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. Obviously, don’t expect this on a normal flight, but it was a fun touch on the special occasion.
The Check-in process as Qantas economy passenger was swift and Qantas staff were all very friendly and proactive with myself, and those around me. Unlike many other airline experiences, all desks were open which meant queues were minimal. No one needs queues 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. Again, don’t expect this at all. It’s worth noting though, that Terminal 3 is a great place to pass time. There’s everything from high street shops to fast food to caviar houses, and some of the world’s best lounges are in there, if you happen to have access.
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. 17 hours, yikes…
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 and are definitely good seats to aim for, and I’d say would be worth paying any extra fees needed. On a flight this long, you need all the help you can get – and the extra legroom and space is a big one.
Just to note, the middle 3 seats on both bulkhead rows had a basinet which was quite large, so could be bothersome for some. Also to note, 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 row 46, otherwise you may become friendly with quite a few passengers loitering around your seat.
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 for economy with, soft fabric which shows Qantas really did have some passenger comfort in mind when they designed this ultra long haul service.
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. Again, if you hate crowds – you might want to avoid the last rows for that reason as well.
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, though it really can’t hurt if you have any boredom favourites to pass the time!
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 fresh, as did many of the other passengers on board I spoke with. Relatively speaking, of course. Perhaps if I fasted for the flight, I might have done even better with the jet lag.
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.