Writing about ultra long haul economy flights is easy. Living through ultra long haul economy flights, such as the second longest flight in the world is a whole other story! Callum Howes reported live for God Save The Points as a paying passenger on Qantas first ever Boeing 787 direct flight between London and Perth. Here’s everything you need to know about the historic new route – and how to survive it in the back! Big thanks to Callum.
Arriving at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3, I was greeted by the presence of news crews and other media staff in their dozens. Qantas staff were handing out freebies, offering selfies, adding to the excitement in every way possible. The Check-in process was swift, Qantas staff were all very friendly and proactive. All desks were open which meant that the queues were minimal, adding to the rather stress free environment. Everything you need before a 17 hour trip in economy.
Once the gate was displayed, I headed straight towards gate 1. A fanfare of media staff, Qantas staff, flags, cakes and treats amongst other things. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see the aircraft I had been dying to see, the special Emily Kame Kngwarreye liveried 787-9 Dreamliner. Boarding was smooth and swift, over before we knew it, doors closed and ready to go.
I was seated in 47A, a window seat, which was a lot roomier than expected – with a great view. The bulkheads at row 40 and row 46 were surprisingly spacious. However the middle 3 seats on both bulkhead rows had a basinet which was quite large, so could be bothersome for some. The issue with the row 46 bulkhead is that during the second half of the flight, It became a waiting area for the lavatory as well as a mini gym section for everyone to stretch their legs. If you don’t want to feel claustrophobic on a 17 hour flight, perhaps avoid that row.
Once airborne, I got a better chance to explore the seat and the aircraft. The leg room was more spacious than anything I’ve experienced in economy before, always helpful when you’re 6ft plus. The seat recline (6 inches) was also impressive although it was a struggle to use my laptop when the passenger in front of me reclined fully. The pillow and blanket provided were high quality, soft fabric which shows Qantas really did have passenger comfort in mind. One nice touch: Qantas also offered a complimentary snack bar in the rear of the cabin, which was a great place to grab snacks and stretch your legs to stay fresh.
The Inflight Entertainment was an Android system and although the screen was a decent size at 12 inches, with a huge selection of movies, tv shows, music and radio shows, it was a little bit glitchy. Minor issue that many people won’t be bothered by. The food was a varied selection, the pasta was a pleasant surprise especially as it tasted home cooked. Snacks were brought through the cabin every two to three hours so the need for bringing snacks on board wasn’t completely necessary.
After about 12 hours, my lower back began to ache but thanks to the Dreamliner’s improved cabin pressure, mood lighting and increased air flow, I still felt very fresh, as did many of the other passengers on board I spoke with. Relatively speaking, of course. I must admit that the last hour or two really did drag – but all ultra-long haul flights will at a certain point, at least for me personally.
In comparison to other flights to Australia. I would choose this non stop route over the Emirates and Qantas A380 services, unless of course I wanted an extended stopover. The service was well above Malaysia airlines standard as well. The convenience, the aircraft type, the entertainment and the food were all top notch. Im a huge airbus fan but the Dreamliner was impressive and exceeded expectations. Plus, the perk of non stop means there are no second flight frustrations. Especially on the London to Australia route. Either the first or second leg will always be over 12 hours with a 6 hour+ flight thrown into the mix. I would need to fly on Singapore airlines again to make a comparison as it has been a few years.