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Qantas reveals new Airbus A330 flat bed 'business suite'

By David Flynn     Filed under: qantas, Airbus A330

Qantas will roll out a lie-flat business class seat on its Airbus A330s as the airline brings the fight to its domestic and international competitors.

The new Business Suite will be fitted to all A330s, and will appear on domestic (east-west) routes as well as international flight to Asia, with the first upgraded aircraft due to take wing in late 2014.

The seats will be arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration so that every travellers has direct aisle access, with the seating staggered to provide great degree of privacy.

According to Qantas, the seats can be left in a reclining position for take-off and landing.

Creature comforts will include inflight video screens plus Qantas' wifi Q Streaming system, a spacious side table plus a nook for stowing tablets, laptops and magazines, along with a pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

Read: Up close - dive into the details of the new Qantas Business Suite

The suites are based on an existing design but have been finessed by Qantas' house designer Marc Newson.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce says the seats would "leapfrog anything the competition is doing, and will be the best domestic business class anywhere in the world."

Joyce also added that he felt these would be "the best business class product between Australia and Asia".

While all 30 of Qantas’ A330s will be upgraded with the new business suites, the 10 A330s used on international routes will also be given new economy seats.

The domestic A330 fleet will have its existing economy seats refurbished.

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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.

 

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1 on 29/8/13 by AirRhodesia

Looking very nice Qantas! 

2 on 29/8/13 by AusFlyer

Now that looks nice... If only it wasn't going to take a year to introduce! Looks like a good decision Qantas and also the 1-2-1 configuration will put you back in the competitive market. Looks like they have a good degree of privacy too. Thumbs up!

1 on 29/8/13 by Waynec

Yea. It will definitely be awesome if they retrofit those planes that were to be returned from JQ. They are probably defering the refurbishment to the time of heavy maintainence for the A330s so that they don't have to take these planes out of service unnecessarily.

3 on 29/8/13 by spentan

Looks great, if that comes to the A380 (upstairs 1-2-1), they will definitely have one of the best products to USA/LHR.

Bring it on Qantas, :) Time to hoard some FF points

1 on 29/8/13 by cdinoz

Why would they need to go 1-2-1 in J on the A380? The SkyBed II already "one of the best prodcucts" to the USA (if not the best to the USA), and is pretty much at the higher end of the chain to Europe.

Going 1-2-1 in the whalejet would mean removing seats. They ain't gonna do that!

1 on 29/8/13 by Hugo

1-2-1 in a staggered arrangement isn't necessarily significantly lower density -- it feels like 1-2-1 but in terms of space usage it's effectively 2-4-2. Plus you get a nice big side table which just happens to be filled with someone else's legs. It's a good arrangement, it's surprising nobody thought of it 'til recently.

2 on 29/8/13 by AJW

No need to loose seats with this type of config. Two of the new style seats fited in place of two side by side Skybed MKII would take up the same space. The difference is the seats are closer together and the leg space is under the console of the seat in front. So same number of seats, still get a fully flat bed, now also get a console, but the seat appears closer together but everyone with isle access. That is good.

 

That said people cannot expect an airline to upgrade the whole fleet everytime something new comes along. Skybed MKII is still a good product so wouldn't be throwing it out of the A380's and the 9 747's with it just yet. 

4 on 29/8/13 by Oliver

looks great better then virgin for sure can not wait finally qantas you have done something right

5 on 29/8/13 by KG

Excellent choice, similar to OS, US and AY seats. Interesting to read that the seats can be in recline mode during take off and landing, wonder what made that possible, alwatys thought it was regulation to be fully upright rather than a technical limitation.

1 on 29/8/13 by highflyer

Similar to Air NZ, where i beleive you can have your seat in any position during take off and landing.

6 on 29/8/13 by StuParr

Nice seats but one can't help but think that with a 1-2-1 configuration prices will have to rise to cover the fewer revenue earning seats and also the higher cost of the seat.

1 on 29/8/13 by watson374

Not really, it'll be a staggered layout like the EK A380.

2 on 29/8/13 by romaau

I always thought you had to have your seat upright so in the event of an emergency the person behind you could easily get out of their seat and escape.

With these seats when you recline you do not impede on the seat behind you so there is no need to have it upright.

7 on 29/8/13 by fxdxdy

Looks great in the rendering. Hopefully it looks just as good in real life.It will be interesting to see what the complete cabin looks like.I am curious about seats that will be on the Right side of the cabin - I presume the seats will be 'mirrored' so you can still see out the windows (if you know what I mean).What I really appreciate is the storage. There is plenty of it and it works both with the seat is 'up' and fully flat, unlike the storage in British Airways business class.BTW, is the little compartment by the feet storage or life jacket?Economy looks good too with storage under the monitor which is great when the tray table is down and you need somewhere to put something.I can see some very good thinking from Qantas and Marc.Well done.

