How to choose the best Qantas business class seats for your flight

How to choose the best Qantas business class seats for your flight

This article is part of our ongoing Business Travel 101 series for newcomers to the world of business travel.

Qantas flies a total of six different types of jets on international routes, with widely varying business class seats – so your experience at the pointy end can depend heavily on which particular plane you're on.

In the case of the larger Qantas hubs such as Sydney and Melbourne, travellers often have a choice between aircraft.

For example, across the year flights to Singapore and Hong Kong are made on the Airbus A330, Airbus A380 and Boeing 787, while flights to Los Angeles can see a mix of the A380 superjumbo, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and even the original Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

So should that choice present itself, here's your guide to choosing the best Qantas business class seats for your flight.

1. Qantas Boeing 787 business class

The Boeing 787 is fitted with Qantas' latest business class seat, dubbed the Qantas Business Suite.

If you want to fly the very best Qantas business class, the red-tailed Dreamliner is it.

The Boeing 787 Business Suite ticks all the boxes for a modern business class seat: every passenger enjoys direct access to the aisle, copious personal space around their seat, a large HD screen for whiling away the hours with inflight movies, and of course a long and fully-flat bed.

It also has one significant advantage over the original Business Suite which debuted on the Qantas Airbus A330s at the start of 2015 – the paired middle seats have been redesigned to put a sliding divider between them.

Push it down if you want to be sociable with your seatmate...

... or raise it for privacy.

Plus there are the added benefits of the Boeing 787 when it comes to reducing the impact of jetlag – higher humidity, lower effective cabin altitude, cleaner air and even time-sensitive LED lighting schemes – which will help you feel a lot better when you step off your flight.

But there's a caveat here. Like many of today's business class designs, when the seat converts to a bed your feet are tucked into a small recess, and that nook will prove an uncomfortably tight fit for passengers with plus-sized plods.

For blokes, the further you are from an Aussie size 8 or a European size 42 (or a 10/41 for female flyers) the more your feet will feel like they're in a vice.

To skip the squeeze, select a seat in the front row of the Boeing 787's two business class cabins – those are 1A and 1K, 2E and 2F, or any seat in row 10 – as they have a much larger foot cubby located in the bulkhead wall rather than under the seat in front of you.

2. Qantas Airbus A330 business class

After the Dreamliner, the business class of the Airbus A330 is your next best bet. As mentioned above, the A330s were Qantas' launch platform for the first-generation Business Suite.

Almost everything about the Boeing 787's business class seat applies here, including the size of those foot nooks – again, travellers with larger-than-average feet should select a seat at the very front row of the cabin.

If you're flying with a partner or friend, note that the middle seats on the A330 – unlike those of the Boeing 787 – don't let you push down the panel between those seats.

Of course, the A330 lacks the jetlag-busting technology of the Dreamliner, but all else considered it's still a great way to fly.

Unless, that is, you find yourself on one of the older A330s which are still burdened with the 2002-era Skybed business class seat. This isn't even a fully flat bed – it's an angled bed or 'sloping sleeper', and the seats themselves are certainly showing their age.

At the time of writing, only two of Qantas' 28 Airbus A330s sport these Skybed seats and it's a bit of a lottery which routes they appear on: Beijing, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Shanghai and even Singapore have all been visited by these old birds in the past week alone.

Sadly, there's no way to plan for this or work around it – it's just the (bad) luck of the draw.

3. Qantas Airbus A380 business class

The mighty Airbus A380 is Qantas' biggest and most impressive jet, but its business class cabin is decidedly behind the times.

Travellers walking onto the superjumbo's upper deck are faced with 72 'Skybed II' business class seats designed circa 2006.

The 2-2-2 layout means that a lot of travellers end up awkwardly stepping around or over their seatmate (or being stepped around/over) and there's a paucity of space to stow almost anything of use during the flight.

While the seats convert into a flat bed, their age sees a bit of droop in the lower half of the 'bed'. Pro tip: you can avoid the Skybed II sag by adjusting the seat to more of a sunbed-mode recliner rather than going fully flat.

One thing in the Skybed II's favour is the exceptional legroom, or rather the sheer space around your legs. Unlike the Lego-like modular Business Suite, the Skybed II pods are especially a blessing for large-footed flyers.

Another plus for the superjumbo is the business class 'lounge'.

Sure, it's a bit pokey and often underused, but it's always nice to be able to decamp from your seat and relax over a drink and some snacks with fellow travellers.

