Australia is quite a distance from the United States and making a trip to either place is quite the adventure. Constantly trying to find that position of comfort while anxiously waiting for the flight to be over. Fortunately for those traveling with Qantas, the airline realizes these issues and instead of focusing on the increase of baggage fees, its investing in wellness for guests. No, they will not be doing a spin-off of Delta’s “Sweatlag” promotion, or using its fleet of six Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which offers better breathing thanks to cabin cabin pressurization, larger windows that are electronically synced to darken or lighten with the cabin lighting, and other jet-lag busting features. Instead, the company plans on going above and beyond with its new redesigned lounges, updated menus, offering onboard meditation classes and even sticking medical devices onto actual passengers for research.
The airline takes on some of the lengthiest non-stop routes in the world which can include flights greater than thirteen hours. Some flights include flying Melbourne to San Francisco, Melbourne to Los Angeles, and Brisbane to New York City via Los Angeles. Qantas also hopes to take on the world’s longest flight, a 20-hour odyssey connecting Sydney to London by 2022.
“Because of where Australia is situated on the globe, we’ve always had to push the boundaries of long-haul flying to ensure our passengers arrive at their destination ready for the next stage of their journey,” says head of customer experience at Qantas, Phil Capps.
In one instance of providing wellness to its guests, Qantas is inviting scientific research onboard regular passenger flights. “We’re the first airline in the world to partner with a research facility around in-flight customer health and wellbeing beyond specific medical domains,” says Capps. In partnership with the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney, researchers work with volunteers traveling on Qantas flights. They volunteers were pulled from the airline’s 35,000-strong member pool of frequent fliers. The travelers that volunteer are then asked to record their state of mind, as well as food and beverage intake throughout travel, while medical equipment monitors their sleep, activity and posture.
The first phase began in June of 2017, which involved only two passengers in the study for sensors that Qantas describes as a “supercharged, Fitbit-type device.” Model Jesinta Franklin and Australian rugby captain Ed Jenkins, traveled in business class during the first phase.
In phase two, 1,000 Qantas passengers were included, all with different health, across a variety of routes and cabin classes. The goal for phase two is to gather important data on sleep patterns and provide what Capps hopes is an “integrated, holistic, and evidence-based approach to customer health along the entire journey.”
According to Condē Nast Traveler, business class passengers are “already benefiting from the research, as results from the first phase influenced the design of the lounge and menus on the Perth-London route.”
Though there is no yoga studio for economy class travelers, guided meditations are now part of the in-flight entertainment. Meals have also become lighter and Qantas even developed a “jet lag-fighting” menu that incorporates ingredients to promote sleep, help digestion, and ease some of the stressors related to long flights.
Capps says that work towards the 20-hour flight is already underway as well: “A non-stop flight between Sydney and London will save time and minimize stress, and if we can get the balance right to make sure customers are comfortable and well looked after onboard, it will be game-changing. Nothing is off limits, so it’s really exciting.”