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Inside Qantas’ Airbus A350-1000 Flying The World’s Longest Flight

The promise of new Project Sunrise flights is now a reality!

After a six-year development timeline and the COVID-19 Pandemic, this writer began to think Project Sunrise might be abandoned. But it’s time for me to eat my words and cheer the kangaroo! Qantas has unveiled its Airbus A350-1000 cabin that boosts the passenger experience with impressive design and a Wellbeing Zone.

The airline plans to launch ultra-long-haul flights in late 2025 and has scheduled delivery of twelve new Airbus A350-1000s.

What to expect onboard Qantas new A350?

  • Six luxurious First Suites, an exclusive offering within the first-class cabins. Immerse yourself in a world of extraordinary comfort. On a spacious 2-meter flat bed you can indulge in a restful slumber. Enjoy private dining at a beautifully arranged table for two, complemented by delectable cuisine and impeccable service. The suite also features a cozy recliner chair for ultimate relaxation. A 32″ 4K ultra-high definition touchscreen TV will keep you entertained throughout your journey. Experience the pinnacle of luxury and sophistication with our extraordinary First Suites.
Qantas A350-1000 First class suites.
  • 52 Business Suites, offering a luxurious business-class experience. Sliding doors enhance privacy. Passengers flying in Qantas’ business class on the exquisite Qantas Airbus A350 can indulge in a spacious lay-flat bed. Plus, a generously sized dining table, custom lighting, and a cutting-edge 18″ 4k ultra-high definition touch screen TV.
Qantas A350-1000 Business class.
  • 40 Premium Economy seats in the Premium Economy cabin with a 13.3” entertainment touchscreen with Bluetooth audio connectivity, two fast-charging USB-C outlets, dedicated amenity and personal storage pockets, a 40” pitch, calf rest which allows for full leg cradling and a winged, adjustable privacy headrest.

Qantas A350-1000 Premium Economy.
  • 140 economy class seats in a 3-3-3 configuration offer the most generous seat pitches of any Qantas aircraft. Plus, ergonomic leg and foot rest systems and personal storage options. 

Qantas A350-1000 Economy class.

See the video: Australian flag carrier Qantas unveils redesigned Airbus A350 cabins, optimally designed for long-haul flights.

Video tour of the new Airbus A350 Project Sunrise cabins. Source: Qantas

Rewriting the Rules of Long-Haul Air Travel

Qantas is rewriting the rules of long-haul air travel. The airline unveiled the cutting-edge design of its specially outfitted Airbus A350. Direct flights from Sydney to New York and London will start in late 2025. Qantas is conquering the final frontier of extended air travel.

Qantas Project Sunrise: Design for the Long-Haul

Years in the making, this innovative Airbus A350 cabin promises an unmatched inflight experience for 238 passengers. Flying up to 22 hours nonstop from Australia, the Qantas A350 connects customers to nearly any destination globally. Furthermore, the new Project Sunrise flights will reduce point-to-point travel time by up to four hours compared to one-stop routes.

Wellbeing Zone and Upgraded Passenger Comfort

The airline goes beyond offering a luxurious First and Business class experience. Qantas raises the bar for passenger comfort in its Premium Economy and Economy cabins. Seats offer generous pitch, ergonomic leg and footrest systems, and plentiful personal storage options. In this way, Qantas ensures a premium experience for all passengers.

However, what sets the Qantas A350 apart from other carriers is its dedicated Wellbeing Zone. Located between the Premium Economy and Economy cabins, this space is unique. It has sculpted wall panels, integrated stretch handles, and a guided on-screen exercise program. After a stretch, passengers can enjoy beverages at the hydration station and an array of refreshments. This world-first places Qantas at the forefront of passenger well-being in air travel.

A Holistic Approach to Passenger Comfort

While the Airbus A350 will have a high percentage of premium first-class and business-class seats, everyone benefits. Qantas Group Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce noted most customers will travel in Premium Economy and Economy. Maximizing comfort and well-being across all cabins was a priority for the airlines. 

