What it's really like to fly on the new Qantas Dreamliner

Yes, I have experienced the delivery flight journey on the plane that will help flyers stave off the dreaded effects of jet lag. With the first Qantas Dreamliner up and running, nationally and internationally, I thought I would give you the real low-down on what it is like to take flight in one.

I was one of the lucky people on the first Qantas flight into Australia from the US – the 787-9 Dreamliner – the plane that hopes to make your flying experience the most comfortable, fuel-efficient and smoothest yet, with nowhere near as many internal, plane-type noises no matter what end of the plane you’re flying in.

Seriously, I was incredibly impressed by the whole experience. I’m not saying all this because I joined a gaggle of fellow travel and business media types on the ‘delivery’ to Australia. I say it as someone who flies a lot at all ends of the aircraft.

It’s all about the windows. They are big. The lower cabin pressure makes you feel clearer in the head once you arrive home too. The plane is sleek, understated and beautifully designed with the most extraordinary finishes by designer David Caon. Of course, Qantas’ industrial designer, Marc Newson, has had a big hand in this new incarnation, but David Caon bought it into fruition.

Dreamliners already exist on a fleet of other airlines – Air New Zealand, United, Qatar, Etihad, Nippon, and Air India to name a few –  but the idea is for Qantas to ultimately phase out their jumbos, by bringing the Dreamliners into Australia. Sure, we all like to complain about flights and their pros and cons but on my Dreamliner flight, the consensus was incredibly positive.

In fact, the delivery of the brand new aircraft is like nothing I have ever experienced, it’s understated and chic. It’s as simple as that. On a 10 hour flight home, I slept like a baby and it was a seriously good sleep. I’m putting that down to all the research conducted by the Charles Perkins Centre, who worked for a number of years on the correlation between circadian rhythms, sleep patterns and eating the appropriate mile-high food. They really got it right.

Dreamliners are pressurised at 6000 feet as opposed to 8000 feet, which is a height a bit like the altitude of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Here are just some of the advantages of flying the new Dreamliner.

Windows on the 787 are 65 per cent larger than comparable aircrafts and customers can adjust the amount of light that comes through with electronic control. Which is unreal – you can actually see a much bigger picture view of your departure and arrival destination.

Responsive cabin lighting is another positive, meaning the lighting in the Dreamliner will be adjustable to the time of day and activity of service and includes a simulated sunrise to gently wake flyers on morning lights. That was a lifesaver on the 10 hour flight home from Honolulu.

The Dreamliner is an efficient airplane using up to 20 per cent less fuel than other aircraft of its size and has lower CO2 and NOx emissions. Carbon dioxide is produced as a result of fuel consumption and the reduced fuel consumption means fewer CO2 emissions. The state of the art engines in the Qantas Dreamliner also reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 20 per cent.

Smoother ride technology ensures the Dreamliners are equipped with a system that senses turbulence and commands wing control surfaces to counter it, smoothing out the ride so customers can enjoy a more comfortable flight. There is also quite a holistic approach to cabin noise quality, with multiple solutions throughout the aircraft addressing the cause of annoying noise and vibrations.

It seems so compact as opposed to the enormity of a plane like the A380, but the cabin ceilings are higher, there is a better air filtration system, the seats are bigger – economy seats have been given an extra 1 inch – and the windows are larger, giving you a nearly panoramic view from the seat you are sitting in.

There is also no need to worry if you miss out on a window seat, there is enough window depth for you to be able to see what’s going on up in the clouds from the middle.

While the 787 is not the mega A380, I found it ridiculously comfortable, simply because of its compact size. I still love the A380, but this just seems like a more intimate flying experience. And the best news, we’ll be seeing more of them as the years go on. While we’ve all flown a number of airlines, this new plane in QF fleet is one I would highly recommend.

Melissa Hoyer was a guest on the inaugural Dreamliner trip to Australia.

This article was originally posted on vogue.com.au

Why wearing black to the Golden Globes does matter. . . .

Fashion is so often seen as this frivolous ‘thing’ that means nothing.

