The end of 2018 is going to present a very different picture for high flyers compared to how this year began.
Like it or not, we're stepping into the era of ultra-long distance flights. March 24 will see the debut of non-stop flights between Perth and London flown by Qantas' new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
East coast travellers will be pitched a new version of the Kangaroo Route, catching a domestic Qantas flight to Perth and then boarding the Dreamliner for the 17 hour journey to London.
More more more
If passengers take a shine to the non-stop service, Qantas expects to add more Boeing 787 flights from Perth to Europe, with Paris and Frankfurt both on the shortlist: although those won't take off until around 2020 and hinge on the airline purchasing a second tranche of the advanced jets, beyond the eight already signed up.
(Of course, by 2022 Qantas hopes to have non-stop flights winging their way from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to London and New York.)
If spending upwards of 17 hours without a leg-stretching sanity break isn't to your liking, fortunately there'll still be the option for a stopover on Qantas' Kangaroo Route.
Even better, from March 25 that stopover will shift back to Singapore. Qantas' flagship QF1/QF2 Sydney-London Airbus A380 service will ditch the Dubai hub of partner Emirates and return to Singapore – a city preferred by most Australian travellers – with a Melbourne-Singapore superjumbo service (QF35/QF36) dovetailing into the London flight.
Check out the best in business class seats in the gallery above.
Also hitching onto the long haul trend is United Airlines, which launches a daily Boeing 787 flight between Sydney and Houston on January 20 to in competition with Qantas' Sydney-Dallas service.
Brisbane will see Qantas' new Boeing 787s replace the older Boeing 747 jumbo jets to Los Angeles, with the same Dreamliner also continuing to New York.
A second Brisbane Boeing 787 route is expected to be announced in the coming months with Qantas CEO Alan Joyce tipping Seattle, Chicago and Dallas as front-runners.
Qantas' red-tailed Dreamliner will also be plying the skies between Melbourne and San Francisco from late 2018.
A whole new world
Virgin Australia is also eyeing new international routes. Expect to see at least one additional flight to Asia by year's end – Sydney to Hong Kong or Brisbane to Hong Kong are both on the table – but a city on the Chinese mainland could also figure into Virgin's expansion plans.
Canberra will get its third international route in mid-February when Qatar Airways begins daily Boeing 777-300ER flights to Doha. These will include a stopover at Sydney, with passengers able to book the Sydney-Doha leg on its own. In turn, that will undoubtedly move Sydney closer to front of the queue for a local launch of Qatar's superb Qsuite business class, which with its sliding doors and middle seats that convert into a double bed is almost as good as first class.
Qatar will also start Airbus A380 flights to Perth as of May 1.
Throughout the year, Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are both expected to add more of their latest Airbus A350 jets to Australian routes.
In the second quarter of 2018 Singapore Airlines will also take delivery of the world's first Boeing 787-10, a 'stretched' version of the Boeing 787-9 capable of holding more passengers.
The Singaporean flag-carrier's Dreamliner will include all-new regional business class seats – although they're still a lie-flat design with direct aisle access – and should appear on some Australian routes as the older Boeing 777-200 jets are put out to pasture.
Few people spend more time on planes, in lounges or mulling over the best ways to use frequent flyer points than David Flynn, the editor of Australian Business Traveller magazine. His unparalleled knowledge of all aspects of business travel connects strongly with the interests of Executive Style readers.
What would you like to see happen in the skies in 2018? Share your thoughts in the comments below.