Australia to the U.K., in 17 Hours
Qantas calls its first direct, nonstop Dreamliner flight from Perth to London a “game changer.”
LONDON — Qantas Airways made a giant leap forward in long-haul travel with an inaugural nonstop flight between Australia to Britain in less than 24 hours over the weekend.
Flight QF9 took off on Saturday from Perth, in Western Australia, and landed in London early Sunday morning. Qantas’s chief executive, Alan Joyce, billed the trip as “historic” and “a game changer.”
Here’s everything you need to know about the trip:
By the Numbers
The flight carried more than 200 passengers and 16 crew members.
It took off around 7 p.m. Saturday and landed at 5.02 a.m. Sunday.
The trip lasted just over 17 hours and covered about 9,009 miles.
Of the more than 21,000 individual items loaded onto the aircraft for each flight between Perth and London, there are 330 peppermint tea bags and hundreds of chocolate biscuits.
In 1947, Qantas says, a return flight from Sydney to London cost 525 pounds. Today, a return fare from Perth to London can cost about £900 in economy, it says.
View From the Cockpit
The flight was operated by four pilots during the journey, with one or two pilots resting at any one time.
“This is absolutely the pinnacle of my career,” Captain Norman told reporters. “No one has ever done this before. I’ve flown into Perth lots, and I’ve flown into London lots, but I’ve actually never joined the two dots together before.”
The Passengers Weigh In
Some passengers agreed to share data on their sleeping and activity patterns with researchers from the University of Sydney. They wore monitors that recorded data about their mental state, eating patterns and hydration levels.
According to the airline, the “home style comfort food” menus for trips between Perth and London were designed to maintain hydration, aid sleep and reduce jet lag.
Among the first passengers to emerge was Robert Williamson, a mining executive from Perth who had traveled in business class. He told The Independent, a British newspaper, “It was surprisingly good — above my expectation.”
Peter Robinson, a builder from Liverpool, England, who lives in Perth and flew economy, pronounced the food “ordinary,” though he said the flight was “good, quicker than I thought.”
The Plane and the Route
The long haul across oceans and continents was made by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner called Emily. The Dreamliner is twice as fuel-efficient as the Boeing 747, and Emily is decorated with indigenous livery based on the artwork “Yam Dreaming” by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Qantas said.
To keep discomfort to a minimum, the airline said, the plane has features that improve air quality and lower cabin noise. Most aircraft have cabin air pressure equivalent to that of an altitude of 8,000 feet, but for the Dreamliner, Boeing cut that down to 6,000 feet — meaning it’s closer to conditions on the ground.
The aircraft traveled over the Indian Ocean, Sri Lanka, the southern tip of India, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Previous flights between Australia and Britain stopped at least once to refuel. But the 787 can travel from Perth to London with a full payload in one hop.
The airline said the inaugural flight reduced travel time by cutting out stopovers and by taking advantage of favorable winds without having to factor in a midpoint in the Middle East or Asia on its flight path.
Mr. 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.”
The reaction on social media was mostly positive.
“We have a touchdown!!” wrote one Twitter user, Andrew Leong, who called it “a milestone in the aviation industry.”