8 on 29/8/13 by LR

At last QANTAS will be competitive with the compitition! Its really good to see. I

9 on 29/8/13 by Hugo

So, wait, if I'm reading this right they're going to put this on all their A330s, and continue to use 20/30 A330s for domestic routes? This seems weird. This seat is serious overkill for any domestic route apart from PER.

1 on 29/8/13 by KG

The article specifically mentions that the seats will be fitted on domestic EAST-WEST routes, so not on others.

1 on 29/8/13 by hutch

Based on Qantas's media release, all A330's will be upgraded with this business product and  international A330's will get new economy seats too. So domestically, whilst they will predominately fly EAST-WEST routes, I am sure you will see them on other key routes replacing the 767.

However, a lot can happen between now and these upgrades and I wouldn't be suprised to see some A330's with seats for SYD-MEL etc.

2 on 29/8/13 by Hugo

East-West? They used to fly to Tamworth, didn't they?

 

They made the good times possible, if I recall correctly.

10 on 29/8/13 by Serg

It is strange – why Qantas reveal design so earlier? Do they believe that competition will be waiting doing nothing? At some degree those seats look better then some first class and they have to be huge considering 1-2-1 layout. IMHO announcing so much in advance just give competition time to prepare.

1 on 29/8/13 by spinoza

This isn't consumer tech / Apple / Samsung. Its just a slightly nicer seat, not a revolutionary new product. I doubt competitor's executives are comtemplating how to react to this announcement right now. 

1 on 29/8/13 by Serg

From mock-up it looks like one of the best business seat in the sky. Nothing about hi-tech and everything about space. Competition can be prepared and Qantas may loose edge

1 on 29/8/13 by spinoza

Maybe this article should have been a bit clearer - and I might be wrong, but this is just lie flat, not fully flat. 

So on the international front this is not really a better product (though not sure which asian cities this includes). 

For domestic on the east-west routes, Qantas had an inconsistent product mix, which was inferior to Virgin. This will put Qantas back in the lead. I suspect then one reason this was released now is to discourage business passengers who fly east/west a lot from switching to Virgin.

(Though it is still true that airlines rarely release their products like Apple, you don't announce a product and see it released in the wild within a week. Just see how long its taken for Qantas to roll out their new business toilet bags and new uniforms.)

1 on 29/8/13 by Ozkid

Pictures look like horizontal flat, rather than wedgie flat?

1 on 29/8/13 by Serg

Top pic clearly horizontal and on second pic it can be seen “foot well “ – no point to do it unless bed fully horizontal. But indeed all this is no more than speculations and we shall see final product

2 on 29/8/13 by hutch

Qantas uses the words 'fully lie-flat bed'... I'm 99% sure that means horizontal lie-flat

3 on 30/8/13 by AusFlyer

Wrong.. It's fully flat.

2 on 29/8/13 by hutch

I'm glad they released the design. However, it would be nice if they started the refurbishment by early/mid next year... though I doubt that will happen.

If they do start in late 2014, I'd guess it would take 15months to complete the entire fleet if they were rushing it... so could be flying old A330 product until 2016.

3 on 29/8/13 by TheRealBabushka

Why is the roll out so late? i.e almost a year's time!

Is Qantas becoming like our politicians? The insatiable and constant need to stay on top of the news agenda and to be seen to make changes?

11 on 29/8/13 by PLATY

Looks like a great improvement, if a while coming.

The timing seems strange - with the arrival of the 787s from JQ - surely the JQ aircraft will need to be refitted for QF duties as they are replaced by the 787s...does the indicated late 2014 changeover for the 330s imply that the handover aircraft will have to be refitted twice (or flown around with the old JQ seats from handover until late 2014 for the above seating).

12 on 29/8/13 by kash

finally!!

 

Pity the A380's are not getting it- I thought they would have had a superior product

 

1 on 29/8/13 by AJW

Define superior? By the looks of it this is a regional product and a pretty good one at that. The A380 has a long haul product.

13 on 29/8/13 by 7OD

Hopefully this will end up on all QANTAS long haul aircraft.

14 on 29/8/13 by tabs

Finally some class brought to QF!

15 on 29/8/13 by autvlr

Economy legroom looks amazing.

1 on 29/8/13 by Hugo

Only two seats in the entire cabin, and you still wind up stuck next to a fat guy.

