What is a Domestic Flight?

Domestic flights are flights that take place within a country’s boundaries. This means that both arrivals and departure cities must be in the same country for a flight to qualify to be domestic.

For instance, if you live in Texas and take a flight from Austin to Houston, then, in this case, you took a domestic flight. For domestic flights, passengers use domestic terminals across different cities. All airports designed to be used by the public have domestic terminals.

What is a domestic flight

While many people are more familiar with the lengthy and tedious international flights, it is also critical to learn more about domestic flights. This article discusses all you need to know and answers all the questions you may have while helping you find useful information you could use when planning and booking domestic flights.

So, let’s start with the most basic of questions ✈️ :

What is the Shortest Domestic Flight in the World?

The shortest commercial flight in the world takes place in Indonesia and links between Kegata to Apowo in the region of Papua. The flight is a 1.3 mile-away flight (2 km) which takes only 1.5 minutes.

A forested valley separates the Papuan hilltop settlements of Apowo and Kegata in a very isolated area in Indonesia. Traveling from one village to the other involves an endless arduous journey across the steep mountainside and the thick jungle. Most of the passengers in that route are fare-paying individuals, making it one of the world’s shortest commercial flights.

Another short domestic flight worth mentioning is in Westray to Papa Westray in the UK. The flight takes 2 minutes or less, and passengers here have to use the smallest airplanes the country has to offer, carrying less than ten people per flight.

Most domestic flights are considered shorter than international flights as they involve moving from one part of the country to the other. Depending on the size of the country, some domestic flights generally take longer than some international flights. Now, you might be wondering why a person is taking a flight for as short a distance as 2 miles. Well, there are many reasons why people may need to take a five-minute flight.

It could be an emergency, business meeting, or even a location that may not be accessed by car. Most short-distance domestic flights usually fly across an ocean, sea, or any other water body. These flights generally connect one island to another. Other areas where roads cannot be built, such as choppy waters, can only be accessed by planes. That is why you may need to board a flight for only 1.5 or 2 minutes to get where you want.

What is the Longest Domestic Flight in the World?

This honor goes to the France flight that runs between Papeete in French Polynesia and the airports near Paris metropolitan. This flight takes between 16 to 17 hours flying across 8,500 miles.

The longest domestic flight in the world
The longest domestic flight in the world linking Papeete to Paris – by Doug Coldwell (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Following closely is the Boston to Honolulu domestic flight. Apart from being economical because of redeeming points, the current flight runs over a route that is 5,095 miles. The Boston to Honolulu route was launched in April 2019, and it operates five days in a week, takes a whopping 12 hours to Hawaii, and 11 hours returning to eastbound.

New York to Honolulu is another domestic flight worth mentioning. It is slightly shorter compared to the first two as it measures 4,983 miles. The Hawaiian airlines also provide a non-stop service through New York JFK airport.

You must be thinking that the longest domestic flight should come from Russia because it is technically the largest country on earth. Well, as strange as it may seem, the longest domestic flight in Russia is slightly over 4,600 miles from Kaliningrad to Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka peninsula.

When we talk about the longest domestic flights globally, we are looking at the longest flights across a country, maybe thousands of miles away. Some of the domestic routes are also some of the longest non-stop flights in the world. Thanks to technology, planes can now fly longer without taking stopovers. If you think that the flight you are booking could take longer than usual, it is essential to prepare yourself by finding comfortable neck pillows, snacks, and ways to deal with jet-lag once you land.

Do I Need a Passport for Domestic Flights?

No. You don’t need one, unless it is the only form of identification you have, of course. Passports are only required during international flights.

For instance, if you are a US citizen and live in the US, taking domestic flights across the TSA will not require you to have a passport (source).

However, you need to have an approved form of identification to be allowed to fly.

What ID Do I Need for a Domestic Flight?

To flight domestically in the US as a US citizen you need to bring a photo ID with you to the airport. Here is the full list of the identification accepted by the TSA to be able to flight domestically:

  • Driver’s licenses (not a temporary driver license) or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
  • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)

If you are using your state-issued ID or license to fly make sure that it’s REAL ID compliant. Starting from October 2021 you may not be able to fly with a non-compliant document. More info here.

