Qantas Boeing 787 premium economy (Melbourne-Los Angeles)

Review: Qantas Boeing 787 premium economy (Melbourne-Los Angeles)

QF (Qantas)
Cabin Class:
Premium Economy
Aircraft Type:
Boeing 787-9





What's Hot

  • Modern seat with plenty of storage, crisp IFE screen
  • Inflight service more like business class than economy

What's Not

  • Lack of seat pitch makes sleeping, aisle access difficult
  • New foot rest/foot net wasn't very comfortable for sleeping


  • Stuck in a middle seat? You actually get more space than other travellers, as the seat is wider


Qantas boasted of a "revolutionary" design for its all-new premium economy seat created for the Boeing 787, but too little legroom and an overly-complicated footrest system detract from the seat's many positive traits. Australian Business Traveller travelled in premium economy on the Dreamliner's inaugural international flight from Melbourne to LA to bring you this review.


  • Frequent flyer program: Qantas Frequent Flyer, Oneworld.
  • Checked baggage allowance: 2x23kg bags as standard on flights to North America, boosted to 3x23kg for Qantas Club members, Qantas Silver and Gold frequent flyers and most Oneworld Emerald cardholders, except for Qantas Platinum and above where the allowance is a higher 3x32kg.
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: Choice of 2x115cm bags, or 1x115cm bag plus 1x185cm garment bag, up to 7kg per piece (14kg in total).
  • Airport fast-track: Access to priority check-in and boarding lanes, although not Australian 'Express Path' facilities such as for security and passport control, or priority security screening when departing the USA: these perks of business class don’t trickle down to premium economy.


As with most airlines, lounge access isn’t included with a Qantas premium economy ticket, although Qantas Club and American Airlines Admirals Club members plus Gold frequent flyers and other Oneworld Sapphire cardholders do have access to the Qantas international business class lounge in Melbourne when flying Qantas.

The lounge also welcomes travellers with single-entry Qantas lounge passes, such as provided to Qantas Silver frequent flyers and with many credit cards, including the popular Qantas American Express Ultimate and Qantas American Express Premium cards.

Higher-tier Qantas Platinum, Platinum One, Chairman’s Lounge and other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers can instead relax in Melbourne’s Qantas first class lounge, where restaurant dining, Champagne and complimentary day spa treatments await.

Priority Pass lounge members could instead visit Bar Pulpo by MoVida or Urban Provodore for $36 in dining credit in lieu of lounge access, when the restaurant processes one 'lounge visit' on your Priority Pass account.

Still not set for lounge access or a pre-flight meal? You can also buy your way into the independent Marhaba Lounge in Melbourne at a cost of $65 per person for up to four hours.

And, from early 2018, American Express and Plaza Premium will open independent lounges in the city’s international terminal which passengers on Qantas and all other airlines can access, so even though your ticket may not include a lounge, there are a plethora of options to replace waiting at the gate.


Premium economy on Qantas’ Boeing 787-9 jets comes as a cosy four row, 28-seat cabin just behind business class and in front of economy, arranged in a 2-3-2 layout (AB-DEF-JK: the green seats).

There’s 38 inches of pitch between each row (the measurement from your headrest to the same place on the seat in front), and 20.5 inches of width (the cushion itself being 19.5 inches): except in the middle ‘E’ seats where the width is 23.3 inches.

On boarding, you’ll find a pillow on your seat, and while this can be used as any regular back pillow, it slides over your headrest too for a more comfortable ride, whether you’re sitting upright or tilting far back.

The seats have a shell around them for a little extra privacy, and this also incorporates an angled ‘mood light’, which isn’t bright enough to be a reading light (a shame there’s no dimmer to make this so), but can be used to slightly illuminate the space around you: useful when working on a laptop when the main cabin lights are out, without disturbing your neighbour more than necessary:

You’ll find the control for this at the top of the inflight entertainment screen, along with the actual overhead reading light, which is much brighter.

Meanwhile, the seat’s recline button, headphone outlet and a high-powered USB port (useful for charging tablets like iPads or the Microsoft Surface) are all next to you:

For more juice, there’s one AC power outlet shared between two passengers in the outer pairs, and two outlets between three passengers in the centre trio – an unfortunate downgrade to having one proper power point per person as many other airlines offer in premium economy.

That said, a second, lower-powered USB charging port is located directly in front of you for charging smaller gadgets like smartphones, or keeping larger tablets powered up without actually recharging them…

… along with a mesh pocket that’s suitable for smartphones, watches and other small items, and is a good place to keep your smartphone if it’s plugged into the nearby USB charger, as it’ll be out of your way…

… and if you pull the silver tab below the USB outlet, you’ll unlock the footrest, which includes two elements: a net which cradles your feet, and a paddle that supports your legs in combination with the foot net (pictured).

Here’s what that looks like from the side:

You can also use the paddle as a footrest of its own, with the height adjustable to suit (just pull the switch until you’re comfortable), even if that’s only slightly above the normal height of the cabin floor:

As for storage, there’s a cocktail table in between each seat – one table between two in the outer pairs, and two between three in the centre seats, much as with power outlets…

… plus a seatback pocket that can accommodate most laptops and tablets…

… a water bottle nook, which is handy if not a little difficult to access when your seat is reclined, or the tray table is deployed – such as when working on a laptop…

… and a little space to the side of the seat, perfect for your amenity kit or other small items:

Passengers sitting by the aisle can also lower their outer armrest for a little more space, but the switch to unlock this is tucked away underneath, so you’ll need to hunt for it.