Note that from March 2019, Qantas will begin upgrading its A380s to overhaul the lounge – in fact, to create two lounges – as well as replacing the Skybed II pods with the the same Business Suites as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

This will be a substantial improvement for business travellers, although it's a slow process which is expected to take until the end of 2020 for all twelve A380s to be refurbished.

Read more: What to expect from Qantas’ newly-upgraded Airbus A380s 

4. Qantas Boeing 747 business class

Qantas has been steadily whittling back its ageing Boeing 747 fleet and will put the last of its jumbo jets out to pasture by the end of 2020 as the next wave of its Boeing 787 orders arrive.

Even so, there are still nine of the big four-engine 'Queens of the Sky' trundling around the Qantas network.

Each has the same Skybed II business class seat as the Airbus A380s, with the same drawbacks – and the added annoyance of a lack of any inflight lounge, compounded by a noisy rattling experience once you're in the air.

Some rows of the business class cabin even have a 2-3-2 layout, which means you may even be stuck in the dreaded middle seat.

But if a Qantas Boeing 747 is all that's on offer, you can still make the most of it by

a) choosing a seat in the nose of the 747, where the old first class cabin used to be, for a cosy cool vibe

b) opting for the jumbo's hump, the upper deck, where the smaller cabin has a private jet feel

c) snaring the prized seats 5B or 5J, which on most Qantas Boeing 747s are a solo seat with a handy personal locker by your side.

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

We should also note that one of the remaining 747s still has first class seats at the very front, although these 14 seats are sold as business class and mainly offered to top-tier Qantas Frequent Flyers (Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge members) booked into business class.

5. Qantas Boeing 737 business class

The single-aisle Boeing 737 is the workhorse of Qantas' domestic fleet but it also appears on overseas flights to New Zealand, Bali, Noumea and (from Perth) Singapore.

The Boeing 737's twelve recliners make for the least appealing business class of Qantas' international fleet, but travellers rarely have a choice – except for some flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to Auckland which feature the larger and more comfortable Airbus A330 Business Suites.

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.
 

27 comments

  • jubsie

    jubsie

    14 Nov, 2018 03:32 pm

    Thanks for the concise comparison all in one article - saves me comparing them now!
    No member give thanks

  • Lachlan Burnet

    Lachlan72

    14 Nov, 2018 03:41 pm

    Regarding the 2 x A330's with the old Biz product, it's now thankfully down to 1 aircraft only roaming the skies with this config (VH-EBG). VH-EBL has been in the hanger in BNE for 6 weeks now (since Oct 2) getting its refurb to the newer Biz product (complete with extra loo - yay!) The remaining aircraft with the old seats, EBG, will be used on SYD-DPS-SYD flights for the high season in DEC/JAN and then is scheduled for its refurbishment after this period, so after the next few weeks it will be far less of a gamble whether you'll end with this old style config.
    Members who gave thanks

    bne_barry, HAHLangy, JKH, Twonson

  • Tony D

    StarTeam

    14 Nov, 2018 03:46 pm

    Finally, Qantas is on the verge of turning into a complete Phoenix at last!
    No member give thanks

  • Lindsay Wilson

    QF WP

    14 Nov, 2018 04:13 pm

    Thanks David. Always good to have something up-to-date (notwithstanding the old A330 VH-EGB which I wouldn't be travelling on anyway). Being 6'2"3', it's always an important part of my travel planning.
    No member give thanks

  • Anthony Spasevski

    Zaps1971

    14 Nov, 2018 04:24 pm

    And Qantas still have the hide to charge you top dollar for a sloping sleeper...
    No member give thanks

  • Stefan Kane

    DrSK

    14 Nov, 2018 04:27 pm

    Nice summary, David. Your recommendation regarding 5B/J on the 747 is spot on - I really value the space and storage it provides. The challenge, of course, is snaring it - the consistency of the experience offered by the Business Suite is one of its primary advantages, I feel.
    No member give thanks

  • Sarah Banks

    Sarah Banks

    14 Nov, 2018 05:01 pm

    Can you still book the "redundant" first class seats on the A380 when flying Business Class, if you get in early enough?
    No member give thanks

  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    14 Nov, 2018 06:32 pm

    This used to apply on the SYD-HKG run but no longer does, since QF is now selling F seats as F, not J.
    No member give thanks

  • Robert James

    Bullybuilt Jake

    14 Nov, 2018 05:41 pm

    The Qantas Boeing 737 business class Sydney to Bali is a rip off

    The first 5 rows of economy class have an empty middle seat and the front row has far more leg room than business where you have no room to move and your legs are squeezed like being on the cheapest budget economy class you can find
    No member give thanks

