Flight time between London and Beijing is around 10hrs nonstop. Same goes for Tel Aviv and Beijing. Why is that? there's a 5hrs flight that separates London from Tel Aviv. Does it have to do with different travel paths of each plane?

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    The Israeli plane takes a big detour around the Middle East.
    – JonathanReez
    Apr 11, 2017 at 10:59
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    TLV-PEK is only 500 miles shorter than LON-PEK. (If the carriers fly the shortest possible route, which often they do not.) Note that TLV lies nowhere near the shortest-distance route on LON-PEK, so the five hours has not bought you anything along your journey towards PEK (it's almost in the wrong direction). Depending on equipment constraints, routing constraints, and carrier preference for extra padding time, it is not surprising that the flights have similar block times.
    – Calchas
    Apr 11, 2017 at 11:18
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    The polar aspect map makes it clearer.
    – Calchas
    Apr 11, 2017 at 11:24
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    Somewhat similar issues with Europe - East Coast / West Coast Canada: London - Toronto is 7:50, London - Vancouver is 9:35 and Toronto - Vancouver is 5 hours.
    – user4188
    Apr 11, 2017 at 11:54
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    "Flight time between London and Beijing is around 10hrs nonstop. Same goes for Tel Aviv and Beijing. Why is that? there's a 5hrs flight that separates London from Tel Aviv." Why shouldn't it be? Just because A and B are not at the same position doesn't mean the travel time to C from A or B isn't the same. To make this question useful you should have provided more arguments that indicate that travel times should not be equal. Apr 12, 2017 at 7:46

2 Answers 2


In part this is due to flights from Tel Aviv avoiding some problem regions. But a larger part is that, while it is a 5 hour flight from London to Tel Aviv, flights from London to Beijing don't fly anywhere near Tel Aviv.

Looking at a typical Mercator projection map, it may seem like a flight from London to Beijing wouldn't have to go very far out of its way to stop in Tel Aviv. But that map horribly distorts distances at different latitudes.

In fact the actual distance from London (Heathrow) to Beijing is 8162 km while Tel Aviv to Beijing is 7149 km. London-Tel Aviv is 3593 km.

If you look up some flights for actual routes. London-Beijing is close to flying direct (8400 km) while Tel Aviv-Beijing goes further out of its way (7800 km)

enter image description here - Flights BA 39 and HU 7958. Data from FlightAware

Keep in mind that the more northerly route is more distorted, making it look longer on this map.

So in the end there is only about 600 km difference in the actual flight path. About 45 minutes. Both flights took about the same time (9 hours 30 minutes). The remaining difference is likely due to different prevailing winds, different airplanes etc.

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    "But that map horribly distorts distances at different latitudes.": obligatory
    – Calchas
    Apr 11, 2017 at 11:34
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    Wonder why they fly kinda towards Georgia, but then detour around it at the Black Sea, are they avoiding just parts of Turkey?
    – Nick T
    Apr 11, 2017 at 16:40
  • Sometimes it has to do with agreements. Certain airlines avoid certain airspaces (possibly to avoid paying fees?). Apr 11, 2017 at 20:02
  • @MartinArgerami Fees not so much in this case. Syrian airspace is pretty much closed to any civilian traffic due to the conflict and no Israeli plane is getting anywhere near Iran or IS held territory. So detouring north is pretty logical.
    – Tonny
    Apr 11, 2017 at 20:11
  • @Calchas Even more obligatory: youtube.com/watch?v=vVX-PrBRtTY
    – Shane
    Apr 11, 2017 at 21:14

The great circle distance from LHR to PEK is 8174km and the scheduled flight time is 10:10 (British Airways). The great circle distance from TLV to PEK is 7155km and the scheduled flight time is 9:20.

There is no condradiction between a 1000km difference in flight distance and a 50 minute difference in scheduled flight time.

  • I'm not so sure that I'd say there's "no contradiction", unless you're implying that the airliners routinely cover that extra distance at an average speed of (1000 km)/(50 minutes) = 1200 km/h ≈ Mach 1.1 at airliner cruising altitude. Apr 11, 2017 at 13:16
  • I suppose it could be the case that airliners from LHR–PEK routinely have a faster groundspeed than those from TLV–PEK due to the effects of the jet stream at higher latitudes. But claiming that it only takes an airliner an extra 50 minutes to cover an extra 1000 km requires a bit more justification and/or qualification. Apr 11, 2017 at 13:21
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    I think what's missing here is a discussion of actual-route distances between the city pairs, as opposed to the distances along the great-circle routes. As @Kris notes in his answer, the difference between the actual-route distances is much smaller than is the difference between the great-circle distances.
    – Mico
    Apr 11, 2017 at 13:31

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