Jetstar 787s to get new business class seats, WiFi, extended range

A tip-to-tail makeover will set the Dreamliners up for their next decade of flying.

By David Flynn, November 9 2023
Jetstar 787s to get new business class seats, WiFi, extended range
Executive Traveller exclusive

Jetstar is giving its Boeing 787s a multi-million dollar makeover including new business class and economy seats, broadband WiFi and dedicated crew rest bunks, giving the Dreamliners the potential to take on long-range routes to the USA, India and even South Africa.

The low-cost airline is also betting on the continued popularity of premium travel by more than doubling the size of its business class cabin from 21 to 44 seats, while removing 33 economy seats – and, from what we hear, cabin dividers are also for the chop.

However, Jetstar has confirmed next-gen 787 business and economy seats won’t include video screens, with the airline relying on WiFi to stream content to passenger’s own laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Jetstar’s mid-life 787 refit comes ten years after the budget-minded arm of Qantas took delivery of its first Dreamliner in October 2013, and is intended to lay the foundations for another decade of flying.

It's a new look inside and out for the Jetstar Boeing 787s.
It's a new look inside and out for the Jetstar Boeing 787s.

However, the refurbishment is some years away: a Jetstar spokesperson confirms to Executive Traveller the first 787 won’t go under the knife until “late 2025” as part of the scheduled aircraft maintenance program.

With each refit expected to take around six weeks, all eleven Jetstar 787s aren’t likely to be upgraded until 2027.

(At the same time as the 787s get that new-look interior they’ll also be repainted in the fresh and surprisingly weight-saving livery of their single-aisle Airbus NEO siblings.)

Jetstar Group CEO Stephanie Tully says the upgrade will significantly enhance the medium to long-haul flying experience for customers.

“Our existing 787 business class offering is extremely popular, so we’re doubling the number of business class seats, and to keep customers connected in the air, we’re introducing on-board wi-fi.”

“The new crew rest areas mean our crew will be able to get the rest they need to operate longer flights, unlocking the possibility of exciting new destinations like Sri Lanka and India.”

Jetstar’s new 787 business class 

Although new business class seats are on the way, they’ll continue to be recliners rather than lie-flat beds.

Jetstar is beefing up its Boeing 787 business class.
Jetstar is beefing up its Boeing 787 business class.

As Jetstar’s 787 business class is more akin to premium economy, it should come as no surprise that the new seat – to be supplied by Recaro – is expected to be sourced from seat-maker’s premium economy range.

That’s not an uncommon strategy: for example, Indian airline Vistara initially chose Recaro’s PL3530 premium economy seat for business class on its first Boeing 787 (below), while Singaporean rival Scoot opted for a premium economy seat from based HAECO for its 787 ScootPlus cabin.

Vistara's first-gen 787 business class also uses a premium economy seat from Recaro.
Vistara's first-gen 787 business class also uses a premium economy seat from Recaro.

Jetstar will retain the current 2-3-2 layout (yes, the dreaded middle seat isn’t going anywhere) but expand the size of the business class cabin from 21 to 44 seats, while reducing the number of economy seats from 314 to 281.

The new Jetstar 787 layout shows six rows of seats against today’s three-row cabin, with an additional pair of window-adjacent seats tucked away in one corner.

Jetstar says its new 787 business class seats “will have device holders, a power outlet, headrests and a generous recline.”

Recaro will also supply Jetstar with thousands of new ergonomic economy class seats, which will share key features of Jetstar’s Airbus NEO seats such as USB power outlets and a built-in device holder where passengers can perch their smartphone or tablet for BYO entertainment.

Jetstar's new 787 economy seat will sport a device holder, just like its Airbus NEO counterpart.
Jetstar's new 787 economy seat will sport a device holder, just like its Airbus NEO counterpart.

Seat pitch will remain the same in both cabins, at 38" in business and 30" in economy.

Jetstar 787 WiFi

Part of the Jetstar 787’s tip-to-tail transformation will see satellite WiFi installed, which will be used to beam inflight content to passenger’s screens as well as provide direct Internet access – at a cost, of course.

While Jetstar hasn’t detailed which satellite provider it will use, this is likely to be ViaSat – and specifically the same high-speed ViaSat-3 constellation which will serve fast and free WiFi to all passengers on Qantas’ non-stop Project Sunrise Airbus A350 jets from late 2025.

(Qantas also plans to add ViaSat WiFi to its Boeing 787s and the A330 replacement fleet).

Jetstar’s new long-range 787 routes

Something else that’s coming to the Jetstar Boeing 787s are lie-flat crew rest bunk beds.

The airline opted not to fit a crew rest compartment into its original Dreamliners, which meant that due to aviation safety regulations the orange-star 787s were ‘operationally limited’ in range, topping out at around 10 hours.

But after this mid-life refit, pilots and crew will no longer need to nap in the same seats as passengers (which can therefore not be sold, being reserved for crew use).

Jetstar will more than double the size of its Boeing 787 business class cabin.
Jetstar will more than double the size of its Boeing 787 business class cabin.

Boeing will add a dedicated 787 crew rest zone upstairs at the rear of the jet, above the last rows of economy, permitting Jetstar to fly its 787s on much longer routes and utilise the full range of the jet to open up new destinations.

