Qantas' first class facelift for the Airbus A380

Qantas' first class facelift for the Airbus A380

Qantas' Airbus A380 first class suites are part of a multi-million dollar makeover for the superjumbos which will also see the flagship fleet fitted with new business class and premium economy seats.

Here's what you need to know about Qantas' A380 first class facelift.

When you'll fly them

For first class passengers eager to see a better suite, patience will be a virtue.

The first of Qantas' 12-strong superjumbo fleet is expected to go under the knife by June 2019, although a rapid refresh pace (with the 'design integrated' project being managed by Airbus itself) will see the entire fleet upgraded by the end of 2020.

Interestingly, this will take the A380s almost to the cusp of Qantas' plans to begin flying either the Airbus A350ULR or Boeing 777-8 on non-stop routes to London and New York by 2022 – and those long-range jets may or may not feature a first class cabin of their own.

What's changing in Qantas first class

Unlike the rip-out-and-replace process which will see the A380s fitted with the latest design Boeing 787 business class and premium economy seats, first class is in line for a more measured 'refresh' of the current model (below).

Qantas says this will see each suite "fully refurbished" including the fitting of "contoured cushioning" plus a larger HD video display to replace the current 17 inch panel.

None of this is a bad thing by any stretch: there's basically nothing wrong with Marc Newson's bespoke design for Qantas' A380 suites, which we rate among the best of the 'open' first class suites sans sliding doors (a la Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Etihad).

It'll be interesting however to see how the colours and materials palette changes, and if the revamped first class suites adopt some of the design DNA of the Boeing 787 business class seats and the new-look Qantas Chairman's Lounge furniture.

However, as part of a rolling upgrade to first class, by the end of this year the A380 suites will gain a memory foam mattress and 'pillow menu'.

What's not changing in Qantas first class

Again, Qantas' decisions here fall into the safe realm of not fixing what ain't broke.

The first class cabin will remain at the front of the main deck, despite some speculation that Qantas would shift it upstairs.

That would not only have added significantly to the total works bill, but the narrow footprint of the upper deck would also have reduced the number of first class suites by cutting out the middle row of four suites, paring the total number of berths down to 10.

Retaining the full tally of 14 suites will be welcome news to the many frequent flyers who use their Qantas Points to upgrade from business class to first class (a steal at 60,000-75,000 points from Sydney or Melbourne to London) or book first class outright with points.

Also read: The best suites in first class on the Qantas Airbus A380

There's also a new lounge...

Qantas' A380 overhaul will also expand the small lounge nestled into the nose of the A380's upper deck...

... with what the concept art shows as a significantly larger and more open, appealing space.

While ostensibly a business class lounge, this area is popular with first class passengers who want to socialise with friends or colleagues travelling in a lower cabin class.

Qantas doesn't permit those passengers to join you in the companion dining mode of your first class suite...

... but as a rule the cabin crew are usually happy to escort them up to the business class lounge, where they can join you over a bottle of wine or champagne from the first class cellar.

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.
 

30 comments

  • mviy

    mviy

    8 Sep, 2017 07:43 am

    It's actually 75,000 points now to upgrade from MEL/SYD to LHR on the cheapest Business fares which I guess most would be on. 60,000 points is from the more expensive fares.

    If travelling solo you can apply for an upgrade at the gate. Doing that one could just get an upgrade on the second leg and only pay for that portion of the upgrade cost if so.
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  • Kin Ho

    KinHo

    8 Sep, 2017 08:44 am

    I understand the design nature of herringbone seat configuration is to fit more seats but personally I like window seats close to the window. I like looking outside. The view is never the same on every flight. 
    But nowadays I also feel guilty whenever I take a peek lifting the shades and sunlight floods the cabin, and a hundred pairs of eyes looking my way....
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  • Adam T

    AT

    8 Sep, 2017 03:05 pm

    Don't feel bad, I do it if it's day light outside and it's logically day time from where I've departed from. Nothing annoys me more people who shut the shades at midday. 
    Member who gave thanks

    KinHo

  • 11sjw

    11sjw

    8 Sep, 2017 04:46 pm

    Given I'm someone who has had a migraine or 3 induced from shades going up and down I can say I definitely prefer them down.
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  • Kin Ho

    KinHo

    8 Sep, 2017 09:47 pm

    AT, 
    I can understand why the cabin crew wants the shades down. To have the cabin environment dark,
    1) to simulate a night time so that it gives pax a sense of time to sleep. For example, LHR-SIN flight departing at night will have a very short night during the 13 hours duration, as we are heading towards sunrise, and arriving around 17:00. 
    2) for other pax to enjoy the entertainment unit better. 

