What is a Domestic Flight? Everything You Need to Know

There often seems to be confusion over whether a flight is still considered to be a domestic flight if it flies over an ocean or if in flying between two airports in the same country, the flight overflies another country.

Domestic flights are regarded as being one that starts and ends in the same country, without any stops en-route in another country. If in doing so a flight needs to fly over another country or an ocean they are still considered to be domestic flights.

Read on to find out the domestic flights meaning and more information and statistics about them.

Are domestic flights short?

How short the flight may be will actually depend on how large the country the domestic flight is taking place in is. In a small country, a domestic flight can never be very long but in a larger one, it obviously can be.

One of the longest domestic flight, in a large country like the US, would be a direct flight between Miami and Hawaii which would take approximately 10 hours, so definitely one of the longest domestic flights.

But equally domestic flights can be very short. There is a domestic flight in the Scottish islands from one island to another (Papa Westray to Westray) that only takes one minute as it is a very short distance at less than 2 miles from airport to airport! It is actually the shortest scheduled flight in the world.

Below is a video of a journey on that flight on Loganair Airline:

Can domestic flights overfly another country?

In some situations, a flight would still be considered a domestic flight if its route means that from its departure to its destination airport, both being situated within the same nation, it overflies another country.

An example of this would be a flight from somewhere in the lower 48 States to Alaska as it would probably fly over Canada to get there, but it would still be classed as a domestic flight.

What is the difference between domestic and international flights?

The main difference between domestic and international flights are:

  • Domestic flights fly between two airports both of which are within the same country
  • International flights take-off from one country but land in another country. This normally involves passing through both immigration and customs on arrival.
southwest airlines domestic flight

Are flights between the US and Canada considered domestic flights?

Although the US and Canada may be close neighbors any flights between the two will not be classed as domestic but as international. You will have to pass through immigration at some stage in the journey.

It will also be necessary to pass through Customs and declare any items that are required to the customs official.

Which country has the most domestic flights?

Unsurprisingly the US has the most scheduled domestic flights in the world. The FAA estimates that there are around 44,000 domestic flights each day in the US. Source: FAA – Air Traffic By Numbers

The US is a very large country with a huge volume of business travel between cities. In most areas of the US there are few viable alternatives to travel quickly from city to city if the distance is large.

In some other countries there are fast rail links that route from city center to center which can often be quicker than flying (largely because it eliminates the need to travel from a city center to an airport outside the city to catch a flight and then the same journey into the city center at the other end.

Some small counties only have one airport so they cannot have any domestic flights.

Which airline has the most domestic routes?

Although this can vary from time to time, currently American Airlines operates the most number of different routes within the US and has the largest share of the US domestic flight market. However, United Airlines and Delta Air Lines are not far behind.

what does domestic flight mean

Do you need a passport for domestic flights?

A passport is not necessary to fly on domestic flights within the US, although one may be required in some other countries.

In the US, all adults (18 and over) are required to show some form of valid photo identification in order to be allowed to fly on domestic flights.

These need to be a photo ID and can take the form of a driver’s license, passport (US or foreign), a permanent resident card, US Department of Defense IDs and some other approved form of ID.

For a full list see the Transport Security Agency’s guide – TSA Valid Identification

For the regulations regarding the documentation required for domestic flights in other countries check the relevant countries’ websites. One thing is for sure though a valid passport is always acceptable and sometimes a driver’s license.

Do you go through customs on a domestic flight?

domestic flights definition

Since you are not leaving or entering another country on a domestic flight you do not have to go through customs (or immigration).

If you are on the domestic leg of an international flight then you will need to. For example, if you are on a flight that goes from Washington to London, via New York.

Do you get food on domestic flights?

International and domestic flights are no different when it comes to a meal service as it is the length of flight that determines this, not whether they are international flights or domestic flights.

Just like with long international flights, you certainly would get food on long domestic flights. From Miami to Hawaii you would probably have at least two meals.

On the one-minute flight in the Scottish Islands described above, I think it is pretty unlikely. That is unless the cabin crew is extremely efficient and you are a champion fast food eater.

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