Check out our whizzy flight emissions calculator, and win a free Flight TerraPass

Flight TerraPassWe’re all about education at TerraPass, and so one of the aspects of the recently announced flight product that we’re most pleased with is the flight emissions calculator. It’s a moderately nifty Google Maps mash-up with a thick Ajax frosting that makes it incredibly easy to see exactly how much carbon is emitted when you fly from point A to point B.

For those in our readership who don’t speak dork, what that last sentence means is that the TerraPass flight emissions calculator is easy, interactive, and fun to use. Did you know that flying between New York and LA create 1,918 lbs of CO2 per passenger? That flying between Atlanta and Ushuaia creates 4,821 lbs of CO2 per passenger? Now you do.

One little challenge I set for myself while testing the calculator was to try to discover the two commercial airports in the world that are furthest apart. Now I’m throwing this game out to the general public. Find the longest route you can between any two airports, and submit it as a comment to this post. Whoever comes up with the longest route first wins a free TerraPass Puddle Jumper, good for 2,500 lbs of CO2 (about 6,000 flight miles).

An added bonus: if the winning entry beats my personal best, I’ll upgrade you to an TerraPass Intercontinental, worth 7,500 lbs of CO2.

Some additional details:

  • Remember to include your email address when you post your entry, so that we can get in touch with you. Don’t worry, your email address won’t be displayed.
  • I expect a winning entry will turn up fairly quickly, but this content will officially close one week from today.
  • It doesn’t matter whether your route can actually be flown. In fact, I can guarantee that the winning entry will not be possible via a direct flight.
  • We’re only interested in the results offered by our flight calculator, regardless of whether alternative calculations are possible. For example, it might be possible to shortcut certain routes by flying over the North Pole. Doesn’t matter. Not interested. The TerraPass flight calculator is the ultimate arbiter of truth and justice so far as this contest is concerned.

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  1. Mike - July 12, 2006

    They best I could find was Christchurch, New Zealand to Reykjavik, Iceland, which is 21,786 miles.
    Depending on which way you measure, the Earth’s circumference is about 24,900 miles, so Christchurch to Reykjavik and back is just about a full circumference worth of flying!

  2. Rick Johnson - July 12, 2006

    The flight calculator and product are really cool. The circumference of the earth at the equator is roughly 24,901.4 miles. There is a slight bulge at the equator, so it is logical to find two commercial airports on opposite sides of the earth near the equator. That means the theoretical longest distance between two commercial airports is 12,450.7 miles. The closest I could get to this theoretical max is the route from Quito, Ecuador to Padang, Indonesia – 12,321.5 miles. How did I do?

  3. Scott Wohler - July 12, 2006

    Auckland, New Zealand to Seville, Spain: 24,762 miles

  4. Scott Wohler - July 12, 2006

    The next longest I could find was Punta Arenas, Chile, to Irkutsk, Russia at a close 24,444 miles.

  5. Chad Freckmann - July 12, 2006

    The longest commercial flight that I am aware of is JFK-Singapore 19,050 miles.

  6. Penelope - July 12, 2006

    You don’t seem to include possibilities for South Africa; it’s a long way from Anchorage.

  7. Anonymous - July 12, 2006

    Not to nitpick, but does jumping on a regularly scheduled flight generate any incremental CO2 compared to the seat flying empty?

  8. Ezra - July 12, 2006

    Yes, the longest commercial non-stop flight is JFK-Singapore, followed by a close second JFK-Bangkok. Both use great-circle routes that fly nearly over the pole.

  9. Dave - July 12, 2006

    The longest I can think of is San Francisco to Oakland, going the long way around.
    Seriously, though, I can’t get it to work in Opera – I get a javascript error “there was a problem retrieving the XML data: not found” as I enter departure or arrival cities.

  10. Joe - July 12, 2006

    I’d have to say Wellington, New Zealand to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia which does not show up correctly on your locator. In order to get there one must travel first to Moscow (20,565 miles) then transfer to Khabarovsk (8,442 miles) for a total of 29,007 miles. Talk about jet lag. 😉

  11. Chris - July 12, 2006

    Off Topic Post.

