Australian airline rolls out communal lounge for long-haul flights

Soon, travelers on long-haul flights won’t be restricted to pacing up and down the aisles if they want relief from squirming in their seats. 

Australian airline Qantas Airways has unveiled the first communal lounge for economy-class passengers on long flights, the airline announced. Dubbed the “wellbeing zone,” it will be part of the new Qantas A350-1000 jet, which takes its inaugural flight in 2025.

The jet will operate ultra long-haul flights, lasting up to 22 hours, between Sydney and London and New York.  

Qantas’ new “Wellbeing zone” features built-in wall handles to help passengers stretch. Qantas

The space will include will feature an “onboard stretch and movement space,” the company said. The lounge is outfitted with sculpted wall panels and will feature integrated stretch handles, an on-screen guided exercise program and a station where passengers can pick up beverages and snacks. It will be situated between economy and premium economy classes.

The “wellness zone” on Qantas’ new jet will offer refreshments for passengers.  Qantas

Qantas has made space for the lounge by reducing its plane’s passenger capacity. The jet will carry 238 passengers, far fewer than the 400-plus travelers other planes accommodate, Forbes reported.

“Fewer seats translate to more space for each customer and a dedicated ‘wellbeing zone’ for travelers to stretch, help themselves to a snack, and spend time out of their seat,” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said in a statement. Qantas also promises relatively generous legroom in its economy and premium economy areas, with 33 inches and 40 inches of space, respectively.

Qantas’ move to limit capacity, and offer its customers less interaction with their fellow travelers, comes at a time when other airlines are crowding cabins and reducing legroom, frustrating travelers. Over the past 30 years, airline seats have shrunk to 16 inches wide, in some cases, with as little as 28 inches of legroom.

The airline has also rolled out other offerings for passengers seeking greater comfort on long routes. Qantas’ neighbor-free program, for example, allows travelers to reserve the seat next to them. 

Jet-setting over long distances can tax travelers physically, causing fatigue, dehydration and sinus issues, among other symptoms, according to the CDC

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