10 things you didn't know about the new Qantas Business Suite

By David Flynn, October 23 2014

The Qantas Business Suite is all the buzz with Australia's business travellers, and with good reason – it's a revolutionary leap forward for domestic and international flights on the Flying Kangaroo's Airbus A330 fleet.

We've already presented a 'deep dive' on the details of the seat, but here are ten things that you probably don't know about the next-gen seat – including a lot of information that wasn't in the official Qantas press release. 

1. About that 'gate-to-gate' recline

One unique trait of the Business Suite is that it can partially recline for taxi, take-off and landing (the aviation geeks call this TTOL).

You can't drop it into flat-bed mode until the plane reaches level flight – but you can hit a button on the control panel to angle the seat back and swing the legrest up as soon as you board the plane.

Here's how the seat is shaped in its gate-to-gate recline mode.

The actual degree of recline varies between aircraft: the Airbus A330-200 used on domestic routes will have a 5 inch recline, equivalent to 21 degrees. On the international A330-300 jets you'll get a more snooze-friendly 7 inches or 25 degrees.

"Slight nuances between the domestic and international configuration means that the gate-to-gate recline position for take-off and landing are pre-set slightly differently," Qantas tells us – indicating that the longer business class cabin of the A330-300 makes for a bit more room between the suites, in turn allowing for that extra recline.

If you want to really maximise your sleep, your Business Suite can not only be pre-reclined before you board but also be dressed with a mattress.

With Singapore-Sydney flights around the 7h30m mark, for example, everything you can do to snare more sleep – and everything the Business Suite can do to help in this regard – is a win.

2. There's a lap-sash seatbelt

A key safety measure for the gate-to-gate recline is a three-point seatbelt similar to what you wear in a car (and in the first class seat on Qantas' Airbus A380).

An over-the-shoulder belt combines with the waist-height belt for additional extra restraint during the take-off and landing stages, and can withstand the 16G forces exerted in what is classified as a 'survivable accident'.

3. The seat width varies

So just how wide is the Business Suite? It depends on where you're sitting.

Some Business Suites have a seat width of 23 inches, others give you 24 inches; and not all of the suites can drop their armrest to gain an extra two inches in bed-mode.

Qantas hasn't yet released a seating chart for the new A330s, but here's what savvy travellers (and plus-sized passengers) will need to know in order to choose the best seat.

The Business Suites follow a 1-2-1 layout so that every passenger has easy access to the aisle, but some seats are directly next to the aisle while others have the side console positioned between them and the aisle.

With 28 Business Suites in each A330 (domestic and international) that'll mean seven rows of 1-2-1, with each row alternating in the actual location of the seats.

One row of 'window seats' has your armrest next to the window,  with the console between you and the aisle.

The row behind flips that – the console is next to the window while the armrest is adjacent to the aisle.

Got that? Now here's the cheat sheet.

1. Those seats which have the armrest directly on the aisle are 23 inches across when you're sitting or reclining, and the armrest can be pushed down into the seat's shell to deliver an effective 25 inch width as a lie-flat bed.

2. The seats with the console next to the aisle are also 23 inches wide but the armrest remains raised when the seat becomes a bed.

3. If you're seated in the middle pair of Business Suites the armrests are also locked in place, but the seat itself is a slightly wider 24 inches in both 'seat' and 'sleep' modes.

Armed with this knowledge, once Qantas releases a seat map for the new domestic and international A330s you'll be able to 'decode' this to directly identify the '23 inch, 24 inch and 25 inch' seats.

4. Privacy plus

Unlike the sliding screen between business class seats on the Qantas A380, the panel on the paired middle Business Suites (the '2' in that 1-2-1 configuration) is fixed in place.

That's probably not as bad as you think, given that no two Business Suite seats are smack next to each other.

5. New interface for video screens

The refurbished A330s will get a new inflight entertainment system from tip to tail with touchscreens for all Business Suites and economy seats.

Those screens will sport an all new finger-friendly user interface which bears more than a passing resemblance to Windows 8 with several different-sized 'tiles' displaying the latest movies and TV shows, popular programs, flight information and more.

We've seen a preview of the system ahead of its early November reveal and it's very slick.

6. Lighten up (nor not)

The Business Suite is littered with small but clever touches. One of these is the small sensor mounted atop the video screen, which monitors the ambient light in the cabin and automatically changes the screen brightness accordingly.

