Qantas trials preferred seating for passengers wanting a speedy exit

Qantas trials preferred seating for passengers wanting a speedy exit

Qantas will roll out preferred seating on domestic and international flights, setting aside a row of economy class seats near the front of the cabin for passengers who want to be among the first to step off their flight and be on their way.

This will, of course, come at a cost: charges will begin at a lowly $5 for short domestic hops such as Sydney-Melbourne and Sydney-Brisbane, $15 for east-west flights, $20 for trans-Tasman services to New Zealand, and $45 for longer international flights.

Qantas will trial preferred seating across the second half of this year, joining other airlines such as Emirates, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines which operate similar schemes.

However, the airline says that top-tier frequent flyers who can currently pre-select the front rows of economy won't find themselves booted out of those seats.

For example, on a Qantas Boeing 737 preferred seating will be found in row 9, while rows 4 though 8 remain earmarked for frequent flyers depending on their status. And yes, row 9 is the row without a window.

Row 4 remains the prized pick for Chairman's Lounge and Platinum One members due to its extra legroom.

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.
 

50 comments

  • Dave

    Grannular

    10 Jul, 2019 11:05 am

    I really can't see this working well. Especially using row 9.
    Also from the side of the passenger, I wouldn't be happy paying for a priority de-boarding service, then having 8 rows of other passengers in front of me.
    No member give thanks

  • Adrian Scherma

    s4172249

    10 Jul, 2019 11:07 am

    So Qantas want to charge people $45 to sit towards the front of the economy cabin in a long haul international flight but they'll still be a few rows behind premium frequent flyers anyway? Who would pay for that?
    No member give thanks

  • Simon Hookham

    SimonHookham

    10 Jul, 2019 11:09 am

    Woot row 9 not! No really priority and no window either.
    No member give thanks

  • TheBigM

    TheBigM

    10 Jul, 2019 11:27 am

    "passengers who want to be among the first to step off their flight "


    Interesting definition, where "among the first" means having 42 other people ahead of you, and you're 43rd...

    No member give thanks

  • AJW

    AJW

    10 Jul, 2019 05:56 pm

    43rd is still in the first quarter if we are talking about a full 737.
    No member give thanks

  • Dredgy

    Dredgy

    16 Jul, 2019 11:18 pm

    Who doesn't love paying a premium for one the worst seats.

    No member give thanks

  • Garth O'Halloran

    gtoh69

    10 Jul, 2019 11:31 am

    Who wants to pay to be first to step off the plane and then wait at the baggage carousel for up to 45 minutes (Sydney International airport) with everyone anyways?
    Member who gave thanks

    Grum217

  • Tim Johns

    Johns

    13 Jul, 2019 10:28 am

    Obviously not people who have checked in a bag. This is clearly aimed at HLO passengers.

    No member give thanks

  • dm12

    dm12

    10 Jul, 2019 11:49 am

    Why different prices for different lengths? You can only get off once!
    Members who gave thanks

    Mark4217, mberzins, samueljones561

  • Guvner

    Guvner

    11 Jul, 2019 02:19 pm

    My first thought exactly! If the only benefit is disembarking "among the first" why would a long haul flight cost more?? Makes zero sense.
    No member give thanks

  • Sanjay Prakash

    sanj747

    10 Jul, 2019 12:00 pm

    Does not make sense for paying extra for really no benefit. Can't see the uptake in this.
    No member give thanks

  • Dale

    hakkinen5

    10 Jul, 2019 01:09 pm

    Imagine when they pay for row 9 thinking it's a great seat, then discover it has no window. Also, as stated above, it's almost one-third of the way down the aircraft.
    Member who gave thanks

    Grum217

  • Graeme Medley

    Grum217

    10 Jul, 2019 01:41 pm

    Why pay extra to be cramped up towards the front when you can sit down the back with the usual empty seats to spread out in more comfort.
    No member give thanks

  • RK

    Ryan K

    10 Jul, 2019 01:44 pm

    What a joke! Row 9 is nearly a third of the way down a 737 cabin and it's also lacking a window to the disappointment of many.
    No member give thanks

