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The best seats in Business Class on Qantas' Boeing 747-400ER: Dallas, Buenos Aires, LA flights

By John Walton     Filed under: qantas, sydney, business class, Melbourne, Boeing 747, Los Angeles, Dallas Fort Worth, DFW, Boeing 747-400, best seats, worst seats, Dallas, Boeing 747-400ER, Buenos Aires

Every week, Australian Business Traveller brings you road-tested analysis of the best seats to pick on the aircraft you're most likely to fly.

This week: Qantas' business class on the four-class extended-range Boeing 747-400ER, which the airline is using on its Sydney-Dallas/Fort Worth-Brisbane flights, QF7 and QF8.

The plane also flies other long-distance routes, including Sydney-Buenos Aires and from Sydney & Melbourne to Los Angeles. 

Qantas has six in its fleet, and is the only airline that bought the long-range version of the plane from Boeing.

Other Qantas Boeing 747s are outfitted differently, including the two-class version that flies between Sydney and Perth.

The Business Class cabin

There are 52 business class seats on the plane, and all are Qantas' first-generation Skybed, which only reclines to an angle rather than going fully flat like the second-generation Skybed on the Airbus A380.

Why are the fully flat versions better? Don't miss our article on the Lie-Flat Lie.

Business class is spread out over three cabins: 24 seats in the smaller, more private upper deck; 28 seats immediately behind first class, and 14 seats further back in front of Premium Economy.

Upstairs, it's a 2-2 configuration (with an extra storage bin next to the window), while in the small cabin behind the nose there's a 2-3-2 layout: seats A & B next to the left window, then D, E and F in the middle, then J and K by the right window. 

Each seat is 21 inches wide, with 60 inches of pitch -- that's "your space" on board, between your seat back and the seat in front. There's an on-demand entertainment system with a small TV screen and an AC power point.

The best seats on the plane

Row 16: these four seats upstairs are just behind the emergency exit, so have extra legroom. The entertainment monitors are in the armrests (and not on the seatback in front), which makes bedtime viewing a little easier.

Row 11: still on the upper deck, these seats also have more legroom and TVs in the armrests, but the loo is in front of 11J and 11K, which could be noisy. Those seats are also the bassinet crib position for infants.

Rows 12-18: the rest of the upstairs cabin is better than anything downstairs: no middle seats and a quieter cabin. There's less air noise the further back you go in the cabin, but avoid row 18: it's got the galley kitchen, lavatory and closet behind it. 

Row 23: if you're tall, the front row of the section behind the nose cabin is a good choice, especially in seats 23A, 23B, 23J and 23K, which are by the windows. (However, these seats are bassinet crib positions, so you may be moved to make way for an infant, and it may be a little noisy.) Avoid 23E, which is a middle seat.

Row 29: like Row 23 except further back, these seats are over the wing so the view from 29A and 29K will be less interesting.

(Avoid 29E, which is also a middle seat. But these are immediately in front of the wall between Business Class and Premium Economy, which means the cabin is likely to be noisier.)

The worst seats on the plane

Row 30: the very last row in business class, these seats are likely to experience significantly more noise than elsewhere.

Row 26: at the back of the larger main deck cabin, these are right in front of the galley and bar area, although there's a bit of space between that should deaden the noise a little. 

E seats in any row: avoid the middle seats downstairs if you can, so you won't need to clamber over anybody.



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 16/6/11 by am

Just me nitpicking but they're not the only ones with the -ER... They are, however, the only airline with the passenger version of the plane (CX among other operate them in cargo config.)

1 on 16/6/11 by John

Absolutely, but of course the cargo version is technically called the 747-400ERF. Which I always think of as a tiny dog barking. ("Erf! Erf!")

1 on 16/6/11 by am

Well played...

2 on 16/6/11 by Billichka

The best seats upstairs cannot be reserved for DFW-BNE flights if you (like me) are a humble bronze level frequent flyer travelling on points.  Only rows 17 & 18 upstairs are available.

Same goes with the section in the nose which has first class seats but is being sold as business.  Only row 4 (in front of the galley) can be reserved in advance.




1 on 16/6/11 by John

Oh, you're quite right there. (Many other airlines also block the best seats for their best customers, which I guess is kind of fair enough, but no less irritating when you're not on the list!)

Frustratingly, the rules change according to season (I think, although it could be tide position, number of letters in month, or whether the system is having a good hair day), so I took a decision early on to avoid putting in that kind of information. 

Travellers will see the seats that are open to them and then pick the best based on what's available in the seat map.

Of course, it'll all change (we hope!) when the G2 Skybeds are installed!

2 on 24/7/11 by Stephen787

I recently flew in rows 17 & 18 and had no issues with noise from the galley or toilet.

3 on 19/1/12 by wtmccall

John, great article. I love the website. You mentioned below the G2 skybeds maybe being installed on the DFW-SYD 747 (the 747 they use on the long routes that only has Angled Business now). Do you know when Qantas is planning to install the G2 on that particular 747? (if they are going to do so at all?) I am flying that route in Business next December (still a while away), so I was hoping to get the G2. I'm not a Qantas frequent flyer so I don't think I could get the First seats sold as Business (right now I'm in 17K). Thanks so much.

1 on 19/1/12 by John

Qantas' seat maps page is currently showing two of the six planes that fly to Dallas have been refurbished, but I'm afraid it'll be pot luck still as to whether you get the G2 Skybeds.

Perhaps do some buttering up of the check-in staff when you arrive nice and early at the airport?

1 on 22/1/12 by wtmccall

Thanks, John. I really appreciate the response and will do my best to butter up the staff! One more question - so now in the seat map for my DFW-SYD flight in December, my wife and I are currently in 17J/17K (upper deck), but now 4E/4F (lower deck front nose) are showing up as available to select. If we assumed that this was the old configuration, one review of this flight I read said the first few rows were the old First Class lie-flat beds (and not angled), but Qantas still classifies them as Business class on this flight. Do you have any idea if that is true and, if so, do you think row 4 would be better than 17 if we were to get the old 747 configuration? Thanks again. 

1 on 23/1/12 by John

Oh, well, if you can select the F seats (which is what they are; no row 4 on the refurb!) then that's absolutely the way to go!

1 on 24/1/12 by wtmccall

Thanks John. Again - great job with this site.


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