Home Miscellaneous Spotting The 20 Best Flights to Take in 2017

The 20 Best Flights to Take in 2017

by Matt Falcus

If you’re thinking of making some trips this year and want some inspiration on the best flights to take, which include unusual, new or classic aircraft, look no further than our list below.

Here are 20 of the best flights to take in 2017.


airBaltic CS300


airbaltic CS300 (c) Inflight Video

The launch customer of the new Bombardier CS300 was airBaltic. It flies the sleek little regional jet from its Riga base to destinations including Amsterdam, Munich, Barcelona, Stockholm, Helsinki, Paris CDG and Frankfurt. Plenty of options!

[Here’s a report from the first airBaltic CS300 flight, including a video]


Qatar Airways’ World’s Longest Flight


Qatar Airways recently launched the world’s longest route, between Doha and Auckland. It is operated by the Boeing 777-200LR and can last over 17 hours depending on the weather. But these aircraft are pretty plush inside and you can catch up on some movies or reading.


Final EVA Air 747

EVA Air 747

The number of airlines still operating the Boeing 747 is decreasing rapidly. Latest to announce retirement of the type is EVA Air, which will fly its last service on 20 August between Shanghai and Taipei. So this is your chance to be on one of the final flights.


Singapore Airlines SIN-MAN-IAH

Singapore Airlines A350 takes off for Houston from Manchester Airport low res

Singapore Airlines recently upgraded its Singapore – Manchester – Houston route to Airbus A350 equipment, making it a good way to try out the new Xtra Wide Body for those living in Asia, the UK and the USA. You can try the whole trip, or just one leg.


Air France 787 from Paris to London

Air France Dreamliner

Air France Dreamliner (c) Boeing

To familiarise its crews with the new member of the fleet, Air France is operating one of its daily Paris CDG – London Heathrow flights with the Boeing 787-9 until 28 October. So for those in Europe it’s one of the easiest and cheapest ways to try out the Dreamliner if you haven’t done so.


Hawaii Inter-Island

Island Air ATR 72

Island Air ATR 72 (c) Island Air

The remote islands of the state of Hawaii are linked by short-haul and commuter aircraft between the many airports. These flights are a vital lifeline for communities and also to deliver tourists to the various destinations.

The scenery from the window is spectacular. You could try out one of Island Air’s new Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 or ATR72 turboprops, or Hawaiian Air’s Boeing 717s.


Lufthansa Airbus A350

Lufthansa A350 D-AIXA

Germany’s national carrier now operates a growing fleet of Airbus A350s on routes from its Munich base. You can fly to destinations including Boston, Delhi and Mumbai, with more to be announced.


Iran – Before it Changes

Iran Aseman 727

Iran has been a hotbed for ageing airliners for the past 30 years due to sanctions on the country. However, now the sanctions have been lifted Iran’s airlines have been ordering and taking delivery of newer types to replenish the fleets.

So this year will be your final chance to fly on some older types in Iran. Namely Airbus A300B2/4 (Iran Air), Airbus A310 (Iran Air/Mahan Air/Taban Air), Boeing 727-200 (Iran Aseman), Boeing 747-300 (Mahan Air), Boeing 747SP (Iran Air), McDonnell Douglas MD-80 (Caspian Airlines/Iran Air Tours/Kish Air/Taban Air/Zagros Airlines).


Belfast to Reykjavik Q400

Air Iceland Q400 (c) Air Iceland

Air Iceland Q400 (c) Air Iceland

Icelandair regional arm Air Iceland has opened a new route between Reykjavik and Belfast City using Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s. It’s an interesting way to get to Iceland compared to the usual Boeing 757s and Airbus A320s. Air Iceland also flies the Q400 to Aberdeen.


Swiss CS100

Swiss CSeries

Swiss was the first airline to fly the new Bombardier CSeries. It operates the smaller CS100 (although it will also take delivery of the CS300 in 2017) on flights from Geneva and Zurich to destinations across Europe.


