Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Full Year Recap: Air Travel Statistics

If you’re into airports and airplanes and random transport stuff, then brace yourself to be shocked at how much work I put into calculating these statistics that only like three people might actually appreciate.

Total # of flights:  58
-  56 commercial flights (22 domestic and 34 international)
-  2 scenic flights (note that I have only included these flights in the below statistics where possible)

Total # of take-offs and landings:  63
-  56 regular commercial flights
-  4 of my flights had scheduled stops en route but the flights had a single flight number and I did not disembark
-  1 of my flights had to land to refuel because India was acting like a petulant child
-  2 scenic flights

Estimated distance flown:  126,717.42 km (78,738.55 miles)
-  72.6% international vs 27.4% domestic
-  This is equal to 3.16x the length of the equator

Time spent in air:
-  Scheduled:  8:07:38 (d:hh:mm)
-  Estimated actual:  8:04:04

Longest journey:  Tokyo to London Heathrow via Abu Dhabi:  13,604 km / 1:00:40 incl. layover

Longest single flight by distance:  Singapore to Johannesburg:  8,655 km

Longest single flight by time:  Tokyo to Abu Dhabi:  11:43

Longest domestic flight:  Fort Lauderdale to Seattle:  4,367 km / 6:25

Shortest flight:  Armenia to Bogota:  182 km / 0:43

Shortest international flight:  Siem Reap to Saigon:  422 km / 1:00

Airports visited:  58 in 29 countries
-  53 on normal commercial flights:  Sydney, Singapore, Johannesburg, Victoria Falls, Mahebourg, Rodrigues, Dubai, Delhi, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, Chiang Mai, Vientiane, Hanoi, Danang, Saigon, Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi), Koh Samui, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kaohsiung, Taipei (Taoyuan), Tokyo (Narita), Abu Dhabi, London (Heathrow), London (Gatwick), Fort Lauderdale, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Santo Domingo, Mexico City, Havana, Panama City (Panama), San Jose (Costa Rica), Managua, Quito, Baltra (Galapagos), Cartagena, Medellin, Armenia, Bogota, Buenos Aires (Ezeiza), Buenos Aires (Aeroparque), Asuncion, Santiago, Punta Arenas, Easter Island, Lima, Cusco, Puerto Maldonado, Seattle, Denver, Washington (National), Boston
-  2 for sightseeing flights:  Maun, Nazca
-  3 additional airports where I did not disembark:  Kolkata, Guayaquil, Puerto Montt

Total # of airport visits:  107 + 5 where I didn’t disembark + 2 for scenic flights

Most visited airports:
1.  Fort Lauderdale:  12 visits
2.  Santiago:  6 visits
3.  Panama City:  4 visits
3.  Quito:  4 visits

This brings my lifetime airport count to 120.  My 100th airport was Mexico City.  And yes, I have a spreadsheet for this.

Total # of layovers:  5 (only 5!)
Airports where I had layovers:  Bangkok, Saigon, Abu Dhabi, Panama City (x2)

Abu Dhabi is the only airport where I had a layover that I didn’t fly into or out of on another visit.

Airlines flown:  28
Singapore Airlines, British Airways (operated by Comair), Kavango Air (scenic flight) Air Mauritius, Emirates, AirAsia X, AirAsia, Vietnam Airlines, VietJet, Bangkok Airways, Cambodia Angkor Air, Vanilla Air, Etihad, Norwegian, Southwest, American, Spirit, Volaris, Aeromexico, Copa, Avianca, Aerolineas Argentinas, Sky Airline, LATAM (formerly LAN), AeroNasca (scenic flight), JetBlue, Alaska, United

Most flown airlines:
By # of flights:
1.  Copa:  6 (10.7%)
1.  Avianca:  6 (10.7%)
3.  LATAM (formerly LAN):  4 (7.1%)

By distance:
1.  Singapore:  14,949 km (11.8%)
2.  Norwegian:  14,202 km (11.2%)
3.  Etihad:  13,604 km (10.7%)

By time:
1.  Etihad:  20:02 (10.2%)
2.  Singapore:  19:43 (10.1%)
3.  Norwegian:  18:16 (9.3%)

Etihad and Singapore were both transcontinental, long-haul, overnight flights.  Norwegian was two trans-Atlantic flights.  LATAM was 4th by both distance and time despite being only domestic flights from Santiago to Punta Arenas and Easter Island.

This brings my lifetime airline count to 51 (or 53 if you include the two scenic flights).

This is where shit is about to get super super nerdy!  I kept track of all of my planes along the way and sourced publicly available data regarding distance between airports and actual flight time for each flight.  I’ve obviously had some spare time while I look for work.

