Qantas just made history today by completing the first non-stop Australia to London regular commercial service. Qantas flight 9 (QF9) from Perth, which is the capital of Western Australia, landed at 5:02 AM after a long 17 hour flight that covered over 9,000 miles.
The flight was serviced by the ultra fuel efficient Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which did away with first class and is configured to carry 236 passengers. The Qantas Dreamliner has 42 business class seats, 28 premium economy, and 166 economy seats. (Economy is thankfully in a 3-3-3 configuration.)
This is a monumental day for aviation history as some people consider these ultra-long haul flights the last frontier of aviation. The flight from Australia to London used to take as much as four days to complete back in 1947. Now, this 17 hour flight will save a lot of passengers the headache of having to connect via the Middle East or Asia.
The extra three to five hours may not sound like much but if you’ve flown enough long-hauls you know that it often feels better to just knock out a route with one very long flight rather than two, especially if you’re flying economy and without lounge access.
Is this route sustainable?
Some people do have doubts about the longevity of this route, though. For example, while Perth is a booming city, many believe this route will be highly dependent on connecting passengers from the more populous eastern side of Australia, home to Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.
However, the connection via Perth doesn’t shave off that much more time than simply connecting through a city like Singapore, which is also cheaper at the moment. So it will be interesting to see which routing business travelers from the other side of Australia ultimately end up preferring.
A history of innovation
Qantas doesn’t want to stop with this ambitious flight though. They are hoping that within a couple of years, flights will be possible from Sydney to London, opening up many more ultra long-haul possibilities. It won’t surprise me to see Qantas implement this first as they’ve long been an industry leader with long haul flights as they were also the first to have:
- Passenger jet services across the Pacific in 1959 with a B707
- A non-stop passenger flight from London to Sydney in 1989 with a B747-400
- The world’s largest passenger aircraft (A380) on the world’s longest route (Sydney-Dallas) in 2014
The longest flights in the world
At just over 17 hours, the Perth to London flight is already one of the longest flights in the world. Currently, the Auckland to Doha flight has it beat with a 17:50 hour flight time and so does United’s San Francisco to Singapore flight with a flight time of 17:20. However, Singapore’s Singapore to New York flight will resume soon and smash these records since that flight time will come in at around 19 hours!
Overall, this is a cool development in aviation history and it’s great to see more direct options for getting to and from Australia.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.