  • grov

    grov

    10 Jul, 2019 02:50 pm

    Other overseas airlines appear to have preferred seating from the first row - often only the first two rows are preferred. Starting from Row 9 is plain crazy.
    No member give thanks

  • Jason526

    Jason526

    10 Jul, 2019 03:07 pm

    Now you know how much your Platinum status is worth, no more than $45 per flight. Top tier flyers should give way to paying customers on seating. Same rule here, paying first class passenger gets higher priority than rewarded first ticket.
    No member give thanks

  • MitchSydney11

    MitchSydney11

    10 Jul, 2019 03:11 pm

    You seem to forgotten all the other benefits of Platinum and why would you assume that a top tier flyer is not paying?? That's bizarre. And reward seats have value or are you also not aware of that? it's why the FF groups of each airline are valued - Qantas FF makes as much money as does the whole domestic fleet .... it sounds like you are just trying to diss tiered flyers
    Member who gave thanks

    David

  • Aleks Popovic

    SYDINI

    10 Jul, 2019 03:15 pm

    If they want to do something like this they should go the way of other carriers and charge on fare type, ie sale fare pays $X for a window or aisle seat, saver fares pays $Y, flex fares has $0, etc. They can easily unblock seats based on FF membership anyway. It’s nothing new really and if other airlines can do it and give people the chance to pick and choose any available seat, then why can’t QF?
    No member give thanks

  • JetVortex727

    JetVortex727

    10 Jul, 2019 03:22 pm

    Ah ha! found that today when booking flights to Hong Kong.

    No member give thanks

  • Keith

    cqtiger

    10 Jul, 2019 03:48 pm

    Just run when you get off the plane I am sure you’ll overtake everyone in front of you
    Member who gave thanks

    Mark4217

  • michael blazewicz

    blaz

    10 Jul, 2019 04:39 pm

    This is a bean-counter's idea. It may bring in extra revenue, but it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
    No member give thanks

  • R M

    Rxm

    10 Jul, 2019 04:43 pm

    Some potential issues.
    1. Pushy passengers behind you that don’t respect the deboarding pecking order.
    2. You pay for a priority window seat but the person in the middle or isle seat is not in the same rush you are. They’re happy to be last off.
    When you start asking people to pay for something you start creating certain expectations which then have to be managed to avoid conflict.
    If qantas want to make some extra money offer people to pay to block a seat next to them when choosing their seats I’d load factor allows.
    No member give thanks

  • mik_64

    mik_64

    10 Jul, 2019 04:52 pm

    So row 9 on a 737 with a short hop to MEL =$5 x 6 = $30
    I suppose the burden of having to fund the overhead of executive bonuses is the mother of these pissant ideas
    No member give thanks

  • QFP1

    QFP1

    10 Jul, 2019 05:07 pm

    Where do you get $30 from? SYD-MEL preferred seating is $5 each way.
    No member give thanks

  • Dave

    Grannular

    10 Jul, 2019 05:30 pm

    6 seats in the row. $5x6=$30
    No member give thanks

  • Adam T

    AT

    10 Jul, 2019 05:23 pm

    Honestly and truly, what is so important that you can’t just....oh you know....wait for a bit.
    Member who gave thanks

    Wouldbetraveller

  • patrickk

    patrickk

    10 Jul, 2019 05:53 pm

    This is for people like me with usually only Carry-on baggage who would prefer to be at the front of the immigration queue at Dallas or LA. Now I am platinum so the idea doesn’t affect me but otherwise it might be attractive depending if it was aisle and the connection was tight-ish such as 90mins. As usual it won’t suit everyone but it will suit some, especially those who hate queues.
    No member give thanks

  • Mitch Wilson

    MitchW

    10 Jul, 2019 05:58 pm

    Passengers de-boarding always fascinate me, especially in Asia. As soon as that seatbelt sign goes off (if not before), they're up in the aisle, bag out of the overhead, standing there (for ages usually) chomping at the bit ready to push on out. Later on you see them at the carousel waiting for their bags just like me.
    Member who gave thanks

