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Can humans endure 19-hour flights? This airline aims to find out

Can humans endure 19-hour flights? This airline aims to find out
[Photo: courtesy of Qantas]

There are long-haul flights and then there are flights that take an entire day of your life. Last year, I flew from New York to Singapore, an 18-hour-and-45-minute trip that felt like an eternity. At the time, that was the world’s longest nonstop flight, and it was really, really long.

Now Qantas is hoping to top that with a 19-hour nonstop flight from New York to Sydney that would push the boundaries of what planes, and perhaps the human body, can handle (to say nothing of the human capacity to withstand that many hours of in-flight entertainment).

The airline announced Thursday that it is testing 19-hour nonstop flights from both New York and London to Sydney. According to the airline’s press release, its test marks the first-ever direct commercial flight between New York and Sydney and only the second between London and Sydney, which are only possible due to evolving technology.

The evocatively named “Project Sunrise” was dreamed up when Qantas realized it had to fly its new Boeing 787-9 aircraft from North America to Australia. Instead of flying them from the Boeing plant in Seattle, Qantas decided to challenge itself and its technology to make the jump from New York City and London to Sydney and test the run it had previously hoped to make part of its schedule by 2023.

The test flights are scheduled to run in October, November, and December and will move the airline closer to that target. They will enable Qantas, alongside medical experts, to test the health and well-being impacts on passengers and crew. Sign me up! I have seven new books, three new podcasts, and a new season of Succession to catch up on.

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