hot desert-like climate year-round. The city is not a major tourist destination yet, but that could change in the future. In 2022 Doha will be hosting the FIFA World Cup, which will definitely bring in visitors and revenue for the city. If Doha interests you, it might be worthwhile to wait a couple years before visiting the city.
4 (Worth it!) Tel Aviv, Israel - Fashion and Nightlife
Tel Aviv, Israel might not be on everyone’s list of places to visit; however, it is a city that has a lot to offer visitors. The city is known to be LGBT friendly, and has a large pride parade every year. As well, the fashion industry is growing in Tel Aviv and the city is on its way to becoming a major design centre. The city is also known to have a vibrant nightlife, but also plenty of museums and cultural sites. As it is sits on the shores of the Mediterranean ocean, there are plenty of beaches and green spaces to spend some time.
Los Angeles to Tel Aviv is a direct flight that will take 14 hours and 20 minutes at least.
3 (Maybe next time) Johannesburg, South Africa - Major Airport, Minor Destination?
Flying direct to Johannesburg South Africa will take you just under 15 hours from New York. This is one of the only routes to South Africa that has a non-stop flight option.
Johannesburg has not been considered a major tourist destination, despite the city’s large airport. Museums and other tourist attractions have been built to entertain those who are flying in and out of the city, but if you are looking to travel to South Africa, some of the more southern cities such as Cape Town, might be a better option as they offer more activities for tourists to experience.
2 (Worth it!) Brisbane, Australia - Sunshine And Koalas Galore
Brisbane might not be as well-known as other Australian cities, but it is still worth a visit. It is located on the east coast of Australia and is close to the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, both of which are popular resort destinations. Brisbane itself is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the world and has plenty of distinctive architecture accentuating the city. There is also a Koala sanctuary located in the suburbs.
Flying to Brisbane is actually the shortest non-stop flight from Los Angeles to Australia as it is only 14 hours in duration.
1 (Maybe next time) Lahore, Pakistan - Lots of History, Not a Lot of Tourists
Lahore, Pakistan might not be a destination that a ton of tourists are looking to discover, but there is a direct flight option out of Toronto if it is on your list. The flight would take at least 13 hours and 20 minutes.
Lahore is popular with Pakistani travelers but is not yet a major destination for international tourists. The city has many UNESCO World Heritage Sites and religious sites, which are worth a visit. However, the city also experiences high temperatures year-round and monsoons during the summer months. If you are looking to visit Lahore, it might be better to go when already in the region, rather than fly directly there.