Whether in economy class, business class or even first class: at some point almost every scheduled flight gets boring. But that doesn’t have to be the case, because there are various unique flight connections in the world that bring some variety to your life as a frequent flyer.
We would like to introduce you to six extraordinary routes. Included are, e.g. the shortest flight in the world, a scheduled landing (almost) in the sea and the legendary United Island Hopper through Micronesia. And so you can experience these flights yourself, we give you tips and hints for booking.
Table of Contents
Only 2 Minutes – the Shortest Scheduled Flight In the World
The flight from Papa Westray to the neighbouring island of Westray (and vice versa) takes just two minutes. Both are located in the north of the Orkney Islands off the British coast, and the flight distance is less than three kilometres.
The key data:
- Duration: 0h 2min
- Plane: Britten-Norman BN2 Islander
- Price: £17 (~€20) one-way
- More information: Wikipedia
You can also take the ferry on the way back – or travel by plane to Kirkwall, the capital of the Orkney Islands.
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Based on the flight price per hour, the connection is one of the most expensive flights at €570/h. On the other hand, £17 (~€20) sounds quite fair for a one-way trip. You can book the tickets directly on Loganair.co.uk:
Landing on Barra Beach
Loganair is the only airline that appears twice in this article, because it not only operates the shortest scheduled flight but also the only flight where a plane lands and takes off on the beach. This flight uses a Twin Otter to get from Glasgow to the island of Barra off the Scottish coast.
Landing here is only possible at low tide, so the three runways are more or less dry. The key data:
- Duration: 1h 15min
- Plane: de Havilland Canada Twin Otter
- Price: starting at £52 (~€60)
- More information: Wikipedia
There is also a ferry to and from Barra from mainland UK (Oban) starting at £16 (~€19). But this is only an option if you stay at least one night on Barra.
Booking on loganair.co.uk is possible starting at £52 (~€60) per direction, but in summer you have to expect £82 (~€95):
The “Milk Run” – With 4 Stops in Alaska
We continue with one or more connections through the Northwest of the USA. Alaska Airlines flies several routes here that have become known as the Milk Run. Only that along the intermediate stops, passengers are exchanged instead of milk bottles.
Here is the key data:
- Duration: about 7h
- Plane: Boeing 737-700/800
- Price: starting at €111
- More information: Nerdwallet
The Alaska Milk Run flights are as follows:
- AS 61/66: Seattle – Juneau – Yakutat – Cordova – Anchorage
- AS 62/67: Seattle – Ketchikan – Sitka – Juneau – Anchorage
- AS 64/65: Seattle – Ketchikan – Wrangell – Petersburg – Juneau – Anchorage
Here you fly through the (mostly) untouched nature of Alaska and can also experience 5 take-offs and landings with just one one-way ticket. Many places here are only accessible by boat or plane.
It’s best to book the Seattle → Juneau and Juneau → Anchorage segments individually to experience as many stops as possible. A one-way ticket from Seattle to Juneau is available from €111 in basic economy. It is best to book the Main Cabin with a window seat directly (starting at €171):
Booking as an award ticket is more attractive, but seats are usually only available in the off-season. You can get a one-way Seattle → Juneau (with 3 stops) from the BA Executive Club for 9,000 Avios + US$6 (~€6).
United Island Hopper in Micronesia
Is Alaska a bit too cold and uncomfortable for you? Then maybe a trip through Micronesia is an alternative. The United Island Hopper has really made a name for itself among frequent flyers, for being a unique flying experience
A total of 5 destinations in Micronesia are served from Honolulu (Hawaii) before the plane lands in the US territory of Guam after 15 hours. The flight is the lifeline of the small islands of Micronesia – and at the same time probably the only opportunity to cross the Pacific with a Boeing 737. At most destinations, it is also possible to get off the aircraft briefly during the stops.
The most important information about the Island Hopper:
- Duration: about 15h
- Plane: Boeing 737-800
- Price: starting at €1,000 – or 20,000 miles + €12
- More information: Wikipedia
Paid tickets on the route are unfortunately very expensive and start at €1,000 one-way. Sometimes tickets from USA → Japan can also be routed via the Island Hopper at no extra charge.
Otherwise, an award ticket is much more attractive. Availability is currently quite poor but on some days flight UA 154 can be booked for only 20,000 Miles&More miles + €12 in taxes. United’s own program, Mileage Plus, charges 27,500 miles.
If you are passing through Micronesia, a stopover there is of course a good idea. But then you have to reckon with a higher price, e.g. 37,000 Miles&More miles.
When booking, it should be noted that not all destinations are served on all days of the week. So it’s best to choose a connection with 5 stops to get the most out of the experience.
“Fjord Hopper” by Wideroe
Last but not least, we have a third hopper that you don’t even have to leave Europe for. It may not be as exotic as the Island Hopper through the South Seas, but it’s still worth a short trip.
The regional airline Widerøe offers several connections with up to 5 stops between Tromsø and Kirkenes in the far north of Norway, so you can experience five take-offs and landings between the Norwegian fjords – with just one ticket. And even with the smallest Dash 8-100, which is quite an uncommon plane too.
- Duration: ca. 4h
- Plane: Dash 8
- Price: starting at roughly €80
This trip is by far the cheapest in our overview. Most recently, tickets were available for just €52. Normally you have to reckon with at least €85 on wideroe.no.
Although only one personal item is included as standard, the Smart fare with large hand luggage and checked baggage costs only a little more:
Flights to Antarctica
Last but not least, an unusual flight at the other end of the world: Around 10,000 passengers fly from the southern tip of South America directly to Antarctica every year. More precisely, from Punta Arenas in Chile to King George Island. The airline DAP relies mainly on the four-engine BaE 146 Avro. And to make the trip really special, the planes also have a penguin livery.
The most important information at a glance:
- Duration: about 3h
- Plane: VAE Avro RJ (for cruises) or Beechcraft King Air (for day trips)
- Price: starting at about €5,500
- More information: in the Tripadvisor Forum
Incidentally, King George Island is the only airport in Antarctica that has an IATA code. That’s why we can show it to you on the following map:
Unfortunately, as nice as it all sounds, there is one problem: the price. For a day trip to Antarctica, you have to reckon with around €6,000 (source).
The Fly & Cruise packages are probably more interesting. You then take a cruise ship from Ushuaia (Argentina) to Antarctica on the way out. On the way back, fly from King George Island to Punta Arenas, saving you the infamous Drake Passage. This experience is available at Swoop-Antarctica and various travel agencies starting at around US$5,000 (~€4,677).
Is Antarctica a bit too far and expensive for you? Then maybe the Falkland Islands, about 1,000 km further north, are something for you. There are not only thousands of penguins there but also unique flight experiences.
Cover Picture: 2017 fedevphoto
Island Hopper is much more expensive than $/€1000. With return ticket, you can have 2 free stopovers on the route. So it’s possible to visit two different islands.
But sometimes Hopper is cancelled due to weather and other circumstances and it can be tricky to leave the islands.
The cheapest I found for a paid oneway is about $650 for a paid ticket (continuing to Japan):
Google Flights example
But this would be without any stopover and not even a longer stop in Guam. I agree that you should try to stop somewhere along the path, when booking the Island Hopper experience.