The oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis (Hendel) (Diptera: Tephritidae), is a pest of fruit and vegetable production that has become established in 42 countries in Africa after its first detection in 2003 in Kenya. It is likely that this rapid expansion is partly due to the reported strong capacity for flight by the pest. This study investigated the tethered flight performance of B. dorsalis over a range of constant temperatures in relation to sex and age. Tethered flight of unmated B. dorsalis aged 3, 10 and 21 days was recorded for 1 h using a computerized flight mill at temperatures of 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32 and 36 °C. Variations in fly morphology were observed as they aged. Body mass and wing loading increased with age, whereas wing length and wing area reduced as flies aged. Females had slightly larger wings than males but were not significantly heavier. The longest total distance flown by B. dorsalis in 1 h was 1559.58 m. Frequent short, fast flights were recorded at 12 and 36 °C, but long‐distance flight was optimal between 20 and 24 °C. Young flies tended to have shorter flight bouts than older flies, which was associated with them flying shorter distances. Heavier flies with greater wing loading flew further than lighter flies. Flight distances recorded on flight mills approximated those recorded in the field, and tethered flight patterns suggest a need to factor temperature into the interpretation of trap captures.