    Having said that, cabin crew leave shades up for short daytime flight. Like a SIN-HKG flight departing 8:30 arriving 12:30. Mainly because there's no real need to sleep or simulate an overnight condition a short flight. 
    Member who gave thanks

    alan-aa1981

  • Alan Arratoon

    alan-aa1981

    27 Sep, 2017 05:34 pm

    I agree with you 100%. There is nothing worse personally than not being able to look outside especially during daytime hours. I love looking out of the window. I was really hoping that QF were going to replace their existing First Class seats with something more luxurious. American Airlines, Etihad, Emirates have a much better product. Having said that Qantas Business Class is much better nowadays, so no issues switching across to Business if required...
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  • Darren

    DGP

    8 Sep, 2017 10:46 am

    What I don't understand with the QF First Class Suites on the A380 is why is the partition wall retractable on the F line of seats (that separates the Aisle and the A line of seats)?  Surely no one who travels in these seats, travels with the wall down?
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  • mviy

    mviy

    8 Sep, 2017 11:08 am

    If you can't pick the seats you want and you're travelling with a friend one of you could be in an A seat and another in a centre seat?
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  • PK

    PK

    8 Sep, 2017 01:32 pm

    It is retractable for safety reasons.  It blocks the line of sight to the windows on the left during takeoff and landing for those in the F line of seats.
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  • Joe

    Joe

    8 Sep, 2017 10:48 am

    It's a very very plain F offering on QF.  Service is less formal but very attentive. Crew are not really that polished in appearance or service - style too casual. Agree food isn't award winning but pretty good quality generally.  Lavs are very sub-standard for and a joke for F class. Sleep suit picks up every bit of lint and the amenity kit is very cheap....no mouthwash or any nice touches being an F kit. Really it's a non 'wow' service  when you've flown the ME 3 and a few others but unfortunately still charged at a premium price.
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  • Adam T

    AT

    8 Sep, 2017 03:15 pm

    Joe I agree. I think QF F is a lovey way to fly but it's nothing flash in terms of service delivery. I agree crew are polite but Four Seasons service it is not. And as for the food well of course the criteria is you need to be a fan of Perry's Rockpool first and too bad if you're not. 
    Member who gave thanks

    Joe

  • traveller99

    traveller99

    8 Sep, 2017 07:01 pm

    Agree with Joe. It's a good First Class, but far from being a leader. The service is I'd say average, food is average, toilets are just too small, no wi-fi but the seat/bed is extremely comfortable for sleep.

    I've had a couple of bizarre experiences in Qantas First. Let me tell you one from about 18 months ago. Flying Sydney to LA. On the small plate menu is an asparagus salad, which I order. About five minutes later, the cabin manager comes over to me and says "I'm sorry Sir, you ordered the prosciutto salad, but we have run out". There was NO prosciutto salad on the menu! And then my steak was literally a big lump of dry meat, with no sauce at all. Finally, I was never offered wine with my small plate or main. Towards the end of eating my main I realised I have no wine and had to summon a flight attendant.
    Member who gave thanks

    Joe

  • Richard Robertson

    iM

    8 Sep, 2017 03:18 pm

    My wife (F) and I (J) – don't ask! – had a private dinner in the A380 lounge out of LA one evening. I suggested we look around and take it in because it was as close as we'd ever get to a private jet! The crew were terrific and went out of their way to look after us (and it was just good luck nobody else felt like using the lounge at the time), and it's a great memory to share.
    No member give thanks

  • aggie57

    aggie57

    8 Sep, 2017 03:23 pm

    It's one of the best beds in the sky. Vs the Himalayan like skybed II upstairs. 
    No member give thanks

  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    8 Sep, 2017 07:35 pm

    Soon to be replaced by the A330/787-style J suites, so that's a big improvement.
    No member give thanks

  • Joe Finnigan

    Thai Traveler

    8 Sep, 2017 05:17 pm

    The lounge upstairs is also used as a sick bed and one other time used by the captains son to sleep on and we were told we could not sit there because of this when we complained.
    Thats why now we always use Emirates code share
    No member give thanks

  • Bob Burgess

    Bob Burgess

    8 Sep, 2017 07:57 pm

    Qantas has a great first class, not a 'private suite' but fairly private without the door which turns it into a compartment like Emirates etc and which I find makes things too cramped. No reason to change a great product at this stage.
    No member give thanks

  • aggie57

    aggie57

    9 Sep, 2017 01:34 am

    I agree. Emirates first with the door closed is like sitting on the dunny in a gaudy 5-star hotel for hours on end. 
    No member give thanks

  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    9 Sep, 2017 12:46 pm

    I've always maintained that EK is all bling and no substance.
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  • AfricaTraveller

    AfricaTraveller

    15 Dec, 2018 12:59 pm

    Maintain whatever you want, the truth is that Emirates kills Qantas on all fronts. QF has a very lacklustre product at all levels, and in my opinion, the partnership with Emirates is the only thing that keep the Qantas nose above water.

