‘Most luxurious aircraft ever created’: Inside Qantas’ new ultra-long haul Airbus A350

Qantas’ freshly unveiled fleet of ultra-long haul Airbus planes will feature six first-class suites containing a separate bed and a wardrobe, a business cabin with a self-service bar, a ‘wellbeing zone’, bigger seats for premium economy and economy passengers, and a Neil Perry-designed menu.

The airline on Monday announced a multi-billion dollar order of new aircraft, including 12 A350-1000s, that will operate the world’s longest flights and connect east-coast Australia to London and New York from 2025.

Economy passengers will have 33 inches of legroom –1 more than on Qantas’ existing 787 Dreamliners – while premium economy seats will be 2 inches roomier with a 40-inch pitch. Average economy and premium economy seat pitches are 30-31 inches and 38 inches and respectively.

Speaking from a launch event in Sydney on Monday, chief executive Alan Joyce said the aircraft order was the largest in Qantas’ history and would give the airline access to new cities and destinations.

“Not only do you need an aircraft which has the capability, which this does, you have to design an aircraft that is the most luxurious aircraft that’s ever been created,” he said.

The six enclosed first-class cabins feature generous storage and luggage space, a mirror, a wardrobe, a 32-inch TV screen. Passengers will also be able to adjust lighting, temperature and humidity to their liking. Celebrity chef Neil Perry will also be in charge of designing the menus.

“Our new first class … will be the best, I believe, first class product,” said Joyce. “Economy class has the biggest seat pitch of any economy we’ve ever, ever launched.”

The planes will feature a ‘wellbeing zone’, situated between the premium economy and economy cabins, equipped with a self-service snack station and designed to promote stretching and hydration. The walls of the zone will have in-built screens guiding passengers on optimal exercises and stretches.

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Mealtimes, menus and ‘lights-out’ periods will be informed by three previous research flights held in 2019 and 2020 where passengers were served dinner at breakfast-time and sleep was encouraged in the morning to help combat jet lag and better adjust to the timezone of their arrival city.

The Airbus planes will be powered by Rolls-Royce engines that are 25 per cent more fuel efficient than Qantas’ previous aircraft.

A Qantas spokesperson said further details about the new fleet were yet to be finalised and would be forthcoming in the following weeks.

The long-range jets will seat 238 passengers in total across four cabins: six in first class, 52 in business, 40 in premium economy, and 140 in economy. Qantas’ order also includes 40 new A321XLRs and A220s to start replacing its domestic fleet of ageing Boeing 737s from late 2023.

On Monday, Joyce flagged that the airline would be hiking airfares by roughly 7 per cent, particularly in the months of July and August, amid high fuel costs.

See also: What it's like to fly on Qantas' non-stop route from London to Sydney

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