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

  2. 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 ?

  3. 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!

  4. Has RubyCroftoon hijacked this site? Rob?

  5. 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.

  6. 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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