16 on 29/8/13 by JBH

finally, this looks to be a decent business product from QF - plently of working space, seems well thought out - look fwd to the roll out but wishing for it sooner.

17 on 29/8/13 by Dave

These J seats remind me of CX's offering on their A330's, lots of storage, and 1-2-1 layout. Will JQ's A330's be getting the same treatment, or only when they return to QF on receipt of the Dream Liner ?

1 on 30/8/13 by cdinoz

JQ A330's won't be getting these seats. 

Will be interesting in seeing if the JQ -> QF 333's will get two makeovers in their time though ... the first when coming back from JQ, and then the second with the new seat products.

1 on 3/9/13 by AJW

For one JQ don't have 333's they have 332's.

Secondly JQ have two variants the first lot were the orginal Qantas domestic a/c and don't feature in seat IFE down the back not sure about J. When they went to Jetstar the only thing done to them was a change of seat covers and some orange splash (and livery of course). It will be easy to convert back to Qantas domestic interiors by changing seat covers again. I suspect when these come back they will have the streaming iPAD IFE fitted and then latter have the business class cabin changed to the new seats. So not really two makeovers.

 

They also had some new build A330-200's which were built to Qantas domestic specs, so again easy to convert back to Qantas look and install the new seats later. So far the ones that have come back have been these latter builds.

18 on 29/8/13 by kimbo

It looks like it must be pretty low to the floor to be able to fit underneath the console of the seat infront! Otherwise legroom clearance is horrible. In my opinion there are better products on the market. Surprised they went in this direction. This looks like the Delta seat they have on their 767s......... Bad move Qantas!

1 on 29/8/13 by cdinoz

These seats are adequate for their purpose. Long haul domestic (coast to coast) and mid haul international to Asia. 

These seats certainly appear to beat the intra-Asian J seats from the likes of MAS on their A333.

Becuase of the staggered config, the lie flat seat easily fits under the console of the passenger in the seat in front. 

19 on 29/8/13 by kimbo

It looks like it must be pretty low to the floor to be able to fit underneath the console of the seat infront! Otherwise legroom clearance is horrible. In my opinion there are better products on the market. Surprised they went in this direction. This looks like the Delta seat they have on their 767s......... Bad move Qantas!

20 on 29/8/13 by Lachlan

Great qantas!

This is the edge over Virgin. No competition anymore!!

1 on 29/8/13 by J Dee

That's assuming Virgin sits on its hands for the next 12-16 months...

21 on 29/8/13 by Waynec

Great job Qantas. This looks much nicer than the lie flat seat that SQ have installed in its A330. It seems nicer and more classy than the CX A330 as well.

1 on 31/8/13 by kash

yeah QF has better colours but I doubt it is a better seat than CX

22 on 29/8/13 by aero-seat

Wow, looks very good! I wonder what Virgin Australia will do with this competition. I think the 1-2-1 confirguration is a big win for business travellers.

23 on 29/8/13 by tjtecoma

Looks great! Shame we have to wait so long though.  I've always liked the skybed but now like others, my expectations will be when do we see it on the a380?!

24 on 29/8/13 by am

Sensational. Those economy seats do look mighty narrow though, is there any chance that Qantas might add Premium Economy to the international planes?

1 on 29/8/13 by watson374

Damn straight I hope they will. International A330s with fully-flat J and a W cabin are about five years overdue.

25 on 30/8/13 by Whatever

Certainly adding some expensive finishes to make it look nice but this is basically the same as JetBlue are putting on A321...... without the doors

26 on 31/8/13 by sl0uch

The slow rollout has happened before. When JL and NH launched their angled lie-flat seats in 2002/03, I think the seats were also announced this far in advance, and didn't become widely available for maybe 2-3 years. It happens when airlines are not in a hurry to add competitive edge. JL and NH were bring new seats to the same routes at the same timing...and couldn't care less about going after new pax or routes. By comparison CX's A330 retrofit/new deliveries were fast and deliberate, though I'm not sure who could've struck that level of fear into CX to spur that, surely not CA/MU/CZ etc? :)

QF isn't really losing their edge with an early reveal, because as you may already know, most airlines don't create original seat designs, they take off-the-shelf products from the seat maker, sometimes they'll request a few color/feature changes, but that's it. In the process of picking a new seat, most carriers will likely all pick from the same pool, so they'll all be toe-to-toe in the same time period.

1 on 31/8/13 by kash

SQ and the benefits of having a consistant product for a longer time!!- caused CX to do so

2 on 1/9/13 by highflyer

CX got a lot of flack for the "coffin class" layout that were very claustrophobic... got a lot of attention from frequent travellers, hence the move to get them changed out as fast as possible

 

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