The brand new look heading to Heathrow on the Qantas A380

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It is around 18 months since Qantas announced the refurbishment of its A380 fleet, but only now is the first new-look aircraft getting close to taking to the skies.  Flights are scheduled to start in March, with the full A380 fleet of 12 planes completed by the end of 2020.

It isn’t clear yet if the refurbished aircraft will be assigned to specific routes or not.  You would expect that Heathrow will be prioritised.

Remember that Qantas flights can be redeemed with Avios and that you can earn Avios and British Airways tier points when you fly with them.  Qantas now flies from Heathrow to Singapore and then onwards to Sydney.  It no longer flies Heathrow – Dubai – Sydney.

What can you expect on the refurbished Qantas A380?

First Class:

The Qantas A380 fleet has 14 First Class Suites on the lower deck, designed by Marc Newson.

(I see Marc occasionally – who is probably the 2nd most famous industrial designer in the world after Jony Ive at Apple – because his daughter is at school with my son.  In the polite way that you don’t talk business with the parents of your kids school friends, we have never discussed his Qantas work!  I was also friendly with Canadian rocker Bryan Adams at one point, even more oddly, because his daughter was at nursery with my son, but that is another story ….)

Qantas A380 refurbished First Class seat

These will not see major changes.  We are promised a bigger IFE screen (17 inches) and changes to the materials and cushioning used, but the seat will still look the same.

Qantas A380 refurbished first class seat

Qantas is also introducing a lounge at the front of the cabin on the upper deck.  It isn’t a full bar, by any means, with Qantas choosing a layout aimed at business class passengers who want to sit together and work during the flight.  Drinks and snacks will be self-service.

Qantas A380 new lounge

Business Class:

This is where we see the biggest change.  The existing Skybed seats have been ripped out and replaced with a version of the Business Suite used on the Boeing 787 fleet.  Very nice it looks too.

Qantas A380 new business class

The key change is that every seat will have direct aisle access for the first time.  You will recognise the alternating left/right seat layout from various other airlines including Iberia and Finnair, which will see your feet disappear under the back of the seat in front.

Qantas a380 new business class

There is also a substantial increase in the size of the IFE screen, from 12.1 inches to 16 inches, and more storage space.  There will be 70 business class seats compared to the current 64.

Qantas A380 new business class

Premium Economy:

The Boeing 787 Premium Economy seat will also appear on the A380.

Qantas A380 new premium economy

There will be 60 seats in a 2-3-2 layout.  Business Class and Premium Economy will be on the top deck, with First Class on the lower deck.


Overall I’m very impressed with what Qantas is offering here.  I genuinely can’t see any reason – unless it is substantially cheaper – to take British Airways over Qantas to Sydney once the refurbishment is complete.

Both flights hub via Singapore, both flights earn you Avios and tier points, but Qantas will be offering a far better quality of seat in both First Class and Business Class.  Hopefully I will able to take a look in the flesh when it arrives at Heathrow.

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  1. You forgot to mention Terminal 3 and the lounges are far superior to the offerings in T5

  2. O/T – I’m due to fly Virgin Upper Class Wednesday from SA to London. If there was availability on the flight for Tuesday would they let me swap? Just curious before I call there hotline from SA @ £2 per min.

    • Genghis says:

      What type ticket do you have? Use Skype.

    • Mark, it will depend on what fare you have paid and what the rules are regarding changes / fees.

      JNB contact – Reservations: +27 11 340 3400 (Open 24/hours day)

    • Lady London says:

      You could try using Skype to avoid that phone charge.
      This hint is from the one that once blew £120 calling BMI while travelling to change some flights before a deadline… and never got through. Despite racking up the £120 call charges. Then some kind soul mentioned I could done it on Skype using the lounge WiFi….!

  3. Having just flown back from MEL on QF A380 F to SIN and then BA A380 F to LHR, I’d say QF is clearly above BA even before pre-refurb

    • Done a couple of domestic flights on QF both in business and economy this week. Absolutely brilliant airline in every aspect as far as my experience has been, even the domestic lounges put BA to shame.
      Flew down in BA F 777, first sector really poor crew onward sector excellent. Really struggle to understand how the service level can vary so greatly.

