The truth about Qantas seat 71D
Unless you're a contestant on The Amazing Race, travel should never be seen as a competitive sport. But while we may not be chasing world records ourselves, we can still enjoy the thrill of knowing we've seen something that is the biggest, the tallest, the fastest, the most something-est in its class.
With that in mind we've compiled a list of travel No.1s, with a mix of things you may have already seen or done yourself and those that are the stuff of dreams. Or maybe nightmares.
MOST POPULAR SEAT ON QANTAS: 1A
Not only is 1A the seat people favour most of all, row A gets more passenger love than the other window row, K.
Back in economy, exit rows are predictably the favourite places to be, along with seat 71D on the A380, which has lots of extra leg room thanks to a missing seat in front.
LONGEST FLIGHT: SINGAPORE TO NEW YORK
Singapore Airlines' new non-stop Singapore to New York flights take to the skies from October 11, giving us a clear new winner in the longest flight stakes both in kilometres and time. The flights on the new Airbus A350-900ULR (ultra long range) will cover about 16,700km and take up to 18 hours, 45 minutes. Currently the longest flight is Qatar's Auckland to Doha on 14,353km and a scheduled flight time of 17hrs 40mins, ahead of Qantas' Perth to London with 14,498km and 17hrs 20mins.
SHORTEST FLIGHT: WESTRAY TO PAPA WESTRAY, SCOTLAND
At the other end of the scale, the Scottish airline Loganair's flight between the two islands of Westray and Papa Westray is scheduled for one-and-a-half minutes, with the record standing at 53 seconds.
Not surprisingly, there is no drinks service, and everyone who flies for the first time receives a certificate signed by the captain with their flight number, date and the flight duration.
BUSIEST AIRPORT: HARTSFIELD-JACKSON ATLANTA, GEORGIA, US
In 1998, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta claimed the title of the world's busiest airport from Chicago's O'Hare International and never gave it back. Last year, almost 104 million passengers went through Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jackson, which is within a two-hour flight of 80 per cent of the population in the US. For international travellers, Dubai International Airport is the world's busiest with 87.7 million passengers last year.
BUSIEST DAY AT SYDNEY AIRPORT: DECEMBER 23
A good argument for starting your Christmas holidays early, last year Sydney Airport was busiest for combined arrivals and departures on the Saturday before Christmas, December 23. You've been warned.
FASTEST PASSENGER TRAIN: SHANGHAI MAGLEV, CHINA
On the Shanghai Maglev train large speedometers in the carriage let passengers know how fast they are going, and the cameras come out for the top speed of 431km/h. The train takes seven minutes to travel 30km from Shanghai's Pudong International Airport to the Longyang metro station on the outskirts of the city. While this is the fastest train you can ride, it's not the fastest in the world. In testing, Japan's SCMaglev hit a top speed of 603km/h but the fastest operating speed for Japanese bullet trains is 320km/h.
THE HIGHEST OF HIGHS
TALLEST BUILDING: BURJ KHALIFA, DUBAI, UAE
More than twice as tall as the Empire State Building, the Burj stands at 828m and holds the record for tallest building, tallest freestanding structure, highest number of storeys, highest outdoor observation deck, highest restaurant and tallest service elevator in the world.
But this being record-loving Dubai, by 2020 the city will have outdone itself, with Dubai Creek Tower set to rise at least 928m into the sky.
TALLEST STATUE: STATUE OF UNITY, SADHU BET, INDIA
If you've seen the 120m Spring Temple Buddha in Lushan County, China, then you're about to lose your tallest statue viewing status. India is building a 182m steel and bronze statue of its first home minister, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and plans to inaugurate its creation on October 31 this year.
TALLEST MOUNTAIN: MAUNA KEA, HAWAII
Well, depending on how you see it. Literally. Mount Everest is the highest above sea level, but when you measure from base to summit, Mauna Kea on Hawaii's Big Island is 10,211m. That's 1609m higher than Everest. A popular stargazing spot, you can also drive to the summit and say you've watched the sunrise from the top of the world's tallest mountain if you go with the Mauna Kea theory.
HIGHEST WATERFALL: ANGEL FALLS, VENEZUELA
At 979m Angel Falls delivers almost a full kilometre of water tumbling over the edge of the Auyantepui Mountain into the Gauja River below. Unless it's too hot or too dry. That's when you can watch the water evaporate into mist before it hits the ground.
