Qantas Airways Will Test 20-Hour Flights

This fall, Qantas will launch the first flights to be airborne for more than 19 hours. How will passengers manage? That’s what Qantas wants to find out.

The current longest flight, from Changi International Airport (SIN) in Singapore to Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey, flown by Singapore Airlines, lasted at 18.5 hours. Although Qantas’ flight, dubbed Project Sunrise, is intended to discover if humans can handle such long flight times, experts don’t expect that an hour difference will have a huge impact on the body and mind.

The trip—which will be from both New York City to Sydney and London to Sydney—will take place in October, November and December—one per month. These test flights will have up to 40 people on board, consisting of crew and other Qantas employees.

In theory, longer flights should mean less layovers—the bane of not only planners’ existence, but many others—and more time to make face-to-face connections. International meeting professionals know the pressure of waiting between flights—the constant checking of the clock—when you have a meeting at, say, 3 p.m., but your flight doesn’t land until 2:30 p.m.

“Flying nonstop from the East Coast of Australia to London and New York is truly the final frontier of aviation,” said Alan Joyce, CEO of Singapore Airlines.

Qantas hopes to come to a final decision by the end of the year on whether to offer more of these long-distance-flights, based on how employees handle the trips. If it all goes to plan, the company will begin servicing these flights in early 2020.

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