“[This meant] reducing the number of seats onboard our A350 to 238 compared to the 300-plus seat layout of other carriers gives our passengers more space and comfort,” Joyce explained.

Why Qantas’ ‘fewer seats’ strategy could be a winner

This is also a good revenue-building strategy. Qantas optimizes the potential earnings of the cabin layout based on booking trends. You can learn more about that in my special report for Skift here

A less-dense cabin is a good cost and weight-saving strategy. It helps to optimize aircraft performance, staffing requirements, and fuel consumption on ultra-long-haul routes.

Smart Design Thinking for Plane Better Flights

“Fewer seats translate to more space for each customer and a dedicated Wellbeing Zone for travelers to stretch, help themselves to a snack, and spend time out of their seat. We are the only airline in the world that will have a bespoke designed onboard stretch and movement space.”

—Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce

Qantas has ensured its fleet’s most generous seat pitches in the Airbus A350. That will be welcomed by long-haul travelers flying in the back half of the plane.

“We have spent just as much time on the second half of the aircraft as we did the front; in fact, we started studies on the Wellbeing Zone before any other area of the A350,” Joyce said. “The new Project Sunrise flights give us the opportunity to re-think long-haul travel in its entirety, from aircraft cabin design to what ingredients we include on the inflight menu.” 

Inside the new Qantas Airbus A350 Wellbeing Zone

The A350 will feature Qantas’ first inflight Wellbeing Zone, located between Economy and Premium Economy cabins. The Wellbeing Zone gives every passenger a space to stretch. Specially curated guided movements are shown via onboard monitors. Passengers can also help themselves to a selection of refreshments.

Superior In-flight Tech Features

The aircraft’s technical capabilities are just as impressive. Every seat features multiple fast USB-C charging ports, and premium first and business-class seats boast integrated wireless charging.

Qantas also offers free and fast Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity across all cabins. Passengers can seamlessly connect their personal devices to the individual inflight entertainment screen. This ensures a thoroughly modern and connected journey.

The Science Backing the Design of Qantas’ A350 Aircraft

This pioneering redesign was based on scientific research on jet lag. The aim was to find ways to improve sleep and overall well-being during ultra-long-haul flights.

Project Sunrise Test Flight
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 15: Passengers onboard QF7879 are taken through exercise classes during the direct flight from London to Sydney. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images for Qantas)

Qantas’ World’s First Research to Reduce JetLag

Project Sunrise test flight
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 19: Passengers exercise on board QF7879 from New York to Sydney. Qantas is the first commercial airline to fly directly from New York to Sydney. The flight was restricted to 40 people plus 10 crew to increase aircraft range. Medical scientists and health experts conducted studies in the cockpit and the cabin. The aim was to determine strategies to promote health and well-being on ultra-long-haul flights. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images for Qantas)

Research by the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre during a test flight for Qantas’ Project Sunrise proved the positive effects on travelers’ health.

The study considered using different light and sleep patterns and specific meal times for the night. A further finding was the use and consumption of foods such as chili and chocolate benefit well-being on long-distance travel. Qantas will use these insights in the design of their inflight menu. The study also found that physical activities are essential to promote optimum well-being, which led to the development of the A350-1000s Wellness Zone.

Collaboration with Australian Designer David Caon

Collaborating with Australian designer David Caon, every detail of the aircraft cabin design has been painstakingly considered, from fabric selection to an entirely new Premium Economy seat exclusive to Qantas.

With a focus on ergonomics, entertainment, and privacy, the redesigned Premium Economy and Economy cabins are set to redefine passenger comfort and in-flight experience.

Qantas A350-1000 Premium Economy class.

“The Premium Economy cabin has been redesigned from the ground up with a focus on ergonomics, entertainment, and privacy,” Caon said.  “The new headrest wings are the biggest visible difference and will provide passengers with both additional support and a sense of privacy without isolating them from travel companions. An upholstered ergonomic foot and leg rest system allows the body to be cradled in recline to better help passengers sleep.” 