HIGHEST CITY: EL ALTO, BOLIVIA
Spanish for The Heights, El Alto became its own city in 1987 after being a suburb of La Paz, and it is now the highest major metropolis in the world. More than a million people live here at an average elevation of 4150m.
HIGHEST TIDES: BAY OF FUNDY, NOVA SCOTIA, CANADA
One of Canada's top natural wonders, the Bay of Fundy's vertical tide range can be more than 16m and bring in 160 billion tonnes of seawater, more than four times the estimated combined flow of all the world's freshwater rivers. When the tide is out you can walk on the ocean floor between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and then kayak the same spot later that day.
REALLY BIG THINGS
LARGEST BUILDING: BOEING EVERETT FACTORY, WASHINGTON, US
The largest building in the world by volume, Boeing's assembly building north of Seattle is 13,385,378cu m and could easily fit Disneyland inside. But while Boeing may have the record on volume, the largest building by footprint award goes to the Aalsmeer Flower Auction in Aalsmeer, Holland, with a massive 518,000sq m, ahead of the Boeing Factory's 399,480sq m.
LARGEST HOTEL SUITE: GRAND HILLS HOTEL & SPA, BROUMANA, LEBANON
It's big enough to be a boutique hotel but, according to Guinness Book of Records, the world's largest hotel suite is the Royal Residence at the Grand Hills Hotel & Spa, in Broumana, Lebanon. Spread out over 4131sq m, not including the gardens and two private swimming pools, the suite is seven storeys high and sleeps up to 10. More than comfortably.
LARGEST TREE: GENERAL SHERMAN, CALIFORNIA, US
This giant sequoia in California's Sequoia National Park is believed to be about 2000 years old. That's only middle aged in sequoia years but General Sherman is still the biggest tree in the world by volume at about 1487cu m. This giant of the plant world is more than 11m in diameter at the base and 83m tall, which means while it may be the biggest it's far from the tallest. Another California tree, known as Hyperion, is 115.7m tall with experts saying it could have grown even more if it wasn't for woodpecker damage at the top.
LARGEST SAND ISLAND: FRASER ISLAND, AUSTRALIA
About 123km long and 22km at its widest point, our own Fraser Island is the planet's biggest sand island and one of only two places in the world where planes land on the beach. There's 1200km of sand tracks connecting top sights on the World Heritage listed island and more than 100 freshwater lakes, including over half of the world's known dune lakes.
BIGGEST MAILBOX: CASEY, ILLINOIS, US
Want to send a postcard from the biggest mailbox in the world? Casey, Illinois, has you covered. This mailbox is 9.9m tall and when you walk up the stairs and post your letter a large red flag rises up to show there's mail to collect. The local post office sends more than 100 postcards a day with a World's Largest Mailbox postmark on them, and while you're in town you can also see the world's biggest rocking chair, wind chime and knitting needles.
TOP LANDMARK: ANGKOR WAT, CAMBODIA
According to TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice awards, out of 759 landmarks in 67 countries, Cambodia's Angkor Wat is No.1. Not only is it the largest religious structure in the world, covering 162.6ha, it's one of the most beautiful. Built in the early 12th century, Angkor Wat is a striking example of classical Khmer architecture built to represent Mount Meru, the home of the Hindu Gods. Along with intricate bas-reliefs depicting Hindu legends there are almost 2000 apsaras, or celestial nymphs, frozen mid dance on the walls.
MOST VISITED MUSEUM: THE LOUVRE, PARIS, FRANCE
After slipping down to the No.2 position behind the National Museum of China in Beijing in 2016, The Louvre is back to No.1 with 8.1 million visitors last year. While Da Vinci's Mona Lisa is the most famous face in the former royal palace, there are about 35,000 artworks on display, and another 350,000 or so housed in the museum.
MOST POPULAR CRUISE CABIN: THE PENTHOUSE SUITE
A combination of luxury and scarcity can be thanked for penthouse suites being snapped up the fastest on ships. On Celebrity Solstice the two penthouse suites feature private whirlpools on the veranda, a marble bath and 24-hour butler service, but you have to be quick to grab one.
CRUISING INTO THE RECORD BOOKS
LONGEST CRUISE: VIKING ULTIMATE WORLD CRUISE
If you have 245 days and $117,995 up your sleeve this could be the cruise for you. Viking's Ultimate World Cruise departs from London on August 31, 2019, and on a full circumnavigation of the globe takes in six continents, 59 countries and 113 ports. That's almost twice as long as its previous world cruises.
