What will it look like to travel in Economy Class on a 20-hour Qantas flight?

(CNN) – World’s Longest Flight: Non-stop, 20 hours, while you recline in an oversized armchair and decide whether to relax with the finest champagne, enjoy a chef-designed meal with one of the other passengers seated in front of you, or let the crew make you a plush soft bed With soft sheets.

That’s what the six first-class passengers on Qantas’ direct flights to Sydney from London and New York will be offered in three years’ time, and they can expect to be priced accordingly.

And what about the 140 economy class passengers who will be in the back of 12 Airbus A350-1000s that the airline has ordered for the route?

Qantas does not say. “We don’t have any updates at this time, but we look forward to notifying you, and will share more information as we get it,” a company spokesperson told us.

However, we do know that Qantas is already planning to create a wellness area, which appears to be an area around one of the galleys where you can stretch, maybe do some yoga poses, and maybe even stand for a while. the weather.

And of course, Qantas will strive to have an impressive selection of movies and TV shows for you to enjoy on the new in-flight entertainment screens, as well as food and beverages that will be tailored to your comfort on long-haul flights.

But maybe that’s all.

Ian Pechenek, host of the AvTalk aviation podcast, told CNN that “although a lot of attention was paid to Qantas first class in Project Sunrise, I think the real highlight for passengers in the back of the plane would be this kind of amenities.”

“There isn’t much you can do to improve the nine-row economy class seats, so figuring out how to make a 20-hour flight enjoyable in one of these seats amounts to what Qantas can offer those passengers.”

I’m an aviation journalist and have more than a decade of delving into all kinds of people associated with airlines, plane manufacturers, designers, and seat makers to figure out how to use every inch of an airplane. And since Qantas doesn’t talk, here are my professional deductions about what’s likely on board.

In the first place, it is unlikely that there will be anything truly revolutionary. The three years to 2025 is not a long time in aviation, especially when it comes to seats. Unless Qantas plans to unveil some kind of curbside reveal, which would require a massive amount of safety certification work, it seems quite certain that economy class passengers will be in regular seats.

knees and legs

A350 is one of the most comfortable options in economy class. Credit: Wendell Teodoro/AFP via Getty Images

Going back to first principles, bus seat comfort levels depend to a large extent on seat style, pitch and width.

When it comes to seating style, you would expect Qantas to choose the best bus seats on the market from top design and engineering firms such as Recaro or Collins Aerospace.

These are full-featured seats, with comfortable seat foam covered in special fabrics, a great degree of recline, a large headrest, an under-seat footrest and, in the case of Qantas, a small foot hammock.

In recent years, designers and engineers have put a lot of work into plane seat backs and seat bases so that they provide enough space for the person sitting behind them, especially their knees and leg.

They figured out how to make the chair’s cushioned underside, known as the seat trough, visible when lying down, and to change pressure points on the occupant’s body as they leaned back.

Qantas Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, launched in 2016, used a custom version of the German company’s Recaro’s CL3710 seat.

The CL3710 dates back to 2013, and Recaro has updated it every year, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it was working on a special edition for Qantas.

There could be a completely new seat, from Recaro or another company, with more comfort. It may be ready to start flying Qantas in late 2025.

Is this seat the future of economy travel? 0:37

More legroom

The second comfort factor is the tilt, which measures the distance between the point on one seat and the same point on the seat immediately before it, so it’s not full legroom, as it includes 2 to 5 centimeters to push the backrest back.

Qantas promised that the economy class seats on board would provide 84 cm of space.

That’s an inch more than the 2016 Dreamliner’s seats, and by 2025 I expect the seat geometry to have narrowed the seat frame by an inch to provide more knee room.

It would not be surprising that Qantas also offers sections with extra legroom, which can be 89 or 91 cm, similar to United’s Economy Plus or Delta’s Comfort Plus: these are not premium economy seats, but ordinary economy seats with more legroom.

And the show?

Depending on how many seats Qantas puts in each row of the A350, it will be good or bad news for passengers.

A large, double-aisle plane could have nine seats per row, the standard provided by full-service airlines such as Qantas, Delta and Singapore Airlines, or 10 seats per row, which were largely on board airlines. Very low cost and entertainment like Air France and French Bee.

In terms of width, the A350 is one of the most comfortable options in economy class in the air, with nine transverse seats more than 45 cm wide. On the other hand, in the 10, it is one of the least comfortable, with seats that barely touch 43 cm and have very narrow aisles.

You might imagine, and the map published by Qantas proves it, that a full-service airline like Australia’s national carrier would naturally opt for the nine-seat configuration.

But Airbus was making a quiet plan to get 2 to 5 centimeters of extra space by reducing the side walls of the cabin. This has led some full-service airlines, such as Abu Dhabi-based Etihad to plan to install ten-seater seating on some future A350s.

non-stop vs. with metrics

Qantas airline long seats

A test flight from London to Sydney in 2019 had exercise classes for the passengers. Credit: James DeMorgan/Qantas

Qantas says it plans to accommodate 140 economy seats on the A350. That would be 14 rows of 10, but that number doesn’t clearly split into nine, even if you try to add a few extra seats on the sides or in the center.

It’s still amazing for Qantas to try, especially for such very long trips. But the airline has installed nearly cramped seats for its Dreamliners that fly almost nonstop on the London-Perth route for nearly too long, so keep an eye on this space for details.

After all, every inch counts when it comes to economy class comfort. Many passengers, myself included, grumble at the thought of a 20-hour flight, even in business class.

I was on an almost business-class, non-stop Singapore Airlines flight from Newark to Singapore about 10 years ago, but it wasn’t much fun, even with the ability to watch a movie and sleep and vice versa.

When we end up talking about this, people bring up the other option, the halfway stretch between New York and Sydney in Los Angeles or San Francisco, or at any of the dozens of global airports in Asia between Sydney and London.

But people have always grumbled about the idea of ​​spending more time in a seat: first at the idea of ​​a one-hop kangaroo trip (Australia to the UK), then at the idea of ​​a 12, 14 or 16 hour flight.

Before the pandemic, there were dozens of flights longer than that, with regular seats in the back, and people seemed ready to sit in them.

The question is what difference these three or four extra hours will make to passengers on a Qantas 787 Dreamliner from London to Perth and, above all, their perception.

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