Qantas to upgrade A380 business class seats to new Business Suites

Qantas to upgrade A380 business class seats to new Business Suites

Qantas will refit its Airbus A380 fleet with spacious new business class seats in the face of growing competition on its flagship routes to the USA and London.

There will also be a much larger lounge on the upper deck where both business and first class travellers can mix and mingle.

However, the 14 first class suites – which will remain on the lower deck – will receive a more modest refresh including contoured cushioning and larger, higher resolution video screens.

The overhaul will also extend to premium economy, with the new Boeing 787 seats installed in a 2-3-2 layout – although economy passengers will need to make do with new seat cushions and what Qantas broadly terms "improved inflight entertainment".

“We’re seeing increased demand for Premium Economy and Business Class on the long haul routes that the A380 operates, including from people using their Qantas points to upgrade" recounts Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.

Each of the revamped A380s will gain six additional business class seats, to a new tally of 70; 25 more premium economy seats, for a total of 60; and 30 fewer economy seats, for a total of 341.

The revised layout will see the upper deck given over to business class and premium economy, with first class and economy on the lower deck.

The first of the 12-strong superjumbo fleet is expected to go under the knife in the second quarter of 2019, with the entire fleet completed by the end of 2020.

Qantas' new Airbus A380 business class seats

The superjumbo's Skybed II seats (below) – launched with the first Qantas Airbus A380 in 2008 – will be ripped out and replaced by the highly-regarded Business Suite already flying in the airline's Airbus A330s and also set for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The superjumbos will see the refined Boeing 787 version of the seat, which includes a movable divider between the middle seats so that travellers can choose between privacy and sociability.

It's a substantial improvement for business travellers, with the Business Suites boasting everything that the Skybed II designs lack: direct aisle access for every passenger through a 1-2-1 layout, a large video screen, bump-free flat bed and ample inflight storage and workspace.

Sleeping in Qantas' A380 business class will go from this...

... to this.

Qantas previously revamped its A380s in 2012-2013, trimming the upper deck business class cabin from 72 seats to 64 to boost the number of economy and premium economy seats.

The airline will also refurbish the final two Airbus A330 jets still flying with first-generation, angled-flat Skybeds to the new Qantas Business Suites, although a timeline for this is not yet known.

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.
 

51 comments

  • FrequentFlyer

    FrequentFlyer

    25 Aug, 2017 09:15 am

    I'm assuming the thirty fewer economy seats will be the removal of the upper deck economy section, which is a shame.

    I was hoping QF would go the whole hog and install new seats for all cabins, like they did with the A333s but glad to finally see substantial improvement for business class.
    Member who gave thanks

    Steve Napier

  • Steve Napier

    Steve Napier

    25 Aug, 2017 10:47 am

    I always enjoyed the Upper Deck Y, and always paid extra for the extra legroom in row 35. 
    Oh well, back down on the lower deck, and hope for a PE or J upgrade.



    No member give thanks

  • FrequentFlyer

    FrequentFlyer

    25 Aug, 2017 09:18 am

    I feel like that 'lounge space' is a waste of real estate.
    No member give thanks

  • clarkysdonga

    clarkysdonga

    25 Aug, 2017 09:29 am

    Not when you fly Emirates and hang out at the bar, i loved being able to mingle and walk around more freely
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  • FrequentFlyer

    FrequentFlyer

    25 Aug, 2017 09:52 am

    The Emirates bar is wonderful! In comparison, what QF are proposing is quite dull.
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  • superflyer

    superflyer

    26 Aug, 2017 12:59 pm

    Completely agree. And the new look Emirates bar/seating even looks stylish. Whereas this is yes dull, and worse impractical - I just can't see how people will use the space. Hopefully lots of online feedback and Qantas will do what other companies do and copy the competition. I think having an actual bar would give some purpose to the space. 
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  • Derek Wallwork

    Delboy53

    25 Aug, 2017 02:55 pm

    I agree. We just did a round trip Auckland to Europe flying the EK A380 17 hour plus flight. The bar was busy and lots of mingling between passengers. Warm atmosphere and a great start to a long trip. QF had to change the "lounge" as it is presently rubbish. New J seats look great.
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  • mcglynp

    mcglynp

    25 Aug, 2017 01:05 pm

    I would have to agree that on the basis of the picture the "lounge"  looks highly limited in its utility.  Unlike Emirates or even the VA bar.  There is not much reason to use the area.  That said, they have a year to make it more functional.  They could potentially have screen showing live tv,  set up food and self serve drinks etc.   I'm sure this has been focus group tested,  though personally I would have preferred an Air France style changing room.   Which is something that airlines seem to forget about.  You get pjs; then have to get changed in the toilet.
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  • Himeno

