back to all news

Qantas to roll out fully-flat business class Skybeds in A330s?

By David Flynn     Filed under: qantas, Airbus A330, lie-flat beds

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.

The move would close the gap between Qantas and Virgin Australia, with the later offering angled beds in its A330 business class, as both airlines race towards turning their lucrative but competitive east-west route into all-A330 services.

Read what Australian Business Traveller readers had to say about the Qantas' A330 seats in the comments section of this article

Qantas plans to have weekday Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth flights exclusively run on A330s from May 2013. Virgin Australia already went A330-only between Melbourne and Perth in September this year, and promises a similar service for Sydney-Perth will follow next year.

According to Crikey aviation journalist Ben Sandilands, "Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says he will recommend to the board fixes to the A330 domestic business class seat... Not only that, the current ‘sloper’ seats in business class in those A330s that fly longer haul routes for Qantas will also be replaced with flat bed seats."

"Joyce was emphatic that the existence of multiple and outdated configurations in the A330 fleet needed to be replace by ‘leading’ new products for domestic and international" Sandilands continues, claiming the CEO "said the A330 international fleet would be fitted with full length fully flat parallel to the floor seats."

If Joyce makes good on this it will come as welcome news to business travellers and frequent flyers who regularly make the transcontinental trek – especially if it standardises the A330 fleet around a single business class seat.

Qantas currently has nine A330s in its domestic fleet, with three different layouts and a fourth for the international A330s which sometimes fly on local routes, and will inherit more A330s from Jetstar as the low-cost carrier begins flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the later half of 2013.

Read: The best seats in Business Class on Qantas' Airbus A330

The quickest fix will be for Qantas to fit its A330s with the second-generation Marc Newson Skybed II seats used on the Airbus A380 and updated Boeing 747s.

It's worth noting that an A330's cabin is roughly the same width as the upper deck of an A380, which sport the Skybed II seats in a 2-2-2 layout, meaning an end to the A330's middle seat.

Australian Business Traveller recommends a closer read of Sandiland's article and suggests readers keep a close eye on his Plane Talking blog.


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 28/11/12 by Al

As we saw on the Gold Coast, and in the earlier coast-to-coast battles between Virgin Australia and Qantas, competition once again proves its worth!

2 on 28/11/12 by highflyer

I Agree, this is a great outcome!  Thanks for finally listening Qantas!

3 on 28/11/12 by Matty

It would be great if Qantas installs Cathay Pacific's new seat!

4 on 28/11/12 by Alexaqua

I have been flying Qantas about twice a year Sydney Perth for years in Business Class.  I have to say, the recent price war has saved me a fair bit of money.  The most recent booking was for my Christmas trip, booked Qantas there and back, on the way there an A330 and on the way back the aircraft was meant to be a 747.  Qantas then changed the operating aircraft to an A330 which I thought was ok, then to a 767 which was not good enough in my eyes.  Because the seat was discount business I could not move the flight without paying an extra $400, after a lengthy discussion with two call center staff I was refunded.  All I wanted was to move flights for no extra, but Qantas refused to do it.  I am now on Virgin Australia in Business class on the way home.  This is a huge risk for Qantas, something the call center staff obviously can't grasp, once I fly Virgin across the country Qantas may lose me as a domestic customer forever, it's what happened when I started flying a different international carrier, I have not flown Qantas international for the last 12 years, that is at least 14 business class trips to Europe and the US on other carriers.

It’s about time Qantas domestic had some decent competition at the pointy end of the plane, it’s long overdue.

5 on 28/11/12 by sdwylie

Virgin's A330 domestic seats may be better than QF's - but you can hardly call them a bed - they're definitely a seat!

6 on 28/11/12 by Peter

I think the question as to why they chose to unveil such a poor coast-to-coast business class product in the first instance is a very valid one.

Do Qantas management (Joyce & Strambi) just have poor judgement or are they being held ransom by a penny pinching board?