    I look forward to that partnership ending before Qantas drags Emirates down. I will never again fly Qantas. A very average and ordinary airline with woeful customer service....and website
    No member give thanks

  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    15 Dec, 2018 01:27 pm

    Whatever that's your opinion… and why did it take 15 months for you to comment? In my view EK is terrible on the ground, as is QR and that first lounge in dubai is soulless and cold with some of the worst shower rooms anywhere etc etc etc. QF has shown they don't need EK to stay above water. And let's not get me started about EK's balance sheet compared to unsubsidized QF which is one of the most profitable airlines in the world. I repeat my comment (to you) EK is bling, no substance. That's all.
    No member give thanks

  • AfricaTraveller

    AfricaTraveller

    15 Dec, 2018 02:01 pm

    Seems I have upset you. Certainly not my intention. I'm simply expressing my opinion as you have been doing.

    What does it matter how late I am in replying? I have only now seen the thread and felt compelled to respond. I don't look at AusBT much at all, as it is full of Qantas apologists too embarrassed to admit their consistently poor choice. I'm sure that's not you.

    Qantas have let me down so badly in the past that I will not fly with them again. It's not just me, look at the huge percentage of posts in the FlyerTalk Qantas section that are complaints about the airline. That, in comparison to the small number of complaint posts in the Emirates section.

    It boils down to simple preference, so I suggest you cool your jets my friend. I fly to several countries in Africa many times a year in Emirates F, and (I repeat, this is just MY preference), having tried QF first in the A380, the Emirates product is better at all levels.

    If you find the F door closed makes you feel like you're in a dunny, keep the door open. Millions of EK F fliers never complain about it, so consider yourself in a miniscule minority, and like me, you are unable to let go of a previous injustice.

    I suggest we move on with our lives.

    Let's just agree to differ and keep the discussion civilised.


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  • crosscourt

    crosscourt

    9 Sep, 2017 12:45 pm

    Touche. I agree.
    No member give thanks

  • moa999

    moa999

    8 Sep, 2017 08:41 pm

    I agree. I like the more open cabin feeling. And each suite is private enough, particularly the A side.
    No member give thanks

  • zoomzoom

    zoomzoom

    8 Sep, 2017 09:08 pm

    QF F is too expensive and not a match for the products of the Premium carriers of Asia and ME. 
    No member give thanks

  • Anthony Thompson

    triumph8

    8 Sep, 2017 09:42 pm

    Just this week after an itinerary change I flew emirates first rather than Qantas as planned.

    Qantas does not compare well in any respect with emirates first. Food better on emirates, wines simply superb, with dom perignon and cos d estournal along with a 63 vintage port, and all of that is before we compare the seats and privac

    Will never ever pay for Qantas first again will just do QF codeshare on emirates 
    No member give thanks

  • Kin Ho

    KinHo

    8 Sep, 2017 10:17 pm

    QF really need to lift its game. I would really like to see Qantas get back to a highly commended and regarded airline. With more praise than complaints. 
    The longer they stay supplying a sub standard product, the more certain the company will go back into the situation some 2-3 years ago, making a loss. 

    Not a lot of food makes me feel sick but the breakfast scrambled eggs with a mash potatoes texture and an oily smell got me there. I can stomach rubbery overcooked eggs but this didn't look like eggs. Ok, given that this was in EY, MEL-LAX. 

    No member give thanks

  • mhh

    mhh

    9 Sep, 2017 12:35 am

    So Qantas will slowly do a mild update to enhance its lacklustre F product, to end up still behind the competition? 
    No member give thanks

  • kimshep

    kimshep

    9 Sep, 2017 10:29 am

    Good old QF .. is there any other airline that charges the highest of premium fares and announces a cabin / frame revamp 21 months out .. and then takes a further 12 months to do it?
    No member give thanks

  • Robert Follis

    robfol

    9 Sep, 2017 07:21 pm

    Needs additional USB & power points and much better placement of them. 
    No member give thanks

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26 May, 2019 11:28 pm

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