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Revealed Hell on board worlds longest nonstop flight 17 HOURS in economy class

Issued: 2018-03-25

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Entering the 'familiar kingdom of screaming kids and aching bottoms' on the UK's longest flight

I KNOW I shouldn’t think about it, I’ll scare myself to death but after seventeen hours in the air, I can’t get the worst case scenario out of my head.

No, not a plane crash. I’m convinced that I am breathing more farts than air.

I’m on Qantas’ inaugural Perth to London flight, the longest to and from the UK, and the atmosphere in the pressurised tube I’ve been sharing with over 200 other bodies has gotten quite stale.

And while I’m not the only journalist on the flight, I am the only one who has been sat in economy for the nine thousand and one mile journey.

Sadly for me, “Intrepid Travel Writer Survives 17 Hours In Bed” is not much of a story.

So while a gaggle of excited Australian press turn left into a world of champagne and lie-flat “suite” beds, I venture right, into the familiar kingdom of screaming kids and aching bottoms.

Qantas’ new daily route from the UK to the west coast of Australia means British holidaymakers heading Down Under can now avoid the time-consuming hassle of a transfer in cities like Dubai, Singapore or Hong Kong.

But is shaving a couple of hours off your journey really worth taking on the all new endurance sport of extreme long-haul flying?

The first London to Perth route, starting from today (March 25th) is scheduled to take 16 hours 45 minutes, while my inaugural inbound journey, going against the wind, took around 17 hours and 15.

But between taxiing, boarding and disembarking, my time spent on board leapt to almost 18 hours.

I boarded flight QF9 in Perth just after sunset and we took off on time at 6:50pm. Flying away from the sunrise, we wouldn’t touch down again until well before daybreak at 5:03am the next day in London.

In total darkness for the entire journey, the route is not only the UK’s longest, but also holds the depressing honour of being the world’s longest flight without daylight.

Before takeoff we were given strict instructions over the tannoy: “For your safety we do not allow anyone to sleep on the floor."

You know it’s going to be a tough flight when they’re worried about passengers laying in the aisle in a desperate bid to get some shuteye.

Unable to use the Qantas app to check in, I was saved the misery of my allocated middle seat by my seat-neighbour Emma Hodge, a Regional Manager from Devon, who wanted to sit with her boyfriend, leaving me the aisle seat.

When I asked what on earth made them book the flight Emma explained: “We didn’t. We were supposed to be flying Melbourne via Dubai but they shunted us onto this route instead.”

“I’m a nervous flyer, but despite two and a half hours on the phone with the airline, they wouldn’t even let us keep our seats next to each other.”

Not the ideal place for a fear of flying, the west coast of Australia can brew up some nasty storms.

We couldn’t be served so much as a glass of water for the first hour as the cabin crew were seat-bound while we were bounced about by a Tropical Cyclone called Marcus.

So if not sleep, what are customers to do for 18 hours straight?

There’s time to binge all the way to episode two, season three of Breaking Bad, watch eight Star Wars or Harry Potter films, see Crocodile Dundee ten times, or listen to every Beatles track nearly twice.

The inflight entertainment had an average, if a strangely festive catalogue for a flight in late March. I don’t know how bored you need to be to watch A Bad Moms Christmas starring Mila Kunis, but somehow I never quite got there.

At the eight hour mark, back aching, I reached for my mobile only to realise this was probably the longest time I’d been away from the internet since the noughties when I swapped my Nokia 3210 for an iPhone 3G.

Incredibly, for the launch of such a mammoth route, Qantas' shiny new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner doesn’t offer WiFi - although they promise it’s coming.

Besides the missing web connection - presumably someone forget to install the SIM card - I’m a fan of the plane and its eerily quiet cabins.

However, the noisy hum of an old Airbus had its benefits when it came to privacy.

Hearing fellow passengers’ conversations as clearly as if they were sat on your lap, adds a new level of claustrophobia to the nervous act of perching on an aeroplane loo. Shy pooers need not apply.


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