Here are the best (and worst) Qantas business class seats

All Qantas international business class seats, ranked and rated.

By David Flynn, December 1 2023
Here are the best (and worst) Qantas business class seats

Qantas claims to have “invented business class” in 1979 – and while the real story is less clear-cut and quite fascinating, the airline is today flying six different types of business class seats in the international skies.

On top of that, three more are warming up on the runway, with all-new business class offerings slated for the forthcoming Qantas Airbus A220, A321XLR and the ‘Project Sunrise’ A350-1000 jets. 

But for now, here’s how Qantas’ six international business class seats line up. 

1. Qantas A380 business class (refurbished)

The flagship of Qantas’ international fleet, the A380 flies from Sydney to Singapore and London, from Sydney and Melbourne to Los Angeles, and from July 2024, between Sydney and Johannesburg.

And as part of a tip-to-tail refresh which began in late 2019, before being interrupted by the global pandemic, Qantas has been upgrading its Airbus A380s with the airline’s latest business class seat.

Qantas' upgraded A380 business class.
Qantas' upgraded A380 business class.

Stretched along the upper deck, these are the same seats as on the Boeing 787 – so we’re talking a well-appointed cocoon with ample personal space and at-seat stowage for laptops, books, headphones, amenity kits and what-not, which of course converts into a lie-flat bed.

So why do we rate the Qantas A380 as being Qantas’ best business class? This actually has more to do with the superjumbo itself.

Firstly, the window seats (which the seating chart shows as A and K) brings the added benefit of being next to a series of long, deep bins set under the windows on the left and right sides of the upper deck.

Qantas' upgraded A380 business class.
Qantas' upgraded A380 business class.

These are ideal for tucking away your mattress, blanket and pillows along with a small bag (such as handbag, satchel or a not-stuffed-to-the-gills backpack), letting you can keep your seat free of clutter while keeping these items close at hand.

If possible, choose a seat that’s actually next to the window rather than the aisle: not only does that make these bins easily accessible, once the bin is closed you can use the lid as a wide arm rest.

Those ‘true window seats’ are the A and K seats in rows 11, 13 and 15 in the front cabin, and then in every even-numbered row from 16 through 28 in the main business class cabin.

The Qantas A380s have another business class booster in the cosy lounges at the very front of the upper deck.

Qantas' upgraded A380 business class lounge.
Qantas' upgraded A380 business class lounge.

Located on either side of the staircase down to first class, and designed along social cafe-style lines, they’re the perfect place to while away some hours either on your own or chatting with fellow travellers.

For the most legroom in these spruced-up superjumbos, select a seat in the first row of either of the two business class cabins, specifically:

  • any seat in row 11
  • seats 16A or 16K
  • seats 17E or 17F

You can get the jump on other travellers by selecting these seats in advance using the Qantas ‘T-80’ rule.

All of the above is said with one caveat in mind: not all Qantas A380s have been upgraded to date.

Of the eight which are now flying – with two more to return to the skies next year – one remains in its original ‘classic’ configuration with the droopy out-dated Skybed business class seats (which sits at number 4 on our list).

But this A380 will go under the knife for its own refurbishment in 2024, so before next year is out, all ten of the red-tailed superjumbos will be sporting the latest business class seats – and that’ll carry the A380 through until at least 2032-2033, when Qantas expects to begin retiring its superjumbos in favour of a fresh batch of Airbus A350s.

2. Qantas Boeing 787 business class 

The 787 is Qantas’ international workhorse with a business class to suit, even if it pre-dates the era of sliding doors and wireless charging pads (both of which are coming in the 2025’s next-gen A350 business class).

Qantas Boeing 787 business class.
Qantas Boeing 787 business class.

Making their debut on the in late 2017, the Dreamliner’s 42 business class seats were developed by designer David Caon based on the Qantas A330’s business class.

Qantas Boeing 787 business class.
Qantas Boeing 787 business class.

The look is more refined, the materials more contemporary, but the key difference is the privacy panel which can be raised or lowered between the middle seats – very handy if you’re flying with your partner, a family member or friend.

Be sociable or not in the middle seats of Qantas' Boeing 787 business class.
Be sociable or not in the middle seats of Qantas' Boeing 787 business class.

For the most legroom, select a seat in the first row of either of the 787’s two business class cabins, specifically

  • seats 1A or 1K
  • seats 2E or 2F
  • any seat in row 10
Qantas 787 business class legroom and foot space in the front rows (left and centre) vs all other seats (right).
Qantas 787 business class legroom and foot space in the front rows (left and centre) vs all other seats (right).

