What It’s Like To Test The World’s Longest Flight

What It’s Like To Test The World’s Longest Flight


David Slotnick: Back in October, I flew on a nearly 20-hour flight from New York to Sydney
with Qantas Airways. But this wasn’t your
ordinary long-haul trip. There were only 50 people on board because this was a test flight to see how ultra-long flights
affect passengers and pilots. But is bringing a flight like this to regular service possible? And would customers even
want to be in the air that long without a break? Normally if you’re flying
from New York to Sydney, you’ll have to stop for a layover, which usually adds to jet lag and takes longer than a direct flight. So airlines have been working towards more convenient routes. Qantas Airways recently
tested two flights: New York City to Sydney
and London to Sydney. At nearly 19 1/2 hours long, they each set the record for
the longest passenger flight in the world at the time. The test flights were aboard
a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner that only had about 40 passengers and 10 crew members on board. Because, technically, these planes couldn’t make the distance
with a full payload. They would’ve run out of fuel. Sean Golding: We have two
crews, four pilots in total. We’ll have a team A and a team B, and we’ll be swapping throughout the night to ensure that the
pilots get adequate rest. Slotnick: Pilots gave urine samples every four hours to test melatonin levels. They were also outfitted
with an activity monitor, a light monitor, and an EEG headset to monitor their alertness. Golding: There’s a whole bunch of sensors in behind this strap here that are measuring our
brain wave activity. Slotnick: So, obviously,
this was no ordinary flight. We were making aviation history. Slotnick: We were flying
in business-class seats, but the Qantas team asked us to rotate through the coach cabin to balance out the weight on the plane. So I tried out the coach cabin, but obviously I preferred
my business-class seat. We’ve got about 18 hours
and 17 minutes to go. So it’s gonna be a slightly shorter flight than the 20 hours that was a possibility. That’s really just ’cause the
winds are working with us, the way that the captain
was able to plan the flight. We’re not expecting any bad weather, and that’s gonna help us fly
just a little bit faster. If this had been a
normal long-haul flight, the plane would have
stayed on New York time throughout the flight, which typically makes it hard to adjust to a new time zone when you arrive. But on this flight, the
plane and its passengers switched to Sydney time right away as part of an experiment
to minimize jet lag. Marie Carroll: Everything
about the cabin lighting, everything about the food, will be designed either
to keep people awake or to induce them to go to sleep. And so we’re hoping that they’re going to end up
getting off the plane and be quite comfortable in Sydney time. Slotnick: Throughout the flight, we had to follow a sleep schedule. But normally passengers
wouldn’t have had to do this. Right now, the cabin
lights are all bright, everybody’s walking
around taking pictures, and we’re really just trying to, you know, power through and stay awake. To keep us from falling asleep, we were encouraged to
get up and walk around. I went and checked out the crew quarters, where cabin crew members and pilots can take a nap between their shifts. Then it was time to eat. This is the first meal. This is the one that’s a little spicier: chocolate, chilies, peppers. The first meal was light,
spicy, and flavorful, helping us stay wide awake. We weren’t supposed to have any alcohol because it would make us sleepy. After lunch, we were asked to stay awake for the next four hours until dinner. Some people watched movies, and others chose to keep moving, stretching, squatting, and even dancing. Definitely starting to feel a bit tired. It is 3 o’clock in the
morning, New York time. We’re about to have our
dinner and then after that the whole plane is gonna go to sleep. The flight crew came and put mattress pads on each of the seats. Then it was time for a heavy dinner that would make us want to sleep. At the touch of a button, the business-class seats
folded flat into a bed. Then the flight attendants
turned off the lights to match Sydney’s nighttime. I passed out almost
immediately and slept so hard. In the morning, the lights
were brought up slowly with a warm glow,
copying Sydney’s sunrise. Right away, we had breakfast. And before I knew it, we
were coming in on Sydney. We landed at 7:43 a.m.,
19 hours and 16 minutes after taking off from New York. Even after crossing 15 time zones, I didn’t feel jet lagged. And all the other passengers
I spoke to felt the same. Qantas hasn’t released the
pilots’ biometric data yet, but the pilots told me they
felt great after the flight. 20 hours in the air wasn’t as hard on my body
as I thought it would be. The new service flow really did help me adjust to Sydney time a lot faster than had I broken up the trip with a stop. But I really think getting up and moving, eating the right food, and
sleeping on Sydney time is what made the flight easier. Plus, we got there a lot faster. While I would totally
take this flight again, I’ll have to wait. Qantas says it won’t actually start regular service until 2023. I flew it on a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. However, Qantas picked
the Airbus A350-1000 for the future routes. But before Qantas starts flying, it has to convince investors
that this’ll make money and that passengers would
actually wanna take this flight. Then they have to convince regulators that crews can work
the long flight safely. Right now, Singapore
Airlines holds the record for the longest commercial flight: a 19-hour daily flight from Newark, New Jersey, to Singapore. But with its test flights
through Project Sunrise, Qantas is getting closer
to flying these routes as regular service and holding the record for the world’s longest flight. Alan Joyce: Project Sunrise
is our attempt to overcome probably the last frontier in aviation. And that opens up just
about every destination in the world we can fly nonstop to. Slotnick: Shortly after my flight, Qantas flew another successful test flight from London to Sydney. It came in at 19 hours and 19 minutes, setting another record for
the world’s longest flight. But Qantas’ CEO said
that’s not what it’s about. Joyce: We’re not aiming to have the title of the world’s longest flight. For us, it’s about having the world’s most convenient
flights, to avoid stopovers, and that’s what we’re aiming for.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes

