Qantas Flying Nonstop From London To Sydney Today

Filed Under: Qantas

Four weeks ago Qantas operated a nonstop flight from New York to Sydney, which generated a lot of publicity. Well, today they’re operating a nonstop flight from London to Sydney, and that plane is now in the air.

This is actually the second time that they’re operating this route, as in 1989 they ferried a 747-400 between the two cities.

Details Of Qantas’ London To Sydney Flight

This morning Qantas flight 7879 (operated by a 787-9… get it?) is flying from London to Sydney. This is the same flight number they used for the New York to Sydney flight.

Passengers boarded at around 6AM London time for the 19.5 hour, 17,800km (~10,600 mile) flight, and it will land in Sydney tomorrow.

You can track the flight using Flightradar24 here.

This plane has been positioned to London from the US. Qantas just took delivery of this plane from Everett. So they flew the plane from Everett to Los Angeles, then from Los Angeles to London, and now from London to Sydney. So I guess you could say they’re flying it home the very long way.

Why Qantas Is Operating This Flight

Qantas hopes to eventually operate nonstop flights between the East Coast of Australia (Sydney and Melbourne) and both New York and London. The problem is that as of now no plane is capable of operating these flights nonstop.

It’s expected that within a few years there will be a plane up for the challenge, and Qantas hopes to have the title for operating the world’s longest flight.

So they say that today’s flight from London to Sydney is a test flight. They’re able to operate it nonstop because it will have a total of just 50 passengers and crew on board, meaning the plane will have the range to fly nonstop.

Qantas claims the purpose of the record-breaking flight is to “conduct scientific research on passengers and crew on an ultra-long haul flight, with the aim of increasing health and wellness, minimizing jetlag and identifying optimum crew rest and work periods.”

In reality, I’d say the flight is more of a publicity stunt than anything else, though I doubt you’ll get Qantas to admit that. 😉

Expect Lots Of Exaggeration

The New York to Sydney flight a few weeks ago went viral, even in the mainstream media. The whole basis of this is such an exaggeration, though. Even my mom and dad called me about it.

“Did you hear about that new nonstop flight from New York to Sydney?”

Well, yeah, except it’s a one time thing, it’s not commercially viable, and there were only a few dozen people on it. There was a lack of emphasis on those details.

But of course a big deal was made of it, with people onboard talking about how they “survived” the 19+ hour flight, when in reality it’s maybe an hour longer than the current longest commercially viable route (between Singapore and Newark). Not to mention everyone was in business class.

At a minimum, if research is the priority, shouldn’t they seat some people in economy, all in the same row with no empty seats? I want to hear from those people!

Just to further drive home the point, Scoot has flown 787-9s nonstop from Charleston to Singapore when taking delivery of them, which is further than New York to Sydney. But did anyone talk about those? Nope.

Anyway, I guess I’m part of the problem by writing about this. 😉

I say all of this to acknowledge that this is a brilliant publicity stunt on Qantas’ part, and they’re generating a lot of attention over it. That’s smart. But that’s ultimately what this is.

Bottom Line

It’s cool to see a commercial airliner fly nonstop from London to Sydney for the first time in 30 years, though for now this will just be a test. The airline will be operating a total of three of these flights (from New York and London to Sydney), all part of new 787-9 deliveries.

What will actually be most interesting is if/when Qantas can operate these flights in a commercially viable way. There are still a lot of things standing in the way of this happening, ranging from new contracts with their pilots and cabin crew, to having a plane capable of operating the flight.

Regardless, as an aviation geek it’s a fun flight to track…

  1. “Anyway, I guess I’m part of the problem by writing about this.”

    I can only imagine what you would be writing had you been one of the test subjects selected for this flight…

  2. I don’t think i’ll be able to take these Ultra ULTRA long range ‘trial’ flights seriously until they stick some guinea pig passengers in the three abreast economy seats as in reality that’s going to be the experience for the bulk of passengers should these flights ever take off.

    On the JFK-SYD flight all the passengers were sat in Business Class.

  3. @ Aaron — I wouldn’t have been on the flight. I don’t take comp flights/flights that aren’t available to the public.

  4. Interesting that they positioned the aircraft to LAX before the leg to LHR. I agree with you Ben, the comments and review I would definitely would like to hear is from the people who ”survived” the middle seat in economy for 19+ hours !

  5. I do understand that you don’t take comp flights or flights that aren’t available to the public. Still, some years ago you took that comped “wine” trip to the Mendoza wine district and, also, a West Coast trip on a G-IV private jet. The G-IV review you wrote, by the way, was one of your best.

