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News & Advice

Inside travel: The greatest flights in the world

British Airways pilots select the best routes on the planet, as seen from the very front of the plane.

London City to New York (LCY-JFK)

Chosen by Captain Dave Wallsworth

"The view as you come down over Manhattan is amazing, especially if it is a clear night. When you look out of the window you get a spectacular view of the whole of New York and can pick out landmarks such as the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. Central Park is really obvious from the air as it has a defined rectangular shape and few lights compared to the millions surrounding it. It's quite something to be able to fly over a city at night, and this has to be the most spectacular."

Rio de Janeiro to Santiago (GIG-SCL)

Chosen by Captain Paul Heaver

"After an easterly take-off from Rio you turn right over Isla de Paquetá and head down the bay towards Rio's harbour mouth. Passing over Niteroi Bridge and the domestic airport Santos Dumont, you see views of Corcovado and Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf Mountain and the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, before climbing to cruise altitude. After crossing the Pampas of Argentina, the sheer majesty of the Andes comes into sight before a final flourish with views of Mount Aconcagua to the right on the descent into Santiago."

Edinburgh to London (EDI-LHR)

Chosen by Captain Paul Griffin

"This route is memorable for me as I was on the last supersonic flight from Edinburgh to London on Concorde. Thousands of people had gathered around the airport and there was a real atmosphere of excitement. It was extraordinary. We reached 29,000ft in four minutes 50 seconds. After that we went to 60,000ft in 10 minutes then cruised down over the North Sea. Over Essex, I met two other Concordes, one coming from New York and one doing an 'around the bay' at Heathrow. We landed all three, one after the other, at the airport where we were greeted by the tens of thousands of people. It was even broadcast on TV."

London Heathrow to Nice (LHR-NCE)

Chosen by Captain Ian Knowles

"The approach to Nice is a challenge because of the high ground around the airport. This means you come in low along the coast and fly over all the luxury yachts floating in the sparkling, turquoise sea. The final turn is quite low over the palm-fringed beach so you can clearly see all the people sunbathing or swimming below you."

London Heathrow to Gibraltar(LHR-GIB)

Chosen by Senior First Officer Malcolm Rainier

"When I was in the Royal Air Force, I flew Jaguars in and out of Gibraltar, so flying there feels a bit like visiting an old friend. It's glorious flying over Brighton and the south coast, and if you look out of the right-hand window you see the Isle of Wight, too. Gibraltar's runway has sea either side and as you land you see the spectacular Rock of Gibraltar just a few hundred metres away. It's covered in tufts of greenery and buildings that cling to the side of it like barnacles."

The original version of this article appears in the March issue of High Life magazine, available on all British Airways flights. Go to bahighlife.com for a list of the top 30 flights in the world