Direct flight vs non-stop flight – what’s the difference?

Did you know that a direct flight and a non-stop flight isn’t actually the same thing? Here we help you figure out some important differences between the two.

direct vs non-stop flights

The aviation industry can be a bit confusing sometimes – no matter if you are a frequent flier or if it’s your first time stepping on a plane. One common misconception is the definition of a direct versus a non-stop flight. The terms do sound like the same thing, which unfortunately isn’t the case. To avoid any mishaps during your travel, here you find a definition of the two.

What is a non-stop flight?

A non-stop flight is exactly what it sounds like – with this option you fly from one airport to another without touching the ground once during the route. The majority of the flights that you find when you look for plane tickets are actually non-stop flights. This is the most convenient option to choose while flying, and takes you from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time.

What is a direct flight?

The term “direct flight” was initially defined as a flight between two major destinations. This did not mean that the airline didn’t touch the ground during the route – it was actually very common that it did. The definition lives on today and means that even if it seems confusing, direct flights might actually have one or two stops along the way. For example, you might have to make a stop to refuel, or to have passengers get off or board the plane.

Normally the stops on a direct flights don’t involve you having to get off the plane – you can comfortably stay in your seat until the plane is ready for take off again. Though in some rare cases you might need to change aircraft.

Many of the long or ultra-long direct flights today involve a stop along the way. A direct flight still has just one flight number, and you will also just need one boarding pass. Keep in mind that the stops along the way will add time to your flight – a non-stop option is always the one to prefer!

Which is the longest non-stop flight in the world?

These days more and more long haul, or ultra-long haul, routes are offered as non-stop flights. The longest non-stop flight in the world right now is between Singapore (SIN) and New York (JFK) where you spend almost 19 hours on the flight traveling over 9,500 miles.

Find the most popular long-haul flights here

Option number three – connecting flights

If you are not very picky about flight time or having to make a pitstop along the way, there is always the option of choosing connecting flights. This means that you leave the aircraft and board another one, while the flight number also changes. You will have separate boarding passes for each flight, and possibly a few hours of waiting in the connecting airport.

Here on you can't search for connecting flights but you can try (Pronounced flights), another website we made just for this purpose.