The World’s Shortest Commercial Flight Is Over in Less Than 2 Minutes

The airplane flight between the Scottish islands of Westray and Papa Westray holds the world record for the shortest commercial flight, as the plane is usually in the air for just under 2 minutes.

Most of us can just hop into a car, bus, or train for short trips, but things are different in the islands of northern Scotland. The few people who call the Orkney Islands their home have only two options, a ferry ride over rough waters, or an incredibly short flight in a small plane. The second option is the most popular – because the ferry can often face disruption due to rough waters – and the most famous because of how short the flights can be. In fact, the flight between the islands of Westray and Papa Westray is officially recognized as the world’s shortest commercial flight. It usually lasts about 90 seconds, but with favorable winds, it can be over in less than a minute.

Photo: Jordan Heath/Unsplash

The world’s shortest commercial flight was first established in 1967 and has been operated by Loganair ever since. It covers a distance of just 1.7 miles, which is shorter than the runways of most major airports and is more similar to a bus ride than an actual airplane flight. Passengers are flown in a Britten-Norman Islander, a small plane that requires only one pilot and has just eight seats. As you can imagine there is no in-flight service available.

In normal conditions, the world’s shortest commercial flight lasts between 90 and 120 seconds, but as one pilot has demonstrated, in favorable weather conditions, it can be completed in just 53 seconds. However, in unfavorable circumstances, the plane will be in the air for almost 3 minutes.


The flight between Westray and Papa Westray has been criticized as unnecessarily bad for the environment because of the short distance it covers, but for the inhabitants of Westray (600) and Papa Westray (90), it is a vital link to other more populated islands. For Orkney Islands residents, the flights are subsidized by the Scottish Government, while tourists can expect to pay between £17 to £45.

Despite the small populations of the two islands, the world’s shortest flight can be quite busy during the summer months, as there are plenty of tourists willing to experience it for themselves.

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