Qantas staff wave Australian and British flags at the Boeing 787 Dreamliner after landing at Heathrow Airport on Sunday.
Image: James D. Morgan/Getty Images)
Flying to the UK from Australia has always been an exceptionally long trip.
Australian airline Qantas has made that trek less arduous with the debut of its non-stop Perth to London flight on Saturday — its travel time has been shaved down to a somewhat brisk 17 hours.
It’s the first time Europe and Australia have been connected with a direct commercial flight.
Previously, flights stopped in Singapore or Dubai before continuing on. Qantas said it is able to reduce the time of the 9,000 mile (14,498km) flight by eliminating stopovers and picking paths based on the best winds for efficiency and speed.
Flight QF9 flew over the Indian Ocean, where it traversed India’s southern tip, then passed Oman, Iran, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Germany, Belgium before landing at London’s Heathrow Airport.
“This is a truly historic flight that opens up a new era of travel. For the first time, Australia and Europe have a direct air link,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement.
“The original Kangaroo Route from Australia to London was named for the seven stops it made over four days back in 1947. Now we can do it in a single leap.”
Carrying 236 passengers, the fuel efficient Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner Qantas uses for the route has a smaller capacity than the 484 seats it has on the Airbus A380, a comparable aircraft.
To boost passenger comfort, Qantas said it has designed a menu that includes “poke bowls as well as home style comfort food” which “helps the body cope better with jetlag.”
Boeing has also cut the cabin air pressure from the equivalent of 8,000 feet to 6,000 feet, meaning inside the plane it’s “closer to conditions on the ground.”
OK, but what is it actually like flying for that long?
Reviews appeared to be mostly positive, with passenger Mark Beasley telling to Traveller that he found the economy seat “very comfortable” despite his 188 centimetre (6 foot 1) frame.
Expat Sarah Fry said the flight was “much better” than her usual route to London from Brisbane, which stopped over in Sydney then Dubai. Peter Robinson, a builder from the UK, told The Independent he found the food “ordinary,” even if the flight was quicker than he expected.
On Twitter, other passengers noted the issue-free flight, and the self-serve snack bar.
Qantas said its Perth to London service is the third longest commercial flight in the world.
For those who like long haul travel, Qatar Airways’ 9,032 mile (14,535 kilometre) Auckland to Doha route will have you sitting around for 17 and half hours.