First non-stop flight between London and Australia takes off tonight

Qantas launch historic, 17-hour flight from Perth that covers 9,000 miles in one go

After 98 years in the air, Qantas have finally launched a non-stop flight between London and Perth. However, they do happen to be the first airline to ever do so.

The flight, which will take over 17 hours, lifts-off tonight from the capital of Western Australia, Perth, and will take place on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. It marks a feat of aviation.

This will be the first time a commercial airliner has completed the trip without a break – the first non-stop passenger flight between the two antipodean nations that are connected by a long history of colonialism.

The kangaroo route is no more, as Qantas has launched a non-stop route between Britain and Australia  – Qantas
The kangaroo route is no more, as Qantas has launched a non-stop route between Britain and Australia – Qantas

Previously, passengers had to hop from one location to another – a so-called kangaroo route.

In 1921 it took seven stops and four days to fly between Britain and Australia, or you had the choice of 42 days on a boat.

The route will cover the 14,500km (9,000 mile) route without a break, and, depending on the wind, will take 17 hours and 20 minutes.

Qantas have built a luxurious new lounge at London Heathrow to accommodate passengers for the new route. The multi-million dollar space has 230 seats and a number of cocktail bars.

The new lounges introduced by Qantas are really rather special – Qantas
The new lounges introduced by Qantas are really rather special – Qantas

Travellers from Perth will also experience a new lounge designed by Australian Industrial designer David Caon and SUMU design, built in conjunction with the Charles Perkins Centre at Sydney University.

For the very first flight on the London-Perth route, Qantas has taken the special measure of reducing the number of passengers and increasing legroom by one inch for the cheapest seats.

Only 236 business, premium economy and economy passengers will fly on the inaugural flight.

Qantas has joined forces with Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre in order to create conditions that reduce the effect of jet lag. These include optimising the cabin pressure, lighting, and changing the timings of the in-flight meals.

Alan Joyce, Qantas’ CEO, said at the launch event: “Qantas has been preparing for this moment for 98 years,” the Guardian reported.

Joyce said: “And back then it cost you £525 to use the service. The equivalent of two and a half years of your salary today. Tomorrow, they will do the flight in 17 hours and 20 minutes. No stops. It is a game-changer for Australian aviation.”

For the very first flight between Perth and London, Qantas will ask up to 10 passengers to wear an activity tracker. This will monitor their sleep and physical activity, while another device will track their posture through the flight.

Qantas Dreamliner's new route is considered to be a "game-changer" – Qantas
The Qantas Dreamliner’s new route is considered to be a “game-changer” – Qantas

Peter Cistulli, professor of sleep medicine at the Charles Perkins Centre, said: “There has been a breakaway from the traditional formula where you get on an aeroplane, you get fed and watered and then at the other end you get fed and watered and there is this white space in the middle.

“Doing that on a 17-hour flight doesn’t make sense because you are going to leave people for a long time.”

The Dreamliner’s lighting will “nudge the biological clock towards the destination timezone so it kick starts the process of readjusting your body clock”, he said.

It is hoped that this information will give medics data about how long-distance travel affects the body.

“The holy grail that we are heading towards is to capture information over a much longer period of time. That would include preflight – perhaps a week preflight – the entire flight and then possibly a week post-flight,” Cistulli told the Guardian.

Qantas Head of Customer Product and Service, Philip Capps, said an emphasis on wellness in the lounge design was a whole new approach to long-haul travel.

“We’ve brought together some of Australia’s best culinary, design and scientific minds to create a lounge experience that will help set our customers up to feel better throughout their journey,” Capps said.

“This sophisticated lounge is the ideal space for customers to unwind in between flights. The design reflects the natural beauty of the Western Australian landscape through natural light and colour choices, and offers some of the best local food and wine.”