Qantas is looking at the science behind staying healthy on long-haul flights

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce. Photo: Torsten Blackwood/AFP/Getty Images.

As it gears up to fly non-stop from Perth to London, Qantas is looking at the science behind flying and its impacts on the body.

The airline is collaborating with the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre to investigate how people can step off the 17-hour flight without feeling like they’ve been put through a wringer.

Researchers are looking at everything from nutrition to sleep and physical activity in a bid to figure out how to keep frequent flyers healthy, with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce declaring it has the potential to transform flying for passengers.

Researchers at the Charles Perkins Centre will test menu design to when food should be served and pre- and post-flight preparations, as well as lighting and temperatures inside the plane, and how much you need to move about the cabin. The airline wants science to reveal the best ways to counteract jetlag.

“The findings that will come from Charles Perkins Centre researchers will allow Qantas to design and develop a range of new innovations and strategies to complement the Dreamliner experience,” Joyce said.

“We’re all looking at how we can prepare passengers ahead of their long haul flight, and of course on board and when they arrive at their destinations; we want our customers to feel their best at the end of their flight with us.”

Chef Neil Perry, who designs the menus for Qantas, is working with the university on new menus for the 787 that tackle both health and hunger and the centre’s research has already influenced the food and drinks served, Joyce said, as well as the temperature at airport lounges.

The airline is hoping to find frequent flyers willing to using wearable technology to measure biorhythms during travel to feed into the data the researchers need.

Charles Perkins Centre academic director Professor Steve Simpson said this was the first time an airline and university had collaborated on in-flight health and well-being.

“There is the potential for extraordinary health, science and engineering discoveries and innovations to come out of this research partnership, which will also provide the evidence-base needed for Qantas to implement strategies to further improve how people feel after a long-haul flight,” he said.

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