First on-board wellness-zone to debut on Qantas Airbus A350 in 2025

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Australian airline Qantas has introduced a Wellness Zone as part of the new cabin design of its Airbus A350.
Once Qantas adds 12 Airbus A350s to its fleet by the end of 2025, it claims it will be the first airline in the world to offer an onboard wellness space that encourages guests to stretch, hydrate and spend time out of their seats.

We started work on the Wellness Zone before any other area of the A350.

Alan Joyce - CEO of Qantas

The Wellness Zone will feature sculpted wall panels and integrated elastic handles, on-screen guided exercise programmes, a hydration station and a variety of refreshments. Developed as part of Project Sunrise, A350 aircraft fly non-stop for up to 22 hours and allow flights from Australia to almost anywhere in the world, including Sydney to New York.

Alan Joyce, Qantas Group CEO, said: "We started work on the Wellness Zone before any other area of the A350″. "The new Project Sunrise flights give us the opportunity to rethink long-haul travel in its entirety, from the design of the aircraft cabin to the ingredients we include on the on-board menu.

"Reducing the number of seats on board our A350 to 238 compared to the 300+ seat layout of other airlines means that not only do we maximise the aircraft's long-haul performance, but we can also give our passengers more space and comfort and provide them with a dedicated Wellness Zone.

"We are the only airline in the world that will have a custom-designed in-flight movement and stretch space".

A new approach to wellness travel

Recent research conducted by Qantas - in conjunction with the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney - shows that it is possible to reduce the impacts of jet lag by reshaping the in-flight travel experience.

Different lighting and sleeping schedules, meal times and specific ingredients during long-haul flights have been shown to contribute to improved traveller wellbeing. Movement and exercise are also key elements.

The research was conducted during test flights for Qantas' Project Sunrise programme. Qantas operated three Project Sunrise research flights from New York and London to Sydney in 2019 in partnership with Australian researchers to collect real-world passenger data.

Researchers travelled on the plane and monitored 23 volunteer clients who were fitted with wearable devices during the 20-hour flights as they followed specially designed menu, lighting, sleep and movement sequences.

Initial, as yet unpublished, findings indicate that, compared to customers in a traditional sequence of eating and sleeping on board, those on the customised schedule experienced:

- Less severe jet lag (self-reported).

- Better sleep quality during the flight.

- Improved cognitive performance in the two days after the flight.

Onboard testing included customised cabin lighting schedules to facilitate adaptation to the destination time zone and the integration of simple stretching and movement activities.

They also adjusted the timing of meal services to align the biological clock and encouraged wakefulness and sleep through the use of specific menu items, including fish and chicken combined with fast-acting carbohydrates, as well as comfort foods such as soups and milk-based desserts.

The aim was to promote brain production of the amino acid tryptophan ("Tryp") to help passengers fall asleep more easily.

Peter Cistulli, Professor of Sleep Medicine at the University of Sydney, said that while the research was ongoing, there were clear signs that the interventions implemented during the test flights reduced the impact of long-distance travel.

The Charles Perkins Centre and Qantas will participate in the first combined lighting workshop at Airbus headquarters in Hamburg later this year, where specialists will design the aircraft's lighting configuration, including reviewing the optimum brightness and colour tone settings for each part of the flight .

Parallel research has been carried out to manage crew welfare on these flights, which also draws on the experience of other ultra-long haul flights operated by Qantas.