Once located, press it and your armrest is free to move. However, it can only be fixed in place when completely raised or all the way down (pictured): you can’t nudge it down by only an inch or so – which would make some sitting and sleeping positions more comfortable – else it’ll drop completely.

When it comes to sleeping and relaxing, taller travellers will also appreciate that the seat’s headrest can be raised, including when the pillow is attached, and has adjustable side wings: although unfortunately the headrest itself can’t be angled forward to perfectly cradle your head.

Of course, you can also recline your seat. The whole thing tilts back with you, shell included, and when the person in front of you has only reclined part way as pictured, there’s still plenty of room to move about.

However, these seats can recline as far back as 9.5 inches, which is great for the person reclining, but not fantastic for the person behind. For example, here are three seats: the seat on the left is upright, the centre seat is partially reclined, and the seat on the far right is all the way back:

When there’s only 38 inches of pitch to begin with, when your seat is upright and the person in front is all the way back, that reduces your available space to 28.5 inches at the tightest point (near their headrest), making it incredibly difficult to get out and access the aisle, particularly for the centre and window passengers.

There’s still ample room to work on a laptop when the seat in front is all the way back, owing to that seat being slanted – but there’s less room for your knees, particularly if using the paddle as a footrest.

I made that discovery when the passenger in front swapped from ‘full upright’ to ‘full recline’ rather quickly, which saw my slightly-tilted inflight entertainment screen painfully crash into my kneecaps, even when my own seat was all the way back for maximum space, and rendered the footrest paddle unusable for that purpose unless positioned down near the cabin floor:

I then tried to use the net for my feet and the paddle as a leg rest instead, but didn’t find that particularly comfortable or sturdy – as resting my feet in the net pulled the paddle forward and away from me, so I resorted to sticking my feet out each side of the net, unsupported, just to have the paddle in a suitable spot.

Still unhappy with this, I spent a further 90 minutes trying various positions involving the foot net and leg paddle in an attempt to get comfortable for sleeping, but regardless of which I tried, I didn’t find success, and was left wanting the traditional, solid leg rest of Qantas’ last-generation premium economy seat (shown below).

Also regarding personal space, it’s very difficult to stand up and access the aisle when behind a fully-reclined seat – particularly for centre and window passengers who are further away from that aisle – which saw numerous travellers on my flight walking on the actual seats to get across, and jumping down into their seat and landing with a floor-shaking ‘thud’.

All things considered, on the 14-hour trek from Melbourne to LA, I managed to get literally one hour of sleep. Passengers talking loudly in the cabin didn’t help, but honestly, neither did the seat pitch, the foot net/leg paddle or my seat’s position next to the rear curtain, where I found I was bumped at least half the time somebody walked through, most commonly, when returning from the restroom.

Combine that with being awoken by ‘seat jumpers’ who found this easier than navigating behind reclined seats, and the regular disturbances made anything more than a nap difficult to achieve: and I arrived in LA dreary and red-eyed, despite normally sleeping quite well on planes.

For example, on my last Boeing 787 premium economy flight – from Ho Chi Minh City to Sydney with Vietnam Airlines, on an off-the-shelf seat with a traditional swing-up leg rest and 42 inches of pitch – I slept for 4.5 hours of the eight-hour journey.

By contrast, on Qantas’ Boeing 787 which lacks a traditional leg rest and where the pitch is a smaller 38 inches – not just proving tight, but also inducing passengers to hop over seats, making sleep for others more difficult – I managed only an hour’s kip, which is what I’d expect of regular economy, not premium economy.


Seat aside, a better part of the premium economy experience is the inflight dining, which is more ‘business class lite’ than ‘economy plus’, and begins with a choice of sparkling water, still water or sparking wine before take-off.

Normally, Australian Katnook Founder’s Block Chardonnay Pinot Noir is poured in premium economy in place of Champagne, but being the Qantas Dreamliner’s inaugural international passenger flight, this was upgraded to Jacquart Champagne (from business class) for the first round.

Drinks continue after take-off, where I opted for a simple Coke Zero, served with a snack mix…

… ahead of the dinner service approximately two hours into the flight, where passengers choose one main course to accompany a green leaf salad with balsamic vinaigrette and a peach and vincotto cake, served on the one tray.

On this flight, the options were:

  • Salad of smoked salmon with kale and cabbage slaw
  • Spice roasted chicken with white bean and chorizo cassoulet and gremolata
  • Pork scotch fillet with braised red cabbage, roast vegetables, apple and rhubarb sauce

You can pre-order your preferred dish online up to seven days before your flight to ensure you don’t miss out on your first meal choice on board, however, pre-ordering also gives a fourth option: in this case, a lamb kofta sandwich with baba ghanoush, harissa mayonnaise and pickles, which I'd pre-requested:

The lamb itself was delicious, but much of the bread was overcooked and rock solid: and thus, inedible.

Weis ice cream bars follow for dessert, before the cabin lights were dimmed and remained so until breakfast.

