Here is the best business class seat on a Qantas Boeing 747

Here is the best business class seat on a Qantas Boeing 747

Business travellers and frequent flyers know the value of choosing their seat well in advance, especially when setting out on a long international flight.

Along with their passport number they can reel off a list of their preferred seats, plus a few to avoid at all costs.

If you’re flying on your own, when it comes to Qantas’ fleet of refurbished Boeing 747-400s, here are two seat numbers to etch into your memory: 5B and 5J.

These are prime spots for solo travellers booked on one of the revamped jumbos which long ago dropped first class for an enlarged business class cabin that extends into the aircraft’s nose.

Row 5 is the first row behind the wall which used to separate business class from first class, with exits to the left and right sides.

However, while the rest of the 747‘s lower deck business class cabin has a pair of seats by the windows, 5B and 5J are on their own.

There’s no need to share the armrest with your neighbour because you have no neighbour – what would usually be the 5A and 5K window seats are located too close to the exit door and the protruding bulk which contains the emergency slide.

In place of that seat is a customised module with its own magazine bin and what amounts to a personal locker.

The magazine bin is wide enough to keep a slim laptop bag at hand.

And while Qantas uses the locker to stow your pillow, blanket and duvet, relocating those into the overhead bin frees up this space for more of your carry-on kit.

What business travellers will love about the locker is that when you close the lid you’re rewarded with a large secondary workspace where you can spread out your documents and folders or temporarily park your laptop.

And the space in front of the missing 5A and 5K seats is ideal for parking your carry-on bag if you want it to remain within easy reach throughout the flight.

Being located at an exit row, 5B and 5J also boast insane legroom. And while they’re technically aisle seats you’ve still got your own window.

To score one of these prized two spots you’ll need to be travelling on one of the refurbished 747-400s which regularly fly between Sydney and Los Angeles (and then on to New York), as well as Sydney to Santiago and Johannesburg, and Brisbane-Los Angeles.

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.
 

45 comments

  • KG

    KG

    25 Sep, 2013 09:31 am

    Great tip, definitely the seat to book when flying solo!

    Member who gave thanks

    Fonga

  • Phil Young

    Phil Young

    25 Sep, 2013 09:58 am

    I've been lucky to sit in one of these sits on a trip to Santiago.  Yes, they'd have to be the best seats on that plane, at least for a person flying alone.  Being an exit row you have plenty of leg room, and the side locker is very roomy, so your personal space can be very tidy.

    However, this seat configuration is only available on one version of Qantas's 747's, for they have 3 versions, and most of them get rotated to various routes depending on maintenance and other requirements.

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  • Kogglogs

    Kogglogs

    25 Sep, 2013 09:59 am

    3E & 3F would also be primo possies, I would think too.

    Member who gave thanks

    AJS

  • David Flynn

    David

    25 Sep, 2013 01:42 pm

    Yep, for two people travelling together 3E & 3F are absolute gems!

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  • GregXL

    GregXL

    23 Nov, 2017 10:14 am

    Phily, I think there are really only 2 versions, QF just treat the 6 ERs as different to the 3 non-ERs that have the Skybed2. So those 9 aircraft have the single J seats in row 5. The one remaining 747 with F is the second seating version and is the only 747 that does not have the single J seats.
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  • AusFlyer

    AusFlyer

    25 Sep, 2013 01:20 pm

    Good timing for this report... I've just given myself 5K on this configuration so look forward to trying it out. Shame the return flight isn't one of these planes!

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  • Phil Young

    Phil Young

    25 Sep, 2013 01:26 pm

    If it's 5K then you're in a plane with 2-2-2 seating.  The article explains how row 5 is 1-2-1 seating.

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  • AusFlyer

    AusFlyer

    25 Sep, 2013 02:23 pm

    Sorry... I meant 5J. It's definitely this plane according to the seat map.

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  • Phil

    Philby

    25 Sep, 2013 02:02 pm

    Flying to Dallas at Christmas time, but there is two of us,  have chosen 14 K/J over and 14 A/B back upstairs, the reasons i chose these was:

    1) No baby bassinets upstairs and

    2) Exit row

    Would others agree if two travelling these are better than in the pointy end on the lower deck? 

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  • qfflyer

    qfflyer

    25 Sep, 2013 03:41 pm

    There is a bassinet upstairs and it's infront of 11 J/K. 

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  • Phil

    Philby

    25 Sep, 2013 04:12 pm

    Yeah you are right, well only one, looks like the middle cabin lower deck is only section without one 

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  • Terry

    Tez22

    24 Nov, 2017 07:57 am

    14K is my favorite on the 747. As you have noted, it is the exit row upstairs and I think it better than most seats down stairs. 14 A is also pretty good but the seat is further foward in relation to the window so a bit more difficult to see out if you are after the view.
    Members who gave thanks

    drgmarshall, OzMattyD

  • Sam Moss

    sam122

    25 Sep, 2013 09:33 pm

    Great to know about this. Shame every seat isn't like that!

