My life in flights

Back in September 2010, I posted a map of all my flights created at At that time I had been on 85 individual flights; that is, 85 take-offs and landings. By now, two and a half years later, the counter stands at 146 flights and my map looks like this:

Overview map of all my flights up to January 2013.

Clicking on the image will bring you to my profile page at OpenFlights, where you can zoom in and scroll around in a sort of simplified Google Maps manner. On this full-world view, it’s the long hauls that stand out: a vacation in South Africa and Mauritius from 2001, an observing run at the VLT in Chile from 2006, and a conference plus vacation in Hong Kong and China from 2008. Compared to two and half years ago, there are now a lot more trans-Atlantic crossings, in particular between Amsterdam and Detroit. There’s also one more long-distance trip: the observing run at the JCMT in Hawaii from last year.

Zooming in on the USA shows more details from my American flights, such as the six-stop job tour from early 2010 and a bunch of conference round trips out of Detroit (DTW). There’s also last year’s vacation to Sanibel Island in Florida and some family trips to upstate New York.

A map of my flights within the US through January 2013.

The 146 single flights together have carried me over a distance of 344,244 km or 213,900 mi and have lasted a total of 20 days, 22 hours and 10 minutes. The longest flight was a 12h46m haul from Paris to Buenos Aires across 11,093 km or 6,893 mi; the shortest flight was a 42-min hop from Amsterdam to Brussels across 156 km or 97 mi. The total distance of 344-odd thousand kilometers equates to a good eight and a half times around the world or to almost 90% of the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

My worst delay in all of this (not counting a rebooked flight due to snow) was 2 hours and 13 minutes on a flight from Munich to Amsterdam in December 2007. On the flipside, a December 2011 flight from Detroit to Amsterdam managed to arrive 1 hour and 32 minutes early. My cumulative delay, adding up across those 146 flights as well as I can, is about three and a half hours. That averages out to a negligible minute and a half per flight.

I’ve visited 62 different airports in 22 countries, traveling with 23 airlines on 18 different types of airplane. These stats are nicely visualized in some word clouds (created at, where bigger letters indicate a higher frequency of occurrence. Let’s start with the airports:

Airport word cloud

My top three most visited airports are Amsterdam (79 flights or 54.1% of total visits), Detroit (49, 33.6%), and Munich (18, 12.3%). Eleven airports have only seen me once, either landing there and traveling on by land, or vice versa.

Airline word cloud

The airline word cloud is dominated by Delta with 56 flights, including most of the Atlantic crossings and domestic US travel out of its Detroit hub. KLM comes in second with 25 flights, mostly within Europe. Delta and KLM are members of SkyTeam, where I’ve had silver status for a good two years and recently made gold. Xiamen and China Eastern take up a joint last place with one flight each.

Airplanes word cloud

The aircraft cloud shows mainly Boeings and Airbuses. I’ve grouped various subtypes of aircraft together, so that for example the Airbus A319, A320 and A321 all show up as Airbus A320. The letters are sized according to the number of flights on each aircraft type. The Airbus A320 family comes in first (24 flights), followed by the Boeing 737 (18) and the Airbus A330. If I order instead by distance flown, the A330 takes up the top spot by virtue of being the most common plane on the Amsterdam-Detroit legs. Boeing’s 767 and 777 come in as second and third by distance.

There are two aircraft on which I’ve traveled only once: a McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and an Airbus A340. That DC-9, a Delta plane with registry N781NC, was almost 31 years old when it carried me from Baltimore to Detroit in September 2010, making it the oldest plane I’ve been on. (As far as my records are complete, anyway.) Other oldies were two 28-year old Boeing 757s (N602DL and N750AT), also operated by Delta. The DC-9 is no longer in service, according to; the two 757s still fly. On the other side of the age spectrum stands an Embraer 190 (PH-EZR) operated by KLM, which was only about a month old when I boarded it. The average age across the 123 flights for which I have the airplane registry codes was 10.5 years at the time of travel.

One upcoming milestone is the average distance between the Earth and the Moon: 384,400 km or 221,600 mi. I need another 40,156 km to get there and given that I’ve topped that number in each of the past three years, there’s a good chance I’ll reach the Moon in 2013. I’ll send a postcard when I get there.

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