Back in January we reported on the new look Qantas was giving its A380 fleet. Qantas received its first A380 back in 2008, and a lot has changed since then! This is a full overhaul, designed to update flagship aircraft to 2019 standards.
The first refurbished aircraft was meant to fly again in March, but as with many aviation projects it took longer than anticipated. The good news it that the first of 12 is now ready and flying in the Qantas route network, including occasionally to London. The remaining aircraft will be completed by the end of 2020.
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?
Business Class and Premium Economy will be on the top deck, with First Class on the lower deck with economy at the rear.
The Qantas A380 fleet has 14 First Class Suites on the lower deck, designed by Marc Newson.
The shell of the seat has remained the same, although Qantas has changed the cushioning and the seat finishes as well as adding a larger, 18″ high resolution IFE screen (up from 17″ so not a massive change, but the resolution should be a big improvement!)
Qantas has also introduced a lounge at the front of the cabin on the upper deck, for first and business class passengers. It is similar in concept to the new ‘Loft’ area on Virgin Atlantic’s A350s albeit considerably larger, with various seating arrangements with tables designed for passengers to sit and work or chat together. If the ‘Loft’ is anything to go by this will be very successful for passengers travelling in pairs or groups.
This is where we see the biggest change. The existing Skybed seats have been ripped out and replaced with a version of the Qantas Business Suite used on the Boeing 787 fleet. It looks very good.
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. It will see your feet disappear under the back of the seat in front, as is now almost always the standard.
There is also a substantial increase in the size of the IFE screen, from 12.1″ to 16″, and more storage space. There will be 70 business class seats compared to the current 64. You also get better power and connectivity options.
The Boeing 787 Premium Economy seat used by Qantas will also appear on the A380.
There will be 60 seats in a 2-3-2 layout, almost double the amount previously. You get a 13″ screen (up from 11″) as well as around 10% additional seat width, USB and power outlets and a self-service snack bar.
Overall this refurbishment looks like a clear improvement. There is no reason – unless it is substantially cheaper – to take British Airways over Qantas to Sydney once the refurbishment is complete, given that Club Suite is unlikely to be flying this route for a long time.
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 (unless it’s the new Club Suite, which is more competitive). We are hoping to see it in the flesh at some point and will report back when we do!
If you are keen to try out the new seat ASAP, it is aircraft VH-OQK. You can track it on flightradar24 here – it appears to be shuttling between Sydney and London on a regular basis.