Best seats: Business Class on Qantas' Sydney-Perth Boeing 747

By John Walton, July 11 2011
Best seats: Business Class on Qantas' Sydney-Perth Boeing 747

Australian Business Traveller reveals the best seats to pick on on the aircraft you're most likely to encounter on your travels.

This week: Qantas' business class on the two-class Boeing 747, which is now jetting between Sydney and Perth daily -- it runs as QF581 from Sydney (departing 10.10am for arrival in Perth at 1.05pm) and QF582 from Perth (wheels-up at 2.35pm to reach Sydney at 8.20pm).

The plane also flies other long-distance routes, including Sydney-Singapore-Frankfurt and Brisbane to Los Angeles. 

The plane

Qantas has 23 Boeing 747 aircraft in its fleet, but only four of them are in this two-class Business and Economy configuration. In response to competitor Virgin Blue's decision to put Airbus A330 aircraft with proper business class on the Sydney-Perth route, Qantas will introduce these two-class 747s on the same cross-country route.

The plane has 56 business class seats in this configuration, with a massive 356 economy seats behind. 

The Business Class cabin

Business Class seats are found in three small cabins on this particular plane: 18 seats in the nose, 24 seats in the upper deck, and a small 14-seat cabin downstairs behind the nose cabin.

In the nose, the seats are laid out with two next to each window, apart from row 4 at the back of the cabin, which has two extra aisle seats (4E and 4F) in the middle.

Upstairs, it's a 2-2 configuration (with an extra storage bin next to the window), while in the small cabin behind the nose there's a 2-3-2 layout: seats A & B next to the left window, then D, E and F in the middle, then J and K by the right window. 

The seats are Qantas' first generation sloped Skybed, and turn into a bed that doesn't go fully flat.

The seats themselves are 21 inches wide, with 60 inches of seat pitch, which is the distance between your seatback and the one in front -- the space you can call your own. Virgin Blue has an extra two inches of pitch, but hasn't released the official width of their seats yet.

An on-demand entertainment system includes a relatively small TV screen and an AC power point for laptops and other electronic devices.

The best seats on the plane

1A 1B 1J 1K: the very first seats in the plane, this row feels extra-private and is noticeably quieter than other seats. However, should Qantas deploy any 747s on an overnight flight between Perth and Sydney, (at the moment it's just the daytime QF581/582) you could be disturbed by the crew getting things out of the closet in the very nose.

Rows 1-4: on 747s with business class in the nose, that's the place to be. It's quiet, exclusive, and feels less like being in a giant metal tube.

4E 4F: this pair at the back of the nose cabin have direct aisle access, so if you want to be sure of nobody climbing over you then it's the place to pick. 

Row 16: these four seats upstairs are just behind the emergency exit, so have extra legroom. The TV screens are in the armrests (rather than on the seat in front of you), which makes for easier watching in bed mode.

Row 11: still in the upper deck, these seats also have extra legroom and TV screens in the armrests, but there is a lavatory in front of 11J and 11K, which might be noisy. 

Rows 12-18: the rest of the upstairs cabin is a great pick: no middle seats and a quieter cabin. Remember that the air noise is less the further back you go in the cabin, but avoid row 18 if you can: it's likely to be a bit noiser with the galley kitchen, lavatory and closet behind it. 

Row 23: if you're tall, the front row of the 2-3-2 layout section behind the nose cabin is a good choice, especially in seats 23A, 23B, 23J and 23K, which are by the windows. (However, these seats are bassinet crib positions, so you may be moved to make way for an infant, and it may be a little noisy.) Avoid 23E, which is a middle seat.

The worst seats on the plane

Row 24: unless you can't avoid it, there's no reason to sit in row 24, the last row of business class, especially since row 23 (immediately in front) and the first row of Economy (immediately behind) are bassinet crib positions. Middle seat 24E is an especially unlucky draw, since you have to clamber over whoever's in the aisle seat, without the plus side of having a window seat.

18B, 18J: probably the least desirable seats upstairs, they're aisle seats right where the stairs, lavatory, galley kitchen and closet area intersect. That makes it a pretty high traffic area.

Next week: Business Class on Virgin Blue's new A330.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

Slight correction - The 744 doesn't operate SYD- PER-SYD on Saturdays...

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