    I’d like to see a slight modification to your car emissions calculator so I could figure out what my car is emitting to a trip to (lets say) San Diego from Oakland. I could then compare that information with the amount of CO2 emitted if I flew and make an informed decision on the best way to travel base on CO2 emissions. Anyone else?

  12. Michelle - July 12, 2006

    It doesn’t work with Mac OSX + Firefox. Says it can’t recognize SEA, SFO, LAX…how sad is that?

  13. Michelle - July 12, 2006

    AND…your posting system entered a URL for me when I didn’t, at “http://optional./” I’d rather give you a real URL about carbon neutral actions, in fact. Let’s see if this works… Thanks.

  14. Shannon - July 12, 2006

    OK… Not sure about the airports… Dawson, Canada to Cape Town, South Africa? Some others that have actually happened…
    Longest commercial: Singapore to Newark?
    Longest non-stop passenger filght: On December 10 2005 a Boeing 777-200LR dubbed the Worldliner completed the world’s longest non-stop passenger airline flight traveling 13,422 miles or 21,602 kilometers from Hong Kong to London, UK in roughly  22 hours and 40 minutes.
    Longest flight: Amazingly the record for the longest airplane flight dates back all the way to 1958 – 1959.
    On December 04 1958 Bob Timm and John Cook left Las Vegas, NV in a Cessna 172  and didn’t land again until February 07 1959. In the 64 days 22 hours 19 minutes and 5 seconds they were airborne they manage to cover a distance comparable to flying six times around the Earth. During the trip they were constantly refueled in flight and swooped down to grab water and food from a chase car that followed them.

  15. Alex Stange - July 12, 2006

    Terra Pass staff: Is there any plan to wrap emissions offsets in with ticket purchases, similar to the deal you made with Ford earlier this year? My wife and I were just talking the other day about how convenient that would be, to do it all in one purchase.

  16. San Diego Johnny - July 12, 2006

    Where’s the drawing that was discussed in the email?

  17. Logan Kenobi - July 12, 2006

    The flight CO2 calculator is cool, thanks for putting that together. But would you consider putting driving results on the same page, so one could compare the emissions from a driving trip to a flying trip?

  18. Adam Stein - July 13, 2006

    So far Scott Wohler is in the lead with Auckland, New Zealand to Seville, Spain. For the record, this does beat my personal best (Ushuaia to Ulan Bator), so Scott is eligible for the TerraPass Intercontinental.
    Map props to Rick Johnson for his #2 guess, Quito to Padang, which he discovered using a theory-driven approach.
    In response to everyone who wrote in asking for a comparison between flying and driving — we can actually enable this quite easily. The only issue is, what’s the appropriate comparison to make? What car are we comparing the flight to? How many people are riding in the car? In general, flying in a plane is roughly equivalent to driving alone in a Toyota Prius. So planes are slightly more fuel-efficient per passenger than most cars, unless you have more than one person in the car. Also, short flights are less fuel efficient than long ones, so it could make more sense to drive short distances than to fly, particularly when you start to factor in things like emissions created getting to and from the airport.

  19. Adam Stein - July 13, 2006

    Regarding the browser problems people are seeing — thanks for reporting them. We actually don’t officially test on Opera, so I can’t make any promises there. We do support Firefox on Mac and Safari 1.3, so hopefully we’ll get the bugs worked out as quickly as possible.

  20. Dustin Brubaker - July 13, 2006

    Palmerston, New Zealand (PMR) to Madrid, Spain – Barajas (MAD): 24, 767 miles

    I must admit that I am a bit confused as to how you can fly just short of the circumferance of the Earth, while only traversing half that length. Unless the flight calculator takes into account the actual flight paths of the airplanes, and/or lay-overs?

  21. Adam Stein - July 13, 2006

    Nice, Dustin. I’m not sure I understand your question, but keep in mind that the flight calc is giving you a round-trip distance. The actual distance between the two points is half that indicated by the flight calc.