If you’re peckish in between, a selection of bites can be ordered throughout the flight, including a beef brisket sandwich, spinach and ricotta spanakopita, fresh fruit, biscuits and more, although I didn’t indulge.

After a nip of wake-me-up juice, breakfast itself offers two easy-to-remember options: a continental brekky with cereal and a seasonal fruit plate, and the hot breakfast being a feta and spinach omelette, pork and apple sausage, bacon, a hash brown and braised beans, plus a fruit salad.

Normally the latter would be ‘side salad’-sized, but as the cabin crew ran out of fruit salads and I was the last passenger to be served (sitting in the back row) and had requested the hot meal, the crew offered the much larger fruit plate from the continental breakfast instead, which I accepted:

The accompanying Danish with the meal was quite hard, but the hot meal was more than acceptable, and the fruit of the fruit plate was still fresh: particularly the grapes.

Tea and coffee are available with the crew cheerily offering “milk or Baileys” after a passenger further forward makes the request, although espresso options like lattes and cappuccinos as provided in business class aren’t extended to premium economy.

Entertainment & Service

A 13.3-inch HD touchscreen sits in front of each premium economy passenger, or folds up from within the armrest for those in the first row, screening a selection of movies and TV shows on demand, plus games and music:

While the screen begins its journey in line with the seatback…

… when the person in front of you eventually reclines, you can tilt it outward to suit your preferred viewing angle.

There’s no tail camera as found on Qantas’ Airbus A380, but there’s an interactive moving map in its place.

Somebody just needs to check their measurements though, as the map was incorrectly projecting a frighteningly long route from Melbourne to LA of around 25,000km, which would only be accurate if flying from Australia to LA via London and New York, as Melbourne-LA is normally about 13,000km.

While there’s plenty of content to watch outside of the moving map, many travellers pack their own tablets to keep up with their favourite shows: and for that, there’s a tablet shelf.

You’ll find it by yanking forward the tab marked ‘pull’ underneath the screen: then, slot your gadget in, slide it over to the side so that it stays in place in the vertical holder, and let go.

The ledge keeps it firm without being so tight as to damage the screen, but do double-check that it’s snug in place to prevent it ending up on the ground.

However, when a large tablet is in place – a Microsoft Surface in my case – the digital seat controls can’t be accessed properly, such as to turn off Qantas’ own screen behind, to adjust your seat’s lighting or to call the crew, as the tablet blocks your access to these:

It’s also bothersome because the fixed inflight entertainment screen is designed to respond to the heat of your fingers, which works well when that’s the screen you’re using, but not when you’re mounting a tablet: one bump during the installation process and the screen comes back to life, even if you'd previously switched it off.

And, if you do get your tablet snug in the holder without touching the main screen, the heat of the tablet itself wakes it up – and in my case, caused the system to think I was constantly clicking in the same place, which distractingly kept opening and closing tabs, and for a moment, switched the system to Chinese.

If you’re watching the main screen sans tablet, active noise-cancelling headphones are provided – the same as handed out in business class – and while these were of a much better quality than many of the headphones I’ve tried on other airlines, it’s hard to beat a pair of BYO Bose QC35s, which I soon switched to.

Country Road amenity kits are also supplied, containing a dental kit with floss, socks and an eyeshade, with ear plugs available on request.

Overall, service from the cabin crew on today’s flight was excellent, being laidback yet not too casual and polite without being overly formal or familiar: and after introducing myself as ‘Chris’ in response to hearing “Mr. Chamberlin” at the beginning of the flight, that preference was remembered until landing, and again when I bumped into that same member of the crew at US Customs.

During the flight, the crew also advise premium economy passengers to head rearwards and use the economy class bathrooms instead of forwards for the business class lavatories, as there are none in premium economy itself – although allowances are made when trolleys are blocking the aisles between the premium economy cabin and the economy toilets.

Previously, Qantas had advised that premium economy passengers would share bathrooms with business class, but that policy must have changed at the last minute, because the bathroom indicator light at the front of premium economy actually corresponded to the business class toilets, not those of economy.

To see whether the economy lavs were available – the ones you’re supposed to use as a premium economy passenger – you have to turn around and look at a separate indicator light on the rear cabin wall, which is a bit silly.

But all in all, Qantas premium economy gives a taste of business class without the significantly higher price tag, and during waking hours is a comfortable way to fly: that is, until it’s time to sleep and the passengers in front of you recline, which is when you’ll be reminded of the second word in the name ‘premium economy’.

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Los Angeles as a guest of Qantas.

Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


  • James C


    18 Dec, 2017 12:14 pm

    Safe to say at 6’5 I’ll not be flying anything but J on the new Q 787... I like me knees as they currently are!

    Great write up Chris.
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  • elchriss0


    18 Dec, 2017 12:47 pm

    LOL given the long flights the 787 will operate I'd still fly only J even if I were 5'5", never mind 6'5"
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  • James C


    18 Dec, 2017 12:57 pm

    Very true, although even in J I don’t think you’ll get me flying to London, or New York, direct! I’d much rather a stop over and some time on Terra Firma even if means a lost day!
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  • traveller90


    21 Dec, 2017 06:08 am

    Well done Qantas - You have totally messed up with this one. What an expensive lesson you have learn't and now need to fix. Maybe time to stop looking at the $. The reviews have damaged your PE brand, good luck repairing it.
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  • tomJ


    18 Dec, 2017 12:15 pm

    Excellent review as always Chris.

