The Historic Australia-to-London Flight Is About to Take Off

Mar 24, 2018

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The historic day has arrived. For the second time ever, a passenger aircraft will fly from Australia to London, but this time the flight will actually have passengers on-board. Qantas flight 9 will be the world’s longest Dreamliner flight and is just 22 miles shorter than the world’s longest flight — which will remain Qatar’s Doha (DOH) to Auckland (AKL) flight.

While it’s not the longest flight in the world, it’s no less historic. Starting in 1947, Qantas operated the “Kangaroo Route” from Sydney to London. It may have been a “direct” flight, but it certainly wasn’t a nonstop flight. The flight stopped seven times (Darwin, Singapore, Calcutta, Karachi, Cairo, Castel Benito, Rome) on its way.

At the time, the four-day journey cost £525 at a time the average wage was just £7 per week. Now, Qantas is selling round-trip tickets on this nonstop Perth-London flight for A$1325 (US$1,020). Instead of 75 weeks worth of wages, the cost today is less than the average Australian weekly wage of A$1,600.

Instead of a four day journey, flying from Australia to England will instead be accomplished in just one 17-hour 9,000+ mile kangaroo leap. This nonstop flight shaves hours off of the current options between the two countries. On my journey down to cover this historic flight, I experienced one of these options for myself: an exhausting 20:45 hour scheduled journey time through Kuala Lumpur (KUL) — which stretched over 22 hours thanks to a delay on my connecting flight.

Image courtesy of Qantas.
Image courtesy of Qantas.

In addition to other benefits of the nonstop flight, the journey has been thoughtfully designed by Qantas to make the experience as easy as possible. The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner operating the flight assists with better pressurization and higher humidity, as well as an efficient operation that makes this long of a flight possible with just 29,000 gallons of jet fuel.

As I experienced for myself on an intra-Australia flight, the 42 lie-flat business class seats will make the journey easy on those up front. The 28 premium economy seats are a bit tight, but the extra recline and space will certainly be appreciated.

With a premium-focused aircraft, there are just 166 economy seats on this elongated Dreamliner. While the 3-3-3 seating arrangement means just 17-inch wide seats, Qantas throws economy passengers a bone by installing the economy section with 32 inches of pitch vs. the standard 31 inch pitch.

But, it’s not just the seats that are designed to make the journey easier. Qantas’ new transit lounge in Perth (PER) is designed with showers which incorporate natural light, an outdoor patio for passengers to soak in a little sun before the flight, a yoga studio and skin hydration stations to help ease the journey.

On-board, Qantas says the menus are “designed to maintain hydration, aid sleep and reducing jetlag.” In addition, Qantas has reportedly programmed the Dreamliner cabin lights to help passengers transition to the new time zone and reduce jetlag.

I’m one of the more than 200 passengers on the inaugural flight who’s about to see if these efforts will work in practice. While most of my media brethren are being treated to business and premium economy class, TPG doesn’t accept free tickets for scheduled commercial flights. So, I’ll be reporting my experience from 56D — in the fourth-to-last economy row on the historic flight.

As the Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner doesn’t have Wi-Fi — at least yet — I’ll be telling you all about the experience after we land. In the meantime, check out @thepointsguy on Instagram for an Instagram Story about the new transit lounge and airport experience. Follow the flight tracker here.

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