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

Not all economy class seats are created equally, so get 'seat savvy' ahead of your next flight.

By Brandon Loo, April 28 2021
The best economy seats on the Qantas Boeing 737, and how to get them

Business travellers darting around Australia will most 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 or budgets mandate.

Of course, some seats are always better than others, so we've broken down the layout to show which seats have an advantage.

Qantas Boeing 737 best economy seats: row 4

The most coveted spot in economy is row 4. Located directly behind business class, it offers plenty of legroom and space to work.

Row 4 also ensures you're among the very first passengers off the plane: ideal if you're flying only with hand luggage, as you can skip the baggage carousel and head straight to your waiting taxi or Uber.

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 or 24 hours before departure if they're still available. If you see one, snap it up quick!

Qantas Boeing 737 best economy seats: exit rows

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 very 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.

Also note that you're not allowed to store anything under the seat in front during take-off and landing, meaning you'll need to find room for all your carry-on in the overhead lockers.

To sit in these emergency exit rows you must agree to assist in the event of an emergency, as well as 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.

Qantas Boeing 737 best economy seats: in 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 – most seats apart from rows 4, 13 and 14 are much of a muchness.

Choosing a seat much further back on the plane can at least increase your chance of having nobody next to you, assuming the flight isn't heavily booked.

Seat selection is free on Qantas domestic flights for all fare types, except for the emergency exit rows, although your Qantas Frequent Flyer status plays a part in what seats you can initially select.

For example, Platinum One members will be shown the plane's entire seat map (that's how they can unlock the prized row 4), while Gold and Silver members are shown a seat map with some prized spots marked as unavailable.

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

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 175

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 382

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 617

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

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Apr 2013

Total posts 30

Nice retro photos!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jan 2014

Total posts 316

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 162

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 379

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 16

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 106

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

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2016

Total posts 89

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 261

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

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Oct 2017

Total posts 4

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!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Dec 2014

Total posts 60

Yes for some reason Qantas doesn’t block Row 4 for Plat1 on international flights - as a Platinum I can choose that row any time.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Dec 2014

Total posts 60

This is where Virgin (and I guess Rex) has a big advantage over Qantas with their 737s - the Economy X seating with additional legroom, which is free to select for Platinum Frequent Flyers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Aug 2017

Total posts 12

I, for one, do not like Row 4.

It's got a much higher chance of being fully filled, whereas row 5 and back are more likely to have nobody next to you.  I almost always opt for row 5

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 473

I agree PCHammond. Pre-COVID I'd be in rows 7-ish and looking forward I could see middle seats free until row 4 where often they were 3x3. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Apr 2014

Total posts 1

Interesting to note that on my recent flights 4 A B C have a sign over them stating CREW USE ONLY, despite being able to select them, I was bumped the first time out of there and the second flight I chose D E F and it was not a problem and no sign over the seats. Does anyone know why?

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