Project Sunrise test flights – the verdict
Let me be upfront. I was never on the test flight between Sydney and New York. I might have wanted to be. I might have tried to bribe Alan Joyce with my boyish charms. But I definitely, positively was not on the flight.
But that’s not going to stop me having an opinion, is it?
In this modern world, it is almost mandatory to have an opinion on something that you have not experienced, have no background on, no knowledge of, nor expertise in. So here goes.
Not real-world conditions
The conditions of the guinea pigs on this flight were not remotely real. For a start, there were only 39 passengers. They were all seated in Business, with business class service, food and beverage, legroom, flatbeds, headspace, and flight experience.
Did anyone experience this flight in economy, even if the cabin was basically empty?
No, they did not.
On a standard flight what will be the percentage of business class travellers to economy flyers? Well, on a standard Qantas 787-9 flight there are 42 Business, 28 Premium Economy and 166 Economy. If my maths is correct (and it’s actually appalling) economy class passengers make up around 70 per cent of passengers.
Why didn’t these test flights test the experience of passengers in economy class, where 70 per cent of flyers will be?
If you can’t get passengers to watch the safety demo – how can you get them to exercise in flight?
All the passengers on this flight were strongly encouraged to stay up for the first 6 hours to mirror Sydney time and to assist in minimising jet lag.
Passengers were subject to bright cabin lighting, spicy food and exhortations to stay awake.
Like prisoners, they were forced to exercise in the largely empty plane by doing everything from pushups in the empty economy class section of the plane to the macarena in the galley.
Their bodily functions were being monitored, and their urine was sampled.
You probably could not design a more supervised flight regimen than this.
Let’s face facts, this shares as much with reality as the safety demo does with your probable survival.
Want to hear from people who actually flew this flight?
Alright, be like that. If you actually want reflections on actual experience, and ‘facts’ go ahead and read one or all of these:
- Qantas Press Release about the flights
- The Sydney Morning Herald journalist’s experience
- The Executive traveller / Bloomberg journalists opinion
- The Points Guy – one of the many articles
- Business Insider, Australia
I maintain that these research flights are another magnificent and fully exploited publicity occasion for Qantas. They have little or nothing to do with the practicality of running these non-stop ‘Project Sunrise’ routes – which I am highly sceptical will ever get off the ground in any sustainable way.
Would I go on either of the two remaining research flights if invited – in a heartbeat.
‘Hypocrite’ is not in my vocabulary.