LON­DON DI­RECT: A DIARY

You might not meet the pi­lot, but here’s what to ex­pect on the new non-stop, 17-hour Qan­tas Dream­liner flight

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - FLYING PERTH TO LONDON - JANA FRAW­LEY THE WRITER TRAV­ELLED AS A GUEST OF QAN­TAS

I CAN VOUCH FOR THE IM­PROVED AIR QUAL­ITY MEA­SURED BY THE AMOUNT OF WA­TER I CON­SUME AND A CLEARER NOSE

Welcome to Qan­tas’s in­au­gu­ral Perth to Lon­don flight, and hello to an es­ti­mated 17 hours and 10 min­utes in the air. So, what to do with all that time on the Dream­liner? I’m about to find out.

PREFLIGHT

Prepa­ra­tions for the his­tory-mak­ing flight start be­fore I’m on the plane. I spend a cou­ple of hours in the new Qan­tas tran­sit lounge at Perth In­ter­na­tional Air­port avail­ing my­self of the in­no­va­tive fa­cil­i­ties.

The space, cre­ated by in­dus­trial de­signer David Caon, is el­e­gantly ca­sual in a pal­ette of neu­tral colours. The sim­plic­ity is a nice calm­ing an­ti­dote be­fore hop­ping on to the 14,498km flight.

I do a 15-minute stretch­ing and breath­ing class in the Bodhi J well­ness stu­dio to loosen up for the hours of sit­ting, then move to the shower rooms (No.6 is the one to ask for as it’s about twice the size of the 14 oth­ers) to freshen up.

A unique “light ther­apy” ses­sion starts with the press of a but­ton fol­lowed by 15 min­utes of blue hues. The sci­ence be­hind it comes from Syd­ney Uni­ver­sity’s sleep ex­perts and is de­signed to help re­set my body clock to my des­ti­na­tion – ie. from 5pm Perth time to 10am in Lon­don, and in turn help re­duce jet lag. I pass the time hav­ing a shower with some sweet-smelling aro­mather­apy toi­letries.

Af­ter I hang in the sun-and-fre­shair-filled out­door area, I skip the bar­be­cue sausage siz­zle and opt for the menu items also de­vised by ex­perts from Syd­ney Uni­ver­sity. Late lunch is a salad of brown rice, kale and edamame beans, a boiled egg, a few cashews and al­monds, some raw veg and baba ganoush. All are rich in tryp­to­phan which stim­u­lates the pro­duc­tion of mela­tonin and sero­tonin and help with the, you guessed it, jet leg.

The all-im­por­tant hy­dra­tion starts with pars­ley and lemon-in­fused wa­ter and herbal tea, and a lam­ing­ton which pos­si­bly doesn’t fit into the health pro­gram but is too good to ig­nore. Other nour­ish­ing and com­fort­ing op­tions in­clude corn on the cob, pump­kin soup, toasties and fresh fruit.

I or­der a long black to fur­ther jolt me into trick­ing my body into think­ing it’s morn­ing, be­cause my watch is now set to Lon­don time and my aim is to stay awake un­til the even­ing and go to sleep with the Lon­don­ers. Con­fused? Me too.

HOUR 1

The ex­cite­ment around this flight is sky high and every guest, from Qan­tas chair­man Leigh Clif­ford and CEO Alan Joyce and var­i­ous dig­ni­taries and VIPs at the pointy end of the plane to the fre­quent fly­ers and avi­a­tion geeks at the back, is get­ting into the spirit of the jour­ney. The flight will make his­tory as the third long­est com­mer­cial route in the world and the long­est for a Boe­ing 787.

We take off at 6.55pm Perth time on “Emily”, a Dream­liner with liv­ery based on the work of in­dige­nous artist Emily Kame Kng­war­r­eye. A new safety video takes us to some of our na­tional car­rier’s prime des­ti­na­tions around the globe and soon we’re up in the air.

Next, a long-haul flyer’s worst night­mare makes her­self known in the form of a cry­ing child. The du­elling emo­tions of sym­pa­thy and an­noy­ance at the par­ents is quickly over as the lit­tle girl set­tles in.