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  • chris p

    Booster

    24 Nov, 2017 10:49 pm

    Um...every seat is like that and better...just not on Qantas..it's like it's QF's homage to the numerous other airlines (Like SQ !) who have much better business class on all of their machines (ok not the 330.)
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  • Alvin Tse

    074061

    25 Sep, 2013 10:55 pm

    Don't these two seats just look like Emirates A380 (with many exceptions, but still same storage space and comfort)?

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  • Ozkid

    Ozkid

    26 Sep, 2013 12:16 am

    Fabulous report. Re-assigned myself to 5B on a SYD-SIN flight. Woohoo!

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  • Colin Steven

    colin5353

    26 Sep, 2013 10:06 am

    Any idea what the PAX in 6A & 6K get infront of them instead of the back of the row 5 seat capsule?

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  • David Flynn

    David

    26 Sep, 2013 10:16 am

    A chunk of plastic.

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  • Alvin Tse

    074061

    30 Dec, 2013 03:35 pm

    LOL!

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  • 521303

    521303

    26 Sep, 2013 06:04 pm

    I go for upstairs in exit row Aisle seat everytime on the old Jumbos.  Great seat with acres of space around you.  No one needs to climb over you to get to the loos either.

    Member who gave thanks

    drgmarshall

  • Phil Young

    Phil Young

    26 Sep, 2013 06:37 pm

    Yup, upstairs in the 747 has a nice feel, being quieter and a smaller area than downstairs.  A bonus is that those with a window seat have a handy storage bin.

    On the other hand, almost all the seats upstairs, except for the exit row, result in either climbing over a sleeping person, or being climbed over.  That's bad enough for couples, but not good at all for single travellers.

    My strong prefence now when flying in J is to go for the centre seats, so that whether flying alone or with partner, both of us have direct aisle access with neither of us climbing over anyone.  The advantage of window seats is lost on long-haul flights, for most of the flights these days seem to be in darkness for most of the flight, and the shades are down for almost the whole flight anyway.

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  • watson374

    watson374

    27 Sep, 2013 01:13 am

    In a 2-2-2 layout, the centre pair always wins. However, unless you happen to be 3E and 3F on a 747, the centre seats in J are in sets of 3, with a middle seat.

    I assume you are mostly on the A380?

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  • Phil Young

    Phil Young

    27 Sep, 2013 03:05 pm

    You're right Watson.  I was thinking A380, which I use wherever possible.  It has 2-2-2- in J, whereas the 747 has 2-3-2- in J.

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  • watson374

    watson374

    27 Sep, 2013 03:41 pm

    I think that's why 3E and 3F are so loved - they're the only centre pair on the 747, and they're also staggered from the side pairs.

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  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    27 Sep, 2013 02:59 pm

    thanks cfor giving away the secret :)

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  • aqua

    aqua

    27 Sep, 2013 03:04 pm

    Yes, I've snagged 5B a few times and it is terrific.

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  • AusFlyer

    AusFlyer

    27 Sep, 2013 06:10 pm

    Due to a plane change, I actually flew on one these 744's yesterday and I'm afraid I have to disagree with your view that 5B and 5J are the best pick. I sat in 5B and it was pretty cold sitting there right next to the door. It was also quite an annoying seat due to the fact that it is right behind the front section so people are often walking past and bumping into the seat. As it is also by the door, people like to stretch their legs around there and when the seat it reclined flat, it juts right out and people again bump into you. Sure you have your own seat but it's not all that it's made out to be.

    The best seats are on row 14 upstairs. No doubt about it.... but let's face it, with the A380 style seats on the 744, any Business seat is pretty darn good.

    Member who gave thanks

    OzMattyD

  • Adam T

    AT

    27 Sep, 2013 09:43 pm

    I flew recently Singapore to Sydney on Qantas QF6 which would be their flagship 747 flight between these cities and was on the original angle Skybed 1. I thought it was a 'one off' but the crew told me this is a regular occurrence. I notice in the article above it also mentions this. Is this for real? There used to be an A380 on this route before all the Dubai change. I'm leaning towards SQ on my Singapore trips until QF has lie flat guaranteed. 

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  • watson374

    watson374

    28 Sep, 2013 02:46 am

    They are losing on SIN-SYD. Badly. Double-daily angled-flat versus quadruple-daily fully-flat and satay.

