Taking a long international flight can be challenging for a myriad of reasons, with time zone changes and the disorientation of jet lag as a main issue.
But Australian-based Qantas Airlines is trying to combat that by revolutionizing its long-distance flights with new initiatives meant to stop jet lag before it occurs.
New findings came as a result of the airline’s “Project Sunshine” report, which tested the well-being and health of onboard passengers and crew members during test flights from Sydney to London and to New York City (JFK Airport), both flight routes being roughly 19 hours long. Bookable fights on these routes are expected to begin in 2025.
“For customers, the key will be minimizing jet lag and creating an environment where they are looking forward to a restful, enjoyable flight,” Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said in a release. “For crew, it’s about using scientific research to determine the best opportunities to promote alertness when they are on duty and maximize rest during their downtime on these flights.”
Volunteer passengers stretch out during a Project Sunrise flight from Sydney to New York (James D Morgan/Qantas)
Based on the research, which was conducted in partnership with Sydney University’s Charles Perkins Centre and Monash University, in conjunction with CRC for Alertness, Safety, and Productivity, the airline found that passengers on a “tailored schedule” experienced less jet lag and better sleep quality while onboard, as well as better overall cognitive functioning in the immediate days following traveling.
These tailored schedules will include adjusting light dimming and brightening to adapt to time zone changes at passengers’ destinations, offering “stretch and movement activities,” changing meal timing to “align the body clock,” as well as offering specific menu items that contain ingredients to help passengers feel energized or sleepy, depending on timing.
A chef and crewmember prepare specialty tailored meals during a Project Sunrise flight from Sydney to New York (James D Morgan/Qantas)
“Our A350s will have about 100 fewer seats than most of our competitors, which gives us room for more space in all classes as well as a Wellbeing Zone for Premium Economy and Economy passengers to stretch,” Joyce explained. “People can choose how they spend their time but we’ll make recommendations based on science around menu choices and best times to eat or rest. That extends to before and after the flight to improve how people feel when they arrive on the other side of the world.”
Researchers and the Qantas team are expected to flesh out the newly specified features and schedules before the inaugural Sunrise Flight in 2025.
The airline was up an impressive 40.5% year over year as of Tuesday afternoon.