    VHOEJ

  • Mike K

    Mjkcan

    10 Jul, 2019 06:11 pm

    It’s champing at the bit. Fun fact. 🐎
    Member who gave thanks

    David

  • Mitch Wilson

    MitchW

    11 Jul, 2019 07:54 am

    Yes it is. Should've checked the post after spell checker changed it to chomping haha. One of my late Dad's favourite quotes.
    No member give thanks

  • pilotdude09

    pilotdude09

    10 Jul, 2019 06:36 pm

    Row 9? lol on the 737's it doesn't even have a window!
    No member give thanks

  • cavemanzk

    cavemanzk

    10 Jul, 2019 08:12 pm

    If so they really want to make an go off it on the 738s they should be doing something more like NZ with the frequent flyer seats on the ABC side, then preferred on the DEF side at the front.
    No member give thanks

  • Matt_01

    Matt_01

    10 Jul, 2019 08:45 pm

    So paying to get off early from 737 row 9, tell him he’s dreaming. Being one of those types who can select R4 at anytime the chance of a R9 PAX getting off before us is unlikely.
    No member give thanks

  • Shane Manski

    skiman72

    10 Jul, 2019 10:19 pm

    Qantas could get priority baggage and priority boarding right first?? Something VA do very well!
    No member give thanks

  • Nate Webster

    Concorde1990

    11 Jul, 2019 11:54 am

    Agreed. My priority bags have arrived last for every flight in MEL over the last year. I may as well wait for the entire plane to deplane before getting up out of my seat.
    When in Y on 737-8; If I can’t have row 4 then I’ll take a seat down the very back: it’s usually more likely to have an empty seat next to you.
    No member give thanks

  • Flying Fish

    AWA2602

    10 Jul, 2019 11:14 pm

    This will be a handy little opportunity to upsell something of no real value to the inexperienced and naive occasional flyers who wont have a clue that they're paying to get nothing of value.
    No member give thanks

  • AJW

    AJW

    11 Jul, 2019 07:10 am

    Yet frequent flyers seem to think those forward seats have value hence why Qantas blocks them out for them. Hmmmm
    No member give thanks

  • Rotten

    Rotten

    11 Jul, 2019 01:21 am

    Seriously? ... This is a thing? I always opt for an exit seat or even a bulkhead where I can access extra legroom when travelling Y but if business people NEED to save any of the 10 minutes it takes to empty your average domestic flight then I feel they need to have a long hard look at their time management plans.
    No member give thanks

  • Jason Hincks

    JayHi

    11 Jul, 2019 06:17 am

    This site should be called Australian Business Whiners. It’s like a race to see who can crap on any innovation first. This is a pretty standard option on many airlines. If you are a status flyer, it doesn’t effect you and if you are an infrequent flyer that’s happy to be in the back half of the plane, you don’t have to buy it. Not sure why so many of you seem offended by the option....
    No member give thanks

  • Mike K

    Mjkcan

    11 Jul, 2019 07:16 am

    We’re whinging because it’s a cheap buck and is basically a lie to the naive. You’re paying money to “disembark first” when in fact you’re in the 9th, windowless row. Time savings will be negligible and potentially non-existent - and I agree with others - if you think your time, not measured in hours but quite possibly in seconds, is so much more valuable than everyone else’s but somehow only worth five dollars, you need to take a long hard look at your time management skills / life.

    I work in a trauma centre - where seconds and minutes can actually matter - and all of this just seems selfish, pointless and sneaky.

    We’ve demonstrated that none of us would ever pay for that. It’s quite literally designed to trick people who don’t know what they’re buying and frankly that leaves a very sour taste in my, and clearly others, mouth (mouths?).