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  • AusFlyer

    AusFlyer

    30 Sep, 2013 12:33 pm

    Actually SQ have their Regional product (angled flat) on one flight to Sydney per day... or at least they used to.

    Your point is still valid though... and the fact that it is going to take a  year for QF to introduce their new seats on the A330 (which seems a ridiculously long turn around time to do it!) will see them continue losing business to SQ.

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  • watson374

    watson374

    1 Oct, 2013 10:28 pm

    No, you're right. While SQ 241/242 (the early morning SIN-SYD and evening SYD-SIN) has been upgraded to a 77E with the "new" J, SQ 211/212 is currently operated by a regional 773.

    Still getting stomped, though, and that's quite sad.

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  • Adam T

    AT

    30 Sep, 2013 10:41 pm

    Thanks all. Why doesn't QF put their new A380ised 747 on the Sydney Singapore route permanently. It seems bizarre when they are up against SQ on this flagship route. Or have I got it totally wrong and the route is only a 2nd tier one? 

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  • AusFlyer

    AusFlyer

    1 Oct, 2013 02:06 pm

    Actually they are starting to do that on certain days. I have a couple of flights to Singapore in November and am on the refurbed 744 on those flights. Hopefully they become the standard!

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  • watson374

    watson374

    2 Oct, 2013 01:14 am

    I hope to God Almighty they become the standard.

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  • AusFlyer

    AusFlyer

    2 Oct, 2013 12:59 pm

    Ha... Wouldn't count on it but I hope so too!

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  • SANDRA Thomson

    SandraAnn

    25 Nov, 2014 12:20 pm

    Isn't the person sitting in the EXIT row responsible in an emergency? As I am 70 I am not sure I want the hassle but would like to sit on my own as I travel on my own. 

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  • skystar

    skystar

    27 Nov, 2017 06:58 pm

    It was the 737 that required you to remove the overwing exit in case of emergency if sitting at that location.It would be the crew that arm/disarm and deploy the slides on the 747.
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  • Traveller14

    Traveller14

    23 Nov, 2017 01:51 pm

    The single seat depicted in row 5 is deficient in that for 'passenger protection' against trolleys that bump into seats, as well as other passengers, it's better to have the console next to the aisle not next to the window.
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  • drgmarshall

    drgmarshall

    24 Nov, 2017 11:59 am

    Exit row upstairs is the only way to go! Never mind slumming it with the riff raff down below. LOL
    No member give thanks

  • Joe

    Joe

    24 Nov, 2017 05:30 pm

    The nose is quietest spot of all 3 J class zones on QF 744's.
    That single seat is fantastic for privacy and space BUT is noisey as hell near the door and right above are the AC units.
    No member give thanks

  • Andrew

    EKdevotee

    27 Nov, 2017 06:38 pm

    Hmmm....all those Emirates detractors seem to have overlooked the 2-3-2 layout from row 5 backwards. No criticisms?
    No member give thanks

  • Glenn Toogood

    Toogl

    27 Nov, 2017 07:19 pm

    Just returned fro. SYD-JNB-SYD and had 14J/K in both directions. Absolute favourite seats. Exit row with incredible space with storage bins next to 14K. No jumping over fellow pax 14J (wife in this case). Whilst the seat faces the two J class flight attendents for a short time during takeoff and landing, this provides ample opportunity for conversation with attendants, personalising journey which generally leads to extra attention in flight service..also less line up for bathroom.
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  • John Goss

    Travelwell

    27 Nov, 2017 10:56 pm

    I don't know but I find it a little a bit of an indictment on today's society that many feel they don't like another human being next to them even in business or first. Sharing a just a few words with someone makes the journey feel quicker and sometimes excellent International contacts are made. Most people know when to zip it when another passenger wants to work or switch off. Having said that, had I missed those seats, I wouldn't want to sit at 5 E with 1 pax on both sides (in/out inconvenience) if that was the last seat on board. If I were running Qantas I would have configured 2-2-2 at Row 5 rather than 1-3-1. That extra seat would generate extra revenue too. Oops, apologies as I can hear the solo hermit lovers saying SHHH.!
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  • headfinger

    headfinger

    7 Dec, 2018 08:58 pm

    what are seats 16 j & k like in the upper deck, are they noisey with the galley behind or do able?
    No member give thanks

  • Gary Tudball

    quaternion

    25 Jan, 2019 11:33 pm

    Yup .. have always loved 5B or 5J. These are the premium seats on QF's Queen of the Sky. Unfortunately for tomorrow's flight I couldn't get .. so 3J was best ... at least in the "nose" is nice as lot's of space, Feeling sad already as it might be one of the last 747 flights on QF.
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25 May, 2019 03:44 pm

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