    Himeno

    25 Aug, 2017 08:45 pm

    The lounge is used to deal with medical issues in flight.
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  • Flying Fish

    AWA2602

    25 Aug, 2017 09:55 pm

    @FrequentFlyer, I totally agree! I think these lounge areas are an expensive waste of space that could be better used by increasing the size of F & J seats and also the number and size of toilets.
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  • saints78

    saints78

    25 Aug, 2017 09:27 am

    And no mention of wifi on board 
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  • clarkysdonga

    clarkysdonga

    25 Aug, 2017 09:28 am

    CANNOT WAIT!

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  • Darren

    DGP

    25 Aug, 2017 09:30 am

    2nd Qtr 2019 before they begin the re-fit....that's disappointing considering the current hard product is already years behind competitors who will be looking at enhancement to theirs by that stage.  I know they are replacing some of the Asian services with the A380 over the peak periods, but I don't understand why the upgrade doesn't get any priority.  The sad thing is that even American Airlines have a better hard Business Class product than Qantas now.
    Member who gave thanks

    crod13

  • Alex

    tm_smile

    25 Aug, 2017 10:52 am

    They're currently flying their fleet at full utilisation. If they did it sooner, it would mean cutting routes or frequencies. The refits would also be scheduled to coincide with planned (major) maintenance. You don't just take aircraft out of service to put in new seats while people are still prepared to pay for them and while there is money to be made.
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  • Himeno

    Himeno

    25 Aug, 2017 08:43 pm

    They are using 11 of 12 at the moment with the 12th at MNL for heavy maintenance. The only times all 12 are in use are during peak periods.
    From late next March, 2 aircraft will be doing less flying.

    Really, there isn't any utillisation reason they couldn't start a refit now. VH-OQK is currently in MNL.
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  • QFcrew

    QFcrew

    25 Aug, 2017 11:08 am

    Just heard a senior leader say refurb will begin in 12 months time. 
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  • GregXL

    GregXL

    25 Aug, 2017 09:34 am

    There was speculation that this would happen sooner, based on withdrawing A380s from the MEL-LHR route.  Does that mean there are some additional A380 services to be announced ?  
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  • bodez

    bodez

    25 Aug, 2017 09:45 am

    Such a big increase in premium economy suggests that demand for this is growing well. Good to see.
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  • Blair Coull

    Notso Swift

    25 Aug, 2017 09:52 pm

    We did Japan PE for family holiday 12 months ago and it was packed, but J and Y were not, both looked 70% vs 100% I think there is about 30 seats on those 747's
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  • Joe

    Joe

    25 Aug, 2017 09:51 am

    No mention of canabilising even more business class toilets which Qantas seems to have become an industry expert at? - holding my breath.......perhaps Y pax will be sharing F lavs considering they are all on lower deck ;)
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  • mviy

    mviy

    25 Aug, 2017 10:07 am

    I wonder what this means for the popular smaller business seat section at the front? Will a larger lounge area mean this goes or the number of seats there reduces?

    It would be a shame to see that section go though with the axing of flights to London I may not fly premium cabins in the QF A380 much if at all after the refurb anyway.

    The small changes to F suggest QF is a bit unsure of the future of F. It is neither willing to invest a lot in improving it, nor scrap it completely.
    No member give thanks

  • Chris

    flychrisfly

    25 Aug, 2017 12:23 pm

    I quite like the F cabin as it is. Sure a refresh would be nice but I don't think it needs more than that.
    No member give thanks

  • paperysomething

    paperysomething

    25 Aug, 2017 10:13 am

    Assume this extends to installation of Panasonic eX3 servers with the equivelanet seat units and screens being replaced in First, Business and Premium Economy.

