HomeTravelWhat sitting in economy on Qantas' 20-hour flights will be like

What sitting in economy on Qantas’ 20-hour flights will be like

Editor’s Note — Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel collection that spotlights a number of the most fascinating subjects in the journey world. In June, we’re taking to the skies for a have a look at the newest developments in aircraft interiors, together with the individuals working to vary the way in which we fly.

(CNN) — The world’s longest flight: nonstop, 20 hours, as you recline in your huge armchair and determine whether or not you need to loosen up with the easiest Champagne, get pleasure from a chef-designed meal with a touring companion seated reverse, or get the crew to make your sumptuously smooth mattress with recent linens.

That’s what’s on provide for the six first-class passengers on board Qantas’ Project Sunrise direct flights to Sydney from London and New York beginning three years from now, and so they can count on to pay the perfect a part of 5 figures for it.

What concerning the 140 economy class passengers who will be in the back of the 12 Airbus A350-1000s that the airline has ordered to work on the service?

Qantas is not telling. “We don’t have any updates at the moment but we are eager to keep you updated, and will share more when we have it,” a spokesperson informed us.

We do know, although, that Qantas is already planning a Wellbeing Zone, which appears to be an space round one of many galley kitchens the place you possibly can stretch, perhaps do some yoga poses, and probably simply stand round for some time.

And, after all, Qantas will work onerous at having an important choice of motion pictures and TV reveals so that you can get pleasure from on large new inflight leisure screens, in addition to meals and drinks that it will design particularly on your wellbeing on longer flights.

But that is seemingly it.

Ian Petchenik, host of the AvTalk aviation podcast, tells CNN that “while a lot of attention has been paid to Qantas’ first class for Project Sunrise, I think the real differentiator for passengers in the back of the aircraft is going to be the soft product.

“You can solely enhance nine-abreast economy seating a lot, so discovering methods to make a 20-hour flight in a type of seats palatable goes to return all the way down to what else Qantas can provide these passengers.”

I’m a specialist aviation journalist with more than a decade going in-depth with all kinds of people at airlines, airplane manufacturers, designers, and seatmakers to figure out how every inch of the plane is used. And since Qantas isn’t talking, here are my professional deductions about what’s likely to be on offer on board.

First off, there isn’t much likelihood of anything really revolutionary. The three years to 2025 aren’t a long time in aviation, especially when it comes to seats. Unless Qantas is planning some sort of big bunk reveal — which would require a massive amount of safety certification work — it seems pretty certain that economy passengers will just be in normal seats.

Knees and shins

The A350 is one of the most comfortable economy class options.


Going back to first principles, comfort levels in economy class seats are mostly based on seat style, pitch and width.

In terms of seat style, Qantas can be expected to pick up the very best economy class seats on the market from the top design and engineering firms, like Recaro or Collins Aerospace.

These are called fully featured seats, with comfortable engineered seat foams covered by special fabrics, a substantial amount of recline, a substantial headrest, underseat footrest, and in Qantas’ case a small foot hammock.

In recent years, designers and engineers have worked hard on the backs and bases of airplane seats so that they give enough space to the person sitting behind — particularly for their knees and shins.

They’ve figured out how to make the cushioned bottom of the chair, known as the seat pan, articulate when reclined, changing the pressure points on the occupant’s body as they lean back.

Qantas’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which launched in 2016, used a customized version of German manufacturer Recaro’s CL3710 seat.

The CL3710 dates back to 2013, and Recaro has been making updates each year, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it was working on a special version for Qantas.

There might even be a brand new seat — from Recaro or someone else — with even more comfort. That could well be ready for Qantas to start flying in late 2025.

Extra legroom

In 2019, Qantas ran experimental research flights testing the London-Sydney stretch. CNN’s Richard Quest reports from the flight deck of one such ultra long-haul flight.

The second factor in comfort is pitch, which measures the point on one seat to the point on the same seat immediately in front of it, so it’s not quite total legroom because it includes an inch or two of seatback structure.

Qantas has promised that its economy class seats on board will offer 33 inches (84 centimeters) of pitch.

That’s one inch more than the 2016 Dreamliner seats, and by 2025 I’d expect the seat engineering to have narrowed the seat structure by up to an inch to offer more knee space.

It wouldn’t be a surprise if Qantas offered extra-legroom sections too, which might stretch to 35 or 36 inches, along the lines of United’s Economy Plus or Delta’s Comfort Plus — not premium economy, but just normal economy seats with more legroom.

What about width?

There’s either great news or terrible news ahead for passengers, depending on how many seats Qantas puts in each row of the A350.

The big twin-aisle plane can either hold nine seats per row, which has been the standard that full-service airlines like Qantas, Delta and Singapore Airlines have offered, or 10 seats per row, which has largely been aboard ultra-low-cost and leisure carriers like France’s Air Caraïbes and French Bee.

Width-wise, the A350 is one of the most comfortable economy class options in the air at nine-across with seats over 18 inches wide. At 10-across, it’s one of the least comfortable, with seats barely scraping 17 inches and super-narrow aisles too.

You might imagine — and Qantas’ published cutaway certainly shows — that a full-service airline like Australia’s flag carrier would naturally go for the nine-across configuration.

But Airbus has been hatching a quiet plan to carve out an inch or two of extra space by slimming down the cabin sidewalls. That’s led some full-service airlines, including Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, to plan to install 10-across seating on some future A350s.

Nonstop vs. stopover

more excercises qantas

An experimental London to Sydney flight in 2019 noticed passengers getting train lessons inflght.

James D Morgan/Qantas

Qantas says that it plans to put in 140 economy class seats on its A350. That would be 14 rows of 10, however that quantity would not divide neatly into 9, even for those who attempt to add some further seats on the perimeters or in the center.

It would nonetheless be shocking to see Qantas try this, particularly for these super-long flights. But the airline put in seats nearly as slim on its Dreamliner seats that fly nonstop London-Perth for almost as lengthy, so watch this house for particulars.

At the tip of the day, each inch issues in the case of economy class consolation. Many passengers — me included — wince on the concept of a 20-hour-plus flight, even in enterprise class.

I’ve accomplished one thing nearly as lengthy in enterprise class, on Singapore Airlines’ nonstop from Newark to Singapore about 10 years in the past, but it surely wasn’t a lot enjoyable, even with the flexibility to go from film to sleeping and again once more.

Whenever we find yourself speaking about this, individuals all the time carry up the opposite choice, a stretch midway from New York to Sydney in Los Angeles or San Francisco, or in any of a dozen top-notch airports in Asia between Sydney and London.

But individuals have all the time winced at spending longer in a seat: first on the concept of a single-hop Kangaroo Route flight, then on the concept of a flight lasting 12, 14 or 16 hours.

Before the pandemic, there have been dozens of flights longer than that, with common economy class seats down the again, and other people appeared prepared to take a seat in them.

The query is simply how a lot of a distinction that further three or 4 hours over the London-Perth Qantas 787 Dreamliner flight will make to passengers — and, crucially, to their perceptions.



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