Qantas Seeks Cure For Jet Lag

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Image: Qantas

Image: Qantas

Now that Qantas has airplanes that will safely make the 17-hour hop from Perth to London, the airline has turned its attention to keeping passengers healthy and comfortable on those long-haul legs. Using innovations in lighting and temperature control, lower cabin altitude and meal selection, Qantas aims to reduce one of the biggest complaints of the world traveler: jet lag.

With the airline’s plans to establish even longer nonstop flights from Sydney to London, New York, Paris and Rio, passengers are going to need all the comfort they can get. Those flights would clock in at about 20 hours in the air. Qantas calls the next phase of its long-haul travel plans Project Sunrise and has asked both Boeing and Airbus to come up with a plan (and a plane) to meet those goals. The airline hopes to have those routes open by 2020.

According to Qantas, quite a lot has already been done to make the 7,800-nautical mile trip from Perth to London easier on passengers. For a start, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner used for the route has a lower cabin altitude than many aircraft—6,000 feet instead of the more common 8,000 feet—and higher humidity, both of which help reduce passenger fatigue. Also, to give long-haul travelers more space, Qantas has the cabin set up for a maximum of 236 passengers instead of the 290 possible for the 787-9.

On the human physiology side of things, the airline worked extensively with sleep specialists, nutritionists and metabolic scientists from the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre. Together, the partnership regulated cabin lighting and temperature patterns, devised menus and planned meal times to try to improve passenger health and comfort and reduce jet lag. The team will also be collecting data from volunteers on sleep and eating patterns, mental state, activity and hydration before, during and after their flights.

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