  6. They should be forced to sit side by side in Y and have their conditions measured, that way a more realistic depiction can be found on an actual flight and that the subjects could then say they survived. Nonsense publicity stunt by QF. Just launch it or don’t.

  7. I gotta say QF and its BS have gone too much on this stunt.

    Alan Joyce said Flying nonstop from the East Coast of Australia to London and New York is truly the final frontier in aviation.

    NO YOU IDIOT, it isn’t.
    Flying routes like TYO-SCL or BKK-EZE is a harder feat than this BS. That is more than 10,000 miles over nothing but water.

  8. These “test flights” have been one of the most brilliant marketing moves I have ever seen. For little more than the cost of flying their new planes home, Qantas has gotten an unbelievable amount of free press. Whoever came up with this should get a huge raise.

  9. I would only accept that if they give me a Emirates Suite and a shower.
    Other than this… thanks but no thanks

  10. “it’s not commercially viable”

    Have you done the maths? bloggers and the media said the Perth-LHR flight wasn’t commercially viable either yet QF are still running it with very high loads and prices and making money!

  11. @ ChrisC — I think you’re not understanding what I’m saying. Operating a 787-9 between New York or London and Sydney with just 50 people (which is the most they can take, give or take) isn’t commercially viable. Or are you disputing that?

  12. I just jumped on FR24 to check it out, its around 10 hours into its trip.

    Then I looked at how much flight time it had left, around 9 hours.

    That’s when I felt sick thinking about being on that flight. I can handle 12-14 hours non-stop, at 10-11 hours I start to get uncomfortable no matter what the seat and just want to walk around and be on the ground.

    So I would always take a stop on route to OZ from the UK , I just don’t want to be on a plane non-stop for 20 hours.

  13. Just interesting why it flew from Everett to Los Angeles first heading north to British Columbia then headed south to LAX.

  14. “At a minimum, if research is the priority, shouldn’t they seat some people in economy, all in the same row with no empty seats? I want to hear from those people!”

    This is exactly the point. Thank you Lucky to point this out straight.
    Traveler can stop in any of the much fun Asian cities (Singapore, Tokyo, KUL, I mean basically ANY big city in Asia) to have a good night before en route to Australia

  15. Whatever the perceived reasons for the flight couldn’t everyone just acknowledge that this is a great run for a brand new state of the art aircraft and celebrate it – it’s incredible, and if any other carrier has flown further then they too can celebrate it as well – marketing is key to success and it seems like these flights have achieved their goal- ( Perth to London has achieved the best results of all its long haul business ) the carrier deserves kudos in my opinion

  16. QANTAS is not a loved brand. Their reputation has declined under Joyce ( who is almost universally loathed by staff and , at best, disliked by passengers familiar with the way he operates). It is seen for what it is: a miserly, predatory, manipulative, deceitful corporation that desperately dines out on mawkish muck in the form of hokey advertising ( “ I still Call Australia Home”…puke).
    They are profitable because of the rivers of gold routes…MEL-SYD-BNE…and the lack of genuine competition. Most Australians choose airlines other than QANTAS for international travel…and will continue to do so even when these PR stunt routes are up and running.

  17. They still have issues with fuel…this is why the flights are so empty…it guarantees that they make the distance despite headwinds or other unforeseen circumstances. There are mixed feelings about Qantas in Australia…it is our national brand (historically) and gives a much better (full) service than comparative airlines in the US and Europe. You even score free wine on weekday flights after 4pm. But the downside is that the market is reasonably uncompetitive , and international flights are artificially expensive…but that is largely because worker’s pay and conditions are more expensive in Australia, and we find it difficult to compete with foreign carriers. But, that means we don’t have to tip..yay!!

  18. Anybody who knows anything about me knows I’m a walking encyclopedia about commercial aviation [compared to them i.e. ‘civilians]. I find it dear that they send me links to events like this one. I always thank them and explain how it’s profitably unviable at present. Meanwhile I roll my eyes at Qantas and their flooding the airwaves with nonstop flights from Sydney to one of Jupiter’s moons with three and a half people in First Class.

    Yes, it’s a C+ marketing strategy, because it’s got non-avs talking about it in their breakrooms at work where the glossy articles sit, slowly getting stained by Thai takeaway.

    What does make the whole bag of Tazmanian nuts cringeworthy is the amount of bonus dosh the below average marketers who presented this to the suits at Qantas will be banking. Ewwww…

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