BIGGEST CRUISE SHIP: ROYAL CARIBBEAN'S SYMPHONY OF THE SEAS
At 228,081 gross registered tonnes and carrying up to 6680 passengers, Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seashas seven "neighbourhoods" including Central Park with more than 20,000 plants and Entertainment Place where the Royal Theatre seats 1401 guests. Very lucky families can stay in the new two-storey family suite with a private 3D cinema, popcorn machine included, and a slide from the children's room down to the living room.
BUSIEST CRUISE PORT: PORT MIAMI, FLORIDA, US
Already the port that welcomes the most passengers, PortMiami in Florida is about to get even bigger with two new terminals. Last year, 5.34 million passengers boarded and disembarked, with an extra million expected after the Royal Caribbean Cruises terminal opens this October. The Norwegian Cruise Line is also building a new terminal set to open in November 2019.
FASTEST ROLLER COASTER: FORMULA ROSSA, ABU DHABI, UAE
Put on your safety glasses and go from sitting still to hitting 100km/h in two seconds, then more than double it to hurtle around the tracks at 240km/h. The Formula Rossa rollercoaster at Abu Dhabi's Ferrari World only takes one minute and 32 seconds but it's one ride you never forget.
HIGHEST BUNGEE: ZHANGJIAJIE GRAND CANYON GLASS BRIDGE
Remember that crazy high glass-bottom bridge in China that looked terrifying to walk across? As of this month you can bungee jump off the side of it. A new 260m high bungee platform has been added to the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge making it the highest in the world ahead of current record holder the Macau Tower Bungy Jump at 233m. There are also plans to add a giant swing and zip lines to the bridge for more heart stopping moments.
LONGEST ZIP LINE: RAS AL KHAIMAH, UAE
On the largest mountain peak in the UAE, in the northernmost emirate, Ras Al Khaimah, a new zip line stretches an exhilarating/terrifying 2.83km. That's roughly 28 soccer fields - in about two or three minutes of flying through the air "superman style" in a special suit.
Meanwhile, the world's longest rollercoaster zip line is much closer to home. At TreeTops Central Coast, about an hour's drive north of Sydney, the 1km long TreeTop Crazy Rider is a twisting, turning cross between a rollercoaster and a flying fox.
MOST EXPENSIVE HOTEL ROOM: ROYAL PENTHOUSE SUITE, HOTEL PRESIDENT WILSON, GENEVA
The biggest suite in Europe takes up all 1680sq m of the top floor at the Hotel President Wilson, and will set you back a cool CHF 80,000 ($109,000) a night.
There's a jacuzzi looking out over the lake, a Steinway grand piano, a private elevator and 12 bedrooms and marble bathrooms, so if you divide it between 24 friends you could swing it for around $4375 each.
Here in Australia, the Chairman's Villa at Crown Towers Melbourne takes the top spot at $28,000 a night. Covering the entire 38th floor of Crown Towers, the 1090sq m villa has four bedrooms, each with an oval spa in the bathroom, a dining room for 14 with decadent bar, a pool table, massage room, 24-hour butler service and a huge television that's discreetly hidden behind original artworks. All that, and jaw-dropping views.
MOST EXPENSIVE COMMERCIAL FLIGHT: ETIHAD'S THE RESIDENCE
Above and beyond first class, Etihad's The Residence is a three-room private suite with a double bed, lounge area, and bathroom complete with a shower. It also costs about $45,000 return Sydney to London, which is a lot better than the $86,000 it was a few years ago - but still a plane dream for most of us.
MOST EXPENSIVE TRAIN: GOLDEN EAGLE'S TRANS SIBERIAN EXPRESS
This year the private Golden Eagle train introduced a new carriage for its Trans-Siberian Express journey and set new heights in train ticket prices at the same time. Only available as a full carriage hire, for $US122,376 ($160,000) you can have the entire two bedroom Romanov Suite carriage to yourself or share it with up to three guests on a two week journey from Moscow to Vladivostok.
MOST EXPENSIVE TACO: LOS CABOS, MEXICO
While you can have a debate over who makes the best fish taco in the world, the winner for the most expensive taco is clear. The $US25,000 taco at the Grand Velas Los Cabos resort on Mexico's Baja Peninsula includes langoustine, Kobe beef, black truffle brie cheese and caviar from Iranian albino sturgeon that sells for around $US34,500 a kilogram, all held together by a gold flake infused tortilla shell.
Tempted? You'll need to pay a $US12,500 deposit and order it one week in advance. At least there's no chance of ordering it after too much tequila at the resort. That's one hangover we're happy to avoid.
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