Flying non-stop, London –Sydney

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Qantas has announced that it will operate some test flights this year to test passenger reactions to the nineteen hour flight.

In particular it wants to see how people endure the distance, How they cope with sitting in the same seat for such a long time, (even though people can walk around) their sleeping patterns and what their consumption of food and drink is.

It will have about forty staff members on each flight who will act as guinea pigs.

Usually the fastest flight to Australia is about 21.5 hours so the Qantas flight won’t be a lot faster. But with flights now, there is a stop either in a Middle East or South East Asian country to refuel giving passengers the opportunity to stretch their legs.

My objections to the Qantas plan is that I don’t think the results they gain will be necessarily indicative of how passengers will react.

For a start, Qantas staff are probably more used to flying than most of us. How they react to the flight may not be the same as how us lesser mortals will react. They will know that alcohol dehydrates you; many passengers won’t.

Secondly with just forty people instead of a couple of hundred, there will be more room to move around, there may not be passengers sitting next to you, you won’t feel so cramped and the service will be better than usual. People, in my experience, feel much more comfortable if there are plenty of vacant seats

Finally, a full plane is likely to tell Qantas more about how passengers will act over the flight period in normal conditions. Flying with just 40 is not normal. I can’t recall being on a flight with so few passengers since a flight from Athens to London on Olympic Airways many, many years ago.

Having moaned about the test that Qantas are planning I don’t believe the extra couple of hours cooped up in a plane will change people’s attitudes much compared to how it is now. On one of my flights passengers were told they couldn’t disembark at one Middle Eastern destination due to the then political situation. We had to remain in the plane for the whole of the Sydney-London flight. I don’t recall there being any problems with passengers.

Qantas and other airlines that make make the long journey without stopping will have economic benefits in fewer landing charges, less fuel usage but will have to carry additional staff to take over from a crew. Countries in the Middle East and Asia will hate it because they will lose revenue in not having planes land and not having those passengers buying things in shops and duty free outlets.

These don’t concern passengers. What passengers really want on long journeys is a faster service and a 10% time saving won’t make much of a difference.

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