Qantas wants to know if passengers would like an exercise zone, an on-board crèche, an in-flight bar or perhaps a downstairs bed.
These are some of the concepts being floated in a survey being sent out this week to more than 12,000 Qantas Frequent Flyers as part of the airline’s ongoing “Project Sunrise” research into ultra-long haul flying.
In August last year, Qantas challenged aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus to extend the flying range of the next generation of aircraft – the 777X and A350-900ULR – to fly nonstop from the east coast of Australia direct to London and New York by 2022.
The planes would also be able to fly from Los Angeles to Perth non-stop.
It follows the success of the airline’s new Perth-London direct service that started in March this year.
With travelers set to spend up to 22 hours in the air, passenger comfort and well-being, in-flight entertainment and food and beverage will be key factors in designing the onboard experience, says Qantas.
The airline has engaged with aircraft seat manufacturers, inviting them to come up with concepts for next-generation Economy and Premium Economy seats for the long-haul flights.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has also raised the possibility of converting the cargo hold into an additional space for passengers, including bunks.
The survey of the frequent flyers will look at the “sky is the limit” concepts including:
- A stretch/exercise zone on board
- A communal bar, dining or self-service café zone
- A crèche
- A work & study section including workstations
- Converting a number of lavatories into more spacious “change and refresh” stations (weight limitations would likely prevent carrying enough water for showers).
Qantas head of customer strategy and product development Phil Capps said “the launch of direct flights from the east coast of Australia to Europe, UK, and the US is going to completely revolutionize air travel and we are keen to do the same thing with the in-flight offering for passengers on board these flights.”
“Our Frequent Flyers are experts when it comes to spending time in the air so we are keen to tap into their experience to gauge appetite for a wide variety of possible innovations.”
“It’s still early days and the final cabins may feature some or none of the ideas we’re asking for feedback on, but we want to have the conversation with our customers to help inform our planning. We wanted to put all options on the table.”
“What sounds unconventional today may well become tomorrow’s new norm. Some ideas are more viable than others but our strategy is to find out what the priorities are for a cross-section of travelers.”