    Economy would then get new seat cushions and retain the eX2 seat units with a slightly dumbed down interface like the A332 fleet?
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  • StudiodeKadent

    StudiodeKadent

    25 Aug, 2017 10:26 am

    I'm impressed, although I am somewhat surprised that QF is increasing their non-economy capacity so starkly. They're clearly trying to get premium traffic back from Emirates with this (plus the Premium Economy market space is something they have a monopoly on). I wonder how the EK partnership will change as a result... maybe cutting a few of the 777 frequencies? 
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  • patrickk

    patrickk

    25 Aug, 2017 10:35 am

    There is a cost time thing here as well, as they are only stripping out the upper deck and I am sure they will do a D check at the same time. That is why it is 2019-2020 so they get another 10 years out of them.
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  • mviy

    mviy

    25 Aug, 2017 11:01 am

    One wonders why Joyce is cutting capacity to London and at the same time claiming there's increased demand for services?
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  • Alex_upgrade

    alex_upgrade77

    25 Aug, 2017 03:24 pm

    Qantas' edge has always been the Pacific. It still has by far the greatest market share to the US. This investment is to protect that. QF can't justify 3 daily flights to London given the competition and EK deal.
    Member who gave thanks

    TravellikeaCEO

  • Mark_S

    Mark_S

    25 Aug, 2017 03:07 pm

    Emirates has it all over Qantas in price, bar and seat.   
    Member who gave thanks

    TravellikeaCEO

  • zoomzoom

    zoomzoom

    25 Aug, 2017 03:27 pm

    Too little too late. They lost me to CX and SG years ago. typical QF, big announcement, lagging the market by 5 plus years with implementation 5 yrs away........who are they kidding. 
    Member who gave thanks

    TravellikeaCEO

  • Nathan Jordan

    nathanjordan

    25 Aug, 2017 03:36 pm

    No Y on the Upper Deck anymore - NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
    Member who gave thanks

    clarmich

  • TravellikeaCEO

    TravellikeaCEO
    Banned

    25 Aug, 2017 03:40 pm

    And they need to consider a new executive chef.
    Neil perry and his carb and fat laden slops seriously needs to go.
    I find the whole food situation with qantas in first and business deplorable.
    Members who gave thanks

    crod13, Private Pilot

  • Caz Rodriguez

    crod13

    25 Aug, 2017 07:50 pm

    Agree 100%. Its so disgusting. I always eat big before getting on the plane.
    Member who gave thanks

    Private Pilot

  • Private Pilot

    Private Pilot

    6 Nov, 2017 11:25 am

    Gosh, I've only just read your comment....I do the QF7 and 8 often, business class, and endure those dreadful lumpy beds and the lack of stowage space...I also do the EK413/412 often....absolutely QANTAS should just COPY Emirates in ALL respects!!....now on to you food comment..I completely agree with you, not only the fact that constant advertising of who designs the menus is offensive, but the food itself is offensive too!!...it's devoid of wide choice, is fatty and carby, and they serve a 'steak sandwich' of all things, which is like a shoe sole.....I could go on...I have QANTAS catering.
    No member give thanks

  • parishiltons

    parishiltons

    25 Aug, 2017 04:20 pm

    Good to see those dreary grey plastic shells go. They looked like the plastics on the inside of a cheap car from day one.

    Not sure about the lounge - hope they keep the noise levels down at night. One thing I love about SQ is quietness after lights out, enforced by the cabin staff if anyone is making a noise that could disturb others' sleep. So important in the quieter modern planes such as the A380 and B787.
    No member give thanks

  • cow

    cow

    25 Aug, 2017 05:27 pm

    thank you for the opportunity to complain about the 'Neil Perry' inspired food.  I have sent back several (especially the veal cutlet from Jo'burg to Sydney, bus. class) and because I pre-ordered it no other meal was available. It was inedible. he should return the fortune Qantas has paid him.  
    No member give thanks

  • Adam T

    AT

    26 Aug, 2017 11:01 am

    Oh I thought it was just me. I only just complained to a lovely person at Qantas on the phone from cabin service about how much I dislike Neil Perry food, let me rephrase - what I dislike is the lack of a simple basic choice in J rather than 5* Rockpool meals that takes me 10min to work out reading the menu!! After days on the road I just want roast chook and 3 veg !!
    Member who gave thanks

    Private Pilot

  • Kerry

    Kerry R

    25 Aug, 2017 06:15 pm

    All great if you aren't doing the BNE/LAX/JFK routes.  QF need to revamp the Business seats on the old 747's .... After all we are still paying Business fares and the seats are tired and need new cushions.  We know they are going to retire the old work horses, but give passengers a decent seat for the money they pay.
    A flight I was on this month JFK to LAX seat 3F was so bad a passenger refused to sit in it.  She was moved by cabin crew BUT that same seat was occupied on the LAX - BNE flight which unfortunately left approx. 4 hrs. late, so a very long time in a very bad seat.
    People will judge with their feet and mi e on to other carriers.
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  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    25 Aug, 2017 11:14 pm

