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4 Shortest Commercial Flights
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July 2, 2019
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Matt Harding
Matt Harding is a magazine writer, photographer and former newspaper reporter who loves to travel.

Forget pretzels, peanuts and ginger ale. On some flights you barely have time to blink. Such short flights are usually bore out of necessity — easier and safer island hopping, getting from one impassible place to another and so on. Here are four of the shortest commercial flights in the world:

Kinshasa–Brazzaville (16 miles)

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This is the shortest flight between two capitals — Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo) and Brazzaville (Republic of Congo), which face each other across the Congo River. The route is operated by ASKY and Camair-Co, and previously Ethiopian Airlines. When Ethiopian operated there, it was the shortest regular commercial flight operated by a wide-body airliner, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Seems like a waste of fuel…

Sint Maarten–Anguilla (12 miles)

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The shortest international commercial flight in the world, this one takes passengers from Sint Maarten in the Dutch Caribbean to Anguilla, a British Overseas Territory. Going a little less than 12 miles in 10 minutes, the trip is also often regarded as one of the world’s most scenic airport approaches. You can also go from Sint Maarten to the French Overseas Collectivity of St. Barts, a 20-mile journey. If you don’t take the flight, there’s always the ferry route between the adjacent French territory of Saint-Martin and Anguilla.

Westray–Papa Westray (1.7 miles)

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Lift off and count to 90. After you've finished counting, or even sooner depending on the winds, you’ll be on the ground (the record is reportedly 53 seconds). That’s the flight experience between Westray and Papa Westray, two Scottish islands in the Orkneys, off the coast of the mainland. Flown by Loganair, a Scottish regional airline that serves the Highlands and islands. Flights are available daily in both directions, except on Saturdays, when they only fly from Westray to Papa Westray, and vice-versa on Sundays. The distance between the two places is about the same length of the runway at Edinburgh airport. There are regular pilots on the trip, too. Stuart Linklater flew the distance more than 12,000 times, more than any other pilot.

Kegata–Apowo (1.3 miles)

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While not a regularly-scheduled flight, the jaunt between Kegata and Apowo, Papua, Indonesia, has fare-paying passengers when it is running. The hilltop settlements are separated by a deep forested valley in an isolated part of the country, according to CNN. Traveling between the two villages on foot (definitely no cars!) involves “an arduous journey through thick jungle and steep mountainsides.” Slippery wet grass runways make this an adventurous flight, piloted by Matt Dearden, a British pilot using a 10 passenger Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter, a single-engine aircraft.