Qantas London to Sydney direct flights on the cards for 2022 with key change to economy
Qantas is planning to remove a number of plane seats to allow for “move and stretch” zones as it looks at incorporating more ultra-long haul flights to its roster.
Australia’s national carrier is preparing to launch its second ultra-long haul research flight as part of Project Sunrise, which is studying ways to combat jet lag for those on-board.
The first flight in the three-part series connected New York and Sydney non-stop last month – and on Friday, a 787 Dreamliner will make the estimated 19 and a half-hour journey from London to Sydney, carrying just 52 passengers and crew.
It’s just the second time in history the route has been flown by a commercial airline, with the first time being in 1989.
Ahead of the flight, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce explained that to make the non-stop journeys a reality within the next few years, the airline is looking at ways to redesign cabins and improve comfort to make the long stretches in the sky more manageable.
“We know that travellers want room to move on these direct flights, and the exercises we encouraged on the first research flight seemed to work really well,” he said.
“So, we’re definitely looking to incorporate on-board stretching zones and even some simple modifications like overhead handles to encourage low impact exercises.”
Passengers will board at 6am London time and be offered high GI supper options like a steak sandwich or chicken broth with macaroni, followed by a milk-based pannacotta dessert.
The Qantas boss also explained that the non-stop Perth to London flight, which launched last March, had boosted confidence in the proposed longer journeys.
“It had the highest customer satisfaction rating after a year of any route on our network, and it’s been the most successful launch of a new route,” he said.
Since then, 250,000 people have already taken the 17-hour route between Australia’s west coast and the UK capital.
During Friday’s research flight, the impact of the lengthy trip on Qantas’ crew will also be under the microscope.
Pilots will wear an EEG (electroencephalogram) device to track brain wave patterns, while three Go-Pro cameras will be placed in the cockpit to monitor alertness.
A final decision on whether the ultra-long haul flights will become a commercial reality is expected by the end of the year, with the service potentially launching by 2022.
The project has been named Sunrise, after Qantas’ “double sunrise” endurance flights during WWII which saw two sunrises while in the air.
Originally published as Key change coming to long-haul economy