Trans-Tasman travellers will enjoy laptop power sockets and and video screens at every seat as Qantas' three new Boeing 737-800 aircraft begin flying "across the ditch" between Australia and New Zealand this month.
The new planes will start out on the high-traffic Sydney-Auckland, Sydney-Wellington, Melbourne-Auckland and Melbourne-Wellington routes, with Sydney-Christchurch flights from March.
Competitor Pacific Blue (a subsidiary of Virgin Blue) already flies the newer 737-800 to and from New Zealand but these lack some of the Qantas drawcards such as Marc Newson-designed seating with AC power outlets and USB ports for keeping the batteries on laptops, smartphones and tablets charged up, or just giving them a top-up before you land.
Also fitted from tip to tail are touchscreen video panels with the same 'on demand' video and audio technology as Qantas' Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 flights.
Qantas has been flying select Airbus A330-200s equipped with in-seat power, USB and in-seat touchscreens on its longest domestic flights between the east and west coast of Australia since 2009, but this is the first time Qantas has provided these amenities on a trans-Tasman flight.
Business class passengers like the contented gent above will be seated two either side of the aisle in the first three rows at the front of the plane with a relatively tight 37" pitch (the space between your seatback and the one in front) -- that's one inch less than Qantas' longhaul premium economy, although it's certainly bearable for the four hour flying time.
Here's the obligatory 'cheat' shot of economy class implying a lot more legroom than there really is... and having nobody next to you, or kicking your seat from behind you (and not even a seat in front of you) is always a bonus.
It's much more of a squeeze in economy, with a knee-crunching 30" pitch (that's a full inch less than Pacific Blue) in the 156 economy seats ranked in a three-three layout. We'll soon be checking out the new aircraft to report on the best seats -- or perhaps, the least-worst seats? -- in the 737-800's economy cabin.
These three Boeing 737-800 'Next Generation' aircraft are the first of 14 due for delivery this year, a Qantas spokeswoman told Australian Business Traveller, and will replace some of the carrier's original first-generation 737-400s -- the oldest of which was delivered 18 years ago.
The shape of 'things with wings' to come: a sneak peak at the Sky Interior we expect to see on future Boeing 737-800 deliveries later this year.
Deliveries of the 737-800 in the second half of the year are tipped to be fitted with Boeing's 787-themed Sky Interior.
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.