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Secrets of the world’s longest flight as Qantas announces plans to fly DIRECT to London

Qantas has announced it will commence direct non-stop flights from Sydney to London and New York from 2025.

The routes will officially be the longest passenger flights in the world, with the journey taking 19 hours.

The airline had already launched a non-stop flight between Perth and London in 2018, which took a similarly epic 17 hours to complete for the bleary-eyed first passengers on board.

The airline has also announced it has bought 12 new Airbus A350-1000s to operate the routes to ‘conquer the final frontier of long-haul travel and enable non-stop flights from Sydney and Melbourne to cities including New York and London from late 2025.’

The new state-of-the-art Airbus plane’s will fly out from Sydney linking the city to Europe and America via non-stop flights (pictured)

The first class suite will offer something akin to a hotel room in the sky for cashed up passenger who want to do the 19-hour flight in luxury (pictured)

The first class suite will offer something akin to a hotel room in the sky for cashed up passenger who want to do the 19-hour flight in luxury (pictured)

The 'Wellbeing Zone' will offer healthy snack and areas to stretch, walk and exercise within the plane's cabin (pictured)

The ‘Wellbeing Zone’ will offer healthy snack and areas to stretch, walk and exercise within the plane’s cabin (pictured)

Qantas has also shared preliminary concepts for its A350 ‘cabin of the future’ featuring a wellbeing zone’ offering an area where travellers can stretch and exercise with complimentary water, fruit and snack bars.

The first-class suites will include a private area with door, a full-size flat-screen TV, a separate bed, a recliner lounge chair, and a personal wardrobe for the cashed-up.

‘Our direct Perth-London flights started in 2017 and showed strong demand for the convenience and time savings from this kind of travel if the product and service is right,’ CEO Alan Joyce said.

‘Pre-COVID it was the longest route on our network and had the highest customer satisfaction on our network.’

The first ‘Project Sunrise’ flights will be from New York and London, but the aircraft will also be able to operate non-stop flights to Australia from destinations such as Paris and Frankfurt.

Qantas will also renew its narrow-body jets as part of Project Winton with firm orders for 20 Airbus A321XLRs, and 20 A220-300s as its Boeing 737s and 717s are gradually retired.

The first of these aircraft will start to arrive in late 2023, with the order including purchase right options for another 94 aircraft for delivery through to at least 2034.

These aircraft will start flying domestic routes as soon as they arrive.

An Airbus A350-1000 flight test aircraft flies over the Sydney Opera House to mark a major fleet announcement by Australian airline Qantas (pictured)

An Airbus A350-1000 flight test aircraft flies over the Sydney Opera House to mark a major fleet announcement by Australian airline Qantas (pictured)

The new plane's will be roomy enough to offer passengers the chance to stretch their legs throughout the flight (pictured)

The new plane’s will be roomy enough to offer passengers the chance to stretch their legs throughout the flight (pictured)

They layout of the new plane's which will complete the epic journey between Sydney and London or Sydney and New York

They layout of the new plane’s which will complete the epic journey between Sydney and London or Sydney and New York

In 2018, before Covid firmly halted international travel, the first passengers on board the inaugural Qantas non-stop 17-hour flight from Perth to London shared their in-flight experience after the historic Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner landed at London’s Heathrow airport.

The 17 hour and 20-minute journey on a plane called Emily ended a few minutes ahead of schedule at 5.02 am on Sunday after travelling 9,000 miles without stopping.

Self-proclaimed ‘aviation geek’ Wayne Kwong was a passenger in the economy section for the 17-hour flight and shared several photos on social media detailing his journey.

