Qantas Unveils ‘Project Sunrise’ Premium Economy, Economy Cabins

DALLAS – After showcasing its new First and Business class cabins in February, Qantas (QF) has unveiled its ‘specially designed’ economy and premium economy cabins for its incoming Airbus A350-1000s.

The A350s will form part of its ultra-long-haul ‘Project Sunrise’ flights, featuring six first-class and 52 business-class seats. Premium economy will have seating for 40 passengers, with 140 in economy. According to the airline, the cabins ‘will have the most generous seat pitches of any Qantas aircraft.’

Each seat will feature multiple fast-charging USB-C ports, ergonomic leg and footrests, as well as personal storage options. Each premium seat will also have integrated wireless charging for individual devices. Passengers will also be able to connect to fast, free WiFi with Bluetooth connectivity across all cabins ‘so customers can connect their personal headset to the individual inflight entertainment screen.’

For the first time, QF will also offer a ‘Wellbeing Zone’ onboard. This will be located between the economy and premium economy cabins, allowing passengers the space to stretch and move about during these extended non-stop flight times. The ‘purpose-built’ zone will feature ‘sculpted wall panels and integrated stretch handles, guided on-screen exercise program, a hydration station and a range of refreshments.’

Re-thinking Long-Haul Travel

Speaking of the new cabins, QF CEO Alan Joyce said, “We have spent just as much time on the second half of the aircraft as we did the front, in fact we started studies on the Wellbeing Zone before any other area of the A350. The new Project Sunrise flights give us the opportunity to re-think long-haul travel in its entirety, from aircraft cabin design to what ingredients we include on the inflight menu.

“Reducing the number of seats onboard our A350 to 238 compared to the 300-plus seat layout of other carriers means we not only maximise aircraft performance across long distances, we give our passengers more space and comfort. Fewer seats translate to more space for each customer and a dedicated Wellbeing Zone for travellers to stretch, help themselves to a snack and spend time out of their seat. We are the only airline in the world that will have a bespoke designed onboard stretch and movement space.”

“Redesigned from the Ground Up”

Australian designer David Caon has created the cabins. Work began in 2019, and Mr Caon said, “The Premium Economy cabin has been redesigned from the ground up with a focus on ergonomics, entertainment and privacy,”

“The new headrest wings are the biggest visible difference and will provide passengers with both additional support and a sense of privacy without isolating them from travel companions. An upholstered ergonomic foot and leg rest system allows the body to be cradled in recline to better help passengers sleep.”

“Economy travellers also have an OLED 13” TV screen, foot net and convenient storage space within arms’ reach to store glasses and personal items. The team has spent extensive time testing ergonomics, lumbar support and breathability of the seat fabrics in the new Economy seat which will have 33 inches of legroom.

“In both the Premium Economy cabin and Economy cabins, we have redesigned every element of the seats to provide better features as well as a fresh look across the entire aircraft to create a sense of light and calm,” he added.

Image: Qantas.

World-First Jet Lag Research

The airline has also released ‘world-first’ scientific research on reducing jet lag and improving sleep and overall wellbeing ‘before, during and after ultra-long-haul flights. The study was conducted with the University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre. This, QF added, has ‘driven the unique cabin design’ of the incoming aircraft.

Twenty-three volunteers on three ‘Project Sunrise’ research flights between New York, London and Sydney in 2019 were fitted with wearable technology devices. They were given ‘a specially designed menu, lighting, sleep and movement sequences’ to see how changes to the inflight offering could reduce the impact of ultra-long-haul air travel.

Featured Image: Airbus Industrie (F-WMIL) Airbus A350-1000 (Qantas Project Sunrise livery). Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways.

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