‘Great Southern Land’ Makes a Hollywood-Style Entrance at LAX

Qantas' first 787-9 in the hangar at LAX (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

Qantas Airways showed off its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner named “Great Southern Land” to an energized crowd at its Los Angeles hangar on Friday. The event took place before the aircraft’s maiden commercial flight from Los Angeles to Melbourne that night. Several Qantas staff, news reporters, and invited guests were in attendance, including Qantas Senior Executive Vice President of the Americas, Stephen Thompson.

The 787 Dreamliner will replace the airline’s Airbus A380s that are flown on the daily route between Los Angeles (LAX) and Melbourne (MEL). From LAX, Qantas also flies the Boeing 747-400 and Airbus A380-800 on flights to Brisbane and Sydney.

The airline also recently announced plans to launch service from Melbourne to San Francisco, a new route for Qantas. This flight will also be operated with its Boeing 787 Dreamliner by the end of 2018. Most notably though, the 787 will be used to the fly the world’s longest non-stop flight from London Heathrow to Perth at 8,950-miles, before continuing on to Melbourne.

Arriving at Qantas’ new $30-million hangar, the only one in the U.S. big enough to hold and perform maintenance on the A380, guests were immediately led up the lobby stairs to the second floor to join the catered reception that was taking place.

Introducing the New Aircraft

At the reception everyone had a chance to sample Qantas’ signature “Great Southern Land” cocktail, Australian wine, beer, and several regional bites before taking tours of the Dreamliner aircraft. Besides the awesome spread of nibbles and drinks on offer, everyone was mainly excited to take pictures of the Dreamliner in its shining glory..

Before commencing tours of the aircraft, Thompson gave the crowd an introduction to the new Dreamliner. Thompson emphasized the aircraft’s importance in taking Qantas into the next step of ultra-long-haul travel and even emphasized the several innovating offerings one would be interested to find onboard.

After some applause and an emergency briefing, people began making way to the other side of the hangar towards the ramp to board the aircraft. There were quite a number of people excited to see the aircraft and tours were taking place in groups of 10.

Preparing to board Qantas’ 787-9 (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

Although the wait was long, you could feel the excitement in the air as everyone was either pre-occupied talking about the 787 or taking selfies and group photos with the airplane. There weren’t any Qantas flight crew to show us around the cabins and galleys, but instead, there were knowledgeable Qantas staff touring each group around the aircraft.

Getting up-close and personal with the airline’s 787 before boarding (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

Three New Cabins Onboard

Upon entering the aircraft, each suite is capable of transforming into a fully flat bed and features its own do-not-disturb light, several storage spaces, direct aisle access, pop-up privacy dividers, and slip-on duvets. The tour guide mentioned that they were modeled after its current seats on the A380, and one could definitely tell from the partitions and natural color tones giving it the ‘premium’ look.

Premium seating on Qantas’ 787 (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

Unfortunately, we were told not to touch any of the reclining features on the business class seats because the aircraft needed to be prepped for its 10:25 p.m. departure back to Melbourne. For show purposes, one section of the business class cabin was set up with seats fully reclined with duvet covers and pillows by David Caon for the group in order for the group to photograph.

A seat on Qantas’ 787-9 with bedding (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

The airplane’s interior also felt much more spacious with its expansive ceiling, ambient lighting thanks to its larger windows, and ample space in the overhead luggage bins.

The premium economy cabin was a big upgrade from the current one that the airline offers on its A380s. Some of the big standouts are the solid shell that wraps around the seat, the large amount of recline, and best of all, the foot hammocks that are exclusive to Qantas at the moment. The foot hammocks eliminate the need for a leg rest and gives the passenger a supportive calf-rest and a cradle for their feet. There were only 28 seats in this part of the cabin, and the tour guide mentioned that they sell out very fast.

Premium economy on Qantas’ 787 (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

The premium economy seat slides and recline to a very comfortable position if you want to take a nap. Furthermore, if you do end up with the middle seat in this cabin, you get an extra few inches of seat width. Although you don’t get duvet covers like business class when it comes time to sleep, you still get slip-on duvet pillows that really give the seat a premium touch.

Although the sleeping experience will be much similar to other long-haul flights in economy, there is definitely more legroom compared to other international Qantas economy cabins, and there is a very unique footrest with a flexible net that cradles your feet.

Economy seating on Qantas’ 787 (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

Leaving the aircraft, the group had a chance to sneak a peek into the cockpit and see the state-of-the-art controls inside. Instead of just two pilots, due to the ultra long-haul flights this aircraft will operate, there will be two other pilots on stand-by for the next shift on flights. Unfortunately, the crew rest areas were not accessible during the tour.

Nearing the end of the event, the hangar doors were opened to prepare the aircraft for its short trip to the the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The crowd was treated to a view of the 787 amidst the LA sunset.

A vivid sunset after the massive hangar doors opened (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Albert Kuan)

A Game Changer in the Long-Haul Sector 

The aircraft not only pays respect to its motherland, Australia, but is a game changer in long-haul travel. All of the airline’s 787s are named after something unique to Australia and the one featured during the event is named “Great Southern Land.”

The long-haul aircraft will soon make non-stop routes to far locations not only possible, but also much more comfortable. The business class seats will without a doubt keep passengers entertained while premium economy and economy class passengers will also get to enjoy a wide range of amenities that make the inflight experience more enjoyable thanks to the new technology and cabins onboard Qantas’ 787 fleet.

Albert Kuan

Albert Kuan

Most people hate long flights or overnight layovers, but Albert loves them. The airport and flying parts of traveling are the biggest highlights of any trip for him – as this avgeek always gets a thrill from sampling different airline cabin products and checking out regional developments happening at local U.S. airports. He’s flown on almost every major carrier in the U.S. and Asia Pacific, and he hopes to try out the new A350s soon.

Albert recently completed his undergraduate studies in Business Accounting at USC in Los Angeles and he is currently recruiting for a corporate analyst position at one of the U.S. legacy carriers. During his college years, he interned at LAX for Los Angeles World Airports working behind-the-scenes (and on the ramp) in public relations and accounting. Outside of writing for AirlineGeeks, he enjoys trekking the Hollywood hills, visiting new hotspots throughout SoCal, and doing the occasional weekender on Spirit Airlines.
Albert Kuan