How Qantas ensures comfort on world’s longest flight


Qantas successfully flew directly from Perth to London over the weekend. Source: Shutterstock

THE world’s first direct flight between Australia and the UK happened over the weekend.

The inaugural QF9 flight took off from Perth Airport on Saturday night and landed in London on Sunday morning, which makes it one of the longest flights in the world at 17 hours and 20 minutes.

The Boeing Dreamliner had four pilots on its maiden flight, with one of them being Captain Lisa Norman.

The successful flight has left many business travelers and frequent flyers rejoicing at the thought of no more horribly long stopovers. It also sets a precedent for what the future of air travel could have in store.

The routine duties of the cabin crew had to be changed slightly for this flight as the normal Qantas tagline of “A sleep, a meal, a movie and you’re there” isn’t going to quite cut it for this 17-hour journey.

How has Qantas made sure the passengers on this new route are comfortable?

Qantas teamed up with in-house industrial designer David Caon and the airline’s chef partner, Neil Perry of the Rockpool Dining Group.

They have also enlisted the help of Professor Steve Simpson and his team from the Charles Perkins Center at the University of Sydney who study chronic disease and metabolism.

Sound a bit extreme? Well, it’s all necessary as digestion has a huge role to play in deciding whether your flight will be a comfortable or stomach-churning experience.

“Our research project with Qantas includes strategies to counteract jet lag, including onboard exercise and movement, menu design and service timing, pre- and post-flight preparation, transit lounge wellness concepts and the cabin environment, including lighting and temperature,” Professor Simpson told Travel and Leisure.

On top of this, Qantas also issued a pre-departure email to their passengers which were full of tips for staving off jetlag.

These include keeping hydrated, doing some physical activities, and eating and sleeping according to the destination time zone.

The new Dreamliner also has an improved air-circulation filtration system known as HEPA which lowers your risk of contracting a cold or any other vacation-spoiling virus.

When it comes to screen time, the headrest televisions have gotten a little bigger too. Those in first class can enjoy 16 inches of high-definition TV, while those in premium economy and economy will have 13.3-inch and 12-inch monitors respectively.

All of which are stocked up with over 1,500 entertainment options, from movies to TV shows, music, games and more.

This aircraft also has two self-service bars onboard to keep flyers hydrated and full between the served meals.

Each is stocked with healthy snacks such as kale chips, crudité, and refreshing infused teas.

The new Dreamliners, of course, have the latest aviation technology to make things easier for pilots as well as ensuring passenger comfort and safety.

This includes Smooth Ride Technology which allows the aircraft to detect oncoming turbulence and automatically adjust wing control surfaces to counter the annoying bumps.

Lastly, Qantas has proved how much they value customer experience over making money as they have only fitted 236 passenger seats in the aircraft which can hold up to as many as 335.

There are 42 in business class, 28 in premium economy and 166 in the economy cabin. But no matter which cabin you’re flying in, you will notice the extra room.

With Qantas’ “Project Sunrise” very much in full flight, the prospect of even longer non-stop flights from Sydney to Capetown, London, New York and Rio it’s essential that Qantas continues to learn and develop ways to ensure customer satisfaction.

But we think they’re already off to a flying start.