Qantas wants to cure the worst part of flying long-haul
THEY'RE world leaders in getting people where they want to go. Now Qantas is looking at how it can help people to look and feel better when they arrive.
The airline has announced it will be working with leading medical experts to find out how it can enhance passengers' wellness and comfort during long-haul flights - including possible ways to reduce jet lag.
In a world-first collaboration, announced today, Qantas has partnered with the University of Sydney's Charles Perkins Centre to find out what parts of the flying experience - from the lighting and temperature of the cabin, to what food is served and when - could be tweaked to make passengers more comfortable, better rested and a lot less jet-lagged.
And the study couldn't come at a better time, with Qantas to launch its marathon, 17-hour Perth to London service in March.
"What this is about is us looking at every stage of the travel experience and using scientific information to improve it," Qantas group chief executive Alan Joyce said.
"Whether it's pre-flight, and giving our passengers advice on what they should do before they travel, in transit, after they leave the aircraft and arrive at their destination.
"We've been working with the [Charles Perkins] centre already on changing what we do. They have influenced, and are influencing, how we serve meals on board, what meals to serve and when we serve them, what the lighting on the aircraft should be, what the temperate of the aircraft should be, and what our lounge experience on the ground should be."
Two of Qantas' most high-profile frequent flyers - model and businesswoman Jesinta Franklin and rugby player and current Australian 7s captain Ed Jenkins - will be guinea pigs in a trial investigating the use of wearables and other technology to track the physical and mental states of passengers during a flight.
Long-time Qantas chef Neil Perry will also be working with the centre to incorporate food science into his menu selection for the airline's upcoming 787 Dreamliner fleet, to enhance the wellbeing of passengers.
But before you start worrying Qantas might start to get rid of the less healthy aspects of the flight - such as the free booze - fear not.
"We will still have on board our aircraft the most amazing Australian wines, a selection of Australian beers, as much dessert as you could possibly want," Mr Joyce said.
"This is all about collecting information and giving it to our customers so they can make informed choices."
Professor Steve Simpson, academic director of the Charles Perkins Centre, said this was the firs time an airline and a university had collaborated on research into in-flight health beyond emergency situations, and there was the potential for "extraordinary" discoveries.
"It's bringing together experts in nutrition and sleep and physical activity ... to understand the science of long haul flights, to improve jet lag and wellbeing and health in the air, before and after you get to your destination," he said.
"And to translate that science, that innovation, through Qantas to passengers and crew."
The first of the Qantas Dreamliners will be delivered in October, with the first international flight, from Melbourne to Los Angeles, scheduled for December.
Dreamliner flights between Perth and London, which will directly connect Australia and UK for the first time, will start in March 2018.