After 17 hours, the first nonstop flight from Australia to U.K. touches down

The mere thought of sitting on a plane for 17 hours in a row may have your butt cheeks twitching in horror, but that’s precisely what 230 passengers have just done after taking the first nonstop commercial flight from Australia to the United Kingdom.

Qantas Flight QF9 — a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner — landed at London’s Heathrow airport early Sunday morning local time after a 9,240-mile (14,875-kilometer) journey from the western Australian city of Perth. The flight took a body-creaking 17 hours and 6 minutes and marks the first direct commercial flight between Australia and Europe.

“This is a truly historic flight that opens up a new era of travel,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce commented . “The response to the flight has been amazing, both for the attention it’s received since we announced it and the bookings we’ve seen coming in.”

The new flight joins an elite club of ultra-long-haul services that take 17 hours or more to complete, made possible by fuel-efficient planes on routes where demand makes them a viable option for carriers.

Passengers disembarking the plane in London seemed pretty upbeat about the experience, according to the BBC, with one couple saying they felt “as fresh as daisies,” and another describing the 17-hour journey as “very comfortable.”

qantas direct flight australia uk dreamliner
Qantas’ Dreamliner at the start of its historic flight to London.

The new service between the two countries allows passengers to avoid a time-consuming pit stop in Singapore, Dubai, or one of the other midway hubs that usually split the lengthy flight. But it does mean placing yourself in a confined space with hundreds of other people for more than 17 hours. And if the person in the seat behind really loves tapping that touchscreen as they explore the full range of in-flight entertainment offerings, then you’re in for one helluva ride. (By the way, DT has some great tips for coping with long-haul flights.)

Keen to allay fears that 17 hours would be just too long to park yourself on a plane, Joyce said the plane serving the new route is “hands-down the most comfortable aircraft that Qantas has ever put in the sky.”

The CEO said Boeing designed the Dreamliner “with features to reduce jet lag, turbulence, and noise, [together with] more space in every class as well as bigger entertainment screens and more personal storage.”

Qantas also worked with the University of Sydney to create a menu designed to reduce the effects of jet lag following the journey, and conducted tests to find the best serving times to help ensure the most comfortable flight experience.

The new route is certainly a far cry from Qantas’ debut service between Australia and the U.K. that launched in 1947. Flying aboard a Lockheed Constellation aircraft that carried just 29 passengers, the trip took four days and an incredible seven stops. Those numerous “hops” earned the journey the nickname by which it’s still known today: The Kangaroo Route.

Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Buying Guides

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.
Business

Cathay Pacific messes up first-class ticket prices — again

A couple of weeks ago, an error on Cathay Pacific's website resulted in first-class seats selling for a tenth of the price. On Sunday, January 13, the airline made the error again. The good news is that it'll honor the bookings.
Emerging Tech

The enormous ‘Flying Bum’ moves toward a commercial design

A prototype of the world's largest aircraft is being retired as the company behind it prepares to build a production model. The new Airlander 10, also known as the "Flying Bum," could be ready for commercial use by 2025.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

In a first for humankind, China is growing plants on the moon

Having recently landed a probe on the far side of the moon, China announced that it managed to grow the first plant on the moon, too. Here's why that matters for deep space travel.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and Kittyhawk.io could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.
Emerging Tech

CERN plans to build a massive particle collider that dwarfs the LHC

CERN already has the world's biggest particle accelerator. Now it wants a bigger one. Meet the 9 billion euro Future Circular Collider that will allow physicists to extend their study of the universe and matter at the smallest level.
Emerging Tech

Forget fireworks. Japan will soon have artificial meteor showers on tap

Tokyo-based startup Astro Live Experiences is preparing to launch its first artificial meteor shower over Japan, serving as a showcase of its prowess in the space entertainment sector.