  • Dave Adams

    qld gooner

    14 Nov, 2018 06:12 pm

    this is a great help thanks David. we are off to London and New York next year and will be flying on three of these aircraft I think.
    we are booking in a couple of weeks , so this is very timely.
    No member give thanks

  • Janeblogs

    Janeblogs

    14 Nov, 2018 08:11 pm

    Not to be too picky but 5j is the preference of the single seats as 5b has you sitting at the front door with all the passengers coming through at your seat or it did when I went to Hong Kong a couple of months ago. And while the F seats are now F on that route they are still J on the old 747 QF3&4 so it’s pointy end all the way, aloha.
    No member give thanks

  • David Cross

    Gilflyer

    14 Nov, 2018 08:30 pm

    Another advantage of the older business class seats (Skybed II) is that if you are travelling with a partner and one of you like to look out the window you can still travel side by side and enjoy the views. This is one of the things that I will miss as airlines go 1-2-1. Would prefer a 1-2-2 (or 1-2 with last aisle having throne seats), that way 60% of solo travellers still get direct aisle access, the remaining seats can be left for couples / families etc. I remember as a child being enthralled with looking out the window when travelling to Europe, probably the reason why I still love flying. Now travelling with children in business means sitting in the middle.
    Member who gave thanks

    JKH

  • Rav

    Rav

    14 Nov, 2018 10:22 pm

    The A380 was so much better than the A350 business suite, similar to the dreamliner suite with the cramped foot area that means you need to constantly wake up to move. Having so much room to walk around the cabin between the aisles was an exercise in freedom rather than the enclosed suites.
    No member give thanks

  • alan a

    alan a

    15 Nov, 2018 11:13 am

    Gr8 article. Thanks David... as I've been on one of those dreaded 222 config coming back from HK last month and to add insult to injury had the worse meal ever had to sent back twice and finally did without!! ….I think apart from the seating Qantas should also look into their quality of catering as well as one keeps hearing Virgin is superior in their F&B approach!
    No member give thanks

  • Chris Frame

    ChrisFrame

    15 Nov, 2018 06:10 pm

    Great article David. Just note the QF 747 that has F in the nose also sports Skybed Mk I for the standard business cabin. Would be great to grab one of those refurbished retro F suites before this aircraft is retired though!!
    No member give thanks

  • BevanMcBevan

    BevanMcBevan

    15 Nov, 2018 06:49 pm

    You nailed that David. Cheers.
    No member give thanks

  • Private Pilot

    Private Pilot

    16 Nov, 2018 12:16 pm

    Great objective article David.
    Small point, but worth mentioning to all travellers who think flying on a B787 is the best for comfort and jet-lag....it isn't (in spite of the advertising) and can't be...well yes, it is a comfortable aircraft, but then so too are others. When looking at what makes comfort, equivalent altitude (pressurised to 6000 feet or thereabouts) is not a biggy. We generally fly at about 35000 or more and at that altitude have cabins effective not more than 8000 feet. As soon as the aircraft comes down from there, cabin pressure drops to 6500 or 7000. There's no clinical evidence that I've found proving a health or well-being difference between 6000 and 8000 feet. I can say with confidence though, that noise level and humidity DEFINITELY have an effect. I much preferred flying the Airbus aircraft, due to their lower noise levels than Boeings (I flew A320's and B737's mostly). A350 has a business class humidity of up to 25% relative. It's much higher than B787, which has an overall (important here to stress overall) cabin humidity of up to 15% relative. As a result, A350 is a more comfortable aircraft to travel on...I'm talking Business Class. Add to that Airbus are generally less noisy and have slightly wider cabins in all variants, affording slightly more room. So in summary, QANTAS new business class seat is surely good, but will offer no measurable difference in comfort between B787 than it will in an A330. The best aircraft of all for comfort would be A380. If QANTAS use their new business class seat in that aircraft, it would be a plus.
    No member give thanks

  • Ladtsmt

    Ladtsmt

    16 Nov, 2018 09:23 pm

    The "secret" is far out now - B5 & J5. As a single traveller those seats are heaven. I do love the comforting gentle roar of the Queen's four engines. So soporific. The sleeping pods that slant keep my head above my feet, what's more they are well off the floor. In the nightmare 787 the flat 'beds' are so close to the floor if you face outwards you get a face full of tiny dust particles. I raise the back of the seat to get off the floor. That way it's like the pods of the A380 and 747. By the way, who decided to call the Boeing 787 a "dream" liner? Flying in any section of this plane is like flying in a sardine tin with the lid closed.
    No member give thanks