    No member give thanks

  • Jason Hincks

    JayHi

    11 Jul, 2019 08:28 am

    Your point is still redundant and your job is irrelevant. The choice not to buy this option is firmly in your scope of influence, as it is for those who see value and wish to buy it. To your final point, people have the right to assign whatever personal value they choose to their time.
    No member give thanks

  • Marksgreen

    Marksgreen

    11 Jul, 2019 08:23 am

    I like the Virgin eco X system. You pay a bit more, sit at the front, have better legroom and more overhead locker space. I wish Qantas would do a similar thing. Then that would be worth a few extra $$
    No member give thanks

  • Nate Webster

    Concorde1990

    11 Jul, 2019 11:59 am

    Did anyone notice that this is a trial? Surely the uptake will be very low (except by the very stupid) and it’ll just quietly disappear...
    No member give thanks

  • Mark Sarakis

    Jade D

    11 Jul, 2019 01:35 pm

    So I pay my money and end up in row 9-11 somewhere, then arrive in Adelaide and find that, because QF sometimes disembarks from the rear in Adelaide, I am - in fact - one of the last people to get off the aircraft?
    No member give thanks

  • PLEASEupgrademe

    PLEASEupgrademe

    11 Jul, 2019 05:36 pm

    WHY ARE CHANGES ALWAYS CHARGES? (YES YOU QF)

    As a newly minted Gold FF, and considering many if not most of my flights have been on 737's, I was looking forward to seeing if, on my next booking I can select my seat closer to the exit at booking. As a Silver member whilst booking 737 flights, rows 14 and below weren't even on the screen to be selected. Although my habit was to look for a seat closer to the front at or after check-in which was almost always successful. On one or two occasions I found myself in row 4 (which imo definitely does offer extra legroom, but not as much as an extra legroom seat.) It also makes no sense that QF intend on increasing the price of a hastier exit according to sector length, which makes little sense. (The only thing I can think of is that people are more eager to disembark after a long haul flight on a larger aircraft.)


    The MAJOR problem I have with this is the following:

    Qantas has just announced fairly significant changes to their frequent flyer program, which sees Qantas points increase in value by between 7%-10% on International economy reward flights. I have searched for both domestic and international flights and can only see that International flights are cheaper to redeem. The decrease in cash payments that always follow a reward booking have decreased.

    That is about the only positive for the consumer in the FF shakeup as Qantas Points become inflated by approximately 15% if booking Premium Economy, Business and First Reward Flights.

    Whilst these elements of the change have been immediately evident, it remains to be seen whether or not Qantas will keep up their end of the bargain by adding 5 million more reward seats per year AND actually availing "up to" the 30% more Premium Economy, Business "and even First" reward seats. It will be a massive test for the Qantas faithful as Qantas are known to overpromise and under deliver in almost all aspects of their businesses.

    The last audit I saw of the Qantas Frequent Flyer Programme, this side of the business was worth an estimated $2 Billion Dollars.

    When I was made aware of the changes I thought that it is all good and well to change things around, BUT the service you get with Qantas MUST improve. I'm talking about all aspects; Interaction by phone to their call centres, standards of their lounges, standards of their staff in the lounges, at the check-in counter, the quality of in-flight catering, in-flight service AND consistency of product/seat/personal space across all their fleet*.

    * Consistency of product/seat/personal space across all fleet is most important especially on longer-haul flights.

    These ludicrous changes (remove the n and replace it with an r and it spells out what these latest operational change really are... CHARGES.

    Again this will only be appreciated IF their service improves, quite drastically at that.

    With another tasty profit forecast, these changes come across as very greedy. I just hope that there will one day be a critical mass exodus and (I know I'm dreaming) my dying wish for the deregulation of the 5th freedom of the air to be extended to airlines like SQ and Thai, so that they could operate SIN/BKK-SYD/MEL/BNE-LAX if these 5 million reward bookings with 30% more availability in premium cabins AND increasing demands for better, more consistent service from Qantas aren't met.

    No member give thanks

  • AJW

    AJW

    11 Jul, 2019 07:01 pm

    Firstly as qantas gold you will be able to select a more forward seat without cost.

