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Qantas lifted the lid this year on a previously ultra secret mission, dubbed “Project Sunrise”. The mission brief: find ways to innovate in flight experience, in anticipation of Qantas breaking the world’s longest flight barriers. The airline is planning flights between New York and Sydney or Melbourne, and London – Sydney as well, starting in 2022.

20 Hours In The Air

These flights would almost certainly break the 20 hour mark and would eclipse Singapore Air’s current world’s longest flight from Singapore to New York by at least 400 miles. To find out what customers facing 20+ hours in the air want most, Qantas partnered with Sydney University, and the results are… amusing.

Aircraft Of The Future

Qantas is considering both the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350 for their record breaking flights, but the airline is already looking inside the cabin and out with Project Sunrise. Qantas’ London – Perth flight has proven a tremendous success and initiatives such as 15 minute stretch classes at the Perth Transit Lounge or research into which food ingredients create better sleep have been game changers. The airline has also conducted extensive research into how best to maximize the planes mood lighting, to combat jet lag with light therapy.

Future Cabin Innovation

But that’s the present, and it’s the future that’s full of travel surprise and perhaps, exercise bikes too. Via Qantas research collaboration with Sydney University, it’s emerged that customers are most interested in wellness, stretching and wellbeing opportunities, dedicated relaxation zones, noise cancelling wireless headphones and VR goggles to dream away.

And yes, an overwhelming number of people would like to see a mini gym on the plane, with exercise bikes, at the very least. Without showers as well, it’s quite hard to imagine how that would all “work out”, but alas we can live to dream. Oh, and people want a cafe with drinks and snacks for movie time, that stays open throughout the flight.

“Our job now is to determine where the most demand is and create this cabin in a way that makes it both affordable for customers and commercially viable for the airline. Everything is on the table and we are excited about what innovations may come from this research.” – Alison Webster CEO Qantas International.

It will be fascinating to see if Qantas is able to turn the traditional passenger experience on its head and actually bring something truly fresh to the game with Project Sunrise. By al accounts, the airline is investigating all options and learning from the success of the London – Perth route, so things are off to a flying start. With audio visual technology and transformable spaces making such rapid strides, 2022 could be be quite a year in the skies…

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