“Economy travelers also have an OLED 13” TV screen, foot net, and convenient storage space within arms’ reach to store glasses and personal items. The team has spent extensive time testing ergonomics, lumbar support, and breathability of the seat fabrics in the new Economy seat, which will have 33 inches of legroom,” Caon continued. 

Qantas A350-1000 Economy Class

“In both the Premium Economy cabin and Economy cabins, we have redesigned every element of the seats to provide better features and a fresh look across the entire aircraft to create a sense of light and calm,” Caon concluded.  

Qantas: A Trailblazer in Long-haul Air Travel

In this ambitious endeavor, Qantas is a trailblazer in the aviation industry. The airline paves the way for future innovations in ultra-long-haul flights. The comprehensive redesign of the Airbus A350-1000s reflects Qantas’s commitment to delivering unparalleled service and passenger experience in the sky.

Just the Facts

  • Qantas’ A350-1000s cabin will fly 238 passengers for up to 22 hours nonstop, from Australia to almost anywhere in the world.   

  • Work on Qantas’ new A350-1000s cabin began in 2019 and took tens of thousands of hours to create.  

  • All seats in all four cabins will feature multiple fast USB-C charging ports.

  • Seats in first class and business class will also have integrated wireless charging.  

  • All passengers get fast and free WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity to connect their personal headsets to the inflight entertainment screen. 

  • New Qantas A350 First-class suite features:

    • USB-A and C, AC and wireless charging outlets 2 Touchscreen suite controller

    • An enclosed suite with 57” (1.4m) high walls and a sliding door

    • Full-length wardrobe and multiple personal storage areas

    • 32” entertainment touchscreen with Bluetooth audio connectivity (14” larger than our A380)

    • Flexible work, seating and dining space for two

    • 80” (2m) long flat separate bed

    • Adjustable bed backrest for breakfast in bed

    • Customizable LED lighting

    • Separate 22” wide reclining armchair

    • 50% more suite space compared to the A380 suites

  • Six large enclosed First Suites on the new Project Sunrise Airbus A350-1000.    

  • New Qantas A350 Business class cabins feature:

    • 18” entertainment touchscreen with Bluetooth audio connectivity (2” larger than A380s and B787)

    • Cushioned leather ottoman that lifts for increased storage access

    • Sliding door into 42” wide suite with 47” high privacy wall

    • Architectural feature light

    • Personal storage compartment with mirror

    • USB-A and C, AC and wireless charging outlets 7 Additional cocktail and work surface

    • 80” (2m) long and 25” wide flat bed (1” longer than A380 First flat bed)

    • Generous 25” wide seat with lumbar support (1” wider than our A380 Business seats)

    • Touchscreen suite controller

    • Separate upholstered glove box

  • 52 Business Suites in the business-class cabin.

  • New Qantas A350 Premium Economy cabins feature:

    • 13.3” entertainment touchscreen with Bluetooth audio connectivity

    • Three dedicated amenity and personal storage pockets

    • Qantas’ most spacious seat pitch at 40”

    • Calf rest which allows for full leg cradling

    • Two fast-charging USB-C outlets for every passenger

    • 8” winged privacy headrest that adjusts for maximum comfort

  • 40 Premium Economy seats in the Premium Economy cabin

  • New Qantas Economy seats feature:

    • spacious seat pitch at 33”

    • Six-way adjustable headrest

    • Multi-use seatback table

    • Two fast-charging USB-C outlets for every passenger

    • 13.3” entertainment touchscreen with Bluetooth audio connectivity

    • Extra shelf for personal devices

  • 140 economy class seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.

  • The Wellbeing Zone located between the Premium Economy and Economy will feature sculpted wall panels and integrated stretch handles, guided on-screen exercise program, a hydration station and a range of refreshments. 

  • Direct flights from Sydney to New York and London are scheduled to start in late 2025

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