    As fears, it seems that the issues this seat has when the person in front reclines really hurts what could have been a great product. Hopefully they don't make the same mistake when they upgrade the a380s to this seat.
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  • henrus


    18 Dec, 2017 04:12 pm

    I can't see them changing much of the design due to the economics. Just like the Air NZ space seat if they extend the legroom enough then in that same place it would be possible to an angled flat seat with a "bed".

    Some airlines like CX and Qantas (prior to the 787's) have made PE work as it's not a huge space upgrade (to the airline) but they have the ability to charge 2-3 times the price of Economy (sometimes more).

    This seat appears to have become a bit like the NZ space seat which after the reconfiguration not only would QF have messed with the economics (which on the PER-LHR flight are rather important) but it also minimises the gap between classes. You've got to remember that pitch difference between the Business class is only 8" and they've got to keep some difference between them otherwise during day flights people won't see any difference in buying the more expensive business seat.
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  • Blair Coull

    Notso Swift

    18 Dec, 2017 07:03 pm

    PE is such a rip off as far as I am concerned, with Qatar regularly doing low $5k in business to Europe the extra is a no brainer for any sane person, after all I am still stopping from Melbourne. To the US, well, it is one of the most expensive single leg trips in the world yet the product hasn't reflected this from Qantas (new SS2 is top notch not done 787 but have to Sing on A330) but the old one is pretty poor, and has been for this entire decade

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  • henrus


    18 Dec, 2017 10:00 pm

    If you do multi-stops or fly the lesser known airlines then it's possible to get the low 5's in peak season.

    Google Flights helps to find options like Eva Air (only from BNE), Qantas to Japan then Finnair to Helsinki (from BNE, MEL and SYD) and finally Korean Air to Seoul then Air France from Seoul to Paris.
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  • J-sh


    19 Dec, 2017 08:39 am

    Finnair do a very good economy 'Dreamliner' fare which works very well and is more comfortable than Qantas, at least from SYD. Select the JAL B787 daytime flight to NRT and their B787 in Y is a decent 2-4-2 as per Boeing's orginal design concept (encapsulated in the 'Dreamliner' tag). Then overnight at a Narita hotel and a daytime Finnair flight on their B787 'equivalent' i.e. A350 (which is 3-3-3 but in a wider fuselage). Arrive in the evening local time ready for dinner and bed, already dialled in to local time. the comment from henrus concerning the economics of PE in the small B787 appear to have been recognised by JAL, which jettisoned it on the long haul B787 and offer a decent Y.
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  • Cool Cat Phil

    Cool Cat Phil

    19 Dec, 2017 10:12 am

    I have travelled on Finnair's A35O in the first five rows of extra leg room Economy, and found both the seat width and seat comfort factor really, really disappointing. The A350 Y product is nothing to write home about at all.

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  • J-sh


    19 Dec, 2017 10:31 am

    Seatguru concurs re the front of United style 'economy extra', so you made a poor choice there, and anyway it is not the class I mentioned and the point wasn't about legroom anyway but the seat width down the back instead, where the wider A350 vis a vis the B787 allows a tad wider seat width, and was following on from a previous post. Why introduce an apples with orange comparison?
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  • Cool Cat Phil

    Cool Cat Phil

    19 Dec, 2017 10:46 am

    Your original comment made reference to Finnair's - A350, so instead of referring to a highly subjective seat guru review, I shared my real life experience on the AY A350 seat comfort factor that you originally thought you made reference to. the only thing that is apples with oranges is comparing two different airlines like AY who Barely offer a Full service offering and JL who excel at providing a full service offering in the Economy cabin.
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  • 7OD


    19 Dec, 2017 02:11 pm

    J-sh largely agree with the sentiment, although JAL's 787's do have PE in their new configurations.
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  • J-sh


    19 Dec, 2017 08:50 am

    Excellent review Chris, although all these shortcomings were apparent from the start which Qantas PR tried to distract attention from.

    Basically PE does not belong in this aircraft and Economy should be configured 2-4-2 across as per JAL and Boeing's original design concept for which they invented the 'Dreamliner' tag, hardly befitting a product where one pays a hefty premium to get no sleep and jump across seats just like down the back.

    Sure the Y fare would need to be maybe 10 to 15% higher than it is now but the B787 was designed to allow point-to-point travel and most people will pay a reasonable margin for that convenience along with a bit of personal space between one's legs, shoulders and and arms and those of the seat neighbour .
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  • traveller90


    19 Dec, 2017 11:52 pm

    Totally agree. Firstly the aircraft type is not suited to the route. To fix PE, simple, remove centre seat and make cabin 2x2x2. Then increase seat pitch by 7 in and make it a useable 45in - after all we are in this aircraft for 14-18 hrs. Improve the foot rest and increase the seat recline. It's not rocket science, but then I am not a greedy accountant with QF!