What if I Lost or Forgot My ID, Can I Still Be Able to Fly?

If you do not have any of these documents to prove your identity and residency, you may be allowed to fly but under some conditions.

You will have to hand over to the TSA officer all the information that can help confirm your identity. These information include for example your name, your current address, etc …

If the TSA officer can then confirm your identity, you will be able to enter the screening checkpoint in the airport.

What Do I Need to Bring for a Domestic Flight?

While the security threat is the same, whether you are taking an international or domestic flight, carry-on restrictions and documents required vary for domestic flights (source).

  • Before you leave for the airport, make sure you have your domestic flight ticket and government-issued ID. If you are traveling with children or pets, ensure you have the required documents to avoid being sent back to fetch them.
  • For comfort purposes, you can bring your neck pillow as well as your fleece blanket to keep you warm if you think you might get cold in the flight.
  • You can also carry some snacks, as most domestic flights DON’T offer complimentary meals.
  • Unlike international flights where children must have a passport to fly, domestic flights do not require children to have identification if they are traveling with an adult. If you are taking a child with you, avoid unnecessary problems by carrying a copy of their birth certificates to prove they are under 18 years and are related to you.
  • Parents with young children are allowed to get a baby car seat or stroller. You can also bring toys, blankets, and snacks for your baby.

How Early Should I Get to the Airport for a Domestic Flight?

This is a complicated one – and the simple answer to this is that it depends.

Where you live, how busy the airport is, the weather, and travel time, are all considerations to keep in mind when determining the time to arrive at the airport.

However, it is better to be too early than be late and miss a flight. While international flights recommend arriving at the airport at least two hours before the take-off, it would be wise to arrive an hour early for your domestic flight (source). If you live far from the airport, you may want to leave early in order to arrive at the airport on time.

During the peak seasons, the airports are more crowded and busier. The security lines are also longer, and the whole check out process may be slower than usual. That also means arriving early to get the process started. The same rule applies for domestic flights; some days are busier than others, particularly the start and end of weekends and holidays.

If you are not sure whether it is a busy time of the year, it is better to get to the airport roughly 2 hours before. If you live close to the airport, arriving an hour before isn’t a bad idea. However, Airport rules vary from one airline to another; therefore, it is always advisable to inquire about specific rules such as bag check deadlines, so you are not stopped out.

How Much Cash Can I Carry on a Domestic Flight?

Many people prefer using cash when traveling, especially if it is a tourist destination to protect their personal information. But how much cash or how many bags of money can you carry on a domestic flight?

In the US, there is really no restriction on the amount of money you can carry. It is also not mandatory to declare the amount of money you are carrying.

The problem now comes in when you go through the Transportation Services Administration Security Screening. If you are carrying too much money that can draw attention, the TSA recommends getting screened in private to prevent drawing unnecessary attention on anything that can be stolen.

However, simply announcing this is enough trouble to attract its own kind of official attention. This could result in a thorough background check and law enforcement checkups to ensure that the money was not acquired through illegal means as cash triggers alarms about money laundering and drug trafficking.

If you can’t prove that the money is legally yours, then you may not be allowed to travel, and if there are red flags on the acquisition of the cash, further questioning may be required. Law enforcement can decide to keep half or all the money lest you are convicted of a crime.

For smaller amounts of money, never put cash in the checked bags. There are so many people who have access to your bags when they are out of your sight. In case this money turns out missing, it is almost impossible to establish who took. Therefore, the best way to carry your money is to put it in your carry-on and secure it with a TSA approved lock. You can get approval from the TSA to keep your money closer to you at all times.

How Much Time Do I Need in a Domestic Flight Connection?

This varies significantly based on the itinerary and the airport. Every airport across the world has its minimum connection time.

For domestic flights, 30 to 40 minutes is the minimum allocated time for connection. However, the minimum viable connection times can vary depending on departure delays and how quickly you move from one terminal to another.

Having children or elderly parents can slow you down too.

Vast airports, especially those with international and domestic flights, are generally generous when it comes to connection timelines. The airport is big, and moving from one place to another can take some time, especially if it is your first time.If your connection involves two domestic flights, this may be a speedy walk from the end of a concourse to the other.