100 Comments

  1. On business class I’d gladly go on a 30 hr flight. I fly from NYC to HKG often (16.5) hrs. So this 19 hr flight is no big deal. Especially in business class.

  2. The test is severely flawed. For the most realistic experience, they should have occupied economy seats the whole way, with the economy food. Even then it wouldn't be totally realistic as a fully packed flight with coughing & noisy passengers, crying babies, etc., and difficulty getting out of your seat and stretching your legs, sleeping sitting up, makes the experience very trying.

  3. Being in business class for 20hrs is easy.. Try the economy.. And put the biometry on someones leg in Economy class

  4. Jeez this flight is kinda strict but not strict cause like u sleep practically the whole flight but ur forced to do something which is weird for a commercial flight

  5. Oh hell no…Pilots flying for that long with no sleep…I don't give a crap if they're being monitored or not….Just NO!!!

  6. Last year I went to a Frankfurt from Melbourne, it took like around 17 hours and there’s that one child behind me that keeps on kicking my seat and screaming and I was like 🤯😤

  7. Imagine you are in economy trying to sleep and you keep hearing all the kids and babies crying throughout the whole 20 hours.

  8. 19? I've flown 20hrs straight. Economy. On American Airlines. You're flying first class on an empty plane.

    Where's my award…

  9. Hmmmm…unless they test with 10 bad ass kids and 3 hollering babies, coughing people, drunk asshiles, alll stuffed in economy class … the study was bullshit

  10. I have been on a 14 hour flight a few times on economy it is not fun. I am telling you rn that 20 hours in economy will NEVER work.

  11. i went from La to Switzerland. took like 11+hrs first time flying. i saw like every movie but it was cool. food was nice aswell and service only big flaw is it was a pain to fall asleep sitting in a chair. i havent flown since but next time i do ill prob take an edible or get really high night help be more fun or time will go faster

  12. I've flown 18 hours from LAX to Singapore multiple times a little over a decade ago and many people have flown the same flight hundreds of times since then. To be required to fly 1 more hour is hardly as ground-breaking as this video would suggest.

  13. This is nothing compared to my train trip from Malang to Jakarta, Indonesia in economy class. It took more less than 18 hours and the economy seats in the airplane are much much much better than the economy seats that I took on that train. It is faced face-to-face, straight back wide seat (1 seat 2/3 people), and we can't move our feet freely because the distance between your feet and someone's feet are like zero haha.

  14. Wtf did I just watched a men complaining the flight is too long and uncomfortable IN BUSSINESS CLASS, what is wrong with people on the earth

  15. OK humans what is wrong this form of high level transport buring lots of TOXIC fuel⛽☠⛽🌍🤡 Investors we must not do this CRAZY ACTIVITY….. Open your eyes we need new clean non-toxic transport Ground Wing effect low level flying H2 looks promising? but no mass development of this exciting non toxic fast travel. We are all facing mass extinction this video fails to question how bad flying burning toxic is. We face more mass extinction. You all seem to be intelligent? Just denying it is no good #buzzofftoxic 😪🌍

  16. Airbus A350 is best plane for long haul flight… and also Aorbus is safer than Boeing !! Still e we may get new planes from these to aviation giants by 2022…as flights will be in air by 2023

  17. My wife and I did the usual 34-hour B-707 flight from LHR to MEL back in the 1970s' 3-changes of crew, stopping everywhere, a few nights sleep and I was ok., (but I was younger then) after arrival here, about day 7-10 my wife fell asleep at the wheel and crashed the car, as she did after every east-about flight until I put a stop to her driving during the unsafe period. This vid' is about a west-about flight. No-one ever has a problem on west-about flights…. It is only an honourable test-flight insofar as it relates to west-about-long-haul………….

