Qantas, the largest airline in Australia, has long offered a sub-par business class hard product on their 747s and A380s. While on their A330s and (soon to come) 787s, the airline offers a solid Vantage XL seat. The airline has been at a disadvantage (in terms of seat) to their competitors to the US for a while. While Delta, Virgin Australia and American offer aisle access from all seats, Qantas did not. Well, after years of lagging behind, it seems Qantas’ A380s will be getting a facelift.
In terms of the aircraft itself, the plane will be getting a new amount of seats on their premium cabins. As a response to increasing demand, Qantas will add Business class seats and Premium Economy class suites. The aircraft will loose some economy seats in order to accommodate the increase premium seats. The amount of seats in the aircraft will increase by one, with a decrease of 30 economy seats. There will be an increase of six business class seats and 25 premium economy seats. The airline will also expand the onboard premium lounge for First and Business class passengers. They expect the area to become more social, and offer passengers an area to relax.
The airline will add their A330 business class seats on the A380. The seats offer a much improved experience to the current layout. The seats will be in a 1x2x1 configuration, compared to the 2x2x2 that is installed now. This improvement will complement the enhancement and enlargement of the onboard lounge.
In terms of First class, the airline will not make major changes, focusing more on a facelift of the padding, upholstery, and improved IFE screen. Similar improvements will be done in the Economy cabin, with new cushions and IFE system.
Premium Economy will get a major improvement, as the airline changes the current seat. They will be installing their brand new P/E seat that will debut on the 787 in the coming months. This will add more space for passengers. The new P/E will be configured in a 2x3x2 layout.
Timeline and Expectations
The first aircraft is expected to be retrofitted by the end of 2019 (that’s two years for now!). As more 787s are delivered that can help the airline take the routes of the A380, more aircraft will get the facelift. The airline also expects that as more 787s are put to service, the A380 will be able to fly more routes in Asia. I expect they will deploy the A380 more regularly to HKG. They can possibly add destinations such as Beijing and Tokyo to the A380 routes.
The burning question I have is how will they fit more premium seats (especially Business class seats) with the limited effect on seat capacity. If you read between the lines, they don’t mention anything about the legroom that will be preserved in economy. I honestly expect the airline will reduce the legroom in economy. The airline currently offers 31” of legroom, and it may be decreased to 30”. This is all speculative, but it does burn my curiosity of how they will add 25 seats of P/E and only remove 30 economy seats. Food for thought.
I believe this will make Qantas the premier airline to Australia. They offer the most connectivity for their hubs at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The airline currently flies a few 747s to the US, which will not get the new product. Until the airline consistently offers retrofitted A380s and 787s to the US, be sure to check the aircraft type before making your booking. With their partnership with American on hold, Qantas’ reach in the US is not as good as it could be. It is, however, better than any other Australian carrier. I am also excited to see the A380 fly more to Asia, where there is a large demand for traffic to Australia.
What do you think? Do you expect the refurbished Qantas A380s to offer a noticeable improvement? What do you think will happen to economy class? Let us know!
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Images from Qantas and Wikipedia.