What does it prove?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

A few hours ago, a Qantas flight landed in Sydney after flying non-stop from New York.

Qantas will be closely watched by other airlines to see if non-stop flights of such length appeal to passengers

The flight took nearly twenty hours and was categorised by Qantas as a research flight. But how useful was the flight for us passengers to know whether we would sign up for flights of that length of time?

There were only 49 passengers on board plus the flight crew which consisted of twelve pilots. All were monitored to see how they reacted to such a flight. There were group exercise times it appears and the lighting was controlled so that there were was a ten hour period when the lights were dimmed sufficiently. I suppose to stimulate night-time.

As a tentative piece of research I suppose you could say that it showed that such a long flight is feasible. But more tests will have to be made and one of those tests must surely be with a full flight of people. And there’s the rub. There is no plane yet available to be able to fly such a distance with a full payload and nor will there be for a couple of years. Some cynics might say then, that this was nothing more than a publicity push by Qantas – a successful one at that since just about every news channel carried the story this morning.

Will people want such a flight? The answer may be yes because Qantas already deliver a non-stop service from London to Perth in Western Australia. According to the airline, the load factor (the number of passengers carried) has gone up in both economy and business class since the non-stop flight was introduced.

As a regular flyer to Sydney from London (off again next week so expect stories to be irregular depending on whether I can get an internet connection) I would certainly try the non-stop flight if it comes into service.

But controlled research and a real-life experience will determine whether I do it again. I would want room to move around and not be cramped in a middle seat. I wouldn’t want to be told to keep the aisles free because how else would I exercise? (In fairness, Qantas has talked of an exercise area but surely that means removing seats. Does that suggest the non-stop service might be premium priced?) And what influence will a flight that long have on the patience of passengers and also on babies and children?

Until the research is carried out on a full flight, I remain cautious.

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