Airbag Industries

"I took the world’s first 20-hour flight. Here’s what it did to me."

A first person account of the record breaking 19 hour non-stop flight from New York City to Sydney, Australia. The flight was setup to run a number of experiments including how to get passengers through such a grueling flight while acclimating to the destination time during the travel.

Marie Carroll, a professor at the University of Sydney who’s overseeing the passenger research on the flight, rallies her troops at the back of the plane. “This is the time, guys, when we really have to work through this,” she tells them. Moments later, they’re leaning against the food trolleys in the galley, stretching. Next, they perform upright press-ups among the empty economy sets. As a finale, they attempt synchronized dance moves in the aisles. All in the name of science. It looks like cabaret, but beating jet lag is serious business. Beyond the sleepless nights and daytime fatigue, experts say critical processes including heart function and metabolism are upset when the body clock gets disrupted.

It will be interesting to see how the research impacts the passenger experience on future long-haul flights. I once flew from Dallas to Shanghai and it took 14.5 hours and even though I had a first class cabin on a brand new Boing 787, the travel affects hit me like a wall and it took an entire day to recover.

As the number of annual airline passengers increases from “4.6 billion this year to 8.2 billion by 2037” I’m sure this research will come in handy. Meanwhile, the Guardian pledges “How to explore the world without harming it.”