You can get the jump on other travellers by selecting these seats in advance using the Qantas ‘T-80’ rule.

(Just be aware there are no luggage bins above 2E and 2F, as this overhead space is occupied by a pair of beds for the 787’s pilots.)

And you don’t have to be headed overseas to sample the Qantas 787 business class: savvy travellers have realised they can travel on the Qantas 787 and even enjoy access to the Qantas Sydney and Melbourne first class lounges on selected domestic flights

3. Qantas Airbus A330 business class

Officially dubbed the Business Suite, this 1-2-1 flatbed business class was launched in late 2014 at the peak of Qantas’ battle with Virgin Australia and has become the platform for the 787 and A380 business class.

Qantas' Business Suite made its debut in 2014 on the Airbus A330.
Qantas' Business Suite made its debut in 2014 on the Airbus A330.

It’s found on both the international fleet of A330-300 jets and the smaller A330-200s, which ply both domestic and overseas routes.

(This makes the A330 easily the best choice when it comes to transcontinental flights, and worth watching for when booking a flight between the east and west coast capitals.)

Qantas A330 business class.
Qantas A330 business class.

The major drawback of the A330 Business Suite is that the shelving and centrepiece of the middle seats are fixed in place, so you can’t open up the space – as on the 787 or A380 – to be social with your seat-mate.

However, should you find yourself on a A330-200 bound for selected destinations in Asia  (among them Bali, Jakarta, Manila and Singapore) you’ll be able to use the fast and free Qantas domestic WiFi service on that portion of your flight which is over Australia.

Selected international Qantas A330 flights include WiFi for part (but not all) of the trip.
Selected international Qantas A330 flights include WiFi for part (but not all) of the trip.

By comparison, the A330-300s, 787s and A380s lack any inflight Internet capability.

Apart from that, the A330s are showing their age – they’re rather noisy old birds – which is why they’ll be retired from 2027-2028 in favour of a mixed batch of two dozen Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s, each with the same business class as their long-range cousins.

4. Qantas Finnair A330 business class

With Qantas facing a shortfall of aircraft until its next wave of Boeing 787s and Airbus A350s arrive from 2027-2028, the airline has taken out a four-year lease on a pair of Finnair A330 jets for the Sydney-Singapore and Sydney-Bangkok routes, which feature Finnair’s unique non-reclining business class seat.

Finnair's radical non-reclining AirLounge business class.
Finnair's radical non-reclining AirLounge business class.

Dubbed the AirLounge, it still provides you with a long flat bed – but the rest of the time it’s more like a sofa encased in a curved high-walled shell, with the impetus on the passenger to find their most comfortable position.

Finnair's radical non-reclining AirLounge business class.
Finnair's radical non-reclining AirLounge business class.

As you can probably imagine, this makes it a seat which travellers either love or loathe – there’s very little middle ground.

Finnair's AirLounge business class is less a seat and more a 'sofa in the sky'.
Finnair's AirLounge business class is less a seat and more a 'sofa in the sky'.

Most who’ve flown in Finnair’s latest business class tend to have very positive reactions, including praise as the best non-doored business class.

But when the pendulum of opinion swings the other way, the shift is into ‘so uncomfortable, will never fly it again’ territory.

This high degree of subjectivity is why we’ve rated the Qantas Finnair A330 business class as #4 on our list: you might feel it’s better than even the latest Qantas A380 or 787 business class, or it could be worse than anything but our last-ranked 737 business class.

So what’s it like to travel in this Qantas Finnair A330 business class flying sofa? Read our review here.

5. Qantas A380 business class (original)

At the time of writing, there’s still one A380 flying in its original circa-2008 fit out.

The 2-2-2 layout of these ‘Skybed’ business class pods means there’s zero privacy, while the seats themselves have pretty much nowhere to plonk your stuff.

For now, one Qantas A380 retains its original business class Skybeds.
For now, one Qantas A380 retains its original business class Skybeds.

Oh, and when converted to a bed, the lower part of the seat is quite unstable and droopy. (Pro tip: you can avoid the Skybed sag by adjusting the seat to more of a sunbed-mode recliner rather than going fully flat.)

One thing to be said in their favour is the massive legroom – there’s no footwell nook carved into the seat in front of you, just open space and plenty of it.

