The first ever direct flight from Australia to London landed at Heathrow Airport on the 25th March 2018. The Qantas-operated Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, along with the 212 passengers on board, were welcomed at the airport by much fanfare. Qantas-branded kangaroo mascots and people dressed as members of the Queen’s Guard were among some of the friendly faces awaiting the historic Australian flight.
The 17-hour flight (yes 17 hours!!!) from Perth to London became the second-longest flight in history (behind Qantas’ former flights from Singapore to New York, due to be reintroduced later this year), and is currently 3 hours shorter than other Australia-London flights that contain stopovers in other countries.
The Qantas journey from Australia to the UK has come a long way since their earliest flights in 1947. Back then the journey, nicknamed the “kangaroo route”, had taken four days and involved seven stops across Asia, the Middle East and Africa, before finally reaching the UK.
The new non-stop flight is part of ambitious plans by Qantas to add ultra long-haul flights to its schedules. In August 2017, Qantas announced “Project Sunrise”, detailing goals of being able to economically fly non-stop from Sydney to London and New York, with a flying time of over 20 hours, making it the longest flight in the world. Since that announcement, according to Australian Aviation, the airline has been meeting with Airbus and Boeing to share information about the requirements for an aircraft capable of operating nonstop with a full load on these ultra long-haul routes by 2022.
With the possibility of more direct flights to far-flung destinations in the world, the benefits to customers seem to be obvious:
- Faster and cheaper
The new Qantas flight cuts the usual journey time from Australia to the UK by 3 hours. Additionally, the direct flight means passengers no longer have to waste money on accommodation and other expenses whilst waiting for the plane to refuel or for another plane in the stopover country.
- Increased comfortability in-flight
On the face of it, a 17-hour non-stop journey in the limited space that is an aeroplane sounds very unpleasant. Perhaps anticipating this concern, Qantas has gone to great expense and implemented many features and designs to ensure that customers choosing to board this direct flight do not have to sacrifice comfort because of it.
According to the Evening Standard, scientists at the University of Sydney helped design the menu to hydrate weary passengers. The elaborate assortment of food included a cumin-spiced beef salad, cheese ravioli and chicken with red rice and Mediterranean vegetables, along with a mix of fresh fruit. For dessert, a vanilla bean panna cotta was served alongside peppermint tea. Perhaps most exciting for passengers, was a free-for-all self-service pantry at the end of the cabins, providing extra drinks and snacks for passengers to take at their leisure.
Additionally, Qantas provided a comfortable amount of legroom with a complimentary pillow to prevent knee injury (which taller passengers will no doubt particularly appreciate) as well as amenity bags containing toothbrushes and toothpastes. The plane (Boeing 787-9) also has lower cabin noise than the previous 747 model, improved air quality systems and anti-turbulence technology. Passengers gave largely positive reviews of the flight, praising the quality of the food and overall comfortability of the journey.
- Greater Choice
Before this new direct flight was introduced, passengers’ options when flying from Australia to the UK were limited. Now, passengers have more freedom to decide what qualities are most important to them when travelling:- saving time (therefore it would be better to get the non-stop flight), or visiting other countries en-route to their end destination (in which case, flights with stopovers would be the best choice). Either way, greater choice leads to greater customer satisfaction, so it’s good news all around.
- Economic Benefits
The economic benefits for Qantas are clear, as they are currently the only airline to provide this non-stop flight service. Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce noted the momentous occasion, stating “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”.
Whilst the inaugural flight was a rousing success, met with a wave of positive reviews from passengers and industry experts alike, it remains to be seen whether the new route will continue to be a hit (and profitable) in the long-run. It is of course to be expected that the maiden flight would be surrounded by all the excitement, pomp and circumstance befitting such a historic occasion, but the key to this flight being a success in the future lies in ensuring its safety, quality, efficiency and comfortability does not fade away as soon as the world’s cameras do.
Until that time comes, Facilitate4me would like to congratulate Qantas Airways for taking this revolutionary step in the future of air travel, and for undoubtedly laying down the gauntlet for their competitors to follow suit.