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Qantas unveils A350 Wellbeing Zone and economy seating

16 Jun 2023 by Mark Caswell
Premium economy on on Qantas' A350 aircraft (image from https://www.qantasnewsroom.com.au/)

Qantas has unveiled designs for the economy and premium economy cabins which will feature on the carrier’s A350 nonstop flights from Australia to New York and London from late 2025.

There will be a total of 40 premium economy seats (pictured above) configured in a 2-4-2 layout, with a 40-inch seat pitch, three amenity and personal storage pockets, a calf rest and an eight-inch winged privacy headrest.

Meanwhile economy (pictured below) will be configured 3-3-3 with a total of 140 seats, offering a 33-inch pitch, a six-way adjustable headrest, seatback table and a shelf for personal devices.

Seats in both cabins will feature 13.3-inch IFE screens with Bluetooth connectivity, and two USB-C charging ports.

Economy on on Qantas' A350 aircraft (image from https://www.qantasnewsroom.com.au/)

A much-touted Wellbeing Zone will be positioned between the economy and premium economy cabins, and will offer integrated “stretch handles”, a guided on-screen exercise programme, a hydration station and “a range of refreshments”.

The news follows the unveiling of the carrier’s prototype A350 first and business class cabins earlier this year.

Qantas has ordered 12 A350-1000s as part of Project Sunrise, with the aircraft set to be configured with a total of 238 seats, compared to the 300-plus seats offered by existing A350 carriers.

The aircraft will be able to fly nonstop for up to 22 hours, enabling the carrier to reduce flight times from Australia to destinations in Europe and the US by more than three hours (compared to a one-stop journey).

The Wellbeing Zone on Qantas' A350 aircraft (image from https://www.qantasnewsroom.com.au/)

Commenting on the news Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said:

“We have spent just as much time on the second half of the aircraft as we did the front, in fact we started studies on the Wellbeing Zone before any other area of the A350.

“The new Project Sunrise flights give us the opportunity to re-think long-haul travel in its entirety, from aircraft cabin design to what ingredients we include on the inflight menu.

“Reducing the number of seats onboard our A350 to 238 compared to the 300-plus seat layout of other carriers means we not only maximise aircraft performance across long distances, we give our passengers more space and comfort.

“Fewer seats translate to more space for each customer and a dedicated Wellbeing Zone for travellers to stretch, help themselves to a snack and spend time out of their seat. We are the only airline in the world that will have a bespoke designed onboard stretch and movement space.”

The Wellbeing Zone on Qantas' A350 aircraft (image from https://www.qantasnewsroom.com.au/)

Qantas has also published new research findings in collaboration with and the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre, which it says shows that it is possible to reduce the impacts of jetlag “by reshaping the inflight travel experience”.

The study was conducted on the carrier’s Project Sunrise research flights which were carried out in 2019, which included fitting 23 volunteer customers with wearable device technology during the 20-hour flights “as they followed a specially designed menu, lighting, sleep and movement sequences”.

Qantas said that initial findings showed that movement and exercise, alongside different lighting and sleep schedules, mealtimes, and specific ingredients like chilli and chocolate during long-haul flights, resulted in less severe jetlag, better sleep quality, and better cognitive performance in the two days after flight.

Qantas Project Sunrise research flight (credit: James D Morgan/Qantas)

Meal times were adjusted “to align the body clock”, and specific menu items were used including including fish and chicken paired with fast-acting carbohydrates, in an attempt “to promote the brain’s production of the amino acid tryptophan to help passengers drift off more easily”.

Peter Cistulli, Professor of Sleep Medicine at the University of Sydney said that early results were “promising”, adding that “it’s given us great momentum to look to the next stage of customer research to support Project Sunrise product and service design”.

“We have a multi-disciplinary team of more than ten researchers from medicine, science and engineering backgrounds working together on this project,” said Cistulli. “This includes sleep researchers, circadian experts, nutrition and movement experts. No airline has ever done this kind of research before.

“The early findings have given us optimism that we can make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of international travellers thanks to this partnership with Qantas.”

Parallel research has also been done to manage crew wellbeing on the forthcoming ultra-long-haul flights.

qantas.com.au

Qantas Project Sunrise research flight (credit: James D Morgan/Qantas)
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