Spare a thought for those Canadians who rely on Peawanuck Airport for their overseas holidays. While most people are just a hop and a skip from pretty much every single city in the world, those using Peawanuck require a little more patience.
Where Heathrow, for example, serves 204 destinations in 85 countries, Peawanuck can offer only one – and Attawapiskat hardly sounds like holiday material. In fact, Peawanuck is a contender for the world's worst connected airport.
Should you wish to reach, say, Thargomindah Airport in Queensland, you'll need to board a remarkable 12 separate flights. The route, for the record, goes Attawapiskat (1), Kashechewan (2), Fort Albany (3), Moosonee (4), Timmins (5), Toronto (6), Los Angeles (7), Brisbane (8), Toowoomba (9), St George (10), Cunnamulla (11), Thargomindah (12). The total flying time - not including stopovers - would be around 28 hours. From a practical point of view, no two airports on Earth are further apart.
But they aren't the only ones. According to a recent analysis by Nuno Araujo and colleagues at Lisbon University, who used the OpenFlights online tool, there are 29 such airport pairs that stand a dozen connections apart. So much for the world getting smaller.
On average, Araujo's study says, each of the world's 3,237 airports is linked to 19.21 others, while the average number of flights needed to get from A to B is 4.05. It's certainly catnip for aviation enthusiasts, but there are serious points to be made. The authors reckon it is "imperative to further explore how wealth is transferred through tourism" and encourage growth in the more disconnected corners of the world.
Other airports highlighted for their poor connections include several in Iceland, such as Egilsstaðir, Akureyri and Ísafjörður. Each has just a single connection to Reykjavik Airport, which, due to its small runways, has no services to continental Europe (travellers must dash over to Keflavík instead). So, to get from Egilsstaðir to, say, Buenos Aires (without leaving an airport), you'll need to take a somewhat circuitous route. Egilsstaðir to Reykjavik to Godthaab (in Greenland) to Kangerlussuaq (also Greenland) to Copenhagen to Heathrow to Buenos Aires.
It's no surprise that Tuvalu is one of the world's least visited countries. Its only airport, Funafuti might have the IATA code "FUN", but reaching it is anything but. Flights from the UK must go via Dubai (or another Middle Eastern or Asian hub), Sydney and Suva, the capital of Fiji. Or else you could try going west via Los Angeles and two Fijian airports. Either way, allow at least 32 hours.
And what of the world's best connected airport? As we hinted at earlier, it's Heathrow. The West London hub, with its 204 direct options, was handed a "Connectivity Index" of 333 in OAG's 2018 "Megahubs" report, putting it comfortably ahead of Chicago O'Hare (306 points), Frankfurt (302), Amsterdam (286) and Toronto Pearson (271). And all with only two runways. "On the busiest day for aviation in 2018, there were 66,000 possible international connections between flights arriving and departing at [Heathrow] within a six-hour window," the report says.
The world's busiest airport in terms of passenger numbers, Atlanta, comes seventh for connectivity, while Dubai, the busiest airport for international passengers, can only manage 18th. Both airports, while offering plenty of volume, don't have quite as much variety as the UK's biggest hub.
The most curious of Heathrow's 204 routes? Most would struggle to find Abuja, Ashgabat, Baku, Sanya and Wuhan on a map. But even more curiously, there are still no direct flights from the airport to Berne, Sarajevo, Dresden, Namibia, Mozambique, Bolivia, Ecuador or Belize. Come on BA, sort it out.
The Telegraph, London
LISTEN: Flight of Fancy - the Traveller.com.au podcast
To subscribe to the Traveller.com.au podcast Flight of Fancy on iTunes, click here.