  18. My wife and I did the usual 34-hour B-707 flight from LHR to MEL back in the 1970s' 3-changes of crew, stopping everywhere, a few nights sleep and I was ok., (but I was younger then) after arrival here, about day 7-10 my wife fell asleep at the wheel and crashed the car, as she did after every eastabout flight until I put a stop to her driving during the unsafe period. This vid' is about a westabout flight. No-one ever has a problem on westabout flights…. It is only an honourable test-flight insofar as it relates to westabout-long-haul………….

  19. My wife and I did the usual 34-hour B-707 flight from LHR to MEL back in the 1970s' 3-changes of crew, stopping everywhere, a few nights sleep and I was ok., (but I was younger then) after arrival here, about day 7-10 my wife fell asleep at the wheel and crashed the car, as she did after every eastabout flight until I put a stop to her driving during the unsafe period. This vid' is about a westabout flight. No-one ever has a problem on westabout flights…. It is only an honourable test-flight insofar as it relates to westabout-long-haul………….

  20. My wife and I did the usual 34-hour B-707 flight from LHR to MEL back in the 1970s' 3-changes of crew, stopping everywhere, a few nights sleep and I was ok., (but I was younger then) after arrival here, about day 7-10 my wife fell asleep at the wheel and crashed the car, as she did after every eastabout flight until I put a stop to her driving during the unsafe period. This vid' is about a westabout flight. No-one ever has a problem on westabout flights…. It is only an honourable test-flight insofar as it relates to westabout-long-haul………….

  21. They sleep of a freaking mattress like a bed of course comfortable..😂 try sleeping while seating in the economy then we can test it

  22. Lol try this in economy you legs won't work right for days and the arm rest will leave a massive bruise good luck getting 2 hours sleep

  23. Some comments have touched on it needing to NOT be a full plane. How expensive would the tickets be? How many people need to go Down Under?

  24. Well when I was 12 I was on an 18 hour with a stop in Abu Dhabi for 12 hours travelling with my 6 bratty sisters and carrying 7 kilos on my back and pushing a cart with like 3 30 kilo suitcases on it. We had no hotel to stay in cause we couldn't afford it. My sisters would throw tantrums every 5 minutes (that includes them lying on the floor screaming at the top of their lungs) my mum was pregnant and very sick at the time. The airport lost our luggage and the stroller for my youngest sister.
    Then the airport mixed up some of our documents and we stayed in the airport for 2 extra hours. So know total I hadn't slept in 2 days and was running off of the chocolate bars the flight attendant had given me. It was a terrible experience and it still haunts me to this day.

  25. Right , so like how many of the regular service is going to be business class? 10%. Now try flying coach service and seats for 20 hours and get back to me then. Sure if your seat fold down into a bed anyone is going to rested.

  26. Imagine sitting on completely filled economy seats – with all range of ages. From infant, toddler and seniors.
    Lets see if you wont feel jetlag 😅

  27. Try cramming between wailing babies and fiddly passengers in economy, then you'll see how resolute your body feel..😬✈️

  28. Yeah, I would not be tired if I was on business class with a bed, I am sure my son and wife would feel the same.
    Ridiculous from a family man perspective.

  29. The only long flight I’ve been to is a 27hr flight from London to Brazil 🇧🇷

    Edit: it was a first class emirates flight 😉

  30. I went on a 16 hour flight from Dubai to LA last summer in enonomy… it’s not 19 hours but I don’t think it was that bad, I slept most of the flight and I had time to watch a couple of movies…..

  31. Business class is literally like 20x easier than economy. You could stay in business for a couple days no worries at all. Economy on the other hand…. (I've done both several times for a 16 hr flight)

  32. Interesting concept, but I doubt they will pull it off soon. 2024 seems to be a considerate starting point for technology to catch up. With current levels of technology, there is no way they are able to make customers comfortable enough to withstand the 19-hour flight. Also, with the weight problem, they won't be flying full planes, thus will make the tickets pretty expensive. Not an economic decision for the airline to make, but certainly a catalysis for further innovation in the aviation industry.

  33. They don't simulate all the bullshit you encounter when going thru the dreaded airports. Underpaid homeland security officers that think they are the FBI. Long lines everywhere..creepy x ray machines. Walking in your socks, thru the luggage scan. Horrible parking..i can go on and on….

  34. The energy felt from a full plane is very stressful and not to mention how challenging it would be for someone who flew economy which is most of the seating in planes. I’d bet the heart rates and stress hormones levels would have been significantly different in results

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