Of course, you can always over-ride that to dial the brightness up or down with the touchscreen or handheld controller.

7. "Now where did that passport go?"

Hands up if you've ever lost a precious pen, an iPhone or even your passport in that slim gap between the cushion and the armrest? It's not fun for you, the crew or even for the engineers who sometimes need to be called in!

There'll be no emergency rescue operations on the Business Suite, however, as it has a small piece of netting stretching from under the edge of the seat to the sidewall to catch those wayward bits of kit.

8. Do Not Disturb mode

The Business Suite's 'Do Not Disturb' mode will be especially handy for those overnight flights from Asia back to Australia.

Tap the button on the control panel and a small but noticeable indicator on the side of your suite lights up, alerting the crew to let you snooze (or work) without interruption.

9. Mirror mirror, on the wall...

Here's another of those little flourishes which shows how much thought has gone into the design of the Business Suite.

Flip open the panel covering the handheld controller and you'll spy a compact vanity mirror concealed in the underside of the lid – perfect for a quick pre-landing touch-up of your lipstick, eyeliner or hair without having to queue for the loo.

10. New Kate Spade amenity bag

Also on show at this week's reveal were the new edition amenity kits to be handed out on international flights.

The ladies will get this colourful eye-catching Kate Spade bag.

The blokes will be handed a more subdued Jack Spade bag in the same mostly-grey design as before, but with a red stripe.

(Beyond the toiletries in the kits, we've found these bag are great for toting those large 6 inch smartphones as well as the usual assortment of USB cables, memory keys and what-not.)

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

David,

At the top of the large space under the table and near your feet is a metal box with a tab that says 'Pull'.

What is that for? I haven't seen it open in any photos. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1136

Life jacket?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

The life jackets are in the black box and the very bottom, near the floor.
I am thinking of the silver box that is under the table. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Sep 2013

Total posts 1

The small one under the table is for the life jacket. The other one near the floor is additional stowage, perhaps for shoes

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

Oh right, gotcha.
So only 1 person gets the 'black compartment'

Lucky them. 

am
am

15 Apr 2011

Total posts 586

Both contain life jackets. The one just beneath the console is for the seat directly on the aisle while the one near the floor is for the seat with a console on both sides.

There will (presumably) be space for shoes beneath the ottoman.

Question for David - is the position of the TV screen adjustable? I only ask because one of the press photos appeared to show the screen protruding above the shell of the seat, much higher up than the standard position in the photo here. Would be great for the taller among us if it does. 

09 Nov 2011

Total posts 88

Delta cost to coast 767 but with ugly wood grain

09 May 2011

Total posts 294

So part 1 says that the A330-200 seats have a lower pitch than the A330-300 seats. What's the actual difference in pitch?

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

What would be REALLY cool with that partial recline for take-off is if you set it to partial recline before taking off and then when the seatbelt sign went off after takeoff the seat automatically fully reclined. That way if you dozed off during take-off you could sleep right through.

21 Apr 2013

Total posts 34

this is going to be a good product well done qantas 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 14

We have booked with Qantas business from Brisbane to Hong Kong next March, on 330.300, is there any chance we will get the new business suite, everything crossed but not hopeful..??

AlG
AlG

04 Nov 2010

Total posts 674

Your guess is as good as anybody's, Kerry, at this stage.

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

Can we tone down the ridiculously clickbaity headlines? 

Mal
Mal

14 Jun 2013

Total posts 360

Yes, because we all want boring headlines :P

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

Readers Prefer Boring Headline: POLL

12 Jun 2013

Total posts 744

You Won't Believe What This Amazing Poll Says About Readers!

One Weird Trick Discovered By A Mom To Make Readers Click On Your Headlines!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

"Can we tone down the ridiculously clickbaity headlines?" :P

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 398

Hope the seat designers are on top of these seats so they dont start sagging at footrest when in flat bed mode like the MKII seats on A380.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2221

If you put them on top of these seats there wouldn't be much room for yourself.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

I wonder why Qantas elected/had-to have different widths/drop down arm configurations for the different seat positions? Unfortunately it looks like you always have to give up something - as I'd prefer a closest to the window seat (privacy), but with drop down arms (because fixed are annoying when in lie flat and recline) and with widest possible width for sleeping/seating (comfort). 