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  • xtfer


    18 Dec, 2017 12:19 pm

    How does the front row compare?
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  • Chris Chamberlin


    18 Dec, 2017 05:52 pm

    I chose a seat away from the bulkhead row to experience the flight in the way that most premium economy passengers would, although the front row has a bit of extra space thanks to there being nobody in front to recline back into you, and I saw the crew put some padded foot rest cubes in front of these passengers after takeoff (given there's no foot rest here attached to the seat), but being a commercial flight, I obviously wasn't going to ask a passenger to move out of the way so that I could 'borrow' their seat for a few photos: that'd be a big no-no! :)

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  • elchriss0


    19 Dec, 2017 12:41 pm

    oh well i would've let you if it were me
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  • John Goss


    20 Dec, 2017 09:45 pm

    Congratulations on honest and balanced reviews unlike car and wine reviews, for example, where favourable reviews for commercial reasons abound. ABT's Integrity and credibility is enhanced, depends and thrives on such practice.
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  • reeves35


    18 Dec, 2017 12:32 pm

    As suspected, this sounds like a good PE competitor mucked up by poor decisions on the hard product. You have to wonder how these decisions were made. Most picked the issues with the recline and pitch as soon as QF released prototype photos of the 787 cabin; why didn't QF management identify this also and act? Likewise, the issues you have found with your tabet and the screen behind must surely have been noticed early in the piece and should have been fixed before the final product was released.

    Interesting to see that the powerpoint between the seats look very scuffed for a plane on its first real service; can only imagine how this will look after 12 months!!

    It will be interesting to see how long QF persist with the PE product on its 787s before they give then a refresh. I suspect only the first 8 will be like this and susequent planes will have a modified product addressing the obvious space issues. I also think these issues will be addressed before the new product finds its way onto the A380s. There is no way QF can go on like this with VA and NZ already offering a much superior hard product.
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  • Tom Wilson


    18 Dec, 2017 12:58 pm

    10cm more pitch on Air NZ PE.
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  • Dave


    18 Dec, 2017 12:33 pm

    It's a shame. What could be a great seat is effectively ruined by 38" pitch. I wonder if Qantas will listen and find some extra space. Remove a row of economy maybe?
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  • Hamish


    18 Dec, 2017 12:36 pm

    Great review, disappointing to see a sort of unique style of seat not actually perform so well. Would more pitch solve a lot of problems?

    "It’s also bothersome because the fixed inflight entertainment screen is designed to respond to the heat of your fingers"

    Being picky - capacitive touch screens like this and what we have on modern smartphones, tablets etc, respond to the electric charge we carry in our bodies, not the heat.

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  • Chris Chamberlin


    18 Dec, 2017 04:16 pm

    More pitch would definitely be welcome: wouldn't make the foot net any more comfortable, but would significantly improve knee room and reduce the need of other passengers to jump over seats and wake you up.
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  • mcglynp


    18 Dec, 2017 12:48 pm

    Thanks for the great review. The toilet change sounds as though QF are at least alert to the issues of the configuration. Given the less than stellar feedback gained already, is there any indication that QF will look at a redress of the pitch? 17 hours in this seat to LHR sounds horrendous for the $ being asked over economy. Regardless of the business lite meal service. If you cant pay to be up the front of the plane you are surely going to be more comfortable paying a lot less with exit rows at the back of the plane.
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  • Tom Wilson


    18 Dec, 2017 01:04 pm

    As a J passenger I'd be against PE using the J lavs: not enough of them to cater for expectations of J pax. As a PE passenger I'd love to use the J lavs, rather than queue in Y. Solution: maybe dedicate at least one existing Y lav to PE pax?
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  • simon drakeley


    18 Dec, 2017 02:41 pm

    or alternatively design the plane properly in the first place - allowing PE through to use the loo in J means those back seats in J are unusable if you want an undisturbed sleep - not a premium section if is allowed! you dont pay a premium to then have it reduced by conditions that should have been thought about in the design stages - if you are paying premium you want a premium service and QF just dont really do it now! i moved on when 4 loos on the a380 went to 2 and a shared 2!

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  • Packetman21


    18 Dec, 2017 01:29 pm

    Great seat, ruined by the lack of pitch.
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  • mviy


    18 Dec, 2017 01:31 pm

    So as expected a disappointing PE product (sleep problems is a major issue), but still better than Economy.

    I’d love to be able to always book Business for long haul flights but that’s unrealistic.

    I’ll probably book Flex Economy or book PE and put in for an upgrade as late as at the gate to Business in which case if upgrading from Economy I would need to accept the possibility of being upgraded to PE.
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  • aggie57


    20 Dec, 2017 04:34 pm

    Actually having tried both the PE and economy seats last week I’m not sure the PE seat is much better, at least for a tall person. Why? Because the economy seat reclines whereas the PE seat reclines and slides forward.
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  • Scott Brown


    18 Dec, 2017 02:17 pm

    Not worth the $$$ and ULR expericence, not even WC USA.
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  • Adam T


    18 Dec, 2017 02:48 pm

    Thanks for the review Chris. I've only ever heard terrific reviews of QF PY from friends/colleagues flying on 747/A380 so to read the new seat on the 787 didn't meet expectations (that's how I'm reading it) is a shame. Personally physical space is really important to me so I'll defer to 747/A380 on Qantas every time, I'm not a fan of anything smaller.
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  • Steve987


    18 Dec, 2017 04:20 pm

    A real shame for sure.
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  • Joe