Wayne Kwong rode in economy for the 17 hour flight and shared photos detailing his journey. 'Tasty, filling but not heavy on your stomach!' he wrote describing his meal (pictured)

Wayne Kwong rode in economy for the 17 hour flight and shared photos detailing his journey. ‘Tasty, filling but not heavy on your stomach!’ he wrote describing his meal (pictured)

Passengers on board shared photos of the specially crafted menu, complimentary amenity bags and the self-serve pantry, loaded with free snacks and drinks (pictured)

Passengers on board shared photos of the specially crafted menu, complimentary amenity bags and the self-serve pantry, loaded with free snacks and drinks (pictured)

A free-for-all snack cabinet was onboard which passengers could access throughout the flight

A free-for-all snack cabinet was onboard which passengers could access throughout the flight

A free-for-all snack cabinet was available onboard where passengers could access food and drinks throughout the flight (pictured) 

Qantas has called the new non-stop flights 'Project Sunrise' after some of the first flights conducted by the airline

Qantas has called the new non-stop flights ‘Project Sunrise’ after some of the first flights conducted by the airline

He shared photos of the menu, uploading an image of a chicken breast accompanied by a glass of wine.

‘Specially designed meals for this ultra-long-haul flight. Tasty, filling but not heavy on your stomach! Well done Qantas,’ he wrote.

The legroom was spacious, and there was a ‘lovely retro pillow’ to help prevent knee injuries for taller passengers, Mr Kwong said.

The aircraft is twice as fuel-efficient as the Boeing 747, has lower cabin noise, larger windows, improved air quality and technology to reduce turbulence.

Passengers on board shared photos of the specially crafted menu, complimentary amenity bags and the self-serve pantry, loaded with free snacks and drinks.

The flight was 24 per cent further than the UK’s previous longest route, operated by Garuda Indonesia between Heathrow and Jakarta, which is just 7,275 miles in comparison.

The inaugural trip took off with more than 200 passengers and 16 crew members, and those on board began the journey with a round of applause.

One of the cabin crew comes through the cabin offering drinks during the inaugural flight. A crew of 16 were in charge of keeping the passengers safe and comfortable 

One of the cabin crew comes through the cabin offering drinks during the inaugural flight. A crew of 16 were in charge of keeping the passengers safe and comfortable 

On arrival into London Heathrow, the aircraft was greeted by Qantas staff who waved both Australian flags and the Union flag

On arrival into London Heathrow, the aircraft was greeted by Qantas staff who waved both Australian flags and the Union flag

Traditional Australian dancers and even a kangaroo met with passengers as well as the crew after they left the aircraft in London 

Traditional Australian dancers and even a kangaroo met with passengers as well as the crew after they left the aircraft in London 

The plane had 42 business class flat-bed seats, 28 premium economy seats and 166 economy seats. 

Passengers were greeted with complimentary amenity bags, which included a sleeping mask, ear buds, a Qantas fleece blanket and a toothbrush.   

Passenger Rachel Heath said the plane had the 'smoothest of landings' once arriving in London on Sunday morning 

Passenger Rachel Heath said the plane had the ‘smoothest of landings’ once arriving in London on Sunday morning 

'Free WiFi wasn't good enough,' wrote one disatisfied passenger during a complimenary tea break

‘Free WiFi wasn’t good enough,’ wrote one disatisfied passenger during a complimenary tea break

Dinner offerings included cheese ravioli with leek and mushroom cream sauce; and chicken with red rice and roasted Mediterranean vegetables. 

The meals were designed to maintain hydration, aid sleep and reduce jet lag, according to the airline.

But to the dismay of many, free WiFi was not available on the flight so passengers were not able to detail every moment of their trip. 

Another frequent complaint was the lack of legroom.

According to business class passenger Robert Williamson, a mining executive from Perth, the flight was ‘was surprisingly good — above my expectation’, he told the Independent.  

But economy passenger Peter Robinson, a builder from Liverpool, begged to differ. 

He said the specially crafted food items were bland and ‘ordinary’, but admitted the flight was ‘good, quicker than I thought.’

An infographic showing the Dreamliner aircraft that Qantas are using on the route. It has a range of 14,400 kilometres or almost 9,000 miles

An infographic showing the Dreamliner aircraft that Qantas are using on the route. It has a range of 14,400 kilometres or almost 9,000 miles

Although passengers on-board the long haul flight gave it fairly positive reviews, others were skeptical it was as smooth sailing as described.

