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Posh first-class suites and a stretching area: Upgrades planned for world’s longest flight

May 02, 2022
5 min read
Posh first-class suites and a stretching area: Upgrades planned for world’s longest flight
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Qantas, the flag carrier of Australia, is gearing up to launch the world's two longest flights.

Dubbed "Project Sunrise," the airline has been working since well before the pandemic to take on the "final frontier of aviation," direct flights from the east coast of Australia to Europe and New York.

As Australia reopens after being closed to visitors for nearly two years, the airline is making a big bet on the return of ultra-long-haul travel. Qantas formalized plans on Sunday evening to order 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft that will be capable of flying these roughly 10,000-mile-long hops.

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These jets are due to be delivered in the next few years, with plans to launch nonstop service from Sydney to London Heathrow (LHR) and New York-JFK at a yet undisclosed date in 2025.

While the Airbus widebodies are going to be configured with extra fuel tanks for ultra-long-haul missions, Qantas is also making upgrades to the passenger experience that are poised to promote wellbeing during these roughly 20-hour flights.

Those seated in the very pointy end of the plane will no doubt enjoy the most relaxing onboard experience. As part of the aircraft order, Qantas unveiled some renderings of its new first-class suite debuting on the A350.

Behind the scenes: What it was like on the 19-hour Project Sunrise flight

(Rendering courtesy of Qantas)

Arranged in a 1-1-1 configuration, the new product will feature a separate bed and reclining chair. There will be a sliding door that closes fully for enhanced privacy.

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Other nifty features include a 32-inch touchscreen display, a personal wardrobe, multiple storage compartments and other high-tech finishes, like a built-in tablet holder.

(Rendering courtesy of Qantas)

There will be six first-class suites on each aircraft. Qantas hasn't (yet) provided any additional specifics, but hopefully the airline draws inspiration from some of the world's best first-class products.

For instance, perhaps Qantas will add virtual windows (like in Emirates' new "game-changer" first class) that stream a live feed of the outdoors.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Qantas should also consider adding a swivel feature to the reclining chair, a feature that you'll find in Singapore's latest A380 suites. Otherwise, sitting in the seat for long stretches could feel claustrophobic.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Those seated in one of the 52 business-class pods will enjoy a self-service bar located between the forward and rear cabins. Qantas didn't share any additional details about its biz cabin, but promised direct aisle access for all customers in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Hopefully, the airline will also add sliding doors for each suite, as well as a double-bed option for couples traveling together in the center seats.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Perhaps the most exciting addition for those traveling "in the back" will be the addition of a so-called "wellbeing zone." This space is designed to promote stretching, movement and hydration, according to Qantas.

(Rendering courtesy of Qantas)

This area will occupy the space between the premium economy and coach cabin and will presumably be accessible to any passenger, regardless of the ticketed cabin.

Several of the renderings that Qantas shared indicate that the wellbeing zone won't have any seats or benches, but will rather be focused on encouraging passengers to stretch their legs and increase blood circulation.

The renderings include a space for a walk-up bar that'll likely be stocked with juices and other drinks, as well as whole fruits and health-inspired snacks.

(Rendering courtesy of Qantas)

As for the rest of the plane, premium economy will be arranged in a five-row layout with 40 recliners arranged in a 2-4-2 layout. Each recliner will feature 40 inches of pitch.

Meanwhile, those seated in coach will enjoy a (well-above-average) pitch of 33 inches. The 140 seats will be spread across a 3-3-3 configuration.

(Rendering courtesy of Qantas)

While the details are still light, it appears that Qantas isn't just focused on finding the right aircraft to fly the world's longest flights. The airline is also working hard to make it as comfortable and healthy an experience as possible.

After all, finding passengers willing to sit in a metal tube for more than 20 hours at a time may be the hardest part of the entire "Project Sunrise."

Featured image by (Rendering courtesy of Qantas)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees