Opinion Qantas has announced a collaboration with the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre “to help develop the airline’s new approach to long haul travel ahead of the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner flights this year.”
You can read all about this thoughtful and encouraging work here, in the detailed Qantas statement.
However you might also reflect on certain other matters, starting with the timing. The study has been announced long after Qantas revealed the configuration of the first tranche of 787-9s from Boeing, and the cabin features had been locked down.
This is peculiarly back-the-front. The logical order for reshaping the travel experience upon receipt of wonderful new shiny jets like the Boeing Dreamliner is to apply the learnings that arise to them before they are assembled, not after.
Qantas has already determined that it will follow the pack, rather than the few exceptions when it comes to 787s, by configuring the economy cabin nine across, giving it one of the smaller seats ever installed in a medium to larger and long haul capable jet since the start of the post Comet disasters jet age (which for the pedants, began in Russia in 1956, transporting dissidents like yours truly to Siberia.)
It has also, in its benevolent, far sighted and caring wisdom, decided to keep toilets for business class, premium economy and economy at what seems to be a level that flirts with heroic efforts at renal retention, or something as gross as people just shitting themselves in the aisles, on the 17.5 hours or so stage between Perth and London Heathrow starting next year, never mind 13.5 hours or so non-stop between Melbourne and Los Angeles, starting later this year.
This isn’t a criticism of the 787 family, but an observation about how everything Boeing promised, back in the previous decade, about how nice the Dreamliners would be, has been overruled by most buyers of the type in favour of packing passengers into them so hard that Amnesty International might be tempted to intervene.
Qantas is a terrific airline, and all Australians ought to feel entitled to claim some ownership of its brand value and great work it does in encouraging people to travel very long distances to visit ‘girt-by-sea.’
But surely it is important not to cripple them either, even for the time it takes to restore the circulation, and maybe buy some replacement items of clothing.
To be unusually blunt, the palaver in the press statement which I hope readers have studied in great detail seems to this writer to have a smokescreen function built in, to obscure the fact that Qantas is making it bloody difficult to endure a long 787 flight in the first instance in economy class and then talking about cooperating in arriving at solutions.
It reads like bullshit.
Over at Australian Business Traveller, the candid discussion that accompanies its coverage of the announcement, seems to agree.