The World’s Longest Flight Isn’t Going to Be Fun

Qantas completed a test of the direct New York-to-Sydney route this week

The World's Longest Flight
By Tanner Garrity / October 25, 2019 1:51 pm

Earlier this week, Qantas completed the world’s longest flight: a 19 hour, 16 minute odyssey from JFK International to Sydney Airport. It marked the first time a commercial airline ever completed the trip direct … and it doesn’t sound like anyone had fun.

Qantas has hopes of rolling consistent flights along the route by 2023, as part of an initiative called Project Sunrise; this flight was a bit of a test to see how passengers might handle so many hours spent in the air, and whether Qantas could make the experience easier. The airline hosted a hodgepodge of frequent fliers, researchers and media on the 10,100-mile journey, and according to first-hand accounts, focused primarily on food and sleep in order to make the flight easier.

For example, the second everyone got on board, they were put on Sydney time. Even though it was 9pm in New York, the crew changed clocks to noon the following day, and encouraged passengers to stay up for at least six hours. Qantas served an array of spicy fish dishes to keep people alert before finally turning off the lights. A potential positive for people who can’t manage to fall asleep on planes — people were apparently really struggling to stay awake at that point in the flight, then crashed for several hours.

This routine was followed by more scheduled meals, and eventually a morning arrival in Sydney. Researchers will assess biometric data over the next many months (looking for variations in heart function and metabolism) and determine how viable Project Sunrise is as a “commute.” It seems improbable, though, that this route or the other ultra-haul flights coming (Newark to Singapore, for instance) could possibly be considered healthy for the body, let alone comfortable in the short-term. The “testers” on the inaugural NYC-Sydney flight all got to sit in business class. Most future passengers will be back in economy.

We’d recommend having a Theragun waiting when you land.

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