  4. Appearance looks nice but not a fan of foot cubby/coffin approach at all. Hated it on Swiss business and remember thinking on Finnair that I was glad it was only a short flight to Helsinki and not a long haul I was on – don’t like the feeling of not being able to easily turn over in bed when lying out flat. In fairness to BA CW legroom is unrestricted in that regard.

    • Did a mix of BA F and CW over the hols and concluded that the CW is my preference for getting a decent sleep, it lies flat flat and has some legroom to move. the bed in F seems to have an incline on the upper part and less foot space.

      • Completely agree. I recently did NRT and back on the 787-9 and slept better in CW on the return than in F on the way out.

        The failure of the bed to go completely flat is very annoying as I like to sleep on my side with my arm under the pillow, but this was impossible. I ended up with my arm behind my back going down to the floor. This is an astonishing design fault for a F seat.

        BA F is better than Qantas in one respect – you get a 23″ TV screen.

        I was traveling with my Nephew on a 241. He had never flown F or J before and was very impressed, but interestingly said there wasn’t much difference between the two.

        We had excellent food and service in CW. The main differences were the quality of the champagne and the personal space and storage.

        • on all my BA flights i noticed a marked improvement in the food. On LHR to GLA in CE we were served a DO&CO meal.

      • Guesswho2000 says:

        Ah nuts really? I’ve flown CW a few times and it’s fine, despite all those who slate it (don’t get me wrong, it’s far from perfect, but a bed is a bed). My impression has always been that BA F is the best J product in the sky…

        I’ve got BA F from SIN-SYD in a few weeks, and was hoping for an improvement, I’d have flown directly home (MEL) without connecting in Sydney if I hadn’t specifically wanted to fly BA F…! Ah well, the experience should be worth it if nothing else, never flown BA F, there’s not many BA flights in this part of the world!

        • Am sure you’ll still enjoy 🙂 I’ve got BA F return LHR-SYD coming up soon, must admit less excited about it given recent trips there have been in SQ Suites though!

        • I always really love BA F personally – F&B offerings are great and I find the seat very comfortable.
          I hope you enjoy it too!

        • We got F 241 coming up end Jan out to HKG, ret from KUL. It’s fabulous…

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Thanks for the reassurances all! Tbh the pics of the cabin look pretty good, though I’ve never actually bothered to have a proper look at it when I’ve been on a BA flight! The Club World cabin lives up to the photos (obviously knowing the photos are perfect for publicity’s sake) so it should be fine. Outbound is VA The Business and SQ Business, both of which I love, so this should round the trip off nicely!

          @Alan – Re SQ Suites, that’s definitely on my bucket list, I’m even toying with finally burning my UK Amex MR points to get a big enough pot of KF miles together! I’ve done the journey UK-AU in Y all the way a couple of times, and J/F makes a massive difference on any plane though, I doubt I could do it in Y now, and the Mrs certainly wouldn’t!

      • Yes, my last 4 flights BA F the seat has not gone fully flat. I’m sure it’s meant to but it simply doesn’t!

    • Nigel the pensioner says:


      • I like F and consider it a good spend of the extra avois compared to CW, especially as I have no status, being able to book my seats for no extra costs is a major factor for me. I loved the seat on the 787-9 and didn’t feel the slope at all (maybe too much LPGS). I also like the direct aisle access and the extra attention from the crew. If you have the avois and no status I would always consider F if available.

        • Genghis says:

          I like the extra padding around the head in F, effectively acting as an extra pillow. In CW I use the pillow and now the blanket underneath to provide a bit more of a pillow.

      • Lady London says:


    • Lady London says:

      +1. Had it on the A350 on QR and never again.

  5. “Remember that Qantas flights can be redeemed with Avios[.]”

