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Qantas moving to Airbus A330-only flights for Sydney-Perth, Melbourne-Perth

By David Flynn     Filed under: qantas, sydney, perth, Melbourne, Airbus A330

UPDATE | Stung by criticism over the business class seats in its latest Airbus A330s, Qantas is reportedly looking to upgrade the big bird to more spacious seats, including fully lie-flat beds on international versions of the plane. Read more...

PREVIOUS | Qantas will shift its two biggest trans-continental routes to an exclusive A330-only service from next year.

As of May 2013 all weekday Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth flights will run Airbus A330s – the biggest bird in Qantas' domestic fleet, with a new A330-200 arriving factory-fresh today from Airbus HQ in Toulouse, France.

This one (shown in the photo above) is splashed with the logo of the oneworld airline alliance, perhaps to underscore that despite the forthcoming Qantas-Emirates alliance and the ditching of the Qantas-BA joint venture, Qantas remains part of the oneworld family.

The new A330-200, named Kangaroo Island, is configured with 36 seats in business class and 268 in economy and will begin flying at the end of this week.

At first glance the business class cabin sports a 2-3-2 seating layout, with the dreaded middle seat... but that's not quite the case.

As with several previous Qantas A330s, the middle seat has been converted into what the airline calls an 'inflight workspace' for use by passengers on either side.

This was done simply by using a plastic shroud to cover the seat (and yes, this could easily be removed to reinstate the middle seat if desired).

Of course, being off to your side means the space is more for temporary stowage of kit to get it out of the way yet keep it close at hand, rather than a directly useable space.

These A330s have a 37 inch seat pitch, which we measured as delivering 18 inches of space from the leading edge of the seat cushion to the most rearward point of the seat in front.

The seats themselves are listed as 21.5 inches wide, although we measured the cushion itself at 19.3 inches.

Each seat in business class scores its own pair of AC and USB sockets... 

... while there's on-demand inflight entertainment in all seats from tip to tail.

Being fitted into the seat in front of you rather than a pop-up screen from the armrest means you can use the inflight system during the take-off and landing stages, when an armrest screen would need to be stored: handy if you want to catch the final 20 minutes of a movie before reaching your destination.

The recline will do for a light snooze on the transcontinental trek, but don't think about catching a redeye in these – unless you don't plan to catch any sleep en route.

If you think these seats bear a striking resemblance to Qantas' international premium economy product, you're not wrong.

Above and below: Qantas premium economy seats on the Airbus A380

These tread the blurred line between regional business class and premium economy, which is a not-uncommon scenario – for example, Cathay Pacific's premium economy seats are a slightly-modified regional business class design.

Qantas' Airbus A330 rollout

Qantas currently runs a mix of A330s and Boeing 767s on its cross-country route, with the 767s undergoing a refresh ahead of their eventual retirement.

Qantas will see a boost in the size of its A330 fleet in the second half of next year when it inherits the A330s currently operated by Jetstar, as its low-cost sibling moves over to the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Each former Jetstar A330 will be sent back for a refit to Qantas spec, a process which the airline says will take four to six weeks, before joining the Red Roo's fleet.

Virgin Australia has already shifted all Melbourne-Perth flights to the A330, and also plans to transition the Sydney-Perth route to an all-A330 schedule in 2013.

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About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 25/11/12 by mattdc

I wonder why they put that layout in the new A330. Also wonder why they didn't cover the seats in the leather like on the new BSI 738s. I think those seats are really comfortable and pleasing to the eye!

2 on 25/11/12 by undertheradar

IF heaven forbid (tongue in cheek)..a couple were travelling with a child or infant that doesnt fit bassinet or 1 adult/2children..etc..would/could middle seat be booked and used as a seat???

1 on 25/11/12 by Al

I reckon not. It's been blocked off for a reason and having to have somebody unscrew that plastic 'workspace' in the middle for certain seats on certain flights isn't something I think Qantas would bother with.

3 on 25/11/12 by Al

What are they smoking over there at Qantas? Here you have Virgin Australia with its new A330s and real business class seats, international style lie-flat, and Qantas offers this as 'competition'? It's almost an insult to business travellers, like Qantas reckons it can get away with it because so many people will have to fly Qantas for company policy or to keep their status. The sad thing is that they might be right, maybe they can afford to pull this stunt, but when I see things like this it makes me glad that I moved my domestic business travel to Virgin!

1 on 26/11/12 by aero-seat

I agree, Al! Qantas dumped their 747s on this route due to the competition offered from Virgin. Qantas doesn't understand that Virgin is serious. After reading this report, some of the people in my company have created a petition to move our company flights to Virgin! 

Worse of all, Qantas is advertising this as a 2-2-2 layout when it was really a 2-3-2 layout but a small desk in between the middle seat. It really is an insult to travellers.

I am so happy to move to Virgin! I think Virgin should advertise their new product to grab Qantas passengers affected.

4 on 25/11/12 by driley28

The A330-200 in this new configuration are more comfortable than the old 2-2-2 configuration used on the route.  These domestic configured planes however are not as comfortable as the skybed configured plane, which I regularly take back from Perth.

