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Old Posted Aug 16, 2018, 12:01 AM
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The Science Behind the World’s Longest Flights

By Scott McCartney
Aug. 15, 2018 9:17 a.m. ET
Tucson, Ariz.

. . . Airlines and scientists are studying the effects of spending 20 hours or more in an arid cabin at high altitude. They’re beginning to change everything from food service to cabin lighting and temperature to combat dehydration, jet lag and the sedentary effects of being belted into a seat for a day binge-watching movies.

Singapore Airlines is working with nutrition and health experts at Canyon Ranch here to devise new menus and onboard wellness programs for its 9,534-mile nonstop trips between Newark, N.J., and Singapore, which will be the longest flights in the world when they launch in October. The airline will also add the long-distance wellness program to existing San Francisco and Los Angeles flights.

Out go potatoes; in comes cauliflower. Beverages are being selected to not only improve hydration but also promote bathroom trips to make sure people get up and move around to stimulate blood flow and stretch muscles . . . .

To learn more about passengers on long flights, Qantas enlisted volunteer frequent fliers to wear monitors on wrists and legs. It turns out there’s huge variation in passenger movement: Some passengers are active, others remain sedentary the entire trip.

Changes are already happening, such as delaying dinner on the evening departure from Perth to begin moving body clocks to London time. When it’s time to go to sleep, cabin lights turn amber and red, which facilitate rest. Blue and white lighting helps wake passengers up.

Flight attendants now adjust cabin temperature to facilitate sleep, too. Cooler temps help you power down.

Sleep patterns are crucial. Yet the ideal strategy remains unknown. Is it better to have one long sleep or two shorter sleep periods . . . .

Singapore has run sleep- and eating-schedule trials on its San Francisco flights, which cover nearly 17 hours heading west . . . .

Qantas says it hasn’t ruled out having a trainer onboard to lead exercises.
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