    Good luck doing that on this flight though. 😑🙁

    • Guesswho2000 says:

      It’s possible, I’ve flown QF10 in F on the A380, LHR-DXB-MEL on points (AA miles, but the point remains). That isn’t possible any more, as it’s now LHR-PER-MEL on a 787, so no F, but it’s defo possible to get from UK-AUS in F on points on a single coded flight!

      • Yep, I did QF MEL-DXB-LHR a couple of years ago using Avios. Service on first sector was poor, second was decent. DXB First lounge setup excellent.

  6. I would assume they’d prioritise LA over London to be honest… it’s probably their most ‘premium’ international market and can be served with 1.5 aircraft completed, rather than the 3 needed for LHR. But then I’m not a brexiteer and realise that the whole world no longer revolves around a tiny island in the middle of nowhere.

    • Got to pick you up on your geography Nick. You shouldn’t let your politics lead you to use “alternative facts”.
      The UK isn’t in the middle of nowhere, it is just 22 miles off the coast of Europe and so (for now?) part of the largest trading block in the world. It would be hard to be a member of the EU if we were “in the middle of nowhere” e.g. Pacific Ocean.

      Post Brexit:
      The UK is just 22 miles off the coast of Europe, is the 5th largest economy in the world, home to the world’s largest financial centre, a world leader in science and technology, has a strong arts and popular culture scene, is a nuclear power and one of five permanent members of the UN security Council. So a few people might still want to visit if only to come to all our free museums.

      • Agree re the geography and the other points apply for now but given Brexit I worry how long the other comments re economy/finance/science, etc. will apply…

      • While I fall somewhere between you two, the fact you bring up being a “nuclear power” as a reason for people wanting to visit or trade with us is exactly the point they are making – an absolutely ridiculous point stuck in Empire times. You no longer make friends in this world with force… Look at China.

        Though as I’ve happily escaped the UK, and have my Irish passport as a backup, I’m quite happy to sit back and watch the chaos I think the UK deserves. Hopefully it will be a wake-up call.

        • I’ll be looking forward to buying beef from Argentina, tariff free. The Irish farmers will be the biggest losers in all this.

        • Kipto – Right, and the British beef farmers will magically be immune I’m assuming?

          I always thought my opinion of the intellect of the average Brexiteer was hugely biased because I find them so reprehensible, the more I speak to them, the more I question that…

        • Sigh.
          I don’t mention it because we are going to nuke anyone, but because although the UK is quite small is does have quite a lot of power and impact (of many types). Obviously if someone wanted to imply threat it wouldn’t be in the middle of a list of facts. It’s just a fact.

          If the UK is unimportant then so are France or Germany, or the 20 smallest EU countries that add up to about the same GDP. I don’t think any of those things is true – I loved living in Germany. But I do find it strange that it is so fashionable to talk your own country down.

    • Indeed, it’s our geography that has played a huge part in our historical significance and continues to to some extent as a bridge between North America and Europe.

      As for Island in the middle of nowhere, tell that to Ireland if a hard brexit prevails, the vast majority of their trade both ways with mainland EU is trucked through the UK, destructive to play games on all parts and I would hope sense prevails and it doesn’t come to it but should there be delays at customs the last goods I would be clearing were ones destined for ROI if its a case of prioritising resources.

      • Exactly the attitude that needs knocking out of this over entitled country – “do what I want or I’ll make you suffer”. I think a lot of you are forgetting that it’s not the EU who asked for this complete and utter mess (a strong trading arrangement without free movement, a strong border between Britain and the EU without a border between Britain and Ireland – it would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic!), it’s the British people… Well, a minority of them of course!

        • Well that’s easy for you to say Callum seeing as you’ve already scarpered. Those of us of the 48% who are stuck with the situation still have to eat….

        • Evan – My apologises! I can only suggest you do something about it, if the 48% cared strongly enough they could easily bring the country to a standstill and stop Brexiteer – I have no motivation to do so anymore and prefer to just sit back smugly!