5 on 25/11/12 by highflyer

Will the QF 747 still operate it's daily service?

1 on 25/11/12 by Noob

AusBT did a story a few weeks ago about the 747 on SYD-PER flights being ceased 

1 on 26/11/12 by highflyer

I must have missed that story... bugga...seems they might be better off sticking with the refurbished 767's on the route with this new Y+ product

2 on 26/11/12 by aero-seat

No! Qantas dumped their 747s on this route because of the competition from Virgin. 

6 on 25/11/12 by watson374


7 on 25/11/12 by rebekkap

So why would anyone fly this business class when they can fly on Virgin business class to Perth, also all A330s, but with lie-flat beds and bigger screens?

1 on 15/1/13 by aero-seat

Some people have to fly Qantas due to company contracts, frequent flyer memberships, not reading AusBT etc etc.

It is really unfortunate to hear that people will have to fly on this because of those reasons.

8 on 25/11/12 by FrequentFlyer

I suppose this is good for economy passengers who will now get AVOD but when compared to the Virgin A330 with 'RED' and meals now, it will really just come down to the cheaper option.

9 on 25/11/12 by Charles

Virgin win with their product for sure. This short sightedness is why the have the issues they have now. Virgin have there product for coast to coast just about right, except they need to put the new business class seats in the older A330's. But even that product is better than what is being dished up by Qantas here.

10 on 25/11/12 by Skipp

Honestly - completely inferior seat. The seat back is so straight & upright like an economy seat - all it's got is the head rest attached. Seat pitch of 37 inches is less than virgin. The leg rest is more inferior with less adjustments and next to useless.. It's interesting how the quoted seat width of 21.5 inch seems misleading according to the article.. The seat is almost the identical twin to a premium economy seat they use for international. It doesn't take a bright spark to realise the middle seat was covered up because of the competitions new aircraft and far better product. This shows management already locked in the order for the inferior seats in advance, & were unable to change them without it costing $. As others have discussed, the only consideration in flying Qantas is possible 'status' points.

1 on 25/11/12 by watson374

What if the seats were locked in at the same time as the previous two with this setup?

11 on 25/11/12 by tronixstuff

With respect, that really isn't business class. Did anyone at QF do a test flight on the competition? Even cranky VH-XFA is better. C'mon QF you can do better than this. 

12 on 25/11/12 by Noob

Virgin Australia's first two A330s & their latest three aircraft with flat beds all have a 60 Inch pitch in Business, according to their website. 

Their 737 even have an inch more at a 38 inch pitch.

And to pick a random date, 25 June next year for Business one-way for SYD-PER - both 

VA $1,099 

QF $1,595

13 on 26/11/12 by mitchimus

As a QF Plat 1 I have to say I think the 'new' QF A330 business is a JOKE!!  Although have to give them makrks for trying to spin less seat pitch, less recline, less overall space as being competetive to the Virgin A330 product. I prefer the old product on the 767 as at least they have seats that recline and have proper leg/foot rests.

PS who in Qantas decided on the embarassing safety video with the cricketers?? Hello Captain, Hello Captain - really??????? It is funny watching the cabin crew cringe when they have to stand there while it is on. Never had them apoligise for the safety video before...makes the Olympic and John Travolta versions look like Oscar contenders.

14 on 26/11/12 by AirportAddict

When I heard about this new one, the first thought was 2nd gen skybeds.... why not? We'll just stick with VA - you can actually lie flat....!

15 on 26/11/12 by RR

It looks very cheap, mean and uncomfortable. Certainly not something fro the red-eye Perth to Sydney. Airlines usually only  put three seats in the centre and  block the middle one for conversion to economy on occasions.Is that what QF are going to do - pop out the plastic tray in the back couple of rows of business and sell as Y if they don't have enough business pax? If they are never going to sell the centre seat, then why not a more comfortable wider seat for all? It really is a slightly enhanced economy, and QF should charge accordingly. I don't understand how they justify  the outrageous amount they want now. 

1 on 26/11/12 by tronixstuff

Maybe for flights with a full Y load they could pull out a few trays in the last rows of J. Then ODU some plats in  Y and say "oh we've upgraded you to our new domestic Y+!"

16 on 26/11/12 by othy

Burned some FF points on a J class red eye back from Perth earlier this year on an A330-200. Red eyed and red faced on the non-Sky Bed red tail. To say I was dissappointed is putting it mildly - clearly a scheduling issue - but it seems crazy to put internationally configured 330s and 747s on during the day. Should have flown Virgin.

Seems like Kangaroo Island will be another transcontinental Qantas plane that you'd be better off buying 3-4 seats in economy to lie down in if you wanted to get some sleep...

17 on 26/11/12 by bsbtraveller

My disgust at this stupid move by the dying red roo has prompted me to sign up for the site, just so I can post my comment in the vain hope that someone who actually makes decisions at Qantas may read this.

I have flown DJ several times this year inc 2 business class sectors and despite years of me deriding them as inferior, I was so impressed by them. I have now decided that when my gold QFF status dies early next year and after over 2 decades loyally earming in their programme and I slip back to lifetime silver (which means nothing) I am abandoning ship and going to use Virgin.