Most were concerned they wouldn’t be able to walk or feel their behinds after spending more than half a day glued to their seats. 

Others drew on their experiences of flying for 12 hours as cause to never subject themselves to 17 hours on a plane, while some were upset that the non-stop flight meant no cigarettes. 

After being parked at Heathrow for eight hours, the plane was scheduled to turn right back around to Perth for another non-stop 17-hour flight for a second run.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce, who was one of the passengers on the inaugural flight, described it as a major milestone for Australia as well as global aviation.

He said: ‘This is a truly historic flight that opens up a new era of travel. For the first time, Australia and Europe have a direct air link.

‘The original Kangaroo Route from Australia to London was named for the seven stops it made over four days back in 1947. Now we can do it in a single leap.

‘The response to the flight has been amazing, both for the attention it’s received since we announced it and the bookings we’ve seen coming in. It’s great for Australian tourism, for business travellers and for people visiting friends and family on both sides of the world.’

Mr Joyce said a huge amount of work had gone into improving the experience for customers taking the 17-hour journey.

A timeline by Qantas showing the changes it has made to its fleet culminating in the aircraft which flies their new Perth to London route

A timeline by Qantas showing the changes it has made to its fleet culminating in the aircraft which flies their new Perth to London route

He added: ‘This is hands-down the most comfortable aircraft that Qantas has ever put in the sky.

‘Boeing designed the Dreamliner with features to reduce jetlag, turbulence and noise. We’ve taken that a step further with our cabin design, giving passengers more space in every class as well as bigger entertainment screens and more personal storage.

‘We’ve worked with the University of Sydney and our consulting chef Neil Perry to create a menu that helps the body cope better with jetlag and adjusted the timing of when we serve food to encourage sleep.’

EXCLUSIVE On board the RETURN flight to Perth: Traveller on the first direct service from the UK to Australia reveals he felt so lively on landing that ‘it almost felt like a trick’

By Jonathan Thompson 

And just like that, Emily arrived in Australia. This morning, at 12.40pm local time (5.40am BST) the first ever direct flight from London to Australia landed in Perth, making aviation history.

Qantas’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner – nicknamed ‘Emily’ – touched down to no little fanfare in Australia’s sunniest city.

Fire trucks ceremoniously squirted water cannons, a crowd cheered and TV crews recorded 236 blinking passengers stepping off the historic flight and into the embers of Australian summer, all looking surprisingly lively. And I felt genuinely relaxed (though the business class seat helped, admittedly).

 Our journey had taken just 16 hours and 30 minutes (15 minutes ahead of schedule) but it had been years in the making – the fruits of a decade of dedicated seasonal air pattern analysis for starters, and Qantas is justifiably proud to have finally achieved it.

Not only will the journey between the UK and Australia now be significantly shorter (four hours less than the next shortest flight, via Dubai), it will also be noticeably more comfortable aboard the Boeing Dreamliner. This sleek, parabolic panther of an aircraft boasts multiple advantages over its rivals, including softer cabin noise, larger windows, anti-turbulence technology, improved air quality and more space in every cabin. It’s all designed to lessen jet lag – and it appears to work.

Dignitaries, business professionals, reuniting families, journalists and a smattering of celebrities – comedian Adam Hills and actress Gemma Atkinson were among those disembarking Qantas Flight 10 – all looked remarkably energetic considering they’d just travelled 9,009 miles from the other side of the planet.

And I felt refreshed and raring to go.

The Dreamliner definitely makes a difference. It almost felt like a trick – like I couldn’t really be in Australia, because I hadn’t earned it. But ultimately I’m not complaining. It has gone from a full day flight to an overnight flight – psychologically more akin to a trip to California now. 

The most senior of the plane’s four pilots – the affable Captain Andrew Simpson – was also full of beans, and understandably upbeat after completing such a momentous flight.