        • You’ve straw manned my argument very openly there Callum. I clearly stated that it would be in no ones interest to play games, but in the event that all sides maintain their current positions then you’d be foolish to prioritise movement of ROI goods through the UK above UK-EU trade in which case ROI will be put into a very tough trade position. That’s not punishment, it’s simply the practical reality of border checks and implementing leaving the EU by a process the EU itself created in the Lisbon treaty. Monaco’s trade arragements with the EU and third countries is interesting, certainly shows the EU can bend the rules when it wants (or in this case France, which has created a method of allowing super rich to live in it’s south tax free and pass ‘frictionless’ into the south of France to spend money).

          This concept of Brexit voters being educationally inferior to Remain voters is spurious. The Brexit vote was largely an older age demographic, the vast majority of which did not go to university but gained their skills in the workplace through experience. There are plenty of young people with x’ology degrees from the (for profit) university in the middle of no where who are struggling to reconcile that their very expensive piece of paper has not resulted in enhanced career earnings and indeed they are working in jobs completely unrelated to their degree which is without demand.

          We just want to be an independent self governing nation, the way that concept is vilified by certain elements of the remain movement is pretty awful, fine to disagree but to brand brexit voters as uneducated, delusional, racist xenophobes is pathetic. There are smaller independent countries doing incredibly well in the world, there are plenty of countries in the EU not doing very well at all and there is a worldwide realisation that mass migration and free trade are not universal goods for everyone. Even if they have worked for you or I it’s important to recognise those they have not served particularly well (if you believe in democracy)

        • But we already are an independent self governing nation, but likely won’t be after brexit. We’re giving this up solely to try to have fewer foreigners in the country. That is now the reality of brexit, so for anyone still sticking by it, it’s hard to suggest the brandings aren’t appropriate – the delusional one at least.

    • Australia is more of an island in the middle of nowhere than the UK.

      Réunion, an island in the middle of nowhere, is part of the EU.

  7. Avios earning rate is much higher if you fly BA. More than triple the rate, in business at least. Depending on your Avios balance, that fact alone could tip the balance in favour of BA.

  8. What is the best way to book this on Avios for First especially if you want to have a 5 day stop in Singapore? Shame that there is not an alternative stop on the return.

    We have 750,000 avios so hopefully enough for 2 people.

    • repost as I put it in the wrong place:
      Avios in either business or first to SYD are like hens teeth.
      You might well be better flying to SIN or HKG on BA (assuming you have a 2-4-1) and then onwards to AUS with qantas. This would give you more flexibility in terms of destination.

      Perhaps try playing with this even, BA to SIN, qantas to Australia, cathay to HKG then BA/cathay return:

      Or if you’re GGL use a joker 😉

      • Only lowly Gold – not GGL.

        Problem is we tend to always pay cash for tickets and only fly for leisure. Have plenty of 2-4-1s – but usually end up letting them expire as we have no use for them. Got 3 currently.

        Have considered paying double avios for a trip in First – but not sure that is good value.

        Will look at the options that Will said as we would probably want to fly around anyway and certainly visit Perth.

        • If you tend to pay cash for tickets anyway, then you might as well use the double avios for First – it’s better value than not using them at all!

        • Scallder says:

          Max – make sure to look at BA’s multi-carrier reward chart. Flying will’s suggested route would be 360,000 Avios in First per person (as 21,248 miles per GC map (in and out of SYD)), so you’d be able to do that with your 750k balance for two people. THat price is valid up to 25k flown miles, so you’d just under 4k miles to play with as well (enough for a one-way to JFK, so for the same number of Avios could also tack on a trip to the US (and could then pay for a return flight, assuming it wasn’t crazy as a one-way?)

        • Perth May well make your trip under 20k miles round, so 300k avios pp.

          You should be able to find availability to sin/hkg with relatively short notice.

          Once in Australia domestic flights are relatively cheap, I’ve been going round on Qantas using avios and it’s been peanuts. Domestic business is excellent.

  9. BSI1978 says:

    OT but no Bits today and is Qantas related. I was hoping to book a flight to Chennai with them (and then end up flying Emirates on the A380). I can see via Expedia that this option exists as it has a QA flight number but the price is very, very punchy.

