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Difference Between Long Haul and Short Haul

If you are a frequent flyer, then you probably have experienced the perks of both short haul and long haul flying. While some would love to fly long hours, many find long haul flights far from being enjoyable. You wait in long queues, go through endless security checks, only to find yourself sitting squashed between two people for hours that you would normally avoid at all costs. So, many prefer short haul flights, but then the world is only as big as you want it to be and you simply cannot go to faraway places on a short haul flight.

What is a Long Haul?

Long haul, as the name implies, means long distance, particularly in the context of transporting goods or passengers over long distances. Commercial flights are often categorized into short, medium or long haul based on the distance of travel. Long haul means you traveling far and wide across the globe. Every major airliner has its own standard for identifying short and long haul flights. Normally, a long haul flight can be either a connecting or a non-stop flight with the duration of journey no less than six hours. So, any flight that takes over six hours to reach from point A to point B is considered as a long haul flight. Flying long haul can be a great experience if you met some great people onboard and bring back home some wonderful in-flight memories. In fact, long haul flying can be very overwhelming, especially for those who love to travel and spend time in exotic destinations.

What is a Short Haul? 

Short haul, on the contrary, means short distance in terms of transporting good or passengers. Short haul simply means anything that involves a short travel distance. A short haul flight is mostly a direct flight, but not necessarily, with the duration of journey lasting anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. It an airline terminology used by commercial airliners to designate a flight length that is typically no more than 3 hours long. Short haul traveling mostly involves domestic destinations or places that are within 3-hours flying distance. But then, the definition of short haul flights differs from airline to airline. So, short haul flights are short distance flights and they make at least half a dozen round trips each day from source to destination. Mostly, domestic fights where the source and destination are in the same country are considered short haul flights.

Difference between Long Haul and Short Haul

Flight Duration 

– The main and the foremost difference between a short haul and a long haul flight is their flight duration and distance. Long haul flights can be either connecting or non-stop flights with the duration of journey no less than 6 hours. Long haul flights are flights that usually extend beyond 6 hours when it comes to flight duration. Short haul, on the other hand, refers to short distance traveling where the flight lasts anywhere from 30 minutes to3 hours. Short haul traveling mostly involves domestic destinations or places that are within 3-hours flying distance.

Operational Differences

 – From a pilot’s perspective, long haul and short flights can be very different. To put it in simple terms, short haul flying is a like a regular shift piloting job where the pilot makes at least 5-6 round trips from source to destination and come back to home the same day. Short haul flights mean short haul operations. On the contrary, long haul pilots often have to travel very long distances almost once a week and they have to stay at hotels and live quite some time away from home for days.


 – Most of the short haul aircraft carriers operate daily as their pilots have to make quite a few trips because they are mostly domestic destinations and they mostly fly within the same country. There are usually no night stops in short haul flights and the pilot has to work 4-5 days a week. Long haul flights are usually operated by wider body aircraft and the pilots of long haul flights fly all over the world and the trips can last from a few days to over a week, and the ever-changing timezones can be very tiresome. The workload is relatively more, but they get more days off in between flights.

Difference between Long Haul and Short Haul


Flying short haul and long haul has its own pros and cons. For one, short haul flying means traveling short distance and the pilot gets to spend more time at home and sleep at home at nights. Long haul pilots are typically nightwatchers who get to spend more time away from home, even for weeks, but they get to see new places and witness new cultures and meet new people. Flying long haul has its own perks and the pilots are also paid well, compared to short haul pilots. Also, long haul pilots get more days off as they work extended hours flying from one country to another and one continent to another.

Do pilots prefer long or short haul?

Short haul pilots typically have less exposure when it comes to destinations and locations, while long haul pilots get to spend time in new countries with exotic locations and new cultures. Pilots who like to spend more time at home, would generally prefer short haul flights. 

What makes a flight long-haul?

A long haul flight is a flight that typically extends beyond 6 hours of flying from source to destination. Pilots fly all over the world and spend a lot of time away from home.

What do short haul and long-haul mean?

Short haul means short distance travel, with a flight duration no more than 3 hours, while a long haul flight is more than 6 hours of flying distance and involves long distance travels that go beyond countries and continents.

What is long-haul journey?

Long haul journey is a journey over a really long distance meaning the destination is probably in some other country or even in a different continent, but not necessarily. In terms of duration, the flight times extend beyond 6 hours.

How much does a long-haul pilot make?

A long haul pilot relatively makes more than what a short haul pilot makes. Data suggests, long haul pilots get paid anywhere in the range of $125,000 to $250,000.

How much do short haul pilots get paid?

Short haul pilots are paid relatively less than long haul pilots. The pilots typically make somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000. But, this also depends on the airline.

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References :

[0]Eaves, Matthew. How to Survive a Long Haul Flight. North Carolina, United States: Lulu Press, 2008. Print

[1]Shaw, Stephen. Airline Marketing and Management. Farnham, United Kingdom: Ashgate Publishing, 2007. Print

[2]“The differences between long-haul & short-haul piloting.”mcg, The MCG Group, https://www.themcggroup.com/blog/the-differences-between-longhaul-and-shorthaul-piloting/bp67/. Accessed 13 Aug. 2021

[3]Image credit: https://live.staticflickr.com/7399/27655195251_da6c6d4a3e_b.jpg

[4]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Long_Haul_Flights_johannesburgxxx.png

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