7 on 28/11/12 by aero-seat

Just there one of the great 'best seats guide' for Virgin Australia's new business A330 seats?

1 on 28/11/12 by David

Not yet, that is in fact in the works as we speak - err, type...

1 on 28/11/12 by aero-seat

Thanks David! Can't wait!

8 on 28/11/12 by johnnysfo

Oh Qantas again you prove to be at odds as to what you really want to delivery and what you are willing to give until pressure from Virgin and the flying public see that you better step up your game. Like it or not Virgin is gaining grounds fast and will keep doing so cause they give a damn about there services, guests, and products;-)

9 on 28/11/12 by yoshisturt

Qantas has been the un-disputed queen of the skies of Australia since the fall of Ansett. Since then, they have had very limited competition, so now, when there is a great contender to the business market, I see that Qantas has gone into a sought of shock in how to keep up with its competitors. It's the same with their loss-making internation wing, they claim to be innovative but when you look at other airlines such as Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines, they offer a disappointing service. It's a shame for such an iconic Australian brand.

10 on 29/11/12 by watson374

This is an interesting statement, and a welcome one. It's worth noting that fully-flat Skybeds will probably be a superior product to the angled-flats that Virgin uses.

Will W be introduced too?

11 on 29/11/12 by Andie

Until recent times Qantas for all intent and purpose has a monopoly. You had a few competion come and go previously but it's a monopoly. Hopefully now there's more competition we will see some decent price and service. It's interesting that Qantas is using similar tactics as Apple in creating their own eco-system through the FF and Lounge throughout the domestic market. Until Virgin can replicate that then the price war is abit hit and miss

12 on 29/11/12 by Rufus

Skybed I maybe, but fully-flat Skybed IIs for the hop across to Perth?  Surely that's overkill (and far beyond anything in regional business class on the likes of Cathay or SQ).

1 on 29/11/12 by watson374

If coupled to W, which I'm very interested in, it allows QF to have access to a plane that is theoretically very flexible.

2 on 29/11/12 by Al

Nobody's saying Qantas will use the fully-flat Skybed II on Sydney-Perth. The article and Alan Joyce says the international A330s would be fitted with fully-flat seats, but the only specific comment on the domestic A330s is that both it and the international configs "need to be replace by ‘leading’ new products. This could easily mean a new but still different domestic and international products, an angled lie-flat for domestic and fully lie-flat for international.

13 on 29/11/12 by johnnypc67

yes, what about W on the international configured a330. with hong kong, bangkok now with a330 it would be a good move like CX has done

1 on 29/11/12 by JBH

indeed, also W as an option on the A330 PER-SIN service too.

1 on 30/11/12 by MisterZed

What is W?

14 on 29/11/12 by highflyer

If they wanted to do this fast, they could transfer all the current angeled beds on the A330 international fleet to the domestic fleet, then reconfigure the international with the fully flat beds.  Or better yet, just give all domestic and international services the fully flat bed... that way they can streamline the whole fleet!

15 on 29/11/12 by Justin

I used to fly QF  Melbourne to Perth regularly. Not anymore. Discovered Virgin A330 business class this year and haven't looked back! Qantas are trashing their brand releasing a product like this into the market. Interesting how last weekend they made a big song and dance about the brand new VH EBV A330 aircraft at some sort of media event in Sydney. What a mixed message to send, "hey look at our great new plane" with J seats that look like Y. They should be embarrassed rolling out such a down market business class on a brand new jet. What the hell are they doing? Such a shame to see...

16 on 28/12/12 by ezihose

Come on Qantas catch up! Why did you bother with bringing Jetstar type seating when you had good seating to begin with. First A330-300 with great seats then 747s and now some silly milk crate seats on the A330-200's.


Related News Items


Australian business traveller newsletter

Get Updates as they happen, tailored to your preferences, right in your inbox


What topics interest you?