(fair warning…this got a LOT longer than intended….)
I just booked a domestic flight from Windhoek to Walvis Bay in Namibia, and from Harare to Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, and that got me thinking: now that I’ve been to every country in the world, how many of them have I actually taken domestic flights in? I’m starting this post expecting that the number will be relatively small, maybe two dozen or so.
Many of the countries were super small, so it makes sense that I wouldn’t have taken a domestic flight in them. On top of that, many of my country vists were just a few days, so not much time to explore them and visit multiple cities.
With that away we go, in chronological order!
#1 – The United States (duh!) – 1972
First flight was in 1972, and since then I’ve flown way too many routes to list here. Some of the things which surprise me most are the relative lack of flights that cross the south or the northwest part of the country. Maybe I’ll have to work on adding new lines to this. Also, surprised the sheer number of different cities I’ve flown to/from Hawaii!
#2 – The Soviet Union (surprise!) – 1988
I don’t think anyone would have expected this to be the second country I took a domestic flight in! It’s also the only country I’ve taken a domestic flight in which no longer exists. I still remember vividly boarding flights in the middle of the night for a redeye across Siberia, and the cold waiting rooms at Sheremetyevo. It was only three flights total, but very cool to see this second on the list.
#3 – France – 1993
The coolest part of this one is that the airline I took no longer exists. Back when I didn’t know a whole lot about international travel I decided to visit a friend in Strasbourg who was studying abroad. Since I also had to be in Belgium, I bought plane tickets from Paris. These days I’d definitely take the train, but I remember back then having to call Air Inter and book the tickets…which they sent me via FedEx or some such service. Paper tickets…booking over the phone…how the times have changed!
I had to come back and edit this post, because I totally forgot about another flight…Cayenne, French Guyana to Fort-de-France, Martinique! Two domestic flights in the same country, nearly 4,000 miles apart!
#4 – Canada – 1996
Out of college finally, and decided to start racing triathlons, which led to doing the Ironman, which led to my first domestic flight with Air Canada from Vancouver, BC to Penticton, BC – a route I would repeat many times over the years. I still remember the tiny little plane – I think it was a Beechcraft – and it had like 20 seats or so…and no flight deck door so I could look out the pilot’s window the entire flight. The bad part was that with everyone on the plane heading to the race, they couldn’t fit hardly any of the bikes on the plane, so Air Canada would always send a truck full of bikes to Penticton the following day. Since then I’ve flown a couple more routes in Canada, but definitely want to fly more. Churchill, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and of course Nunavut are high on my list!
#5 – South Africa – 2000
Through the late 90s I got much more comfortable traveling, and made several trips to Europe. I even got brave enough to visit Africa for the first time in 1998. That solidified the travel bug for me, and in 2000 it was off to Cape Town for Ironman South Africa. That involved the KLM flight which went from Amsterdam to Johannesburg and then on to Cape Town. I’ve since flown this route several times on South African as well. I need to work on my domestic flights – especially Durban!
#6 – Malaysia – 2005
Travel really picked up in 2002, and I started checking off over a dozen new countries a year. However, it would be another 20 countries until I got my next domestic flights in Malaysia. Since then, I’ve flown quite a few flights with Malaysian Airlines, including lots of international ones. My trips to Malaysia are some of my favourite memories, and I need to make a point to get back for a longer trip soon.
#7 – Australia – 2005
Second new country in 2005 with a domestic flight was Australia. That trip, I only went down to Tasmania, but since then I’ve gone back and done Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin. Definitely one of my favourite countries, and Qantas has been a great airline. If US airlines could be half the quality Qantas is on domestic flights I would be thrilled! Definitely the country with my most “full” domestic map of flights after the US too.
#8 – Thailand – 2006
I’ve been to Thailand a couple dozen times over the year, but still haven’t explored the country too much beyond Bangkok. However, I did make a few trips to Chaing Mai which was absolutely wonderful. Plus, you have to love being able to fly a 747 on a flight that is under an hour! Plus, I’ve flown there from both Bangkok airports.
