Fastest trip around the world on commercial flights: Andrew Fisher sets new world record

An airline executive has broken the world record for flying around the world in the shortest time on scheduled commercial flights, circling the globe in less than 53 hours.

Fifty two hours, 34 minutes to be exact.

New Zealander Andrew Fisher, who works in Abu Dhabi as Etihad's vice president of fleet planning, began his journey early morning on Sunday in Shanghai. His flight path took him to Auckland, Buenos Aires and Amsterdam before returning to the Chinese city early morning Tuesday.

During his trip, the 42-year-old, who has worked at Etihad for 11 years, updated his twitter-feed with details of his route, including photos of his travel path and selfies with crew.

Fisher started his journey on an Air New Zealand flight from Shanghai to Auckland, before continuing with the airline to Buenos Aires. He then switched to Dutch carrier KLM to fly to Amsterdam, before finishing his trip back where he started flying China Eastern to Shanghai.

This wasn't a spur-of-the-moment trip. A self-proclaimed 'aviation geek', Fisher has dreamed of attempting the journey for the last 20 years.

"I have had a passion for aviation from when I was a kid and used to spend hours as a teenager reviewing airline route networks and timetables," he said. "When I saw this world record category existed I immediately felt I could beat it."

But Fisher's dream took a long time to achieve - extensive planning was needed in order to break the record.


"The planning took a long time," says Fisher. "Essentially to ensure the flight timings, routings and transits are kept as tight as possible and there was only a short window of opportunity for this to happen."

Regardless of the meticulous planning, things can still go wrong: flights can be cancelled or delayed for hours, all at the last minute and all beyond your control. For Fisher, this posed a very real obstacle.

"I was fairly confident, but airline operations are so dependent on external factors and influences that you can never tell. Inbound aircraft delays, technical faults, weather, air traffic control congestion etcetera can all affect on time departures and I didn't have much of a buffer."

In the end Fisher's planning paid off and he beat the previous record of 55 hours (and 47 minutes) by just over three hours.

"When I landed back in Shanghai I did know I had broken the record, but I was unsure of by how much," Fisher explains. "It was quite funny because I sat down to do all the calculations and the Chinese aviation community and reporters who had gathered at the airport to welcome me had already done their own calculations and knew precisely that my time was 52 hours and 34 minutes. I didn't even need to explain the methodology on how the record is measured, they had researched it themselves."

Fisher says he was surprised to find out how much attention his journey had been given: "It was one of the top seven travel trending topics in China and had over 3.5 million views."

While his new-found popularity is exciting, Fisher admits travelling continuously is emotionally and physically taxing. "I was flying continuously except for my two-hour transit in Auckland, one-hour transit in Buenos Aires, and 2.5-hour transit in Amsterdam," he said. "I was over-exhausted when I arrived back to Shanghai and, while I drank a lot of water and juice to keep hydrated, my skin had gotten quite dry."

His top-tip for anyone looking to beat his record? "Have ways to keep yourself occupied such as sleeping, eating, reading, watching TV."

Here's hoping the airline has enough reality TV to last 52 hours.

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