    You the go on attack of Qantas over lounge quality and product consistency and then hoped for SQ and TG to be able to fly Aus domestic. What I find rather ironic is those two airlines have rather poor lounges, even the most run down Qantas lounges (except maybe Auckland if the pics I saw the other day are what it is really like) runs rings around the SQ sin lounges and TG BKK lounges. And their seating and product is just as variable as Qantas. SQ long haul, short haul, old new. And Thai just look what they fly to Sydney.
    No member give thanks

  • PLEASEupgrademe

    PLEASEupgrademe

    12 Jul, 2019 02:32 am

    Your message is fair (Although the thumbs down not.) But hey life isn't about fair. I have never travelled SQ or TG, so my bad. But the whole point was missed. If this was allowed to happen, more competition would ensue and thus forcing Qantas (One would think) to up their game. As there would be at least 6 airlines vying for business on Aus - US routes. This would result in the airlines to attempt to outdo each other in terms of the many aspects of service that I outlined in my previous post.
    No member give thanks

  • PLEASEupgrademe

    PLEASEupgrademe

    12 Jul, 2019 04:06 am

    Have just checked 2 domestic routes ex MEL on a 737 (PER and SYD) Looking at the available seats, rows 8 and forward are all blocked, which leaves the first available row on a 737 at row 9, the very row they want to charge extra for. The PER-MEL flight i checked isn't until June next year.

    So, would QF charge me under this new proposal for selecting row 9? Would they prioritise making a few bucks off a Silver, Bronze or non QFF over A Gold FF who pays them more $$$ each year?

    Seems Absurd, Greedy and Poorly thought out.
    No member give thanks

  • AJW

    AJW

    12 Jul, 2019 07:28 am

    I think if I missed the point it was because it was hidden in a very large negative post. Though reading again I don’t think I have.

    Oh and flights to America there are already 7 airlines that fly direct.

    Qantas
    Virgin Aus
    Jetstar
    American
    United
    Delta &
    Hawaiian

    Plus three that provide viable one stoppers

    NZ
    Canadian &
    Fiji

    So how much more competition do you want? And why do you think it is viable for SQ or TG to fly to the US via Australia route. Sure SQ wanted it years ago when there was far less competition and they had an interest in buying Virgin Aus but now???

    Though the answer to that is getting away from the topic of this thread.

    No member give thanks

  • PLEASEupgrademe

    PLEASEupgrademe

    12 Jul, 2019 05:49 pm

    I agree with you. You obviously do a heck load more Intl travel than I do and evidently, you have tons more experiences regarding non OW airlines. Over the last year I have earned 700 SC's so far; 175 from flying economy domestic and 475 from a return PE trip to London, a return J trip to AKL, 2 economy BA flights into and out of Germany plus the 50 SC Bonus. The critical side of me comes from my days as an Aviation Consultant, my job was to be critical. This side of me probably also extends way back to my university days when I spent 4 years learning about all aspects of aviation. I probably haven't shaken this off. Adding to this, I only travel to the USA every 2 years. However, there isn't anything wrong with a negative post. Qantas needs to be accountable for their typical patterns of overpromising and under-delivering. Accountable to whom you ask? Any QFF that flies QF/OW and is more on the critical side of QF than not. Qantas is a great business and airlines are businesses with razor-thin margins, we all know that. If my post came off as negative and irrelevant, It is definitely because of two things. One is my lack of Intl flying over long periods of time and the other would be my overall disappointment with QF, particularly on my J trip to AKL where I was travelling on the only one of 28 QF A330s that had not been refurbished. The whole Cabin was unhappy on both legs. So why do I fly them you would probably ask? I can only put it down to brand bias. The highest Status I have ever had is Gold, and I really only have experience with OW airlines. If my negative view of the services, product and value for money that QF provides slips, I will choose to fly with another carrier/Alliance. Simple. Lastly, over the last year or so I have seen so many critical posts of bad experiences in the QF and JQ section of the ausbt community, so it is not just me who is critical. I have gone way off-topic and do not wish to change the discussion. End Of.
    No member give thanks

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21 Jul, 2019 12:59 pm

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