    18 Dec, 2017 04:40 pm

    So much spin and hype from Qantas brainiacs. First thats a J+, J that shares lavs with Y+, Y+ thats no more comfortable than a Y seat. It looks great in pics and is a good looking seat. Wouldn't catch me dead on in J or Y+ on a 17 hour 789 leg!
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  • GregXL


    18 Dec, 2017 04:45 pm

    The floor space allocation for PE on this aircraft is about 1.5 of Y, which is your average PE ratio. From what I see of the pricing of PE on QF, they could easily justify an increase in seat pitch. At 42 inches you would be at about 1.7 Y and then it might be revolutionary.
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  • Darren


    18 Dec, 2017 05:42 pm

    Great looking seat, but poor execution with the pitch. How did the QF Management not even notice this? I haven't seen the seat in person, but even I could tell from the images that this was going to be tight.

    Now if QF's Premium Economy prices were a reasonable increment on the Economy would be quit the winging now. However QF have consistently had some of the highest Premium Economy fares on the market that come in higher than some airlines flat bed Business Class fares.
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  • johnaboxall


    18 Dec, 2017 05:47 pm

    Excellent review. Wouldn't want to do PER-LHR in that thing outside of J.
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  • GoldenClub


    18 Dec, 2017 06:11 pm

    What a shame QF has stuffed this up for the sake of 20cms extra on the plane - and that would still have been two inches shorter than Vietnam's 42 inches!
    There is no way I would fly this further than Asia on a day flight, let alone if night flights were involved.
    I would much rather spring the extra $1,500 and grab a sale are in business class to Europe with Finnair, MAS or Garuda than suffer this.
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  • GoldenClub


    18 Dec, 2017 06:13 pm

    PS great review Chris - admire your willingness to take it up to QANTAS on this one.
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    18 Dec, 2017 06:32 pm

    That arrangement with the seating doesn't sound viable in the long term. Can you image the 17 hour PER-LHR hop with people constantly 'jumping' in and out of their seats while you are trying to sleep?
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  • mitchimus


    18 Dec, 2017 06:45 pm

    Great review. I flew in this seat on a domestic flight and thought the leg rest, net worked well... Maybe I've got the right length legs. The pitch was a hassle even on a short flight when the seat in front reclined.
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  • D Y


    18 Dec, 2017 07:47 pm

    Great review. Well done. You’d eluded to this seat being an issue on the inaugural flight so this is a great follow up and great intel. Going to avoid this cabin. (top 5% P1)
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  • Alex_upgrade


    18 Dec, 2017 08:22 pm

    Great review. Qantas' hero product on the 787s is Business. It's where they make the greatest margin per seat. I reckon they've deliberately created a PE product that doesn't risk cannibalising demand for Business but that still has enough bells and whistles (esp in catering and general 'feel') to justify the significant price hike from economy including economy (with extra legroom) to PE.

    I doubt QF will change the pitch. Reaction already suggests that corporates won't likely trade down to PE from Business and QF don't want to give them a reason to do so. As for those trading up, the bells and whistles will be enough to entice premium leisure travellers to pay extra for a more 'luxurious' experience, as well as giving QF a buffer mid-range product for upgrades when economy oversells, without eating into Business.

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  • Steve987


    18 Dec, 2017 09:06 pm

    I chose to buy economy for an upcoming leisure trip. Could have afforded PE (at the expense of activities in the US mind you) but the bells and whistles weren’t in my estimation close to being good enough to justify it.
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  • Johnny9


    20 Dec, 2017 07:45 pm

    Good point - agree, but why not then skip PE all together and extend J cabin?
    IMO I don’t understand the motivation to fly 18h from PER-LHR for non-premium / non-business purposes in the first place. QF should have done the 789s “premium-heavy”. For leisure (PE/Y) I’d rather split up the AUS-EUR trip and aim to arrive into LHR at a decent hour.
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  • silvyvc


    18 Dec, 2017 09:21 pm

    A revolutionary disaster... what a disappointing product. It promised to be something fantastic and it’s clearly off the mark. We are flying PE next week (older product) and even though it’s an aging product, I’m probably looking forward to it more than this... at least my legs won’t suffer due to someone else reclining!
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  • nige00160


    18 Dec, 2017 09:25 pm

    Having now flown in PE on the Qantas 787 I must say this is definitely a step backwards compared to the a380 and even the 747 in terms of passenger comfort. Avoid. Avoid. Avoid.
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  • Timmy22bc


    18 Dec, 2017 09:40 pm

    Thanks for the review, reading this makes me so frustrated! How did Air Sydney get it so wrong? What is ‘revolutionary’ about this seat? The pitch is a national disgrace & as mentioned in earlier comments, the issues highlighted in this review were called out by ausBT readers from photographed prototypes. I really want to support Qantas & see them do well, but they well & truly cooked the 787 for the routes they want to use it for.
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  • djcz


    19 Dec, 2017 12:55 am

    Did QF not hype this product to be 'revolutionary'.
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  • Steve987


    19 Dec, 2017 09:02 am

    T.Rex, Elton John and Ringo Starr must be pretty upset.
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  • Scott Wilson


    19 Dec, 2017 09:16 am

    I flew NZ's Spaceseats when they were initially launched and it was almost impossible to use the IFE because it was so close to the face, but within two months the first three 77Ws were retrofitted with one row removed, and the following ones were equipped accordingly. It was very clear that the new product would be rejected by passengers.

