Lonely Planet Writer

Is this the end of long haul woes like jet-lag and leg cramp? Inside the new Airbus passenger plane

Long-haul travel is a wonderful thing, but when it comes to downsides, jetlag and cramped conditions probably rank top of most people’s list of complaints. Help is at hand though, as the recent introduction of a new family of aircraft, the Airbus A350 XWB, has set a new standard for luxury and comfort in the air and is shaping the future of medium- to long-haul airline operations.

The Airbus A350 has a sleek design. Image: Airbus
The Airbus A350 has a sleek design. Image: Airbus

When you’re travelling on a long-haul flight, you’re going to be spending hours in the air, so the fact that 18-inch wide seats, more personal space and greater lateral movement comes as standard in economy on this plane is a huge bonus. The A350 XWB’s cabin design incorporates smooth curves, innovative lighting and wide windows, with straighter side walls and a flat floor in the cabin further increasing the overall comfort level and sense of spaciousness.

The A350 XWB cabin in night lighting. Image: Airbus

Adding to the pleasant atmosphere, the cabins are quieter, thanks to the use of Automatic Noise Abatement Departure Procedure (NADP), which optimises the thrust and flight path to reduce noise. The typical noise level in a cabin at cruising altitude is only 57 decibels, which ensures a quieter, more ambient passing.

With harsh, bright lighting a bugbear for many air passengers who are trying to sleep, the A350 XWB has intelligent lighting in the form of energy-efficient LED lighting, which produces a number of soothing tones to help induce that much-desired slumber. Our sleep/wake rhythm gets thrown out of sync when we’re crossing multiple time zones, so the plane’s lighting also changes during the flight to imitate the normal shifts of sunlight, thus helping to counteract the effects of jetlag.

We love that technological innovations have been incorporated to make passengers more comfortable. Cabin pressure can induce fatigue and the dreaded headaches at 6,000 feet, but aboard the A350 XWB, cabin pressure maxes out 2,000 feet lower than on most commercial planes. There are also eight temperature control zones, so passenger cabins can be adjusted for maximum comfort.

The A350 XWB allows for high-comfort economy seating with standard 18-inch seat width. Image: Airline Reporter
The A350 XWB allows for high-comfort economy seating with standard 18-inch seat width. Image: Airline Reporter

It may be vanity, but we all dread the dry skin and flaky, chapped lips that frequently ensue after a long-haul flight, and thankfully the A350 WXB’s peak relative humidity is designed to help counteract this at 25%. There is also the fact that people frequently attribute feeling ill after hours in a plane to breathing in stale air, but on the A350 XWB, which first came into service last year, the air is recycled through HEPA filters that trap 99.95 percent of particles, and it only takes three minutes to refresh the entire cabin. Check out the rest of this innovative plane’s features here.