Australian airline Qantas is currently testing to see if human can travel in the air for 19 hours comfortably. These initial 19-hour test flights will use new Boeing 787-9s to carry a maximum of 40 people and minimum luggage.
While these long-haul flights are expected to cost more than traditional two-plane flights from New York and London to the Asia-Pacific region, travelers will benefit from the reduced stress of flying a single, overnight flight to their destination.
However, the Cleveland Clinic reports that prolonged airline travel can cause fatigue, dry skin, and strange physical sensation due to changes in oxygen, pressure, and temperature.
Researchers from Sydney University, Monash University, and a travel safety program backed by the Australian government, will observe these effects on Qantas employees during 19-hour flights. Employees will use medical monitoring devices to measure how their physical and mental health is affected by prolonged air travel.
Qantas stated that these test flights would not be available to the public until safety testing is concluded. The company’s ultimate goal is to get approval from regulators for 21-hour flights and launch these long-haul routes by 2023.
“For customers, the key will be minimizing jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight,” says Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce in a statement. “For crew, it’s about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximize rest during their downtime on these flights.”
While Qantas believes this long-haul model will only appeal to select clients, the company said its main investment is in the scientific data that will come from the test flights.
“Ultra-long haul flying presents a lot of common sense questions about the comfort and wellbeing of passengers and crew, adds Joyce. “These flights are going to provide invaluable data to help answer them.”