    Even with the Spaceseats gone, NZ has kept the 41-42 inch pitch and included proper legrests, and it shows as they are pretty good. NZ does 41-42 inch pitch on its 789s in PE as well.

    Personally I regard the 747/A380 QF PE seats to be excellent, although pitch is tight, they are among the best PE seats.

    Yet the removal of the legrests (saves weight and fuel no doubt) and the additional recline, this product means that unless you get the bulkhead row, it's claustrophobic (and unless you get an aisle seat, you'll be trapped unless you are travelling as a pair). It's obvious what needs to be done. One row of economy needs to be removed to increase the pitch, and the foot paddle/net replaced with a standard legrest.

    Y passengers largely only care about price, most don't shop based on seat pitch etc, but PE passengers pay and they shop around. QF competes with increasing numbers of carriers in this space, and if it is seen as NOT offering value, it will hurt. Soft product is excellent, but hard product is what matters in PE. People paying for PE basically can't stand Y, and can't afford J, so they pay for space and recline. It has recline alright, but the space?
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  • Chris Fox


    19 Dec, 2017 04:31 pm

    Looked at QF PER-LHR in Sep 18 and it was $5k for 2 people return in Premium Economy which is pretty good value on sale.
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  • Joshb


    19 Dec, 2017 05:58 pm

    Lucky QF have plenty of cash for retrofitting.
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  • Traveller14


    19 Dec, 2017 11:12 pm

    PE seems a complete waste of money on any airline, and on QF with its high fares for less than stellar features even more so.
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  • Neeraj Sharma

    Neeraj Sharma

    20 Dec, 2017 12:50 am

    Hi guys, I did PE bulkhead row seat F on mel to Perth last week on one of its last domestic runs. It was only slightly better as I could stretch my legs into the aisle. I was offered the foot rest but declined. Overall I still prefer the PE on the current 380 as I travel to London a couple of times a year for work. There's no way I will do the Perth London route on the 787. Would rather redirect to Singapore to stay on the 380. Hopefully the revamp of the 380 will fix the issues if this PE seat.
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  • John Goss


    20 Dec, 2017 01:27 pm

    Particularly excellent review Chris. Much agree of the space /seat pitch is more preferable in PE Mk.1. Personally A380 is preferable for PE and J class as the Newson Business class Pods are airy and spacious in feel compared to the new "Cocoon feet in a hole" seats when lie flat. I feel these new seat innovations in both classes are smoke and mirrors to take attention away from the real issue of cramming more passengers per given space. Qantas do have excellent cabin crew but I'm not sure that is remembered after 1 hour sleep nor can one justify the price leap from economy to what amounts to similar rest in PE. Hmmm.
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  • rambler


    20 Dec, 2017 01:34 pm

    Why am I not surprised that Sydney Airlines have stuffed it up? The company shows a high level of contempt for its long-suffering passengers, especially the loyal core of them who fly QF no matter what.
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  • Anthony Spasevski


    20 Dec, 2017 01:58 pm

    Save your coin, not worth it with that pitch..
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  • Eli


    20 Dec, 2017 02:07 pm


    People can grumble about terrible food, sour FA's, but the seat must be all accounts its not.

    The reviews and feedback are horrific to say the least. QF PE is without doubt the worst seat in its class. Word will continue to spread and people WILL avoid this aircraft.
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  • k  lane


    20 Dec, 2017 02:42 pm

    Kudos Qantas - this looks smart and 10/10 for effort

    Best in show is still the now defunct - Spaceseat by Air NZ
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  • Colin White

    Colin White

    20 Dec, 2017 02:53 pm

    A comprehensive review which shows that all of the much vaunted thought given to this cabin for the PER-LHR non-stopper is all to no avail, and once again QF is left with a product inferior to that of its competitors, which is a crying shame for an airline wishing National carrier status.
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  • John Goss


    20 Dec, 2017 09:33 pm

    Totally agree. I guess that's what happens when seats are designed by industrial designers and seat pitch is designed by accountants.
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  • TZB88


    20 Dec, 2017 03:28 pm

    I've considered PE completely overrated and massively overpriced for sometime now. When you boil it down, customers are buying PE for more space/legroom (slight F&B additions just a bonus). The second the person in front reclines, you're left questioning your purchase decision. I flew the QF 787 on SYD-MEL a few weeks ago and inspected the PE seats. I was shocked at how small the seats were and even took photos to show colleagues. If it was a 'little bit' more $$ than Y, fine. But the jump in price represents poor value.

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  • Steve N

    Steve N

    20 Dec, 2017 06:10 pm

    I was looking forward to doing MEL-LAX in PE on the 789 in early January, but after this review, I'm feeling a little apprehensive.
    J upgrades are in place, fingers crossed.
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  • Johnny9


    20 Dec, 2017 06:50 pm

    Good luck on the 18h PER-LHR journey.
    Would not fly in it even if for free...

    Anyway, it doesn’t take a genius to figure this out. I saw this coming from alone the PR photos that getting out of the seat will be a disaster.