Aircraft makers flown:  4
1.  Airbus:  31 flights (55.4%) / 66,387 km (52.4%) / 4:12:28 (55.3%)
2.  Boeing:  24 flights (42.9%) / 59,733 km (47.1%) / 3:13:56 (0.9%)
3.  ATR:  1 flight (1.8%) / 598 km (0.5%) / 1:40 (43.8%)
4.  Cessna:  2 scenic flights

Aircraft models flown:  18 in 9 different series/families of aircraft
-  Airbus A319-100, A320-200, A321-200
-  Airbus A330-300
-  Airbus A340-300, A340-600
-  Airbus A380-800
-  ATR 72-500
-  Boeing 737-400, 737-700, 737-800, 737-900
-  Boeing 777-200ER, 777-300ER
-  Boeing 787-8, 787-9
-  Cessna U206G, 207A

Aircraft series/families flown the most (by # of flights, distance, and time):
1.  Airbus A320 series:  25 flights (44.6%) flown 33,439,05 km (26.4%) in 2:13:19 (31.3%)
2.  Boeing 737 series:  18 flights (32.1%) flown 27,187 km (21.5%) in 1:19:37 (22.2%)
3.  Boeing 787 series:  4 flights (7.1%) flown 21,706 km (17.1%) in 1:04:06 (14.3%)

Aircraft models flown the most:
1.  Airbus A320-200:  12 flights (21.4%) / 17,787 km (14.0%) / 1:08:40 (16.7%)
-  By # of flights, the Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A321-200 are #2 and #3, respectively.
-  By distance, the Airbus A380-800 and Boeing 737-800 are #2 and #3, respectively.
-  By time, the Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A380-800 are #2 and #3, respectively.

And now, for some less statistical lists…

As I went along, I didn’t make a list of best airports or best airlines, because it was hard to compare.  Sometimes I only arrived at an airport and promptly left.  For departures, sometimes I was hours early and sometimes I didn’t have much time to explore the airports at all.  Some flights were peak hour and sometimes I flew out in the middle of the night when the airport was a ghost town.  Some airports were huge (Tokyo Narita, London Heathrow, etc.) while others were tiny (Rodrigues, Easter Island, etc.), and some were located in wealthy countries and some were located in not-so-wealthy countries.  So it’s definitely hard to compare and make a proper list.  But, these are a few of the more memorable air travel experiences, both bad and good.

Best flight experiences:
1.  Santiago to Easter Island on LATAM (formerly LAN):  It was my second Boeing 787 Dreamliner and I had a window seat to take in the views of Easter Island on approach.  The only window seat when I checked in was the very last row which was disappointing at first, but worked out so well in the end.  There was actually no bathroom behind me, nobody sitting next to me, and the row was completely different than the other rows.  Instead of the 3-3-3 configuration, the last row has a 2-3-2 configuration, and the seats are the reserve seats for the crew to rest in.  I had double the leg room, a wider seat, two tray tables, a foot rest, extra recline pitch, and enough space between my seat and window to place my little backpack.  AMAZING.  I got the back row again on my return leg.
2.  Sydney to Singapore on Singapore Airlines:  It was the first flight of my gap year AND my first Airbus A380 ever!  I was also super stoked about my flight from London (Gatwick) to Fort Lauderdale on Norwegian as that one was my first Boeing 787 Dreamliner ever!
3.  Fort Lauderdale to Seattle on Alaska:  I used to make this trip twice a year when I lived in Seattle, but there was never a direct flight during my time there and I always had to stop and change planes somewhere.  I was super pleased that this non-stop route now exists and I even paid a little more just to take it.

Worst flight experiences:
1.  Kathmandu to Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia X:  The turbulence was long and unbearable.  Unbeknownst to me, I was also just hours away from my massive food poisoning episode so my body wasn’t handling anything well.  At least I had my own row to lay down in and try to drown out the shaking.
2.  Saigon to Bangkok on VietJet:  The flight was fairly smooth for most of the journey, but the approach down through the clouds into Bangkok was super rough including a big drop that probably only lasted about a second and a half but caused about half of the passengers to scream.  Fun.
3.  Bogota to Buenos Aires (Ezeiza) on Aerolineas Argentinas:  The flight itself was ok, but my row had didn’t have functioning televisions, reading lights, or attendant call buttons.  It was an overnight flight and the business lady next to me wanted to read her documents and I wanted to watch a movie to try to fall asleep.  I know things break, but the flight attendant’s attitude toward the issue was the bigger problem.  He just didn’t seem to care at all and he was very dismissive when the lady next to me asked about it.  That being said, I had another flight on Aerolineas Argentinas the following week when the flight attendant gave me an extra alfajores because I declined the ham sandwich meal that is offered on all airlines based in Latin America.

Cheapest flight:  $22
-   Cartagena to Medellin on Avianca:  I don’t know why or how, but it was cheaper to fly the hour than to take a 14 hour bus on hellish roads.  BEST. DEAL. EVER.