This ‘thing’ that is dismissed because a lot of people just don’t understand it. That it is trivial, indulgent, boring. But no. Just no. Like sporting events, music, entertainment and film, fashion is incredibly big business. It is popular. It is essential. It is copied and worn by most of us, whether we like it or not.

Whenever we wear anything – whether it’s the t-shirt we threw on, that has been hanging over the end of the bedhead in the morning, the cossie you’ve decided to wear to the beach or the first outfit back to work today, you are making statement.

It is a multi, multi billion dollar business so that is why, as we peruse the Hollywood A-listers in their black dresses today, this is one small step in a bloody important movement.

By wearing a black gown or pants (as many did) to the Golden Globes, those who chose to do so – and I reckon it was around 99.99999% of guests – it was one dramatic way to draw attention to what has been going on within the entertainment industry for years. The sexual misconduct and appalling behaviour shown by those who should have known better is something that will continue to be uncovered over the following years. And ‘yes!’ to that.

It is being forged by a group of high-profile women who want to show their solidarity. It isn’t tokenism. It is a very large group of humans basically standing up to say ‘we are not going to take this crap anymore’.

Sure. There are naysayers. Yeah. Yeah. Wear one black dress and that’s the end of the story. Somehow, I don’t think this will be the end of the story – it is actually bigger than a one picture deal, which, once made in its entirety will possibly make the biggest blockbuster ever.

In the meantime, the rats have to be smoked out of the ranks and by the look of it, both here and globally, that is definitely happening.

Melissa Hoyer

‘I am sick to death of people jumping onto a plane looking like they are heading to a pool’

SERIOUSLY, this absolutely riles me up.

I am sick to death of seeing people jumping onto a plane looking like they are heading to a local pool.

Last week, Qantas refused lounge entry to Joanne Catherall, a vocalist for English pop band Human League (a band I love, but that’s beside the point) all because she was wearing Ugg boots into the airline’s business class lounge.

Some viewed the ban as a national disgrace but you know what? I am absolutely, totally and fully with the airline.

Plane travel used to be glamorous. Yes, it was travel where you felt like you wanted to look the part and, more importantly, wanted to have respect for fellow travellers. (Those filthy, bitten-down toenails, slid into rubber-thin thongs I once sat next to still make me want to be sick.)

Too often plane travel has turned into something akin to jumping on a bus and heading to the beach. Basically our flying sartorial style is simply atrocious. And I reckon airlines have every right to set a style standard.

What always stumps me is the extent to which some travellers’ mile-high clothing, quite frankly, stinks.

I’m all for comfy in-flight clothing but can someone tell me how a pair of rubber thongs, sleepwear (leave it until you get onto the place, at least), a party dress, sweaty gymwear and blokes in too-hugging shorts, even vaguely constitutes comfy plane attire?

How would you ever expect to be considered for an upgrade (okay, that hardly happens anyway) if your plastic flip-flops are so worn down at the heel you may as well have gone barefoot?

It’s no wonder ground staff and flight attendants treat some passengers with slight disdain. Checking in a gang of baby boomers reeking of booze as they parade their stubbies, singlets, thongs and muffin-front bellies can’t be that pretty for any airline staffer.

Just a few years ago Qantas issued a fashion decree; the what-to and what-not-to-wear into their business class lounges.

Before you start throwing your macadamia cookies at me, let me reiterate: it is into their business-class lounges.

“These guidelines are intended to create an environment that everyone can enjoy and we look forward to welcoming you into our lounges soon,” goes the airline’s speil.

It wasn’t and isn’t a universal flying fashion rule but doesn’t the fact they even had to do it make you feel like you want to feel a little special when you jump on a plane? And that’s whether you’re zipping on an interstate business trip or a holiday.

Can’t we give plane travel some sense of occasion? Some sense of dignity? Make it special, or an experience?

No, you don’t have to be up the smartypants end of the plane, nor do you have to wear your sky-high heels and best dress. But come on, how difficult is it just to wear something ‘smart’ that also happens to be comfortable?

A post shared by Melissa Hoyer (@melissahoyer) on

So next time you’re thinking about pulling an airline apart over their dress rules, think about the things you’ve seen that are best left for other parts of the day.

