Starting in 2022, Qantas would like to have permission to operate a new ultra-long-haul aircraft. This will be servicing Australia and connecting to New York and London. While this is still in the legislation stage, the airline is creating plenty of pre-launch buzz with Project Sunrise. This is an action allowing frequent flyers to vote of preferred features. The ideas coming out are diverse and interesting. How much of role will they play in determining a Qantas flight in the future?
First the basics
Before we can start picking out the new Qantas livery, the logistical premises of the 20+ hour flight will need to be addressed. These include ensuring fair competition both as a provider and an employer. It also involves working out new arrangements with pilots and in-flight staff. Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority is very keen to ensure fatigue can be managed on the long flights. They are currently listening to proposals from the airline as to how this can be achieved.First class dining Qantas
However, if Qantas do manage to tick all the boxes, they’ll want to ensure their newly revamped Airbus A350s and Boeing 777-8s meet their passengers’ expectations. Twenty hours is a long time to be on-board an aircraft. Even a big A350, but as we all know, it’s not the airplane size that gets to us, but the other people.
The inside details
The company is working on the assumption that they will fly around 300 passengers per plan. This will be achieved by offering a 4-cabin system. In addition, they have released a handful of concept designs and asked flyers to rate their favourites. While this is in part a marketing angle it also is an important service design operation. By getting real narratives back from travellers, the Qantas team are learning what’s genuinely important – and what’s just an add-on.
For example, flyers are being asked to choose between an onboard exercise zone, a bar open to all passengers and a crèche for kids. This is a savvy choice. What’s more important to you? A few hours break from your bored kids? A place to drink and socialize or somewhere to let off steam? On the other end of the spectrum, they’re asking flyers to rate the importance of having more WCs verses a work/study area.
However, before we all get too excited, it’s worth remembering Qantas already does operate an ultra long-haul flight from Perth to London, with none of these benefits, and receives consistently high customer scores. What can Qantas do realistically to improve on this in a revenue-generating manner?
New Qantas Dreamliner
In the end, what we’ll likely see is a Dreamliner with a staff resting area instead of the usual cargo payload. We’ll also possibly see greater zone flexibility giving passengers the opportunity to move around more. No one is imagining the on-board gym will be a good use of space and who wants their seat mate coming back after a workout and no shower? The bar would probably be a huge hit, but again, having half the flight up in the business end of the plane body would seriously mess with the airplane’s centre of gravity.