Lone Stars and Kangaroos

The whale of the skies: Qantas' A380. Photo courtesy of Qantas.
The whale of the skies: Qantas’ A380. Photo courtesy of Qantas.

Australia just got more awesome- which I didn’t think was possible.

Today (or yesterday- who knows with these time differences) Qantas, Australia’s largest domestic and international airline, began service between Sydney and Dallas, Texas on its leviathan of a plane: the Airbus 380.

Now it may just seem like I’m talking AV Geek jargon, but this is actually a big deal. Let me break it down for you.

Qantas now operates the longest commercial route in the world (currently) on the world’s largest passenger aircraft. According to a press release from the airline earlier this year, 6 nonstop, round-trip flights between Kingsford-Smith Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth Airport will be operated every week, transporting over 55,000 passengers between the two cities every year. Qantas first began flying to Dallas in 2011, and has switched to the A380 on account of higher passenger demand, both for business travel and tourism.

The A380 will provide unparalleled passenger comfort and efficiency. There are four separate cabins onboard, with 484 seats total, including Qantas’ Award-Winning First Class, a new addition to this route. Previously, the route between DFW and SYD was served by a Boeing 747, which had fewer seats, less range, and a higher fuel consumption. The A380 has Qantas’ latest offerings in all cabins along with an improved air filtration and pressurization system, and burns 17% less fuel per seat than the 747.

Because of the 747’s shorter range, previous flights from DFW to SYD had to stop in Brisbane. With the A380’s longer range, passengers can now fly completely nonstop between the two cities. How long will it take? A near 16 hours will take you from deep in the heart of Texas to the Land Down Under, and nearly 15 hours in the reverse direction. Not sure if the two episodes of Breaking Bad you downloaded onto your phone are going to cut it (luckily Qantas is revered for its personal entertainment system at every seat).

But why Dallas, of all places? After employing some market research, Qantas says they have found that corporate customers especially prefer to fly to Dallas rather than to Los Angeles (the other US city served by Qantas’ A380), because they’re closer to more connections throughout America. The same goes for tourists: Qantas cited that the biggest hubs are Boston, Orlando (represent!), and Houston. Dallas’ central location gives Australians access to the whole of America (and vice versa) with American Airlines, Qantas’ codeshare partner stateside.

It’s certainly exciting that the world’s largest passenger aircraft now flies the world’s longest passenger route. This is just a testament to the incredible strides we’re making today in air travel. Who knows- when it’s time for me to fly to Australia, maybe Orlando will be Qantas’ next nonstop destination.

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