New aircraft, like the 787 Dreamliner, Airbus AS350 and new 777X, give airlines the opportunity to run longer routes without annoying stopovers. But there is a challenge. How do you keep people entertained and healthy when they're stuck on a plane for so long?
I do a fair amount of long-haul travel each year, flying from the Aussie east coast to the USA west coast several times per year - that's between 13 and 15 hours depending on whether I start in Melbourne or Sydney and the weather conditions. But the new Perth to London route, at 17:25 and the proposed Sydney-London route will take about 20 hours when it launches in 2022, That's a lot of time to fill in a confined space with limited options for moving around.
According to a report Qantas is looking for new ways to keep passengers entertained and healthy. That includes providing passengers with noise-cancelling headphones, an in-plane cafe that's accessible to all passengers like the fancy bars some airlines boast in First Class, open spaces for light exercise as well as VR-based entertainment options.
This is backed by research from the Charles Perkins Centre at Sydney Univerity and ongoing customer feedback.
That goes with the specially prepared menu on the Perth-London route that's meant to help reduce jet lag and other innovations such as window shades that are electronically controlled and simulate sunrise and sunset times t the destination. And in-flight climate control is set to avoid the dry eyes and runny noses many people suffer from on long flights. There are lots of reviews of the Perth-London route, like this one that give you an idea of what it feels like to spend that much time on a plane.
Qantas industrial designer David Caon said "Customers are sharing some incredibly imaginative ideas, which is an exciting challenge and helps us to think outside of the box to redefine the ultra-long haul experience".
My own in-flight ritual for long trips is pretty simple. For trips to the US, the flights generally leave here in the mid-morning and land early, on the same day as we cross the International Date Line, at LAX or SFO international (I've never done the SYD-DFW route). I try to spend the first half of the flight working or watching a movie, taking a break every hour or so and going for a walk from one end of the cabin to the other.
I'll watch some movies if I don't have much work to do, ensuring I get up at the end of each movie for a walk. I stay hydrated, eat meals that match the timezone of the destination and switch my watch to the destination timezone as soon as I'm on-board.
I also avoid looking at the time - nothing makes time move slower that mentally asking "Am I there yet?"
What are your tips for making a long flight as comfortable as possible blue and arriving at the destination feeling fresh?