Norwegian Transatlantic 737 MAX

Norwegian 737 MAX 8

Norwegian will become the launch customer for the upgrade Boeing 737 MAX this summer, and has announced plans to immediately commence transatlantic operations with the type. In doing so, it is opening up a more cost effective way to fly between Europe and America, and to use regional airports to do so. They will be flying from Belfast International, Cork, Dublin and Edinburgh to Hamilton, Providence and Newburgh Stewart airports.

[Norwegian Announces Transatlantic 737 MAX Flights]


Air Chathams Convair 580

Chathams Convair 580

The only airline still flying the Convair 580 piston airliner in regular scheduled service is Air Chathams. It flies these aircraft on intra-island flights, which can be booked online.


CityJet SSJ


CityJet became the first Western European operator of the Sukhoi Superjet last year. It has mostly been flying charters and crew training flights so far with the type, but this year will begin operations in its own right, and on behalf of Brussels Airlines.


Hainan Airlines’ Manchester to Beijing


Hainan Airlines’ introduced Manchester’s first scheduled link to China last year, giving passengers an alternative UK choice to London’s airports. The Skytrax 5-star airline offers an amazing on-board experience and uses Airbus A330s on the route.

[Read our review of Hainan Airlines’ Manchester to Beijing Service]


Qantas Domestic 717

QantasLink 717

Few airlines still fly the Boeing 717 (others include Delta and Volotea). Qantas operates the type on domestic trunk routes, such as between Melbourne and Sydney, which is quite an affordable way to get to fly the type.


Allegiant Air MD-80

By Eddie Maloney from North Las Vegas, USA (N878GA) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Eddie Maloney from North Las Vegas, USA (N878GA) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As airlines turn away from older types such as the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series, opportunities to fly them become fewer. Allegiant Air still flies quite a few of these aircraft; their speciality is leisure and domestic services from secondary airports to popular destinations such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Orlando. So it’s quite easy and affordable to try them out!


St. Maarten to Saba

Saba Airport

Little needs to be said about St. Maarten Airport to anyone with a passing interest in aviation. A small island called Saba nearby makes an interesting, easy flight from St. Maarten. Its runway is one of the shortest in the world, perched atop a cliff, and the flight is operated by the venerable DHC-6 Twin Otter of Winair.


African Express DC-9

African Express DC-9-30 (c) African Express Airways

African Express DC-9-30 (c) African Express Airways

African Express Airways still flies the Douglas DC-9-30 on routes out of Nairobi to domestic and regional destinations. As the airline upgrades its fleet, it’s not always guaranteed to be able to fly the type, but recent reports state they are common. Give it a try before it’s too late!


NextJet BAe ATP

NextJet ATP

Every year that passes threatens to be the last in which it’s possible to fly the British Aerospace ATP. Plenty of freighter examples still fly mail around Europe at night, but NextJet are the only operator to still offer passenger types on the type. I flew it in 2011, thinking it would soon be retired (read my report here), but it soldiers on flying domestic routes out of Stockholm Arlanda.


Chengdu Airlines ARJ21

Chengdu ARJ-21

Photo (c) Hugh Saville

It looks like a DC-9 or CRJ, but the COMAC ARJ21 is a brand new airliner and is now in service with Chengdu Airlines. Other airlines due to take delivery down the line include Lao Airlines, Myanma Airways and Xiamen Airlines. So, as you can guess, it will be rare to find a flight outside China or the Far East.

Chengdu Airlines currently operates the type on domestic services from Chengdu to Shanghai Hongqiao, amongst others.



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Fulvio March 21, 2017 - 8:49 am

Air Clathams Convair 580

In ”The 20 Best Flights….” you mention that the Convair 580 is a piston airliner, but it’s a turboprop
converted from a piston

Catdog March 21, 2017 - 7:44 pm

The Iran Air SP is history.

King Hui March 23, 2017 - 5:31 am

Iran Air B747SP has been retired. NO MORE 🙁


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