‘This is absolutely fantastic, a real game changer for the world of aviation,’ he said. ‘For the first time, Australia and Europe have a direct air link, and that is a big deal. It’s a major honour and extremely humbling for me to be at the pointy end of this particular plane.’

The Dreamliner boasts several advantages over its rivals - softer cabin noise, larger windows, anti-turbulence technology, improved air quality and more space in every cabin

The Dreamliner boasts several advantages over its rivals – softer cabin noise, larger windows, anti-turbulence technology, improved air quality and more space in every cabin

'Refreshed and raring to go': Jonathan gives the direct flight the thumbs up in Perth

‘Refreshed and raring to go’: Jonathan gives the direct flight the thumbs up in Perth

Our journey itself was almost ludicrously smooth – the seatbelt sign did not flicker on even once, with the only remotely rough patch of air experienced a few hundred miles north of the Maldives, before the Dreamliner tore away across the Indian Ocean.

There were some nice touches with regards to the on-board service too: every passenger’s plastic water bottle was refilled, never replaced, while all of the meals had been specifically designed by chef Neil Perry, in consultation with experts from The Charles Perkins Centre at Sydney University, to stave off jetlag.

Back at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3, our take off had been marked in style too, with actors dressed as kangaroos and surfers, and a giant of a man playing us aboard with an enormous didgeridoo. Even our boarding passes bore the legend ‘Congratulations! You are boarding the first non-stop UK-AUS flight.’

Travelling in this fashion is light years ahead of the original London-Australia flight – the infamous ‘Kangaroo Route’ – which began in 1947. That four-day intercontinental hopscotch – involving seven stops and costing the equivalent of more than £24,000 today – has now become a seamless, non-stop 17-hour zip Down Under. (It’s significantly cheaper in real terms too, with tickets for this London-Perth route starting at just £793 per person return in economy).

The route officially becomes the longest anywhere in the world from London (a massive 24 per cent longer than the previous record holder, from Heathrow to Jakarta) and the first ever direct air connection between the continents of Europe and Australasia.

There’s still room for improvement of course. No Wifi on the history-making QF10 is an issue – particularly as British Airways has introduced it to many of its own long-haul flights in recent weeks. And Qantas remains agonisingly short of Qatar Airway’s current world record for the longest commercial flight on Earth: 9,028 miles between Doha and Auckland.

One gets the impression that record won’t stand for too long, however. Qantas already have their eyes on a non-stop London to Sydney flight by 2022, with New York-Sydney potentially coming even earlier. For now, all eyes are on the historic achievement of QF10 but ultimately, success on the London-Perth service is just the beginning.

FACTS ABOUT QF9 – THE PERTH TO LONDON ROUTE

1. QF9 is operated by four pilots across the 17-hour journey, with one or two pilots resting at any one time.

2. The flight will follow different flight paths depending on the best winds, helping the aircraft fly faster and more efficiently. Qantas analysed a decade of seasonal wind patterns in preparation for the new service.

3. At 14,498km, QF9 is the third longest commercial flight currently in operation. It is the world’s longest Dreamliner flight.

4. QF9 will carry around 92 tonnes or 110,000 litres of fuel with the Dreamliner burning approximately 20 per cent less than traditional aircraft its size.

5. With a total seat count of 236 passengers, the Qantas Dreamliner has significantly fewer seats than many other airlines who have configured the same aircraft to carry more than 300 passengers.

6. Currently, most aircraft have cabin air pressure equivalent to that of an altitude of 8,000 ft. For the Dreamliner, Boeing cut that down to 6,000 ft, meaning its closer to conditions on the ground.

7. Menus for the flights between Perth and London have been designed to maintain hydration, aid sleep and reducing jetlag and including poke bowls as well as home style comfort food.

8. There are more than 21,000 individual items loaded onto the aircraft for each flight between Perth and London including 330 peppermint tea bags and hundreds of chocolate biscuits.

9. In 1947 a return flight from Sydney to London cost £525 when the average wage was £7. Today, the average Australian weekly wage is $1600 and a return fare from Perth to London can cost less than $1300.  

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