#9 – Brazil – 2006
This was another of those countries where my first domestic flight was a tag of a foreign route, in this case United used to fly Washington-Sao Paulo-Rio and this was that route. Also made it to Iguacu Falls. I really want to get back to Brazil though, and explore Manaus, Recife, Porto Alegre, the list goes on and on…
#10 – Argentina – 2007
Part of the same trip to Brazil, we ended up flying to Iguazu on the Brazil side and returning on the Argentina side. This is how I ended up with my one and only domestic flight in Argentina. Must change that and get to Mendoza, Ushuaia, etc…
#11 -United Kingdom – 2007
It started off easily enough as wanting to visit Northern Ireland, but then over the years it morphed to quite a set of flights in the UK. Still haven’t flown up to Scotland yet, so there’s still more to add to this map!
#12 -India – 2008
First trip to India only reason for domestic flights was for positioning to Sri Lanka, but since then I’ve been back many times…but almost always flying straight in and out. Rarely any domestic flights. But there’s been a few…
#13 – Greece – 2010
Almost two years passed until I got my next new country with a domestic flight. I’m generally not the biggest fan of the Travellers Century Club list since it includes so many obscure places, but I can definitely thank them for motivating me to hop around Greece collecting their “countries” which led to several domestic flights. Aegean Airlines was pretty nice as well!
#14 – Germany – 2010
On the way back from Greece I ended up with a connecting flight from Munich to Frankfurt, a flight which I’ve done multiple times since then. I know Lufthansa has a bunch of other domestic routes, but seriously why would I want to fly them when I can take an ICE train instead! Heck, I did a whole trip last month just to ride trains around Germany.
#15 – Norway – 2011
Many moons ago, I planned to run the Antarctica Marathon, but life got in the way and I wasn’t able to do it. So, what better alternative than to run the Svalbard Marathon on the other end of the planet! We spent the week before the race working ourselves up the country, and it was the first time in years that I had gone to one country for a full week – and I’d love to go back!
#16 – Netherlands – 2011
I mean, it does count, right? Even though they’re not part of the mainland…
#17 – Marshall Islands – 2011
Didn’t expect this one when I started making this list, and even though I never officially entered the country, thanks to the United island hopper flight from Majuro to Kwajalein I did take a domestic flight in the Marshall Islands!
#18 – Federated States of Micronesia – 2011
Yeah, after the last one you knew this was coming. After the Marshall Islands the United island hopper continued on to Pohnpei, Micronesia and then Chuuk, Micronesia – so once again another domestic flight in the South Pacific!
#19 – Ethiopia – 2012
Again, this was just a connecting flight, but it qualifies to say I’ve taken a domestic flight! I really want to go back though and explore more of Ethiopia!
#20 – Guyana – 2012
This was one of the most fun, because it was all in a little Cessna C208 and I got to sit in the copilot seat for all three segments! Flying through the jungles and rainforest of Guyana – what a blast!
#21 -Peru – 2013
Fun trip to Machu Picchu, and another rare occasion where I spent a full week exploring a country a little more in depth. Yay for business class fare sales and friends who like to travel!
#22 – Kazakhstan – 2013
Another case where I was just connecting on the other end so didn’t actually explore both cities – just Almaty – but since I flow Air Astana which is the national airline I decided it definitely counts!
#23 – Angola – 2014
One of the cooler flights was Angola, because I flew between two parts of the country that would have required crossing through the Democratic Republic of Congo otherwise. Plus, how many tourists actually make it to Cabinda? With visa on arrival coming soon, I’m planning a longer trip to more remote parts of Angola – figure it’s a great way to work on my Portuguese too!
#24 – Bolivia – 2014
Bolivia was neat because I took a little local airline out to the town of Uyuni to see the salt flights. I must have gone at a really quiet time of year, because I felt like I had the whole place to myself.
