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This 17-hour flight is now the longest in the world

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 06-02-2017 Ben Mutzabaugh

Qatar Airways is the new titleholder for the world’s longest regularly scheduled airline flight. 

The airline on Sunday inaugurated service on the 9,032-mile route between its Doha hub and Auckland, New Zealand. Flight time on the route is 16 hours, 10 minutes, on the New Zealand-bound leg. The return, which typically faces more headwinds, is scheduled for a a whopping 17 hours, 30 minutes, according to the carrier’s website. 

Qatar Airways’ new service edges it past Middle East rival Emirates, whose 8,819-mile route from Dubai to Auckland clocks in at 16 hours, 5 minutes, in the direction of New Zealand and at 17 hours, 20 minutes on the return. 

With that, Qatar Airways can now claim the world’s longest flight both by time and by distance, according to air travel intelligence company OAG. That latter distinction, however, comes with something of an asterisk. 

Air India also has emerged as a contender for the world’s longest flight after it shifted the routing of its Delhi-San Francisco route this past fall. Instead of flying the shortest distance between the cities via a polar route, the airline now routes its Delhi-to-San Francisco route over the Pacific, The Times of India reports. Despite the longer distance -- about 9,400 miles for the flight -- the tailwinds common on that particular route actually help the airline save fuel even compared to the shorter polar route.

Without the voluntary longer routing, the distance on the Delhi-San Francisco route comes in at only about 7,700 miles. That wouldn’t even place it among the world’s 25 longest routes by distance, according to OAG's data.

As for Qatar Airways, it's currently flying its new Doha-Auckland flights on 259-seat Boeing 777 aircraft. 

The first flight on the route took off Sunday morning Doha time and touched down in Auckland on Monday New Zealand time (Sunday U.S. time). It crossed more than 10 time zones on its journey from Qatar to Auckland, according to The New Zealand Herald.

Still, Qatar Airways may not want to get too comfortable with its “world’s longest flight” title. 

Singapore Airlines plans to launch nonstop service connecting Singapore to New York in 2018, when it expects to become the first to fly a new “ultra long range” variant of Airbus' new A350 widebody. At a distance of more than 9,500 miles, that route would top them all. 

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