Perhaps airlines should forgo the white chocolate cookie and supply eye-masks, travel-sized deodorant and scent samplers.

That way, while we might not always arrive with our luggage, but at least we’d land with our olfactory and visual senses intact.

This article was originally posted on news.com.au

Little Big Shots: the mega ratings show that will change TV forever

A really surprisingly thing happened on television last night.

A show appeared that could’ve been a disaster – well, we have been seeing the promos for seemingly the last two years – but it absolutely killed the ratings, all thanks to a gaggle of kids with some fairly obscure talents.

No, there were no trumped up, smarty-pants chefs who think their wagyu and truffles are the penultimates of life. There wasn’t a pergola being erected in the backyard of a suburban home. There were no ‘housewives’ abusing each other for the sake of abusing each other. And there were no bachelors and bachelorettes using their time on the telly to eventually land a radio gig.

There were no conflicting characters who had all been told to take on a ‘roll’ in order to ‘succeed’ in their respective program.

Yes, the promo for Little Big Shots – which rated a mammoth 2.619m (nationally) seemed to go on for months and months and to be honest I was getting bored with the same old clips featuring Shane Jacobson talking to kids about backflips, staring competitions and dance moves.

But when the show finally came on last night, simply, it just made me smile. And it did the same for around 2.7 million other Australians.But I have a theory. And I think it will be one other networks whether free to air or subscription or digital sites will be looking at.

Could this be the beginning of a new realm of ‘real’ reality TV? Here we had just a group of gorgeous kids who are talented in some fairly obscure fields – like the Rubiks cube teen who managed to sort one cube out with his feet while his hands sorted the other two at the same time. I had never seen anything like it before.

It was kind of like a fun freak show but done in a really cute & comfortable way. There was no real competition between the kids; there was no prize at the end and there was no trumped up conflict created between each of the kids.

The other thing is, Little Big Shots crosses a gamut of age groups. Kids loved it; I’d imagine ‘older’ peeps did to and I reckon those in between were pretty mad about it as well. It is a show that doesn’t require much brainpower from the viewer – and with most people dealing with enough crap in their lives – that is one of its redeeming features.

I didn’t have to invest in it. We sat on the lounge and we looked at it, usually with our mouths wide open and eyes in awe. And yup, it just continued to make us smile. I didn’t invest myself in any characters. I didn’t worry that the kids will be used as some sort of pawns by mentors.

Purely, it was simple entertainment and when it returns next week we will watch it, just expecting equally as crazy, often kooky but some bloody obscurely talented kids.

I don’t know about you, but it’s kind of old school material it’s just all worked. I’m putting it up there with Gogglebox.
And it sure beats all of this concocted conflict, scripted reality and overproduced stuff that keeps getting rammed down our throats. It was simply good fun and a soon as we turned it off, then moved on to the next thing, there wasn’t one moment where I thought ‘god, wasn’t that a waste of time?’

And really, you could not have picked a better host in Shane Jacobson – he wasn’t patronising, he just got it and seemed genuinely happy to be hanging out with a whole lot of kids on the couch as they quickly told their stories and delivered their very interesting tricks and talents.

I know there will be a few networks looking at that and thinking, yes, let’s get back to a better ‘real’ life in TV land.
Forget the nasty, forget the bitchiness and ghoulish behaviour and let’s just have a bit of total simple happiness – just for a change in our TV viewing habits.

Follow Melissa on Twitter and Instagram @melissahoyer

I've been told I'm not a 'real' mother because I don't see my son every day

Sure, we all hear about the great single parent juggle. The not-getting-to-school pick-up on time because that deadline loomed or that meeting just went a bit longer than normal. The ‘oops’ I forgot it was dress-up day.

But there is something that has become much more prevalent and makes me feel a touch more inadequate as a single parent.

And I’m not talking about being a parent who isn’t home every afternoon. Or that I don’t cook trays of muffins. We’re over that. That’s been discussed a zillon times.

This is about that I have, like so many others, unconventional family lives and that, quite honestly can make me feel really awkward and plainly incompetent.