Oddest flight experience:  being the only white person
-   Saigon to Kaohsiung on Vietnam Airlines:  I was literally the only white person on the plane.  The flight was also predominantly male – like, there may have only been 3 or 4 female passengers on the full flight.  I am also pretty sure that I was the only person the flight attendants could speak to as they all spoke a little English.  Everybody but me seemed to get a written menu from one little stack on the service cart.  I glanced at the one next to me.  It had no Vietnamese on it – only Chinese.  So basically they were ALL Chinese businessmen heading to Taiwan to do business.  This is what happens when you fly into a manufacturing hub like Kaohsiung which isn’t on the radar of most western tourists (but should be).

Longest delay:  roughly 4 hours (if I recall correctly)
-  Baltra (Galapagos) to Quito on Avianca:  This was by far my longest delay, but in all fairness, they don’t have spare planes sitting around in the Galapagos and if the incoming flight or airport has a problem, there’s pretty much nothing that can be done.  Most of the airport was closed for the duration of the delay because most of the flights come and go around the same time, but I was with our entire tour group so I had company.  This actually felt shorter than my 1-2 hour delay in Saigon, but that’s because I already had a 4 hour layover scheduled and my incoming flight was surprisingly early and there isn’t much to do at the Saigon airport.

If that was my longest delay and I had no cancelled flights or lost luggage, then I’ve been pretty damn lucky this year!

Best airline experiences:
1.  Singapore Airlines:  The staff were super friendly, the food was good, and everything went smoothly.
2.  LATAM (formerly LAN):  The staff knew I was an English-speaker but talked to me in clear, slow Spanish so I could practice.  The food was also good and everything went smoothly.
3.  Bangkok Airways:  The airline provided a free snack and drink station at the gate at the Koh Samui Airport.  How nice of them!

Honourable mentions:  I was surprisingly impressed with the two Mexican airlines I flew – Volaris and Aeromexico.  Southwest continues to be the best in the US.

Dishonourable mention:  I was surprisingly disappointed by the food on Etihad.  For a flagship carrier, I expected better, but my flight was actually really cheap so I’ll let it slide.

I’m not going to list the worst airlines.  I avoided notoriously bad ones when I could and the few discount carriers that I flew on met or exceeded my low expectations.

Best airport experiences:
It’s hard to rank the best airports as I mentioned above.  But I’ll give a few shout-outs.  These aren’t the best per se, but they deserve an honourable mention.
-  Danang was the most surprising by a long mile.  I was thinking it might be a shed, but Vietnam’s third largest city has a proper, big, modern, new airport – better than Hanoi or Saigon!
-  Buenos Aires (Ezeiza) and Santiago also both exceeded expectations with their modern looks, ease of navigation, and cute baristas at the airport Starbucks.
-  Easter Island has the breeziest airport with a lovely outdoor patio waiting area overlooking the taxiway.
-  Seattle continues to impress in the group of American airports.  A big food court right in the middle and nice shops always make it a pleasant airport experience.

Worst airport experiences:
1.  Delhi:  there is minimal signage for the immigration process and I only got in the right queue on the third try.  The duty free salespeople were also extremely aggressive… tragic foreshadowing of the trip to come.
2.  Havana:  Immigration was an ornery lady at what appeared to be a picnic table and the rest of the staff just seemed to be sitting around.  Luggage took about an hour to hit the conveyor belt.  What were they doing with it?  On a positive note, the staff wear tight little uniforms and some of the men were the epitome of hot Latin lovers.
3.  Victoria Falls:  They should really have more than two staff at the immigration counter when two flights come in.  I waited in line for ages.

There were other crappy airports just by pure aesthetics and facilities.  One example is Kathmandu.  I had almost no expectations for an airport in a place like Kathmandu, so I guess it met my expectations.  It was quite basic, fairly dirty, and many of the chairs seemed a bit damaged.  But overall, it was sufficient and didn’t shock me.  Though I am pretty sure I waited until I boarded the flight to use the bathroom.  Just in case.

Dishonourable mention:  I’ve always had a gripe with the food options at Sydney’s international terminal.  The two domestic terminals have good options, and the international terminal has good options outside of security, but once you go through immigration, the best thing is a McDonald’s. WTF? Sydney is full of amazing restaurants and cafes.  Why don’t they get one or two to open branches in the airport?!?

Congratulations:  you made it to the end!  You’ve earned your nerd badge and if you’re a decently attractive single gay man aged 26-38 and you actually enjoyed reading this then maybe you’re my soulmate and should get in touch with me ASAP.

Here’s a rough route map of my trip.  Click to enlarge if you’re not sick of this yet.


  1. Wow, can't believe that your scheduled time in air was so close to your actual time in air! Also can't believe that you kept track of that statistic.

    What about total time spent taxiing on the runway? Where was your longest time spent on the runway??? :-p

    1. Haha! If only I had brought a stopwatch on all my flights ๐Ÿ˜œ