New menus to be unveiled on Qantas's Dreamliner flights from Perth to London put passenger comfort to the fore.
Measures to combat jetlag are on the menu for Qantas passengers. For the past year, the airline has worked with researchers from the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney on ways to reduce the effects of long-haul flights.
Launching later this month in all cabins on the new Dreamliner flights from Perth to London (the third-longest route in the world), the overhaul includes new menus by Neil Perry, who oversees the airline's food and drink offering, that aim to aid sleep at optimum times and keep passengers hydrated. That means no stimulating chilli in evening meals, for instance, serving hot chocolate before bedtime and shifting meal service so it's in line with the destination time zone.
"Food can train your body clock, so time of service and the ingredients you use are important," says Professor Stephen Simpson, academic director of the Charles Perkins Centre.
Perry's menus include roast chicken and red rice to promote sleep through the combination of amino acids and carbohydrates, a morning meal of kale, quinoa, haloumi and a poached egg, and lighter options such as tuna poke bowls. Drinks include coconut water, juices containing probiotics and a bespoke Dilmah tea of chamomile, lemon verbena and lemongrass to aid both sleep and digestion.
"The science didn't really prohibit us from making delicious food," Perry says. "It was encouraging really - beautiful fresh vegetables, lovely protein, lots of nuts and grains."
Simpson and his team of sleep scientists, nutritionists and metabolic specialists also looked at the link between light and our body clocks to determine when to adjust cabin lights. Other contributors to jetlag - dehydration and altitude - are being combated by more cabin humidity and flying at lower altitude.
Further adjustments could be in the pipeline. A trial on the first Dreamliner flight to London will track the heart rate, body temperature, sleep patterns and mental health of 20 passengers to see whether the changes successfully reduce jetlag. The researchers hope to recruit 20 passengers on every Dreamliner flight in and out of London.
Long-haul travel has never sounded better. Pass the Champagne.
Qantas's first non-stop Dreamliner flight from Perth to London departs on March 24. qantas.com.au