#25 – Fiji – 2014
This one is pretty easy – and it’s all thanks to the country of Tuvalu. See, the best resorts in Fiji are in Nadi, and all the longhaul flights go in and out of Nadi. However, until this week, the only way to get to Tuvalu was from Suva, Fiji. Go figure. Plus, the Suva to Funafuti flight got canceled on me over and over, so thanks to trying to get to Tuvalu I’m pretty sure I took this flight at least 7 or 8 times!
#26 – Vanuatu – 2014
See, we have Fiji Airways to thank for this one too. I never intended to take a domestic flight in Vanuatu. Heck, I didn’t even have any intention of returning to Vanuatu. However, thanks to canceled flights, I had to go back to Vanuatu to get out of Fiji and resume my trip. Oh, and then the flight to Vanuatu diverted…due to thunderstorms that “we hoped would be gone by the time we got there.” Oh well, diversion and all meant another domestic flight country!
#27 – Tanzania – 2015
I mean, I couldn’t go to Tanzania without going to Zanzibar, could I? Another fun flight in a really tiny plane, this time a Cessna 207A with ZanAir…which I partly chose because of the name of the airline! I got the copilot seat again – which was amazing!
#28 – Cameroon – 2015
Put this one also in the category of flights that just stop on the way. In this case, it was a flight from Istanbul to Yaoundé to Douala in Cameroon. We didn’t get off the plane, but it was made more fun by having to circle Yaoundé for like 30 minutes due to weather…until the pilot declared a fuel emergency and we decided to risk it.
#29 – Oman – 2015
Clearly 2015 was a good year for domestic flights. This time, I was returning to Oman not because I had a burning desire to see more of Oman, but because I was very curious about the mountains in the south near Salalah. Enough said… extra cool was that this flight was actually operated by an A330 with really nice international business class!
#30 – China – 2015
I debated if I should include one, but technically Hong Kong is a part of China so it needs to be included despite the fact you have to clear immigration when taking this flight.
#31 – Colombia – 2015
Yet another one for 2015! This was the first new country that I took a domestic flight in in 2015, and it was definitely memorable. Thanks to my Cuba flight from Spain being canceled I needed to buy a last minute ticket, and the best deal was on Avianca from Madrid to Cali to Bogota to Havana…which meant a domestic flight in Colombia. What I didn’t expect is what a mess the Cali airport would be – and how hot and humid it would be!
#32 – Belize – 2016
I did a fair amount of research when planning my Belize trip, and just about everything I read indicated that staying in the capital was a bad idea as there was nothing at all to see, and that you were really missing the point of Belize if you didn’t head out to the islands. I didn’t have enough time to go diving, but decided to just go to a resort and relax for a couple of nights. Yet another Cessna, this time a 208B Grand Caravan, to San Pedro.
#33 – Turkmenistan 2016
After being turned down for a visa the first time I tried to go to Turkmenistan, it was cool to not only be able to finally go but also to take a domestic flight and see some really cool sights.Too bad it was a modern 737 and 717 instead of some old ex-Soviet plane!
#34 – Russia – 2016
Ok, you could possibly say that this is the same as the Soviet Union way back when, but I’m counting it separate. This is also on my immediate list to expand, as I have a big trip planned next year which will include LOTS more domestic flights. From the extreme north to the far east…
#35 – Spain – 2017
Again, some islands from away from the mainland is what it took, but finally had a domestic flight in another European country.
#36 – Portugal – 2017
Same trip as the Canary Islands above, we continued on and went to some portuguese islands as well. Unfortunately we came in from Las Palmas, so only one “domestic” flight
So that’s it…36 countries total. At least 10 more than I expected I would have here, and with two more booked, and at least half a dozen more planned, it looks like I’ve definitely succeeded in figuring out what I’d do after “every country”: explore the ones I found really interesting a lot more in depth with longer flights.
How about you? How many countries have you taken domestic flights in, and which ones were particularly interesting?