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World's longest 747 flight forced to refuel
Two weeks ago the local travel media swallowed the "longest" superlative from Qantas, but today they are reporting the unscheduled landing of the same flight
It’s a human infatuation that goes for the longest, fastest, biggest and best. The media, hankering to public desire, swallows these superlatives readily.
This was the climate two weeks ago when Australia had a crown of its own: the world’s longest 747 flight between Sydney and Dallas, and the third-longest long-haul in the world (Singapore-Newark and Singapore-Los Angeles are longest and second longest).
It’s different today, as the celebrated “flying kangaroo” made an unscheduled landing to refuel.
World’s longest 747 flight
Texans and Australians had cause to reach for the skies in a trans-Pacific celebration: 13,816 kilometers in 15 hours and 25 minutes. Beat that, baby.
“Longest 747 Route Ever” and “World’s Longest 747 Flight,” trumpeted travel websites worldwide.
One newspaper journalist was a guest of Qantas for the inaugural flight. She was “star-struck” at being welcomed by film star John Travolta.
The creative travel editorial desk even went with the theme. How would you occupy your time on the world’s longest 747 route? I mean, how does it feel?
In spite of the media storm, catching a plane for a long time isn’t at all unique. As far as travel excitement goes, it would be a long way down the list. The story’s better than the reality.
Great publicity, though. If the world’s longest flight isn’t newsworthy, what is?
If it makes it all the way
An aircraft failing to complete the world’s longest flight is newsworthy, much like the Titanic's (the "unsinkable" luxury liner) doomed voyage across the Atlantic.
The Dallas-Brisbane-Sydney flight (the return leg of the Sydney-Dallas route) was scheduled for a fun-packed, coffee-fuelled, movie-frenzied 16 hours into a headwind.
Thankfully, when fuel was running low, Qantas pilots were sensible. They landed in Noumea in New Caledonia for refueling. Passengers had to wait an extra couple of hours.
No doubt the same marketers who two weeks ago were coming up with their "longest 747 flight" spin are churning out corporate reasoning, as much as the same travel editors are running with the story of the landing.
But it does beg some kind of reasoning. How sustainable is our infatuation with the longest, fastest, biggest and best?
Editor's note: A number of readers pointed out that the original version of this story included a photo of a Boeing 737 aircraft. We've since switched the image. We thank our ever-diligent readers for calling the matter to our attention.