  22. Keith - July 13, 2006

    I definitely appreciate the comparison between flying and driving. I live in DC and have family in NY, and I, regrettably, often fly. So, I’m happy TerraPass has come out with this calculator/offset program.

    I’d like to point out however, that taking the train, if possible, is better than both. Similar variables probably apply, but I believe it is much better, especially for a DC to NY route. In fact, I’m trying to do this more often now…

  23. Phil - July 13, 2006

    Chatham Island, New Zealand to Montpellier France, 24,802 miles.

  24. Phil - July 13, 2006

    This one will be tough to beat. Neiva, Colombia to Palembang, Indonesia, 24849 miles.

  25. AW - July 13, 2006

    I remember taking a propulsion class back in undergrad and one of the first problems we did was comparing the passenger-mile/gallon effeciency of various transportation types. It came out that flying a (full) 747 from NY to London was about the same as 4 people to a minivan using the very simple assumptions we had. I’d think that flying would be more efficient over longer distances by a modest but substantial margin, and also is probably more consistent in efficiency than cars as the operating environment doesn’t change as drastically. (hard to get stuck in construction for six hours while in flight)
    On another note, I did find out that to offset all my travel I just get into that Aviator bracket… but only just. So therefore all my travelling companions would be offset as well… But a quarter-century of airline travel is a little much for my budget these days…

  26. Hugh - July 14, 2006

    As a geographer (teaching Travel and Tourism/World Issues courses in the past) I was stimulated to find an answer to your challenge. I do believe the Singapore to Newark 18.5 is longest, however, there are many military flights that remain aloft for much more time and distance with mid-air refuelling. I was by a retired Argosy that (like many) carried two crews to rotate through multiple watches in ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) manouvres. A great investigative research question!

  27. Don - July 14, 2006

    The longest I could find (and it would be a truely hellish flight) is from Rio Gallegos, in Southern Argentina to Mirnyj, in central Russia–
    23,327 miles : 9,097 lbs CO2
    There are flights that could be farther–say to northern Russia, but the airport codes don’t show up on your calculator. Admittedly, they are small airports with only “occasional” service (i.e. weekly and seasonally at that) and only by Aeroflot.

  28. Lika - July 15, 2006

    My hat is off to those who found something more grueling than the flight a friend of mine took to speak at a conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. 23,832 miles from Honolulu. (9,294 lbs. CO2.) Good thing she didn’t have to pay for the flight! (Except in pre-TerraPass karma.) 😉

  29. Adrian - July 16, 2006

    Quito, Ecuador to Pekanbaru, Indonesia: 24,810 mi, 9676 lbs C02.
    Best I can find using’s antipode calculators thus far.

  30. Phil - July 16, 2006

    Two New Zealand-Morocco routes are pretty long. Whangarei to Tetuan is 24,813 miles and Whangarei to Tangier is 24,825 miles.

  31. Maria - October 23, 2006

    Great tool! It’s so interesting to see what a seemingly innocent flight is causing! I’m trying to develop a similar mashup for a university project at the moment, but I’m having trouble finding world airports with latitudes/longitudes. I have the airports on their own, but no coordinates. Do you know where I can find a list?

  32. Adam Stein - October 23, 2006

    Sadly, I can’t quite remember where our lat/lon values came from, but I think we generated them ourselves. If you have a list of airport cities, you can do this easily by using tools such as Google’s geocoding API:
    This site also offers airport lat/lon values, although I’m not sure whether they offer an entire database for download:
    Good luck with your project!

  33. Maria - October 24, 2006

    Thanks for the quick reply! I’m really impressed with this site, had never heard of it before, so I’m really excited about telling everyone I know about it.

  34. Philippa - January 26, 2007

    The longest non stop flight is New York to Hong Kong.

  35. Philippa - January 26, 2007

    The longest non stop route is Newark to Singapore, 20 hours approx; going the other way is 18 hours approx.