    Simply embarrassing Qantas- PY project manager should be immediately fired. Don’t understand why qantas is so stingy and can’t add 2-4 inches to each of those seats, which would make a huge difference.
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  • Steve987


    20 Dec, 2017 08:14 pm

    I might be tempted by free.
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  • John Ruming


    20 Dec, 2017 08:37 pm

    Good review, poor product. 38" Qantas? Air NZ & VA at 41-42 & no problems with seat recline, either from in front or for yourself, great leg support, no seat-jumpers, excellent service & crews. Sure, Air NZ involves a stop, but how can Qantas stuff it up with pitch? Long flights demand extra legroom, if you are willing to pay extra $s, you should receive extras in return. Good luck to anyone flying Perth-London nonstop.
    Member who gave thanks


  • Richard Robertson


    20 Dec, 2017 09:12 pm

    Just returned from LA today in PE on QF96 and very happy with the product. Comfortable seat (although footrest odd), great IFE and pleasant service. It's a pity the flight was 2.5 hrs late departing due to an electrical problem that persisted and resulted in losing IFE for several hours after takeoff, plus food chillers, so no hot breakfast. Seems Waltzing Matilda (787 #2) has some issues that need resolving...
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  • Steve Adams


    20 Dec, 2017 11:48 pm

    I am a big guy and happily pay more for space, service is a nice bonus but not a necessity. If I can afford it I fly business but looking at the PE offering on the 787 on this eview I will be better off booking economy exit row and avoiding PE altogether. Thanks for the update.

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  • Tony OBERON


    21 Dec, 2017 06:49 am

    Yet the 38" pitch seems to work pretty well in PE on CX and SQ, both of which I've flown medium haul and both of which were fine, even with the seat in front reclined. Perhaps it's the shell around the QF seat and the odd footrest arrangement that negates the 38" pitch and requires additional cms to compensate. Regardless, I'm another who wouldn't fly the 787 in PE from Perth to London after this review.
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  • L J


    23 Dec, 2017 10:36 pm

    Unless I'm mistaken the seat pitch in premium economy on the 747 and A380 is also 38". I realise that seat pitch is not always an accurate way to compare seats, so is there a difference in distance between seats on the 787?
    While the general consensus on this site seems to be that Qantas have made a monumental mistake that will need to be changed, they don't seem to have a problem selling the seats on other long haul flights such as SYD-DFW.
    Just playing devil's advocate...
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  • elchriss0


    24 Dec, 2017 07:25 am

    Qantas made up BS about coming up with some revolutionary premium economy cabin and made so much hype for a ****product that is in no way a revolution...that's where the hate is coming from.

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  • Chris Chamberlin


    24 Dec, 2017 12:58 pm

    Hi Skyhigh, the issues are two-fold. Firstly, the design of the new seat puts your legs and feet much closer to the seat in front due to the new foot net / leg rest, compared to a traditional legrest which is much closer to your seat, without adding any extra pitch to compensate: and some functions of the foot paddle are unusable when the passenger in front reclines due to a lack of space. Secondly, if you're going to replace something tried and true like a traditional leg rest, the thing that replaces it should actually be 'better', but based on my experience with the seat, the replacement isn't. Also in saying that, 38 inches of pitch for premium economy is on the lower side to begin with: that's two inches less than Virgin Australia on flights to LAX, and four inches less than premium economy on Vietnam Airlines' Boeing 787s which fly to Sydney and Melbourne.
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  • aggie57


    24 Dec, 2017 04:39 pm

    On AA the first seats that slide to recline don’t have the footrest, and they’re not shelll seats. So there is a cutout in the rear of the seat, giving more knee room. Plus I think the pitch is maybe 40”. They work fine, perfectly fine for transcontinental flights.
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  • traveller90


    24 Dec, 2017 08:34 pm

    From the feedback, the topic outcome is unanimous - Qantas has failed miserably with its new PE setup, with its previous product still an improvement over the new, despite its age. Maybe time for passengers interested in PE to start enjoying lesser utilised airlines for their business class's which are not only far superior to Qantas's PE but also less expensive. J for the price of PE, not a bad notion.

    Could be time to forgo the brand loyalty of QF and its new PE arrangement (especially for the 14 to 18 hrs flights lengths) and for the same financial outlay enjoy the superior business products offered by the competition, namely China Eastern, Air China, China Airlines plus others to name just a few. QF simply has market share due to its direct routing system - would it be that inconvenient to fly indirectly from A to B on a less well know product, especially from AU to the EU, while enjoying the experience. The industry has changed!
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  • NBen


    27 Dec, 2017 04:41 pm

    Not entirely sure about the feedback being unanimously negative as suggested in the previous post.
    Three sets of comments come from people who appear to have actually tried the product prior to forming an opinion: the reviewer and two others. Two unfavourable, one favourable. Not particularly positive, not unanimously negative.
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  • sgb


    30 Jan, 2018 09:42 am

    Sounds like steel caps are needed on those foot rests in PE, what a stuff up. Overall PE sounds like a Sardine tin.
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  • traveller90


    10 Jun, 2018 09:26 am

    Simply now after trying the new product myself, feel QF has lost the balance. The previous 747 and A380 seat is a clear winner. On the 789, lets go back to 2x2x2 for PE and increase the pitch. Charge accordingly and QF would have a winner.
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17 Jul, 2019 03:07 am


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