Singapore Airlines, which currently holds the record for operating the longest commercial flight in history (18 hours), will soon be stripped of its title. Qantas, an Australian airline, is seeking to up the ante to 19 hours.
Why would anyone want to take a flight that long? The answer is simple: to get from point A to point B with zero stops in-between.
According to the Wall Street Journal, advances in aircraft fuel efficiency have made it possible to travel across the world in a single flight. Global airlines expect these flights to be in high demand, and are now vying for a piece of the market.
However, what isn’t clear is whether passengers (and staff) can actually endure that long of a flight. That’s why Qantas will conduct two test flights—from New York to Sydney—before deciding whether or not to make this option available to the public.
“Pilots have long been at the forefront of Qantas’ pioneering spirit, and we look forward to meeting the challenges of ultra-long-range flying, with safety always being our top priority,” said Mark Sedgwick, president of the Australian and International Pilots Association.
Of course, airlines also want to make sure that the flights are profitable, so an in-depth financial analysis will also be an integral part of the experiment.
“This is ultimately a business decision, and the economics have to stack up,” said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. “And if they don’t, we won’t do it.”
William Brougham, who took a 16-hour flight from London to Perth last week, said that ultra-long trips are certainly doable.
“If you can survive 16 hours, you can probably survive 19, 20 hours,” said Brougham, a Sydney resident who is interested in nonstop flights to and from London. “I’d probably want to challenge myself. I’d definitely do it once.”
Qantas said it will decide by December whether or not to proceed with the new routes.