Everything will be done to avoid the “economy class syndrome”, these pains which sometimes strike travelers stuck for long hours in narrow seats. By announcing Monday, May 2 the opening of lines linking Sydney to London and New York in nineteen hours, the Australian company Qantas wanted to reassure future passengers. “As you can imagine, the cabin is specially designed for maximum comfort for long-haul flights,” insisted the boss of the airline, Alan Joyce.
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To carry out its “Project Sunrise”, Qantas will equip its fleet with 12 Airbus A350 aircraft, capable of carrying 238 passengers and consuming 25% less fuel compared to previous generations of aircraft. In business class, separate beds, recliners and wardrobes. To avoid the risk of phlebitis (formation of blood clots in the lower limbs) and allow travelers to stretch their legs, the company is also promising a spacious economy class, with an area designed to “move, stretch and hydrate”.
The longest line in the world
Before officially launching these new routes, Qantas had carried out experiments connecting the two cities in 2019 in order to observe the reactions of passengers during flights of this duration. This made it possible to better understand the cycles of sleep and awakening of travellers, their behavior and even the reactivity of crew members.
If Qantas goes through with its plan, these direct flights between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States would become the longest commercial flights in the world. These journeys are infrequent because they require taking into account the health of on-board staff and passengers, but also to be able to make a profit from these expensive flights. Finally, few planes have sufficient capacity to make London-Sydney journeys 17,750 kilometers long.
At present, no commercial line offers flights exceeding nineteen flight hours. Singapore Airlines flight SQ24, which connects the city-state to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, is the longest commercial flight in the world to date. It is on board an Airbus A350-900 that the passengers make this journey of more than 15,000 kilometers, requiring 18 h 40 of flight.
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The Singapore company also offers the second longest flight. The SQ22 makes it possible to go from Changi airport in Singapore to that of Newark, in the State of New Jersey, in 6:25 p.m. Singapore Airlines finally offers flights Los Angeles-Singapore and San Francisco-Singapore for durations 5:10 p.m. and 4:40 p.m. respectively.
Change of course
Currently, Qantas’ longest flight, QF9, is a daily long-haul between Darwin in northern Australia and London. Passengers travel nearly 14,000 km during 5:55 p.m. aboard a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Originally, this flight took off from the city of Perth, in the west of the country, but it was relocated to Darwin due to Covid-19 restrictions in Australia. Qantas said it would resume the Perth-London route this year.
In March, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific announced plans to operate the world’s longest passenger flight due to a route change between New York and Hong Kong. The flight path will cover “just under 9,000 nautical miles” – or 16,668 kilometers – in sixteen to seventeen hours.
She declined to comment on why her flight path avoids Russian airspace. Many airlines have canceled routes to Russian cities or are avoiding Russian airspace due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Cathay Pacific said this decision was made due to “strong seasonal tailwinds”.