Airplane GEEK

Aviation News from around the world

Arrive Before You Leave: The Flights That ‘Time Travel’

There’s something exciting about flights that arrive before they leave, obviously because of time zone differences. It’s especially intriguing if they involve short (or comparatively short) routes and/or unusually unsociable times. We see what’s happening this week.

Delta 739
Atlanta to Birmingham, Alabama, is one Delta route in the ‘arrive before you leave’ category. The carrier uses the B737-900 (shown), B737-800, and B717 on the route this week. Photo: Getty Images.

Arrive before you leave

The most famous flights involved Concorde to the US: BA001 that left Heathrow at 10:30 and arrived New York JFK at 09:25, and AF002 that departed Paris CDG at 10:15 and arrived at 08:15. However, it’s not always necessary to travel so fast to travel through time.

How about shorter routes, say under 1,000 miles? There are 533 such departures globally this week, analyzing Cirum schedules reveals. They range from Badr Airlines’ Jeddah-Port Sudan service to Delta from Atlanta, Lion Air and Citilink from Denpasar to Surabaya, and Air North’s Darwin to Kununurra.

The 533 flights have an average distance of just 278 miles (447km) and an average block time of 78 minutes. Almost seven in ten (67%) of the flights involve the US, Canada, and Europe, Cirum indicates.

Qeshm Air A300
One of the author’s favorite examples beyond Europe and the US/Canada is Tehran Imam Khomeini to Najaf, Iraq, by Qeshm Air. Arriving 15 minutes before it departs, it is mainly operated by its A300s but also its A320s. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr.

European examples

Most European services concern Turkey or Russia. Examples abound, including Istanbul Airport to Belgrade, Dubrovnik, Podgorica, Pristina, Sarajevo, Skopje, and Tivat. For example, the Montenegrian capital of Podgorica sees flights from Istanbul at 08:30 and 19:40, both arriving 15 minutes earlier due to the one-hour time zone change.

Particularly ‘bad’ times include Turkish Airlines from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen to Pristina (23:45-23:20) using AnadoluJet B737-800s, and Azimuth from Perm (code PEE) to Nizhny Novgorod (05:50-05:30) using the Sukhoi SSJ-100. Despite being a distance of just 475 miles (764km), the latter has two time zone changes.

ATR 72
Other European examples this week include Finnair from St Petersburg to Helsinki that uses a mix of aircraft (ATR-72, Embraer 190, A319); KLM Cityhopper from Amsterdam to Norwich (Embraer 175/190); Wizz Air from Lviv to Katowice (A320); and Air Leap’s Mariehamn to Stockholm Arlanda (Saab 340). Photo: ATR.

And the US and Canada

Routes include Delta from Atlanta to Birmingham, Dothan, Huntsville, and Montgomery, all in neighboring Alabama, and United from South Bend to Chicago O’Hare using 50-seat CRJs. Not every single flight arrives before it departs. In the case of Dothan, only one of its up to three daily services does. It leaves Atlanta at 19:20 and arrives at 19:16.

They also include Wabush (YWK) to Sept-Îles (YZV), a 188-mile (303km) sector. It uses PAL Airlines’ Dash-8-Q400s and departs at 12:20 and arrives 50 minutes later at 12:10. The cheapest one-way fare this week is a mere CAD$509 (USD$399), according to its website. The alternative is a 10-hour drive.

US and Canada arrive before you leave routes
An exciting route is Grand Canyon West (GCW) to Boulder City (BLD), around 26 miles from Las Vegas, with Grand Canyon Airlines. It uses eight-seat Cessna Caravans. It leaves at 12:09 and arrives 35 minutes later at 11:44. Image: GCMap.

The shortest route goes to…

The shortest ‘arrive before you leave’ flight globally this week is from La Romaine (ZGS) to Natashquan (YNA), Canada. It is just 50 miles (80km) and is served by Air Liaison’s Beech 1900s. Its website shows that times vary by day, but on December 14th it leaves at 12:20 and arrives at 11:35.

Have you been on any ‘arrive before you leave’ flights? Let us know in the comments.

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