For now, one Qantas A380 retains its original business class Skybeds.
For now, one Qantas A380 retains its original business class Skybeds.

At the time of writing, this solitary superjumbo is making sporadic appearances on the Singapore, London and LAX routes, while also being scheduled for Sydney-Hong Kong from October 2023 through to March 2024.

If you’re flying between Sydney and Hong Kong over those month, you’ll have the option of booking into business class but ‘upgrading’ to a first class suite for free.

The Sydney-Hong Kong A380 lets some business class passengers travel in the first class suites.
The Sydney-Hong Kong A380 lets some business class passengers travel in the first class suites.

That’s because Qantas isn’t selling first class on the SYD-HKG A380, so the 14 first class suites are treated as an extension of business class.

Passengers get the standard business class meals, wine and service, but in the relatively more luxurious more surrounds of first class, including a far quieter cabin and a much better bed.

6. Qantas Boeing 737 business class

The closer to home your overseas trip is – think short hops to New Zealand, Bali, Noumea and Fiji – the more likely it’ll be on same breed of Boeing 737 used for most domestic Qantas flights.

Qantas Boeing 737 business class.
Qantas Boeing 737 business class.

That means the same Qantas 737 business class recliners. Enough said.

As with the A330-200s, selected international Boeing 737 flights do at least give you a slice of fast and free WiFi.

And what’s next in Qantas business class? Over the next two years we’ll see new business class seats on the Airbus A220 (from late 2023) and Airbus321XLR (late 2024), both of which will fly domestic and selected international routes, along with the ‘Project Sunrise’ A350 jets tackling non-stop flights to London and New York from late 2025. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 168

You nailed that David. Cheers.

01 Dec 2012

Total posts 52

Another pro tip to beat the Skybed droop: the right size cabin bag can be wedged under the floppy end to make the bed flat. My old Samsonite semi-hard shell is perfect. Just remember to remove it before operating the seat mechanism again!

06 Oct 2021

Total posts 6

Just to add that Premium Economy on the 787-9 apparently has more legroom than Business Class on the 737 (38" pitch vs 37") so if you're travelling SYD/AKL and already have lounge access, might be worth considering PE on the QF3/4 rather than 737 biz and get more room for less $. I guess ditto MEL/PER on the QF9/10.  

NPC
NPC

02 Aug 2023

Total posts 4

Agree big time that the A330 middle business suites are terrible if you are travelling with a partner because of that immovable  screen between you.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Aug 2017

Total posts 2

Great stuff re Business Class seating. Could you do a similar article on Qantas Premium Economy?

05 Jan 2021

Total posts 25

Can't wait till the 737s cease working medium distance routes eg AKL-BNE or PER-BNE.

Paying full whack for a business class seat with premium food and wines on these flights is a rip off !

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Mar 2017

Total posts 22

The A330-200s are horrendous when flying mid-haul overseas.  Their reliability is poor with endless engineering requirements causing significant and frequent delays. And with just one toilet in some configurations to service 28 Business customers, it’s hardly a premium cabin. On a recent flight to SIN, I had the CSM and crew all telling me “these planes should not be flying internationally” - hardly an endorsement by the staff. Qantas have waited far too long to replace their wide body fleet imo - other global carriers have much better hard products on fresher planes. Give them a try

01 Dec 2012

Total posts 52

Worst J seats on the dinosaur A380: row 22, especially B and J. Your head when lying down is basically opposite a toilet door, with just a curtain to separate. The new configuration avoids that problem.  

28 Mar 2018

Total posts 31

Getting a solo seat on the handful of E190 international routes delivers a rather comfy experience.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Jan 2018

Total posts 50

Personally, Finnair new business class beats them all! A rather unpopular opinion in this forum, perhaps...

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 408

Not 'unpopular' at all, I reckon most people who've flown in the Finnair business class seat love it! But as the article says, it's a 'love or hate' thing, compared to the Qantas 787 and A380 business class which is more conventional and 'predictable' so probably more of a crowd-pleaser.

17 Nov 2023

Total posts 15

I don't know what A330 you've been flying.  I was a flight attendant on the Qantas version for 5 years, and they are beautifully quiet - way quieter than anything from Boeing.

They're particularly quiet in rows 30-45 in economy class.  

Probably a bit louder as you head further to the rear, but still really good.

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1524

I can easy live with any seat from 1, 2 and 3 option. Number 4 is small proportion though I would love to try. Number 5 is awful and number 6 is plainly disgusting on international routes.


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