Why would you put that service up against DJ when competition has never been fiercer?  I'd even prefer an old 737.  And please, don't tell me the blocked middle seat makes it 2-2-2.  I just flew Thai Smile A320 in 'economy plus' and I can tell you, evenTHAT is a better offering than anything QF dishes up and they don't pretend to be business class when clearly they have an economy plus product! whiich is all this is.

And hop online today and do some price comparisons and make sure your booking people do the same and let your company know how much they can save if they have a QF only policy.

Good luck to them, but I won't be contributing to their bottom line anymore.  QANTAS, for your sake, I hope you're listening and Emirates, make sure your customers know what rubbish they'll get domestically.  Caveat emptor!

1 on 29/11/12 by Skipp

Welcome aboard BSB traveller. You are one of many individuals (airline customers) with common sense and someone that calls a spade, a spade. Your comments on Thai Smile couldn't be more correct. It prompted me to measure up Qantas Business Class on their factory new A330-200s with Scoot, yes low cost carrier Scoot's Business Class as a comparison.

Seat Pitch: Qantas - 37" / Scoot - 38"

Seat Width: Qantas - 21.5" / Scoot - 22" (Note: This article suggests the Qantas seat width is more like 19.3", either way Scoot wins)

Legrest: Both have BASIC footrest fitted

Entertainment: Qantas - IFE system installed / Scoot - iPad with pre-loaded content provided, with Streaming to own devices being progressively rolled out.

In terms of comparing both "business class" seats, Scoot wins!

Price 19th December Sydney -  Singapore on Scoot business $999.

Price 19th December Sydney - Perth on Qantas business $1595.

Even though the flight time from Sydney to Perth is 1/3 less than from Sydney to Singapore, you are paying nearly 2/3 more to be in a seat with less pitch and less width.

What will be difficult for Qantas in the near future will be to convince their once loyal business class clients to come back to them after they have already made the move to Virgin Australia.

It honestly is so sad to see Qantas (along with its share price) ruined almost beyond repair over common sense management decisions.  If Qantas' slogan is "You're the reason we fly" then why aren't they listening?

18 on 26/11/12 by highflyer

Do you think there is any chance we will see the International configured A332's scheduled on the transcontinental routes?

I have flown on a few services domestically with the angeled lieflat skybeds between Perth and Melb/Sydney, but it seems like the luck of the draw... if they scheduled this in, then it would definately be more worth while, while keeping the above new configuration A332's between Sydney/Melbourne short runs may be better.

19 on 26/11/12 by Richard

I think maybe the answer to this seating debacle lies in the detail - this brand new A330 is actually in Jetstar config, the front cabin being Jetstar "Business Class" seating, easily interchangeable. It defies belief Qantas would actually use this as a premium business class for years to come, therefore I reckon as soon as the 787's come in they will indeed be given to Qantas with a premium cabin/seat offering and these A330's will quickly have their seat fabrics covered in leather and given to Jetstar ! what do you think ? :0)

20 on 26/11/12 by johnnysfo

As always Qantas is reacting to Virgins products and service and not being innovative enough to make there products and service stand out from the shadows of Virgin. Some Qantas management should be standing in the dole lines for this CRAP.

1 on 27/11/12 by Margeaux

Qantas claim to be innovative. In truth there is very little they have pioneered in the past few decades. Even Business class which they claim to be their inception was copied from KLM.

Sadly they are more reactive than innovative, they have many fantastic crew that are treated poorly, and as such are no longer engaged enough to care.

21 on 1/12/12 by Airlie

Sorry to join this discussion so late, but what everyone's missed are the ridiculously small and flimsy tables in these seats and the very similar (identical?) seats on the latest QF 737-800s. The tables are the smallest I have experienced in J class anywhere (and smaller than some economy tables) and are very wobbly when trying to eat or use a computer. Many people like me fly J class so they can work and these tiny tables don't leave room for a mouse and wobble horribly when tyrping. I have asked the Platinum One and the customer care people to provide identification of flights that I am booked on that use 737s and A330s so equipped so I can shift flights, move to Virgin or downgrade to economy (front row) so I can work more easily. Of course they can't do this, but I want to make the point of how much Qantas mean-spirited cost cutting is annoying their premium passengers. 

22 on 9/12/12 by ezihose

To go from skybeds to this is not worth it. Looks like i will switching my 50 plus staff to fly Virgin Business Class

1 on 9/12/12 by aero-seat

That's what many companies are doing. It's good to see people actually saying NO WAY to Qantas. They honestly can't give this kind of service to its 'most-valued' customers.

23 on 28/12/12 by ezihose

Due to this silly move from Qantas we will take our business class business over to Virgin for Domestic and Singapore for International. Some 80 plus flights per year gone. I know of about 20 other companies with roughly the same volume who are also pulling stumps on Qantas. No one can understand why they want to down grade and play in the Jetstar market. they own Jetstar so that should be the budget carrier not Qantas.


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