Business class, or bust…

How do 20 consecutive hours on a plane sound to you? This month, Qantas will launch the first regularly scheduled non stop service between Europe and Australia, clocking in at 18 hours. Though the flight won’t break any longest flight records, it’s a signal of air travel trends to come. Airlines want longer, direct, point-to-point flights, and a powerful new plane will soon unlock endless possibilities

Airbus A350-900ULR

The ULR stands for “ultra long range”. Much like its competitor the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, The Airbus A350 is at the forefront of passenger friendly technology, featuring more preferable air pressure, less cabin noise, larger bins and higher ceilings. The plane is a powerful sigh of relief for passengers accustomed to aging, noisy old clunkers, used by many major airlines. It’s also known to reduce the effects of jet lag. Airbus will soon release a new variant of this celebrated plane offering one goal: longer reach. Here are ten quick facts to catch you up on the new plane.

Launch

As of yesterday, the plane is now fully built – and Rolls Royce XWB engines will be installed shortly. The plane will undergo a testing phase before being released to launch customer Singapore Airlines, which hopes to use this plane to relaunch direct service between New York and Singapore. This flight would beat the current longest flight between Doha and Auckland, New Zealand by roughly 500 miles. Qantas has expressed potential interest in the plane as well, hoping to launch direct service between Sydney and both New York and London.

Premium

The ultra long haul version of the A350 is seen as a way to cater to premium customers with exacting demands. The planes will feature very business or first class heavy configurations, with very few economy seats. Going back to our initial question, who would really want to sit in economy for 20 hours straight, anyway? Directly connecting global business markets such as New York and Singapore can offer airlines a major competitive advantage. With increasingly sever weather and airport crowding, connections are less and less attractive to the most demanding customers.

How do you feel about the demand for longer flights?