  • Aidan

    Aidan

    28 Dec, 2018 01:41 am

    Great guide. I have average size feet however don’t like the small foot holes. I find it restricts sleeping positions..
    No member give thanks

  • Martin  Slobodnik

    msport2012

    28 Dec, 2018 08:40 am

    The PER - SIN - PER route is serviced by the A330 now.
    No member give thanks

  • PERflyer

    PERflyer

    28 Dec, 2018 11:16 am

    Yes I am waiting to see if David can get some confirmation from QF about this as indeed all future bookings Have changed for 737 to A330. They got the Qf 3/4 extension of 747 confirmed recently so will be good to knock this one on the head with a official word from Qantas. The route is doing quite well I am lead to believe it certainly was full both classes when I flew it recently.
    No member give thanks

  • PERflyer

    PERflyer

    28 Dec, 2018 11:14 am

    My basic rule for travelling A330 business and 787 business is odd A or K Seats for the 787 and even A & K seats for the 330. This give you the most private real window seat and aisle in the outside. I flew 1K on QF10 recently LHR-PER an the privacy of 1A/1K is brilliant I got 8 hours non stop sleep the most I’ve ever got on a plane it was so quiet up there.
    Member who gave thanks

    P

  • Otto Van De Velde

    OttoV

    28 Dec, 2018 03:47 pm

    Hi David, many thanks for the comparison. Have flown the older BC seats on the A380 and B747 and will be ‘ testing ‘ the B787 BC seats on the Melbourne to London flight in April next year. I trust that all your regular BC flyers, who fly economy on US domestic carriers eg AA, need to book higher than B class in economy to have their points and status recognised for accrual on their FF accounts. Could be an interesting topic for future discussion on how Qantas and OW partners deny points accrual on some booking classes?
    Member who gave thanks

    stewart7000

  • Shannonbarry51

    Shannonbarry51

    28 Dec, 2018 03:53 pm

    Thanks for the tips, I personally find the best seats on Qantas biz A330 to be even numbers window I.e 2A - as it’s more private and had the large console to seperate you from the walk way

    This doesn’t apply on the 787 Dreamliner only the odd number seats I.e 1A or 3A are my only preference

    I just can’t wait for Qantas to upgrade the A380 - I refuse to fly that plane at all - the business class Skybed is shocking! The fact there is no room to do any work properly and sitting so close to someone else is just terrible. 2020 is ridiculous to wait that long, the business class must be suffering considering there are many other options for better hard product seats in Business Class than the aged A380 Skybed!

    Hopefully they speed this up!
    As a platinum one regular flyer I choose the a330 new fitout or 787 for Asia flights and then Cathay / Emirates for other legs which qantas use the A380 to avoid the Skybed and lack of quality

    Especially on my long hauls for work to London - A380 is out!
    Member who gave thanks

    P

  • Alek Friskan

    alecfabio

    28 Dec, 2018 06:20 pm

    I can highly recommend 03A (03K) on Qantas' B789 !!! Private, in front yet not close to the front activity. I had a sound sleep on my recent HKG > MEL !!!
    Member who gave thanks

    Shannonbarry51

  • eddies

    eddies

    30 Dec, 2018 08:36 am

    The space/comfort/privacy/storage between Skybed & Suites is so vast, I resent paying the same top dollar for the inferior Skybed product. I do most of my flying between SYD|MEL to HKG & LAX, and thankful that now there’s a choice from MEL between 380 and 787 daily.

    And spot on re; footwells. I discovered the extra room at bulkhead a year ago, makes trying to sleep much easier with my size 12 slabs of meat.
    Member who gave thanks

    Shannonbarry51

  • Shannonbarry51

    Shannonbarry51

    30 Dec, 2018 11:35 am

    Couldn’t agree more Eddies - I refuse to pay Qantas on my biz trips if the “Skybed” is on that flight. They also seem to charge way more than other airlines (Emirates / Cathay) which have MUCH BETTER biz seats! Space/Comfort/Storage and actually able to use the time productively, excuse the pun - to actually do business! I cant manage using my laptop and iPad and paperwork on the inferior Sky Bed A380, its a joke!
    No member give thanks

Guest

24 May, 2019 03:25 pm

×
×

Forgot Password

If you’ve forgotten your password, simply enter your email address below, then click 'Submit'. We’ll send you an email to re-activate your account and enter a new password.

×

Resend activation email

If you have not received the activation email, simply enter your email address below, then click 'Submit'. We’ll send you an email containing the activation link.

×