When perceived ‘normal’ families talk about what they get up to each day, night, weekend, holiday, all as a big happy family, it has actually made me feel physically sick and incompetent.

The way I provide for my son (as his dad does too) isn’t the usual way we hear that so many other families do.
There is not sitting around at home with dad, mum, the kids and the pets, having a laugh, watching a movie together and cooking up a storm in the kitchen.

Sometimes, to be honest, I find this incredibly difficult and quite frankly, just soul-destroying.

I hear of family units talking about their ‘perfect’ lives – twirling off on a holiday somewhere, going camping, taking a caravan down the coast somewhere or really amping it up and going on a big trip somewhere exciting.

I shouldn’t feel like this. I mean ‘us’ single parents as a ‘we’ shouldn’t compare our lives to other family lives.

But I do. I just sometimes think, am I totally hopeless and stuffed this whole parenting thing up altogether?
I hear some mums talk about a big weekend with a zillion cousins, aunts, sisters, nieces or nephews and think, boy, that has never been me.

Sure, I have had a few women roll their eyes and make little digs because we, like many other ‘shared’ parents, have week-on, week-off arrangements.

I once walked into a room and caught the end of a conversation of, okay, I have to say it, stay-at-home mums: ‘Well, what would Melissa know? She’s not a real mother because she’s not with her son every day,’ one said. I quickly turned around, ran to the loo and burst into tears and made a quick excuse to leave.

I would love to say I actually don’t give a stuff about what anyone thinks. But deep down, I do.

At this point, the beautiful and strong teenage boy we are bringing up has a resilience, maturity and empathy that we could not have ever dreamed of. He ‘gets’ the fact that mum has to work, which often has me working unconventional and not, 9 to 5 hours. He gets the fact that Dad HAS to work too.

So when we add all of that up, he knows that when he is at school the structure he has there is something that neither of us could probably provide if he arrived home at 3.30pm.

Having been brought up in public-housing myself and having certainly not come from any kind of moneyed background, both his Dad and I have saved and saved to make him a Monday to Friday weekly boarder.

This will hopefully continue until year 12, but that is always in lap of the bank balance gods.

The relationships our son has forged with fellow school buddies and that extraordinary structure he has, the one where he knows his homework is done at a certain time, dinner is eaten at a certain time and bedtime is also at a certain time, doesn’t worry him in the slightest.

I know this choice and decision is not be for everyone – boy, I’ve seen heard those raises eyebrows – but most importantly, for our son, it works for him. And he is the only person we need to worry about.

You know what, it is just ‘our’ life. Not conventional. Not ‘normal’.

Yes, it often makes me feel inadequate that why would I even make an entire tray of muffins when there’s only me. Or just my son and I at home to eat them. But we laugh. We love. And we’re just roll with all the punches.

I love a piece once written by Ariana Huffington: ‘Vacationing With my Ex’ – about herself and her ex-husband celebrating a 12th anniversary: “That’s how long we’ve been divorced,” she said, “one year longer than we were married.”

Huffington went on to say that “just like marriage, divorce isn’t easy either, and ours has been no exception. But even though we no longer had a marriage to keep us together, we had something even more powerful — our daughters. And, spurred by our mutual devotion to them, we have made a huge effort to work through all the difficulties and be friends.”

The foursome, as a family, make sure they spend Christmas Day and both of their girls’ birthdays together as a family every year. And she admits that, with a lot of hard work, ‘we’ve grown closer and closer.’

They have managed one vacation to Greece all together, since being a ‘split’ family, and I just loved the feeling her words and sentiment gave me.

I just love that yes, we can all, somehow, oddly and only very, very occasionally can create a quintessential family unit. And she admitted not even letting each others pet peeves get in the way when they were on their family vacay.

Ok, it’s not a for-everyone situation, as so many splits are more bitter that buoyant, but boy, what a a damn clever idea.
It actually made me smile and realise that there are a hell of a lot of us single parents out there, just giving it our absolute best shot.

And that’s all that matters. Minus the muffins.

This piece of Melissa’s was first published on whimn.com.au