What sitting in economy on Qantas’ 20-hour flights will be like

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Editor’s note – Monthly tickets CNN is a travel series that focuses on some of the most interesting topics in the travel world. In June, we are heading to the skies to see the latest developments in the interior of the aircraft, including those we are working to change the way we fly.

(CNN) – The longest flight in the world: nonstop, 20 hours, when you sit in your wide chair and decide whether you want to relax with the very best champagne, enjoy a meal designed by the chef with the traveling companion sitting in front or the crew ready for you Get to Elegant soft bed with fresh linen.

This is the same offer for six first-class passengers on a direct flight from Sydney to London and New York from Kentas’ project Sunrise in the three years from today, and they can expect to pay the best five-figure portion for it.

What about the 140 economy class passengers who will be behind the 12 Airbus A350-1000s that the airline has ordered to work on the service?

Qantas does not say. “We don’t have an update right now but we look forward to keeping you updated, and will share more when we have,” a spokesman told us.

However, we do know that Qantas is already planning a wellbeing zone, which seems to be the area around the galley kitchen where you can stretch, maybe do some yoga poses and maybe even stand around for a while.

And, of course, Qantas will work hard to make the best choice of movies and TV shows for you to enjoy on the big new flight entertainment screens, as well as the food and beverages that it will design especially for your well-being on long flights.

But it is possible.

Ian Petchenik, host of the AvTalk Aviation podcast, told CNN: “While there has been a lot of focus on Qantas’ first class for Project Sunrise, I think the real difference for the rear passengers of the aircraft will be the soft product.

“You can only improve the nine-time economy with so many seats, so finding ways to make a 20-hour flight delicious in one of those seats is what Qantas can offer those passengers.”

I am an expert aviation journalist and have been an aviation journalist for over a decade, going in depth with all sorts of people in airlines, aircraft manufacturers, designers and seatmakers to find out how every inch of an aircraft is used. And since Qantas isn’t talking, here’s my professional discount on what’s likely to be offered on board.

First, there is no possibility of anything really radical. Three years from 2025 is not a long time in aviation, especially when it comes to seats. As long as Qantas is planning some sort of big bunk revelation – which would require a large amount of safety certification work – it seems very certain that economy passengers will only be at ordinary seats.

Knees and shins

The A350 is one of the most comfortable economy class options.

The A350 is one of the most comfortable economy class options.

Wendell Teodoro / AFP by Getty Images

Coming back to the first principles, the level of comfort in economy class seats largely depends on the style, pitch and width of the seat.

In terms of seat style, Qantas can be expected to get the best economy class seats on the market from top design and engineering firms like Recaro or Collins Aerospace.

These are called full-featured seats, with comfortable engineer seat foam covered with a special cloth, plenty of rackline, noticeable headrest, underseat footrest, and small foot hammock in the case of Qantas.

In recent years, designers and engineers have worked hard on the backs and bases of aircraft seats so that they provide enough space for the person sitting in the back – especially for their knees and shins.

They have figured out how to cushion the bottom of a chair known as a seat pan, changing the pressure points on its body when they bend back, to clarify when tilted.

The Qantas’ Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, launched in 2016, used a customized version of the German manufacturer Recaro’s CL3710 seat.

The CL3710 has been around since 2013, and Recaro updates every year, but it’s not surprising if it works on a specific version for Qantas.

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There could also be a brand new seat – the Recaro or someone else – with even more comfort. It may be ready to start flying to Qantas in late 2025.

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Extra legroom

In 2019, Qantas conducted experimental research flights testing the London-Sydney stretch. CNN’s Richard Quest reports from the flight deck of one such ultra-long-haul flight.

Another comfort factor is the pitch, which measures the point on a seat immediately opposite the point on the same seat, so it is not a complete legroom as it consists of one or two inches of seatback structure.

Qantas has promised that its economy class seats on board will offer a pitch of 33 inches (84 centimeters).

That’s one inch more than the 2016 Dreamliner seats and by 2025 I expect seat engineering to shrink the seat structure to one inch to provide more knee space.

It’s no surprise that Qantas also offers extra-legroom segments that can extend up to 35 or 36 inches, like the United Economy Plus or Delta’s Comfort Plus, but not the general economy seats with more legroom – not a premium economy.

What about the width?

Depending on how many seats the Qantas A350 puts in each row, there is good news or terrible news ahead for the passengers.

Larger twin-wing aircraft can have either nine seats per row, which is the standard offered by full-service airlines such as Qantas, Delta and Singapore Airlines, or 10 seats per row, which is mostly ultra-low-cost. . And leisure carriers such as Air Carabs of France and French B.C.

In terms of width, the A350 is one of the most comfortable economy class options in the air at nine-par with seats more than 18 inches wide. At 10, it is one of the least comfortable, with seats barely 17 inches and even an ultra-narrow wing.

As you can imagine – and Qantas’s published cutway certainly shows – that a full-service airline like Australia’s flag carrier will naturally go for a nine-tiered configuration.

But Airbus is quietly planning to create an extra one or two inches of space by thinning the cabin sidewalls. As a result, several full-service airlines, including Abu Dhabi-based Etihad, plan to install 10-par seats on some future A350s.

Nonstop vs. Stopover

More exercise qantas

On an experimental flight from London to Sydney in 2019, passengers were seen receiving exercise classes.

James D. Morgan / Qantas

Qantas says it plans to install 140 economy class seats on its A350. It will be 14 rows of 10, but that number doesn’t divide nicely into nine, whether you try to add some extra seats on the sides or in the middle.

Especially for these super-long flights, it would still be surprising to see Qantas do this. But the airline has installed almost as many narrow seats on its Dreamliner seats as London-Perth flies almost nonstop, so see this space for details.

At the end of the day, every inch counts when it comes to economy class comfort. Even in business class, many passengers with the idea of ​​a 20-hour flight – including me.

I did something so long in business class, almost 10 years ago, on a Singapore Airlines nonstop from Newark to Singapore, but it wasn’t much fun, even with the ability to sleep through the movie and go back.

Whenever we end up talking about this, people always come up with another option, half way from New York to Sydney in Los Angeles or San Francisco or any of Asia’s top one airports between Sydney and London.

But people always spent a long time in the seat: first on the idea of ​​a single-hop kangaroo route flight, then on the idea of ​​a 12, 14 or 16 hour flight.

Before the epidemic, there were longer flights than that, with regular economy class seats at the back, and people were ready to sit in them.

The question is how much difference will the London-Perth Qantas 787 Dreamliner flight give passengers an extra three or four hours – and crucially, their perceptions.

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