Qantas could be ditching their international layovers sooner than you think

Are you ready to spend upwards of 20 hours sitting on a flight to London?

That's the new world order of non-stop flights that Qantas hopes will take wing in just five years' time.

Maximise and minimise

Geared at time-pressured business travellers as well as holidaymakers who want to maximise their time on the ground, these direct flights will skip those stopovers in Dubai or Singapore to spend almost a full day getting you from A to B.

Qantas expects the flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to London will shave almost four hours off the time taken by such stopovers, with a shorter 18 hours non-stop to New York trimming the transit tally at LAX by three hours.

Direct flights to Paris, Rio de Janeiro and Cape Town are also mooted.

Pushing the limits in every way

They'll push the limits of technology – Airbus and Boeing have yet to design the jets capable of such long-legged trips, although Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says that both companies "believe they can create an aircraft by 2022 that will get that range."

Those flights will also push the limits of endurance, even if you're sitting in business class.

Let's take today's Qantas Business Suite, as seen on the airline's Airbus A330 jets and from later this year the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, as the benchmark.

From comfort to cocoon

The well-appointed seat is wide, comfortable and converts into a lie-flat bed. There's ample space around the seat for your laptop or tablet, books or magazines, plus a big-screen telly picked with videos including boxed-set TV shows.


Easily among the world's best business class seats, it has just about everything you could want to while away those many hours.

But how long does it get to reach the point where even the best seat becomes a confining cocoon? Even in a spacious first class suite such as Etihad's Airbus A380 Apartments, there's got to be a point at which you start to go a bit stir-crazy.

A chance to get social

That said, the inclusion of a social space where you can stretch your legs, change your surroundings and break up the journey – a lounge or bar – becomes a welcome respite from spending so many hours in that same seat.

I've enjoyed slabs of time spend relaxing in the sky-high business class bars of the A380s from Qatar (my favourite), Etihad and Emirates, as well as Virgin Australia's Boeing 777 jets to Los Angeles. It's quite astounding how a few hours chatting with fellow travellers over a drink can help time pass so quickly.

Even so: 20 hours to London? That's one long trip, and it's got me in two minds.

The thrill of experience

I enjoy the current stopover in Dubai, although if you have access to the superb first class lounge of partner Emirates that stopover is admittedly too brief and feels too rushed. However, I was among the first to cheer Qantas' return to Singapore as the hub for its London flights from March next year.

Non-stop to New York, for me, is a simpler proposition. Having to transit at LAX remains a right pain, primarily due to need to retrieve and re-check your luggage as well as sometimes change terminals depending on who your onwards flight is with.

My preference for travelling to New York these days is not Qantas but Cathay Pacific, because I can fly from Sydney to Hong Kong and then straight through to Gotham.

My checked luggage goes straight through from Sydney to New York, and if I've got to have a stop-over I'd rather it be in Hong Kong with its excellent business class and first class lounges and even the opportunity to break my journey for a day or two.

Few people spend more time on planes, in lounges or mulling over the best ways to use frequent flyer points than David Flynn, the editor of . His unparalleled knowledge of all aspects of business travel connects strongly with the interests of 51698009 readers.

What's your current airline of choice for flights from Australia to London and New York, and are you ready to make the switch from stopovers to an 18-20 non-stop flight?