Based on the analysis I'd probably elect to go the centre seat now, and just hope the other centre seat is vacant.

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 662

the model is manufactured by thompsonaero(.com) ..QF and any other airlines can only modify/customize to a certain degree, within the restrictions/dimensions/ base structure of the manufacturers model...plus all of this needs to fit into an aircraft fuselage which has a finite width and aisle width requirements...so QF are providing the best widths/space available to each seat 'config'

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 662

add on... fixed 'arms' on both side still gives an acceptable 24in width..in my opinion

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Yes, in your opinion it's acceptable for one seat in the same cabin to have so and so width, another to have so and so width, and then another to have so and so width in seat/bed configurations. In my opinion (which I'm free to make for myself) I find that annoying and requiring me to really study seat maps/advice guides to find the seat that is the best compromise out of the various configurations. I like a seat that doesn't make me feel enclosed/cramped), offers privacy, and doesn't put seat arms in the way/in uncomfortable places when reclining or in bed mode - you may differ, but then I'm not picking my travel to suit anyone other than myself.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Is there any evidence that this is a restriction of ThompsonAero base model? These are, after all, marketed as "highly customised" versions of the base model by Qantas. Aisle width requirements might explain differences between centre and window seats, but not differences between seats within those columns. It's a bit of a glib response to my seeking to understand why three different settings.

StA
StA

18 Apr 2014

Total posts 4

I cannot speak for the seat manufacturer, but it would appear that there are structural elements underneath some arm rests and not others (namely those directly adjacent to the aisles). Underneath the 'console' or 'side-table' of each passenger is the feet compartment for the passenger behind. If all armrests can be lowered, the space of the feet compartment would have to be reduced. An interesting implication is that all seats in the last row of business class could potentially be much wider (at the shoulders) than other seats, a la Singapore Airlines business class, as there is no need to make space for seats behind. These could be offered to high status frequent flyers... But most likely the design and certification costs of the necessary modification would outweigh the benefit.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2341

There are no sliding middle-seat dividers on the original Vantage XL or the SAS version (see https://www.executivetraveller.com/look-familiar-new-sas-business-class-seat-is-qantas-business-suite). It's simply not part of the design, because the flat wall next to Passenger A is the rear of the storage nook next to Passenger B.

22 Oct 2014

Total posts 2

Hi

if travelling with partner is it possible to have a conversation without getting out of your seat?

09 May 2011

Total posts 294

Yes, but you'll need to take a centre pair -- half of the centre pairs are closer to the aisle (separate), half of them are joined together. Get a joined-together pair and it'll be easy to chat with your partner.

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 55

Hello everybody! Is Qantas the first or have other airlines introduced the gate-to-gate recline???

09 May 2011

Total posts 294

Virgin Atlantic and Air New Zealand both have gate-to-gate recline.

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 55

Is that in Virgins Upper Class and ANZs Business Premier?

09 May 2011

Total posts 294

Correct. They're the same seat.

09 Sep 2014

Total posts 55

But Qantas is the first to not do it in the herringbone style?

DHB
DHB

05 Nov 2014

Total posts 6

With the understanding that Thompson is a product design company who  is the actual manufacturer as well as holder of the TSO on the seats?  Also, is the 3 point seat belt a required component in order to get the seat design to meet 16G to include row to row HIC certification requirements?

22 Oct 2014

Total posts 2

What if you want to talk to your partner?

what seating do you suggest?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2341

Economy?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 May 2011

Total posts 220

I think the idea is to take a well earned rest from your partner.

Etihad

04 Mar 2015

Total posts 1

Hi, can anyone help?? We are travelling to Hong Kong from Melbourne end of June 2015 flexible on dates. My husband has health issues and so we always fly first for flat beds so he can recline fully. As qantas have no first class now to Hong Kong I'm trying to ensure the new A333. I am happy to pay extra to ensure he will be in a new 1-2-1 configuration, does anyone know which flights operate the new planes or can anyone point me in the right direction. I appreciate they are subject to change but does for example QF 29 run the new planes.

any feedback appreciated 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2341

Qantas hasn't scheduled any of the new A330s with the lie-flat Business Suites onto any Hong Kong routes at this stage. If you have to have a flat bed then your best bet right now would be Cathay Pacific business class.


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