What Qantas' Non-Stop London To Sydney Flight Is Really Like
Piccolo lattes and luxe pyjamas - surviving more than 19 hours on a plane.
Welcome to the world’s longest flight by a commercial airline.
London to Sydney non-stop is 17,800kms completed in a record-breaking time 19 hours and 20 minutes.
Qantas wants to make the epic journey a regular flight path, so sent 43 passengers and 10 crew on QF7879. Myself included.
After scurrying out of an Uber at 4am in the pouring rain at Heathrow airport, I was ready to document the trials and tribulations of the world’s longest flight.
But QF7879 was about thriving, not just surviving, with a team of researchers on board to help passengers arrive fresh.
Taking off on Thursday just after 6am in London, researchers wanted passengers to start adjusting to Sydney time specifically 5pm.
With so few on board, everyone is lucky enough to score a business class seat.
Although we had to stow our bags at the back of the plane to balance out the weight.
Once the seatbelt sign was off, we were marched up and down the aisles before a stretch session, designed by a team from Sydney University.
Reaching up to the cabin lockers, lunging between seats and three sets of squats were all part of the inflight workout.
While it would usually be time for an English breakfast or cup of coffee, that is not what’s brewing.
Carbs, carbs, carbs.
The menu is designed by researchers and Neil Perry to help put us to sleep.
So instead of the breakfast that would usually be served, it’s dinner time.
A high GI bread is the first course, followed by macaroni, steak sandwich and a decadent pana cotta.
Rockpool Chef Andreas Langadinos is busy in the kitchen layering vanilla cream and strawberries.
He explains “it’s going to encourage our passengers off to sleep, just like a warm bottle of milk.”
Even though it was only 11am in London, slipping into a pair of the famous Qantas pyjamas and stretching out the flatbed, I was off to sleep.
Fast forward eight hours and I was woken up with a piccolo latte and cold-pressed green juice.
The flight takes in two sunrises, which is unusual.
This journey is one of three test flights for Qantas’ Project Sunrise, investigating opening up the world’s longest flight routes.
Researchers on the test flight monitor the passengers, crew and pilots’ ability to cope.
Test flight passenger Adrian Ireland was one of six to be chosen for the research flight.
He was curious and signed up.
“It coincided with a work flight I was on coming home on the same day” he said.
“Stop overs are always adding a bit of extra time, this makes it that bit easier.”
The Perth to London flight has been extremely successful, and so Qantas wants to start flying from London to the east coast.
“We are going to have to make the final business casework by the end of the year,” says Alan Joyce Qantas CEO.
“I’m always optimistic, you can see the excitement it’s generating, a lot of people want to do it.”
“We know there is demand for it, bigger than Perth London.”
“You can’t avoid that there are significant hurdles to overcome and hopefully we can do that by the end of the business calendar year.”
While there may be a bit of turbulence - finding crew willing to work long shifts and testing out aircrafts Qantas is determined to show the sky’s the limit.
Phoebe Bowden was an invited guest and flew courtesy of Qantas.