    By the time the A380 refits are being done, BNE-LAX will almost certainly be flown by a 787.
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  • Cap'nDave

    Cap'nDave

    25 Aug, 2017 08:57 pm

    How wide will the Business Class 'lay down' seats be?
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  • John Phelan

    John Phelan

    25 Aug, 2017 11:13 pm

    The same width as they are in Business suites in the A330 and B787.
    No member give thanks

  • russell

    russell

    26 Aug, 2017 08:00 am

    Good to see they are in a hurry to commence to commence the refurb.....that's ridiculous timing. They should have had this planned years ago. If things are so bright and they are making that sort of profit, move quicker!
    No member give thanks

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    26 Aug, 2017 08:00 pm

    Russel,
    I think you will find the refurbed was planned years ago as part of a midlife A380 upgrade to go with a D check to give another ten years of life until 2030. It is also about keeping the annual capital expenditure within QF limits. Retiring 747s replacing them and then a refurb. There is a logic to it. After the A380 upgrade there will be a few more 787s (if there is growth to absorb) and then the new ULR type in 2022 to see the last 747s out. Then it is time for A330 and 737 replacements.
    No member give thanks

  • Steven Beale

    melbtraveler

    26 Aug, 2017 11:19 am

    Great news but I do think Qantas could look at the new Delta style Business suite. I know It's best to keep the Business Product the same but by 2019 who know's what going to be out there. 
    No member give thanks

  • Shingi Sa

    davidzuo

    26 Aug, 2017 03:24 pm

    "The airline will also refurbish the final two Airbus A330 jets still flying with first-generation, angled-flat Skybeds to the new Qantas Business Suites, although a timeline for this is not yet known." via @David | Booked a return PEK-SYD-MEL trip for mum flying C in February 2018, paid a modest amount for the first-generation A330 fare (equivalent to AUD$2,466 return). Fingers crossed that the refurbishment will be completed prior. Skybed II was already good enough - after the cabin reconfiguration finishes, the next step of aiming for Skytrax 5 Star Airlines should be on the horizon. 
    No member give thanks

  • Henry  Private

    longwayaway

    27 Aug, 2017 03:22 am

    I don’t like side by side J seating where someone has to step over a fellow passenger. The Cathay angled seating is much better. When departing Australia for France where I live for their summer, I like to be somewhere else straight away, so Cathay does that. MEL-CDG direct sound great but Hong Kong is a great place for some much needed chopstick practice. All Cathay flights are over-night so a couple of Tamazapan and Bob’s your Uncle. Hong Kong typically processes an Australian Passport holder in 12 seconds; not so Melbourne!

    No member give thanks

  • GregXL

    GregXL

    27 Aug, 2017 11:02 am

    Compared to the original QF A380 upper deck, the new layout will have 28 more PE seats and a larger lounge with only 2 fewer J seats.  I didn't expect the new J seat to be that much more space efficient than the old one.  It will be interesting to see the detailed new layout.  
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  • Joe

    Joe

    27 Aug, 2017 11:05 am

    I hope First cabins get an upgrade with some element of sophistication. While I understand our Aussie culture is one of 'less is more', the current QF F cabin colour scheme/materials used is plain boring. The toilets too are no better than many other first rate carriers Business Class lavs in size and finish. A bit of pizzazz QF - come on?! 
    Member who gave thanks

    Private Pilot

  • pclifto

    pclifto

    30 Aug, 2017 09:54 am

    Second quarter of 2019??  Zzzzzzzzzzzzz
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  • mviy

    mviy

    31 Aug, 2017 11:30 pm

    One would think SYD-DFW will be one of the last routes using the non-refurbished planes. As QF can't fill those planes due to the length of the flight it would have the least need for extra seats.
    No member give thanks

  • TC

    Addicted2travel

    1 Sep, 2017 06:43 am

    Interesting to read your comment re SYD-DFW as I'm currently looking to book a couple of business class seats for this flight for next July. Brings me to two questions : 1. Why is a return ticket nearly $K10 if planes don't get filled and 2. If needing to get to Miami should I avoid SYD-DFW and go via LAX or elsewhere instead?
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  • Finsch

    Finsch

    6 Sep, 2017 09:56 pm

    I prefer direct aisle accss in J which CX offer & QF A380 does not, so will continue to transit HKG with CX
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15 Dec, 2018 04:07 pm

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