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Qantas gives more Boeing 747s an A380 upgrade

By John Walton     Filed under: qantas, business class, Airbus A380, Boeing 747

Qantas is continuing its overhaul of older Boeing 747s to bring their seats and cabin up to the same spec as its flagship Airbus A380s.

Having now upgraded all six of its long-range Boeing 747-400ER jumbos, it's now the turn of the 'standard range' late-1990s Boeing 747-400s to get passenger pleasers such as the fully lie-flat Skybeds in business class.

The first of these is already in the air – it's the special Olympic livery 747 used to ferry Aussie athletes to and from London's Olympic and Paralympic games.

Two more 747s will make their way into the workshop for a similar refit in the coming months , and when that's done all nine of the Qantas' jumbos will have been given an A380 make-over.

With the last of the 747-400ERs to be upgraded now in service, this means that the long flight from Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth will now always offer those superior seats.

Take a look inside a revamped jumbo to find out why those new beds are so much better.

As part of the 747 refit, first class is being removed from the jumbo's nose to make way for more business class seats: a total of 58 downstairs and up.

Here's how to pick the best seats in business class on the revamped Qantas jumbos for your next flight.

Speaking of Qantas refurbs, throughout August and September the A380 between Sydney and Los Angeles will be scaled back to four flights per week – the other three days will be picked up by a Boeing 747.

This is due to the Red Roo's reconfiguration of the Airbus A380 into a new layout with a smaller business class cabin and more premium economy and economy seats.

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About John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 7/8/12 by spinoza

im a bit confused between 747-400 and 747-400ER. Will the 747-400 on QF127/128 on the non-A380 days be upgraded?

1 on 7/8/12 by Darren

You just beat me to the question.

2 on 7/8/12 by Darren

So with this aircraft reconfigure, as an example what is going to happen with Hong Kong?  Currently QF127/128 is operated by a mixture of A380 and B744 which has a First Class cabin.  If the B744 are having First Class ripped out, does this mean that QF will only operate First Class a few days a week on this route? Or drop it all  together with re-configured A380's with no First?

1 on 7/8/12 by am

They will probably go daily with the A380 before they run out of 747's with First fitted. For the time being, these aircraft are not flying to Hong Kong, so First is still offered daily.

1 on 7/8/12 by Darren

I guess its a little too late in the piece for them to swap my flight from SYD to HKG from a B744 to a A380 on 27 November?  I'm travelling with QF in First Class for the first time and the B744 product looks pretty ordinary compared to the A380.

1 on 7/8/12 by spinoza

From the sounds of it, my bet would be that you'll be on an unrefurbed B744, unless you change your flight to a thurs/fri/sat.

and definitely agree, the old First Class is very ordinary. would prefer the new Cathay business anyday.

1 on 8/8/12 by Rufus

ha - are you insane?  CX has a nice business class, but the old QF first seats are much more spacious than old or new CX, and I'd prefer a 7 course degustation menu washed down with Taittinger Comte de Champagne in the nose of a 747 any day...


1 on 10/8/12 by spinoza

The food is definitely much better on QF First, and even QF business than in Cathay business, but I was primarily focussed on the seat and taking into account price differential.

The old QF First seat had a pitch of only 79", vs CX Business of 82". I have to say I was a bit surprised sleeping in the QF First seat for the first time that my feet could touch the ends (despite not being that tall)!

3 on 7/8/12 by conpt

Which routes are the upgraded 747's flying at the moment? If there are 6 in the air, I'm doing a very good job of missing them!

1 on 7/8/12 by madge

SYD-DFW is the primary route. Also SYD-SCL, SYD-JNB & SYD-LAX-JFK.

1 on 7/8/12 by am

QF still flies First to JNB, so that flight doesn't see the new planes. They fly BNE-LAX, BNE-SIN, SYD-DFW, SYD-SCL and LAX-JFK. SYD-LAX and SYD-NRT also see the new planes pretty regularly.

4 on 7/8/12 by cdirnber

Dös this mean that the SYD-FRA QF (5/6) flights will remain the only poor cousins  left with the old seats?

1 on 7/8/12 by DrTGanguly

Not quite.  QF21/22 SYD-NRT flies three class 747s.  The three class birds also make irregular appearances on QF 51/52 BNE-SIN.  Once the 9 are completely refurbished then FRA and NRT will probably be the only destinations to be serviced by 3 class 747s, but as per the emirates talk FRA may not exist in 6 months.....JNB and HKG are currently unlikely to see the refurbished 747s as First is sold on these routes.

1 on 7/8/12 by cdirnber

Interestingly the Amadeus GDS shows the old configuration well into the first half of 2013 (ie as late as bookings are allowed, into July) for SYDFRASYD (ie the EK tie up and loss of FRA does not seem to be adobe deal).

5 on 7/8/12 by iamwill

I flew DFW to BNS on a standard fit 747 Economy last Sep and what a long flight in old style economy. Im flying SYD to DFW on 29 Aug in Premium Eco and am pleased that it will be an upgraded 747. I have flown on the A380 and love the comfort and quiet of them although they are butt ugly from the outside. Be good to compare the upgraded 747 to an A380 and the original 747-400. Long live the first and true Jumbo.

6 on 8/8/12 by AusFlyer

What a shame the "A380 upgrade" is still not as good as the new CX product. Such a wasted opportunity by Qantas.

7 on 10/8/12 by Kelvin

Maybe Qantas should use there money to phase out the DATED 747, and switch to the more efficient 777 - 300(ER). 

1 on 13/8/12 by aircommute777

couldnt be more true. QF are screaming they're bleeding money & now they waste their time refitting these old inefficient flying fuel farms......... one has to wonder about those making such decisions

8 on 28/3/13 by Jim

Qantas 747 seat maps are confusing. I have a reservation for SAT-DFW-BNE-SYD-AKL, then AKL-BNE-LAX-DFW-SAT. The Qantas flights, booked, and seats confirmed with American Airlines and confirmed with Qantas, show seat 3E for DFW-BNE-SYD, last row, aisle, before the partition. BNE-LAX shows 3A is a lone seat, window/aisle, which appears to be the First Class cabin.   When I visit, manage my booking shows the above, so hopefully it is true. however, shows a completely different plane for all three 747 flights, which doesn't make sense with my seats..........Hoping Seat Guru is incorrect because I do not wish to get stuck in a "climb over a passenger seat" on any of the 747 flights, which is why I contacted the airline to choose spefici seats and booked it all 10 months in advance.         Great blog and comments by the way!     Jim

9 on 30/5/13 by pclifto

Sorry if I've missed this...

But can anyone tell me whether QF6 (747 flight SIN-SYD) has the upgraded A380-style business class?

Many thanks

1 on 30/5/13 by am

Occasionally, but the vast majority of flights still get the older seats unfortunately. We probably won't get a decent product on any of the Singapore flights again until the A330s get upgraded (whenever that ends up happening!)


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