    This option does not then seem to be coming up on the main Qantas website. Is there any reason for this or am I doing something wrong. Clearly BA offer a direct flight but I was hoping to avoid them but still accrue some points!

    • Qantas are code share partner with Emirates hence you see tickets are sold by Qantas for the same route but they don’t operate flights between to & from Dubai. You can do Emirates, Qatar, Etihad on this route but Emirates is clearly the winner as they operate B 777 on the 2nd leg which is more convenient to Qatar and Etihad who placed their A320 & A321 on ME to Chennai leg.

  10. Avios in either business or first to SYD are like hens teeth.
    You might well be better flying to SIN or HKG on BA (assuming you have a 2-4-1) and then onwards to AUS with qantas. This would give you more flexibility in terms of destination.

    Perhaps try playing with this even, BA to SIN, qantas to Australia, cathay to HKG then BA/cathay return:

    Or if you’re GGL use a joker 😉

  11. Noggins says:

    I’ve come to the comments to see what the answer was to why, in the final picture, the premium economy seats are shown so impossibly close to each other. Please tell me that shot is not accurate!

    • flyforfun says:

      The angle probably doesn’t help, but it’s accurate in the sense that once the person in front reclines, it can be a bit of contortion act for the people behind to get out, particularly the window seat.

      • Yes unfortunately they are way too close together. It was probably a good seat until the accountants squeezed an extra row in.

        • Lady London says:

          I remember practically having to ‘do the limbo’ under the reclined seat in front of me, making my way out of a window seat in Premium Economy when BA kindly upgraded me on the way back from SFO!!! There is very little room between seats.

          It was so much better than Y though, I was grateful for the upgrade and defo gave BA a few flights more than I had to on short haul, later that year as a thank you for it.

  12. This is a great move by Qantas. Having flown their business class seat on the 787, I welcome the refurbishment on the A380.

  13. Scottydogg says:

    How do you book Qantas from Heathrow to Singapore on Avios , will it show up on BA executive club . Or is it one of them where you have to find the avalibilty and then phone BA to try and book it ?

  14. Guesswho2000 says:

    The J improvement is a big one, the suites are already on a lot of QF’s A330s, even between MEL-SYD, and I love it. I’m always disappointed if I get stuck with Skybed, as I did HKG-MEL a few months back!

  15. Has RubyCroftoon hijacked this site? Rob?

  16. The Lord says:

    The Qantas search tool is great for finding oneworld availability but do you know if there is a way to exclude Emirates and China Southern from the results? Assuming that it is not possible to use Avios booked via BA on these airlines and that their codeshare is with Qantas rather than wider oneworld?

    • Didn’t know about China Southern link-up but QF points can definitely be spent on EK flights (probably one of the best uses of them TBH – I’ve got a 160k stash that I’m considering using for that purpose!)

      • The Lord says:

        Any easy way of earning them from the UK? SPG possibly?

        • Yep, QF points transfer at a 3:1 ratio from Marriott Rewards so good to top-up.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Bear in mind QF redemptions are pretty points hungry and their charges are pretty steep – QF points are ridiculously easy to earn in Australia (like 100k for a credit card signup easy) so it’s not such a problem here, but I wouldn’t waste Marriott points on them, unless you want to redeem on something only QF points can get. They are good for EK, better than EK’s own miles, but IIRC Alaska Airlines used to be a better option for redemptions on EK, not sure if that’s still the case.

        • Sadly weren’t that easy to get – to me a few cc churns to reach 160k in 2015! Mind you Amex wouldn’t consider me due to the visa I was on so was sick having to use other providers.

  17. Rob, the IB J seat layout is different from Finnair’s. AY does indeed have alternating left-right middle seats on their A330s. IB’s are staggered 1-2-1 seats with the middle pair alternating from close together (honeymoon) to being farther apart and next to the aisles. Some would argue it’s not much different from stating that it’s actually 2-4-2, seeing the footprint they occupy and the width of the seats, much like BA’s current CW layout but with forward-facing, direct-aisle access seats (though this is a topic for another discussion!).

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