The Shortest Commercial Flight Is Under Two Minutes Long

Hopping aboard an aircraft and jetting off to a new destination is exhilarating. On the plane, the anticipation of landing in a new place is exciting. That is, until a few hours pass, when travelers have eaten all their snacks, read all their magazines, and the person in front of them has reclined the seat onto their lap. The thrill of flying can wear off quickly. But what if there was a way to fly from one extraordinary location to the next in under two minutes?

The Orkney Islands are an archipelago on the north coast of Scotland known for Neolithic sites, abundant wildlife, and beautiful coastal scenery. The islands are also the site of the shortest commercial flight in the world. The journey between the Orkney Islands of Westray and Papa Westray takes an average of one and a half minutes. One of many short inter-island flights in Scotland, this unique trek offers gorgeous views as it quickly ascends, descends, and conveniently connects two beautiful places.

What's it like on board the shortest commercial flight in the world?

The quick flight from Westray to Papa Westray is over before travelers know it — in just under two minutes to be exact. No tips for a long-haul flight needed here! Just as passengers start to appreciate the gorgeous views of the aquamarine waters below, it's time to land. No time for onboard entertainment, bathroom breaks, or drink cart service. 

Operated by Loganair, the U.K.'s largest regional airline, there are multiple weekly flights between Westray and Papa Westray and plenty of opportunity to embark on the world's shortest commercial flight. Loganair Islander planes are quaint and have 10 seats, including one for the ever-important pilot. Advanced booking is advised, especially in the summer months when the flight is in high demand. 

The unique journey, however, is not just for tourists. Loganair's managing director Jonathan Hinkles described the importance of the Westray to Papa Westray flight to The Guardian: "The route is a jewel in our network and known across the world. However, despite its fame, it's an essential lifeline service for the people of Orkney, connecting the individual islands via a convenient air link. It's used by teachers, doctors, policemen and school pupils, helping them to go about their daily routines with ease and simplicity."

What to do upon arrival

Scotland is, arguably, the most beautiful country in the world. Both Westray and Papa Westray offer ample opportunities for relaxation and adventure, abundant wildlife (perfect for bird watching), pristine beaches, and friendly locals. If possible, travelers should visit both. 

Known as the Queen o' the Isles, Westray has a population of approximately 600 residents and is the second largest of the North Isles. The island has a hotel, eateries, a marina, a few shops, and two art galleries. It also boasts a 16th-century castle, Noltland Castle, and is the site of the Orkney Venus, a world-famous, 4-centimeter carved Neolithic figurine found during an archaeological dig in 2009.

Papa Westray, known as Papay, is a small island at only 4 miles long and 1 mile wide. It's more remote than Westray, with a population of approximately 90 residents. Despite its size, Papa Westray offers many unique things to do. The most famous monument on the island is the Knap of Hower. Dating back 6,000 years ago, the two stone houses are considered the earliest standing Northwest European dwellings. Additional impressive sights include an 8th-century church called the St. Boniface Kirk and the ancient remains of a medieval chapel at St. Tredwell's Loch.