Founded in 1919, KLM is actually the world’s oldest airline still flying under its original name. How do you keep an airline with that long of a history feeling fresh? New planes definitely help, and for KLM’s long-haul fleet the freshest faces are its 787 Dreamliners.
Since joining the fleet a few years ago, the 787-9 has been KLM’s pride and joy. One of my very first AirlineReporter stories was a KLM pop-up exhibit in San Francisco back in 2016. Both then and now, folks at the airline are super proud of the Dreamliner fleet and its newest-generation onboard product. A few months ago, I scored a great deal on an award ticket from San Francisco to Amsterdam and on to Rio, and I’d get to try KLM’s long-haul Dreamliner service along the way. And it ended up being one of the best international business class experiences I’ve had.
For more of the highlights — from gin-filled ceramic houses and fancy Dutch glassware, to bubbly flight attendants and incredible views of that Dreamliner wing flex — keep on reading!
Sunrise on the flight deck over the Atlantic on an overnight eastbound leg from the U.S. to Europe -Photo: Doug Zschoche | Officer Wayfinder
Australian flag carrier Qantas Airways recently completed the first-ever commercial flight from New York’s JFK airport to Sydney. As part of a program dubbed Project Sunrise, the flight was a nearly 20-hour marathon that traveled just under 10,000 miles. Operated by a brand-new Boeing 787-9 on its delivery, it was one of three test flights the airline is doing to explore the viability of a non-stop service from JFK-Sydney. There were only 40 passengers onboard ’“ all test subjects for Australian researchers and Qantas, who hope to perfect ultra-long-haul flying.
Qantas plans to launch the route in 2023, using a yet-to-be-determined airframe (the airline is exploring either the Boeing 777X or the Airbus A350ULR). Currently, the 25 longest flights in the world are all more than 8,000 miles in distance and have block times of 16 hours or longer.
Number 21 on that list is Newark to Hong Kong ’“ which, when launched in 2001, was the longest flight in the world. Ultra-long-haul flying has become an arms race since then ’“ with every airline seemingly trying to outdo the next with mind-numbingly long flights.
While there was much hype surrounding Qantas’ flight, ultra-long-haul flying has almost become commonplace. This flight was more of a PR stunt than anything, but was impressive nonetheless based on the history of how we got here.