Travel industry news

28 Mar 2018

BY April Hutchinson


Qantas flight heralds new era for long-haul

ttgluxury editor April Hutchinson joined Qantas’s historic 17-hour flight between London and Perth on Sunday. Here she reports on the game-changing service.

Qantas 17-hour non-stop London-Australia service

Markus Svensson: “We have worked with Boeing to develop an aircraft that not only covers the distance but is also the most comfortable aircraft that we have put in the sky.”

Qantas has made history by launching the first non-stop service between Australia and Europe, flying 17 hours between Perth and London.

The flight is operated using a new fuel-efficient Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and cuts flying time thanks to Qantas’s analysis of a decade of seasonal wind patterns. The 14,498km service is now the world’s longest Dreamliner flight.

“This is a game-changing flight and one that marks a new era of travel,” said Markus Svensson, Qantas regional manager UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We have worked with Boeing to develop an aircraft that not only covers the distance but is also the most comfortable aircraft that we have put in the sky.”

Qantas has configured the aircraft with fewer seats than other B787s, carrying 236 passengers versus about 300 on other airlines; the Dreamliner has 42 business, 28 premium economy and 166 economy seats. The aircraft is the first to receive Qantas’s new premium economy product, while the economy cabin has also been spread out more than any other Qantas service and is split into two sections, with all seats in a 3-3-3 configuration, and with a 32-inch seat pitch – the largest ever offered by the airline in this class.

Some passengers on this ultra-long-haul flight will be wearing devices that assess their wellbeing, with data then assessed and used by Qantas.

“We have worked closely with our industrial designers, Boeing and Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre to influence things like cabin lighting, cuisine and temperature,” added Phil Capps, Qantas’s head of customer product and service.

“We’ve also worked with Neil Perry to design a menu in line with all these objectives. Our aim for this programme has been to do everything we can to accelerate time-zone shift, maximise rest and reduce jetlag.”

Svensson insisted that flights for the new direct service had sold well.

“Working with our local trade partners, this service is performing very well and we are expecting full flights in both directions, with consistently high loads in premium cabins too,” he said.

Svensson added the airline was looking at other direct routes from Australia to Europe, including Paris, but that the focus for the moment was bedding down the Perth-London service.

In it for the long-haul

In it for the long-haul

April Hutchinson, ttgluxury editor, finds the Dreamliner comes into its own on QF10

“I knew I should have had more sleep the night before in preparation for a 17-hour night flight, but I hadn’t, so I boarded QF10, Qantas’s new service, carrying a bit of a snooze deficit – once wheels were up and we were in the air, I was soon nodding off.

I poked around the aircraft before the other passengers boarded, including premium economy with its sleek charcoal grey tones, handy “glovebox” storage area, and seat which pivets from higher up, thus enabling a full recline into a “z” position. In economy, there are far fewer seats than you would expect.

Qantas claims it is the first Dreamliner customer to take full advantage of the lighting capabilities in the aircraft based on scientific research, including lighting that phases in and out to simulate dawn and sunset, while cooler blue tones, are used to aid waking in the morning. In addition, 30% bigger windows let in more natural light.

The flying experience is undeniably better because of lower air pressure: most aircraft have cabin air pressure equivalent to that of an altitude of 8,000ft but Boeing cut that down to 6,000ft, closer to conditions on the ground. There’s also greater humidity, which is better for your skin and respiratory system. I felt much less dehydrated and groggy than usual. Temperature is also carefully controlled.

So – did 17 hours fly by? Yes – in business class. In economy, the onus would still be on the passenger to stay mobile, drink water and eat healthily.”

Sleeping all the way to Oz

Sleeping all the way to Oz

Andrew Myles, team supervisor at Hillgate Travel, discovered just three nights before departure that he had won a place on the inaugural service

“I felt completely normal on this flight – and slept pretty much all the way.

There seemed to be lots more healthy options to eat and smaller portions – people often eat too much on a flight when they don’t need to. I drank heaps of water the day before – usually I’m quite prepared for a long-haul flight anyway in economy, taking a full-size pillow and pyjamas, but I didn’t have to do that this time, as I was in business class. I was at the airport earlier to make the most of the lounge too – it was beautiful.

There has been a lot of social media around this launch which is great, and I will do a review for our newsletter that goes out to all the team, but I think it’s important also now for Qantas to continue to push this out. I loved the direct flight – but what I’m more excited about is people having a choice, as some people like to get the big, longer flight to Australia out of the way first, rather than fly through the Middle East for example, so it gives Qantas the edge.”

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