Airbus A350: This is the aircraft you should choose for long haul flights

Most flyers have their preferred airline, but what about a preferred aircraft type?

Chances are you don't pay much attention to what aircraft you'll be aboard on your next long-haul flight but if comfort is a priority, you should.

The go-to aircraft for many flyers is the Airbus A380. Quiet, roomy and with a great safety record, there's a lot to like about the twin-aisle giant.

World's longest range airliner makes its first test flight

Watch the first test flight of the Airbus A350-900ULR (Ultra Long Range) plane. The new aircraft will take off for Singapore Airlines on the world's longest route (Singapore to New York) in October 2018.

However there are good reasons to prefer new generation aircraft.

Exemplified by Boeing's 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 XWB, these twin-aisle aircraft are constructed extensively from Carbon Fibre Reinforced Polymer and that allows the cabin to tolerate higher pressure.

In effect, cabin pressure is equal to around 1800 metres above sea level, about 600 metres lower than aboard a conventional aircraft, which means more oxygen in your lungs, more moisture and a more comfortable flight.

Other refinements in both aircraft include LED cabin lighting systems which are gentler on the eyes and allow an airline to customise the lighting to mimic the day outside.

Windows are larger and engine noise is also more subdued.

At cruise altitude typical ambient noise level in the cabin of the Airbus A350 XWB is 57 decibels, about equal to the conversation buzz in a restaurant.


The A350 XWB also has the tallest ceiling of any commercial aircraft, with supersize overhead bins, which should stop any angst over bin hogging.

Who flies the A350? 

Currently there are 174 Airbus A350s flying in the -900 and -1000 variants across 17 different airlines. Some of the airlines that fly A350s to Australia include Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Qatar Airways. Vietnam Airlines just announced that it will also start flying A350s on its Melbourne-Ho Chi Minh route, replacing its current Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Ultra Long Range

A brand new version of the A350-900, the ULR (for Ultra Long Range) made its first test flight in April and is set to enter service later this year. Its launch customer is Singapore Airlines, who will use the aircraft to resume flights on the world's longest route - Singapore to New York non-stop. The flight will cover almost 17,000 kilometres and take 19 hours. 

If the sound of being stuck in economy class for that long doesn't sound appealing, fear not - Singapore Airlines agrees with you. For that reason, the airline is only putting business class and premium economy class seats on ULR A350. 

While at present Airbus is only building seven of the ULR planes, all to be delivered to Singapore Airlines, there's a good chance a version of the plane may end up with Qantas in coming years. 

The Flying Kangaroo's 'Project Sunrise' is aiming to develop non-stop flights between Australia's east coast capitals and London, along with New York, by 2022. At present, no aircraft can make that distance, at least not when carrying passengers, but Qantas has challenged Airbus and Boeing to come up with a plane that can. 

- with Craig Platt

See also: Qantas flags exercise zone, cafe and creche for ultra-long-haul flights

See also: Qantas non-stop Perth to London - economy class passengers give their verdict