The best economy seats on the Qantas Boeing 737, and how to get them

By Brandon Loo, September 12 2018
The best economy seats on the Qantas Boeing 737, and how to get them

Business travellers darting around Australia will often find themselves on the workhorse of Qantas' domestic fleet, the Boeing 737 – and while these jets feature 12 business class seats up the front, everybody else on board flies economy, as many company travel policies mandate.

Of course, some seats are always better than others. Australian Business Traveller breaks down the seating chart to see which seats have an advantage.

The best seats in Qantas Boeing 737 economy: row 4, at the very front

One of the most coveted spots in economy, row 4 sits directly behind business class and offers plenty of legroom and space to work. 

Some under-seat storage is possible, although the change in configuration from business to economy means the middle seats (4B and 4E) don't have a dedicated storage pocket at the seat in front. Overhead bins are also a bit smaller here, making this row better suited to travellers packing light.

Tray tables and entertainment screens are stored in the arm-rests which make the seat a little narrower, so 'passengers of size' might also prefer to sit elsewhere.

Looking forward to row 4 and the back of business class, from row 5
Looking forward to row 4 and the back of business class, from row 5

How to get them: There’s no charge for these seats, but only Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members can select these anytime. Other flyers might see them open up at 80 hours prior to departure, and 24 hours before departure, if still available. If you see one, snap it up quick!

The best seats in Qantas Boeing 737 economy: exit rows 13 and 14

Long-legged travellers will naturally want to land one of these seats, as the seat pitch – that's the measurement from one part of a seat, to the same location of the seat in front – is a more generous 38 inches, compared to the more typical 30-31 inches.

Row 14 is the pick of the bunch, as these seats can be reclined whenever allowed during the flight. Seats in row 13 (and row 12 in front) can also recline, but are 'locked' during take-off and landing, and sometimes it's necessary to ask the crew to 'unlock' the recline feature.

As you also can't store anything under the seat in front during take-off and landing, if you’re hauling a few bulky bags with you, you may also prefer to sit elsewhere, to avoid squishing everything into the overhead bins, or struggling to find space if you board last.

To sit in these rows, you also agree to assist in the event of an emergency and must be physically strong enough to open the aircraft door during an evacuation.

If you use a laptop or other large devices inflight, there's also the inconvenience of having to retrieve your gadgets after the seatbelt sign is off and return them to the locker prior to landing, as laptops can't be stored in the seatback pockets, and your laptop bag can't be by your feet.

How to get them: Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members can select these anytime, for free. Other flyers can purchase them for a fee, which varies according to route. They may be allocated for free if you ask nicely at the airport.

The best seats in Qantas Boeing 737 economy: the back of the plane

Although counterintuitive, there can be some advantages to perching yourself closer to the back. 

First up, there are only two toilets for economy and they are both at the rear. During meal services, carts can block the single aisle which can really slow you down if you have to walk from the front. 

Those looking for a bit more elbow room may also have better luck scoring an empty middle seat towards the back of the plane, because when web check-in opens, some passengers may move closer to the front to get on and off the plane a little faster.

But that said, sometimes Qantas will also use the rear door for passengers to board and disembark via the stairs, so you might still be one of the first off anyway.

How to get them: Row 19 and beyond are open to all passengers without restriction. Silver frequent flyers can also select rows 17-18 from the time of booking.

The best seats in Qantas Boeing 737 economy: summary

As Boeing 737s are quite compact and are often used for short routes – with a few exceptions including some cross-country flights to Perth – there isn't much else to consider: as the toilets and galleys are at the back, most of the economy seats are very similar.

Seat selection is free on domestic flights and all fare types, except for the emergency exit rows, as above. Frequent flyer status plays a part in what seats you can select initially, with Bronze members only able to see the last 12 rows of economy and Platinum One members able to sit from tip to tail.

If you’re not happy with your seat selection, then check back 80 hours before the flight to see what has opened up.

Brandon Loo

Based in Perth, Brandon enjoys tucking into local delicacies, discovering new cocktails, and making aeroplane food look good on camera.

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 184

Row 4 is the best pick if you can get it not only because of the extra legroom but for 'hand luggage only' travellers you're among the first off the plane and on your way.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 357

Happy to see a bit of love for domestic economy. As stated in the article, company policy often dictates economy for domestic flights

05 May 2016

Total posts 603

Company policy often dictates economy for all flights, not just domestic.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Apr 2013

Total posts 31

Nice retro photos!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 299

I take exit rows most of the time if I can’t get row 4, row 13 aisle, worth it for a few bucks, I like row 13 as I can recline knowing I am not impeding anyone too much, I never recline in row 14, I feel a bit guilty taking space from someone who has none when I have plenty of legroom.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2018

Total posts 6

I have a hunch that the T+80 trick may no longer work. I've been following that AusBT tip with some success, but over the last 3-4 weeks, Row 4 has remained blocked out every time.

(I'm platinum.)
It could just be bad luck, as that's only been across four or so flights in that time and they could all have simply been P1-heavy flights, but I do wonder whether the system now remains blocked for P1 only beyond T+80...


21 May 2014

Total posts 24

T-80 is flight dependent, and isn't guaranteed to open up for all flights.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2016

Total posts 116

When I was doing the MEL BNE I found any Chairman or P1 will be booked to Row 4 first, and get their upgrades allocated ... best hope for me (gold) was always ask at desk as they move up you have a reasonable chance on the day


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 343

I recently scored row 4 on a trip from Sydney, Brissy to Port Moresby and yep...I had A LOT more legroom than the biz class passengers. It's weird that they haven't used this space at row 4 to extended the biz class seats to give more space there?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Mar 2018

Total posts 15

Is it possible for a run-down on the best seats for the Qantas Fokker 100 too?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2016

Total posts 109

Be aware row 9 has no window! I learnt that the hard way!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2016

Total posts 81

Row 4 rules...then the exits, and then anywhere the fantastic people in the lounge can organise with an empty seat in B or E.

Note to self - make sure not to get peak hour(s) flights in future..!!

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 271

7C ... the realistic, peak hour triangle flying, man’s choice :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Oct 2017

Total posts 3

As a Perth based Plat flyer the influx of 737s in the last couple of years on EW routes has been disappointing, ex MEL and BRI esp. Gimme a 330 instead of free WiFi any day. In fact, give us free WiFi on 330s for the best of both worlds.

However seats 4C&D are the best among a bery bad bunch on a 737 for a 3-5 hour flight.
Agree the 80 hour thing seems to be drifting towards 48 or 36 hours. Has their been a change in policy?


21 May 2014

Total posts 24

As per my comment previously, T-80 is still there but it isn't a hard or fast rule.

As for WiFi, there are a number of 332's with WiFi, so you will have it soon enough.

17 Aug 2019

Total posts 1

On the international short haul to NZ I was able to choose row 4 at any time, after moving from gold to platinum. Before that, as gold I was able to choose up to row 6.

On the domestic, I'm able to choose up to row 6. The qantas premium call centre said that I would see row 4 open up at 48 hours and four seats were free, but it's currently 40 now, and there are no changes. It's only a short flight from bne to Syd but on the way back it'll be the third flight from central Africa and some room would be nice. We'll see!

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