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Qantas long-haul ‘wellbeing zone’ wins prestigious award

Project Sunrise A350 cabin reveal

Source: Qantas

Qantas has scooped a leading industry airline award for an innovative cabin that hasn’t even taken to the skies yet.

The Flying Kangaroo was among the winners at the prestigious Crystal Cabin Awards when they were unveiled in Germany last week.

Qantas won for its ‘wellbeing zone’, a concept that Australian travellers will be able to indulge in from 2026.

The zone – which Qantas says is “an onboard destination to promote movement, stretching and hydration throughout your flight” – will be available on the airline’s soon-to-arrive Airbus A350s.

“Located between the economy and premium economy cabins, the wellbeing zone is a space where you can follow specially curated guided movements on large monitors and enjoy a selection of healthy refreshments,” it says.

The area will also have “sculpted surfaces and integrated handles to facilitate stretching”.

The idea, which is a collaboration between Qantas and Diehl Aviation, won Crystal Cabins’ passenger comfort category. From 2026 it will feature on flights from Sydney to New York and Sydney to London, as part of Qantas’s Project Sunrise program.

Crystal Cabins’ judges were certainly sold.

The innovative wellbeing zone offers science-based wellness products, biorhythm-optimised lighting and real glass doors,” the awards said of the winning design.

“This area is accessible to all passengers, supports healthy eating and offers space for physical activity. The jury praised the wellbeing zone in its refreshing approach to ultra long-haul comfort.”

The Crystal Cabin Awards acknowledge the best of the airline industry every year, with a focus on cabin technology and passenger experience.

“This year’s submissions included many outstanding innovations that set new standards for the passenger experience by better recognising and responding to the individual needs of passengers – across all ticket classes,” Crystal Cabin Award Association president Ralf Gust said.

Inside Qantas's 'wellbeing zone'

Source: Diehl Aviation

Qantas design to ‘maximise’ passenger wellbeing

Project Sunrise is Qantas’ major plan to revamp ultra long-haul travel.

Flying from Australia to London once took five days and several touchdowns. Now, it can be done non-stop, in less than 24 hours.

“The distance between Australia and the rest of the world has given us the opportunity to think differently about our cabins and create spaces such as the wellbeing zone,” Qantas executive manager product and service Phil Capps told TND.

“Every element of our A350 cabin has been designed to maximise customer comfort, health and wellbeing.” 

The wellbeing zone aboard the airline’s Airbus A350s from 2026 will have a “particular emphasis on passenger comfort and health”.

Qantas beat two other innovative concepts to snag the passenger comfort award – the Signature Seat and “intelligent comfort system” ARISE.

Signature Seat is a design that aims to revolutionise airline seats by transcending the “boundaries of economy class”.

It claims a “non-intrusive kinematic system, a fixed pre-reclined architecture, flexible adjustments to accommodate various body types and innovative materials that improve passenger comfort”.

pictured is the Signature Seat

The Signature Seat focuses on comfort and undisrupted personal space.

ARISE, meanwhile, uses sensor technology and advanced materials in an attempt to mitigate the three main in-flight sleep disturbances: Core heat regulation, pressure distribution and vibration.

Sensors in an ARISE seat monitor its position, cushion pressure, body temperature and lighting and then make adjustments in real time.

pictured is the ARISE seat screen

The ARISE seat makes real-time adjustments to ensure a more comfortable flight.

The future of cabins

Another significant award unveiled in Hamburg was for cabin concepts, which went to the BermudAir Aisle Suite.

It is a “business-class passenger seat for single-aisle aircraft” designed by Factorydesign. The company converted 2-2 economy seats into 1-1 suites, making way for more storage, rather than designing new seats.

This solution is extremely cost-efficient and sustainable, as over 70 per cent of the existing seats are reused,” Crystal Cabin said.

Pictured is the BermudAir design

BermudAir is reimagining economy seats for Business Class.

The cabin concept award often gives an insight into what the future of flying might look like.

Air New Zealand’s SkyNest won the category last year. It will be seen on the airline’s Boeing 787s, which are due to arrive in 2025.

Airbus’ new Airspace Cabin Vision 2035+ was a finalist in the category this year. It seeks to reduce the cabin’s environmental impact.

One of the biggest levers in the cabin for reducing emissions is lightweight solutions,” Airbus said.

“Creating lighter, bionic designs will help reduce cabin weight by up to 40 per cent and new catering concepts like pre-ordering your meal on long-haul flights, or picking up your snack at the boarding gate for short haul, could help reduce food waste and weight by up to 15 per cent.”

Also on this year’s shortlist was Ameco’s Fly-Buddy Hub, which has endless options for those in economy class.

pictured is the fly-buddy hub

The Fly-Buddy Hub is a social seating solution.

It is a seating concept that allows for six passengers to sit opposite each other, so they can work or eat together.

The modular design also allows the seats to convert into a lie-flat bed. There are folding tables, a roll-up screen and “intelligent partitions”.

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