An­other un­wel­come com­pan­ion, Cy­clone Mar­cus, cre­ates tur­bu­lence off the coast of Western Aus­tralia. Seat­belts re­main se­curely fas­tened and pas­sen­gers and crew re­main seated for about 45 bumpy min­utes and then it’s all smooth.

HOURS 2 TO 5

The quest to stay awake for a few more hours has me search­ing for a movie. A stel­lar roll call of Acad­emy Award win­ning flicks in­clud­ing The Shape of Wa­ter, Three Bill­boards Out­side Ebbing Mis­souri, The Dark­est Hour,

Call Me By Your Name, and Dunkirk, plus Won­der Woman (def­i­nitely should’ve been nom­i­nated, by the way) and a stack of other new re­leases and clas­sics mean find­ing a way to pass the time is easy. In the end I opt for mul­ti­ple episodes of a com­edy called Great News, which is funny and very easy to watch.

The in­flu­ence of the well­ness ex­perts con­tin­ues in the air as meal­times are set later than reg­u­lar trav­ellers would be used to. This is to help ev­ery­one slip more eas­ily into the time zone to­wards which we are head­ing.

I start with a Dreamweaver, the sig­na­ture cock­tail made with tequila and lemon, and an arancini ball. An hour later I have Moroc­can car­rot soup with co­rian­der yo­ghurt and dukkah crou­tons, fol­lowed by chicken breast with gin­ger and shal­lot dress­ing, bok choy and rice and a glass of West Aus­tralian caber­net sau­vi­gnon. For dessert it’s baked cus­tard with rhubarb. I’m in busi­ness class, so on the Neil Perry-de­signed menu there’s a choice of three to four meals per course.

HOUR 13

Yes, I am kind of cheat­ing by re­view­ing an ul­tra-long flight with a lie-flat bed at my dis­posal but for any­one opt­ing for busi­ness class it’s a fast, al­beit ex­pen­sive, way to kill time. The good news for peo­ple in premium economy and economy is that there are fewer seats than other Dream­lin­ers which means the seats are big­ger, and de­signed to en­hance rest.

I wake twice dur­ing the seven-hour sleep but it’s still a good one. By this point the time in Lon­don is mid­night (8am in Perth) and we’re land­ing at 5am so I’d say I should have tried to push back bed­time by a cou­ple of hours and wo­ken an hour or so be­fore land­ing.

Low cabin pres­sure and high hu­mid­ity are two more fea­tures of the Qan­tas Dream­liner which have been in­sti­gated to, you guessed it, stave off jet lag. This is my se­cond time on the plane and I can vouch for the im­proved air qual­ity mea­sured by the amount of wa­ter I con­sume – about a third less – and a clearer than nor­mal nose.

There’s a help-your­self snack sta­tion in the gal­ley so I have a cup of tea, short­bread and a man­darin. Through­out the jour­ney, oth­ers around me have or­dered more sub­stan­tial re­fresh­ments like pas­tizzis, pilaf, and sand­wiches.

HOURS 14 TO 17

Shots of es­presso and green juice are of­fered be­fore break­fast ser­vice. I have fruit salad (big tick for hy­dra­tion), and scram­bled eggs with sausages and baked beans.

I con­tinue, as I’ve done through­out the flight, to mon­i­tor the flight path and stats via the mov­ing map. We’ve passed Galle, Ban­ga­lore, Shi­raz, Tabriz, Os­trava and Frank­furt and will soon be hit­ting our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion.

The pre­vi­ous long­est flights I’ve been on were around 14 or 15 hours so this one is not too much longer. The key to sur­viv­ing so many hours in the air used to be pa­tience, and while that’s still key, the abil­ity to pass time with box sets of ex­tra­or­di­nary tele­vi­sion shows like Big Lit­tle Lies,

Bil­lions, Ballers and Fargo, pod­casts, games and mu­sic, plus good qual­ity food, make it all the eas­ier.

At 5.04am we touch down at Heathrow and his­tory is fi­nally made.

PIC­TURES: QAN­TAS, SUP­PLIED

Dream­liner “Emily” is rich in well­be­ing op­tions to stave off jet lag. The au­thor is pic­tured with Cap­tain Lisa Nor­man who pi­loted the his­toric flight.

THE CAP­TAIN AND ME

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.