Qantas is flying from Australia and Europe with a non-stop flight -- and here's the Boeing jet that's doing it

Benjamin Zhang/Business InsiderThe Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
  • Qantas has launched its first non-stop route that will connect Australia and Europe.
  • The Aussie airline will use a fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to inaugurate its nonstop service from Perth, Western Australia, to London.
  • Qantas took delivery of its first Dreamliner last October.
  • Business Insider went along for a portion of the plane’s delivery flight from the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington, to Honolulu, Hawaii.

Over the weekend, Qantas inaugurated a new route that will finally deliver non-stop scheduled flights between Australia and Europe.

The iconic Aussie airline uses its fleet of brand-new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners for its new service between Perth, Western Australia, and London.

In October, Qantas took delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Currently, the airline boasts a fleet of four Dreamliners.

And by the end of 2018, that number will grow to eight aircraft.

The Dreamliner is the first new aircraft type introduced to the Qantas fleet in a decade and is destined to connect Australia and the UK with nonstop flying.

For Qantas, the significance of the new plane cannot be overstated.

“One of the big advantages of the Dreamliner is that it gives us a range of destinations we couldn’t have done before,” CEO Alan Joyce told Business Insider in an interview last October. “It gives you better economics because it’s 20% more fuel efficient and with a lot lower maintenance cost given the new technology. That means there are routes we could have done before with distance, but couldn’t do economically that now come onto the radar screen.

“For Qantas, it also starts overcoming the tyranny of distance we have,” Joyce added.

Qantas also held a contest that allowed members of the public to submit names for the new plane. In the end, the name Great Southern Land was selected. It was chosen in honour of the ’80s rock anthem of the same name by the band Icehouse, which is about the vastness and the beauty of the Australian landscape.

Boeing turned the plane over to Qantas at its Everett Delivery Center outside of Seattle, Washington.

As part of the festivities, Qantas allowed a group of journalists to experience the jet’s delivery flight to company headquarters in Sydney alongside executives and dignitaries. Normally, delivery flights are fairly humdrum with only pilots and airline staff involved. However, this was a special occasion for Qantas, so the airline decided to make it a big event.

Business Insider was there. Here’s how it went.


Here it is. The first Boeing 787 Dreamliner to enter the Qantas fleet.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

As we arrive at the terminal, the Dreamliner is being loaded with food and fuel.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

However, this isn’t just any airport. It’s Boeing’s delivery center in Everett, Washington. There is where airlines, governments, and the insanely wealthy pick up the widebody Boeing jets they ordered.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Looking out over the tarmac, I see two US Air Force KC46s and two 787s awaiting delivery.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The Dreamliner awaits.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

After going through security, I make my way down the jetbridge. Time to get on the plane.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Here’s my seat, 11E. It’s one of 42 business-class seats on board the plane. Qantas opted not to include a first-class cabin. Joyce argues that the plane’s business-class seats are on par with many first-class products.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

As soon as I sit down, the service begins.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Roasted macadamia nuts and Champagne (a 2006 Taittinger).

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

There’s an NBA amount of legroom here. The seat will convert to an 80-inch bed.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

In front of me is a 16-inch infotainment screen.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Today, we are headed from Paine Field, the airport attached to the Boeing facility to Honolulu, Hawaii.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Shortly after everyone settles in and polished off a glass of bubbly, the flight departs. The Dreamliner powers effortlessly down the runway with Captain Lisa Norman at the controls, seen here with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

Qantas

We make our way across the Pacific Northwest before encountering vastness of the ocean.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Shortly after takeoff, drink service begins. For the delivery flight, Qantas came up with special called, you guessed it, Great Southern Land.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The fluorescent-orange cocktail was a bit sweet for my taste, but an overall pleasant experience considering tequila was involved.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Time for meal service with the crew from Rockpool; celebrity chef and Qantas food guru Neil Perry’s restaurant empire.

Qantas

To start, we open with a plate consisting of piquillo peppers and anchovies, Dungeness crab with pea guacamole, and steak tartare with potato chips. The ingredients were all fresh and the flavours featured an Asian influence.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

For the entrée, it was either buffalo mozzarella with char-grilled radicchio and hazelnuts or spot prawns with grilled chorizo, manzanilla olives, and herb salad. I went with the prawns.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

There were three options available for the main course. There’s the wild mushroom with soft polenta or the Chilean sea bass.

Qantas

I went with the rib-eye steak with wasabi butter, greens, and potato gratin. The steak with tender and juicy while the wasabi butter added a delightful kick.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The flight also offered a variety of sweets and desserts.

Qantas

There was also selections of fruit and cheeses available in the rear galley.

Qantas

When not gorging myself with food, I explored the Qantas in-flight entertainment system. The menus were intuitively placed while the sliding function proved to be quick and precise.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

Qantas also offered special pajamas by Martin Grant, designed especially for the delivery flight. Seen here on Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans. At the time of the flight, Evans was the CEO of Qantas International.

Qantas

With that said, the delivery flight was also a working flight. Australian TV crews were up and about shooting footage of the aircraft. Here they’re congregated in the premium economy cabin. I spent some time during the flight speaking with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce on a broad spectrum of topics. More on this later.

Qantas

I also checked out Dreamliner’s economy cabin. After all, this is where the bulk of its passengers will spend their time. I found myself impressed by the 32-inch seat pitch, supportive seat cushions, and generous recline. In addition, there are several innovative features like a fold out shelf with USB plug for smartphones and tablets.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

I also played around with the electronic tinting windows. Even with the sun blocked out, passengers can still see the horizon.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

One of the many perks of the Dreamliner is a cabin that’s pressurised to mimic conditions at 6,000 feet of altitude instead of 8,000 feet. This, along with greater cabin humidity and better air filtration, allows the aircraft to deliver a more pleasant flight.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

After more than five hours in the air, we arrive in Honolulu where a welcoming party awaited us. This is where my journey with the Qantas Dreamliner ended. As I head back to New York, the Dreamliner continued on to Sydney.

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

It’s been fun, Qantas Dreamliner!

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

As an aircraft, the Qantas Boeing 787-9 is far from unique. There are more than 600 Dreamliners already in operation. In fact, the company’s Jetstar low-cost subsidiary has had them since 2013. But what Qantas is trying to do with its new fleet of Dreamliners is interesting, commendable, and in many respects unique.

The Dreamliner will connect Australia and Europe with nonstop service for the first time. In addition, it will be tasked with opening up the western half of the Australian continent, offering a host of new long-haul-flight options for travellers.

The technology to fly nonstop between Europe and Australia has been around for decades. Qantas flew a Boeing 747-400 jumbo from London to Sydney in 1989 as a PR stunt without passengers on board the plane.

For Qantas, the 787-9 Dreamliner allows them to connect the two continents once again, but this time with paying passengers, a full load of cargo, and, hopefully, a healthy profit.

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