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Home > Airways > Which is the shortest route to Honolulu from Chicago?
Which is the shortest route to Honolulu from Chicago?
Flying - Airways
Wednesday, 22 February 2006 09:25
Hi Captain Lim,

I have been told that it is shorter to stop at San Francisco than Los Angeles when flying from Chicago to Honolulu. Is this true? It does not look like it on a map.

Thank you.

Richard Armour
Arlington Heights, IL, USA.

Hi Richard,


It is true that, to fly from Chicago to Honolulu via San Francisco is shorter of the two routes. The map that is generally used to display the world in flight or on the ground is basically a distorted one. The reason for the distortion is the type of map that is often used. The most common type is the Mercator projection - where the size of a country shown is most accurate near to the Equator but becomes highly distorted closer to the Poles. So what appears further at the Northern Hemisphere is not necessary true. That also account for why flight path indicated on the airlines* in-flight magazines are often curved.

To prove the point as to why the route over San Franscisco is nearer, I have used the computer (FMC) in the plane to measure the exact distance between these two-flight paths. The result? Chicago - San Francisco - Honolulu route is 3688 nautical miles whereas the Chicago - Los Angeles - Honolulu route is 3739 nautical miles. The route via Los Angeles is thus 51 nautical miles longer! Not that significant though - just about 6 minutes flight time longer if it were flying non-stop!

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