While those extended-range routes are yet to be revealed, a spokesperson for Jetstar name-checked the likes of the mainland USA, India, Sri Lanka and South Africa as examples.

India is particularly noteworthy: not only has Qantas experimented flying to New Delhi and Bengaluru, but Jetstar maintains a partnership with India’s largest airline IndiGo, which holds a commanding 65% of the country’s domestic air travel market.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 371

Jetstar, please don’t put the new A321neo seats into the 787. The lack of a head rest on an overnight flight is excruciating. I’ve also never seen as big of a gap between each seat, they feel extremely narrow.

I agree, you have to have a headrest on these long 787 flights. If you visit the Recaro Seating website you can actually browse the company's published seat catalogue and see what it has on offer. Low cost carriers like Jetstar won't be making any major changes to the design, just applying their own colours and branding. There's always a chance that Jetstar will be the 'launch airline' for a new Recaro economy seat which has not yet been launched and is not on the Recaro website, after all this refurb project won't begin until late 2025, but nobody should expect anything revolutionary or ground-breaking from JQ or any LCC for that matter.

01 Jul 2021

Total posts 38

The only thing I hate about this is the removal of the IFE screens everything else is interesting to say the least.

12 Aug 2020

Total posts 5

Good to have lie-flat bed seat. But why remove the cabin dividers? Thats why I never book business on QF 737. It does not feel premium at all without the cabin dividers. The bathroom kept on been used by Economy class passengers.

"Good to have lie-flat bed seat." Read the article again, these will NOT be lie-flat beds, it's made very clear these will be recliners.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

13 Jun 2013

Total posts 29

Per the article, the lie flat is for the crew in the crew rest.  Pax just get reclining.

03 May 2021

Total posts 49

I understand that BYO device is becoming more popular but to me there really isn’t anything speaking upgrade about removing seat back screens with device holders. Especially on a wide body.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 382

Jetstar won't be doing this out of the kindness of their heart. This is a long term weight and cost saving exercise.

Thanks for that, Captain Obvious. Of course Jetstar isn't making any of these changes out of the kindness of its orange heart. Like all airlines it's a business and makes business decisions based on what is best for the business. That includes removing seatback screens to save weight, adding WiFi to replace IFE and become more competitive, adding many more 'business class' seats because it sees higher demand, adding a crew rest to fly longer routes etc.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Jan 2015

Total posts 34

Yes this sounded great until I read "cabin dividers are also for the chop". Maybe they'll have a curtain ? but they need something. I like Jetstar Business Class on long trips but the removal of a cabin divider between economy will be really tacky. I was looking at the seat map and I'm struggling to see how they can fit it 44 seats at the same pitch without taking out the door 2 galley and /or toilet and basically having the door 2 area open as the "separation" between Business and Economy.

26 Mar 2020

Total posts 67

Jetstar wont be flying to the USA as it that's a Qantas honey pot route 

I would probably agree when it comes to existing QF destinations but I reckon Las Vegas would be a good fit for Jetstar. Can't see any other west coast cities making sense, even a new city like Seattle would be a better fit for Qantas. India has GOT to be on Jetstar's list, interesting to see if it is a different city pair to Qantas or if Qantas hand its Indian routes over to Jetstar.

The cabin divider won’t be required as the entire forward cabin will now be dedicated to business. They will use the one bridge and pax will turn left, economy right.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2017

Total posts 323

I don't see JQ on SYD/MEL to LAX, SFO or YVR.   Apart from East Coast to LAX, BNE-SFO on JQ may be a potential candidate, although unlikely.

I see USA mainland gets a mention as a potential Jetstar destination.  Any ideas on where that US mainland destination will be ?  Also, from which Australian city will any such flight to the U.S. mainland depart ? Surely not Sydney ????

PG1
PG1

17 May 2017

Total posts 17

Hmmm ..... I really don't see much change for biz except a downgrade to "use-your-own-screen".  The seats are remodeled a bit but hey, still recliners with calf crushing leg extenders. No real change here ! I travel frequently to BKK in biz and never use those extenders. In summary .. exactly the same only different.

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1529

I only can stand their "business" as last resort to relatively close destinations like HKG and only for day fly. I do not understand who like to use their sardine class to fly USA or South Africa. But obviously demand is here.

09 Dec 2023

Total posts 12

First impressions with seven rows of seat on port side taking all the space between doors 1L and 2L, no way could the four rows of economy be replaced with four rows of business.  Four times the difference in pitch of 8 inches requires 32 inches. However, with only one class in the cabin, the cabin divider is not required. Row 4 becomes a normal row rather than a divider row.  This extra space is saved together with the dividers thickness and the space in front of the divider to the base of seat in front.  This would total 16 to 20 inches.

As there is no reason to keep this cabin divider, the comment “cabin dividers are also for the chop”, must be referring to something less. I understand that on the A321NEOs, the divider in front the front row of seats has been eliminated.  Jetstar probably going to do this with B787s upgrade. The front row ceases to be a divider row and if needed, the floor space of the door could be utilised for part of the first rows feet space.  Together with the removal of the cabin divider, there would sufficient space to install the extra business seats.

On the starboard side, there appears to a cupboard in front of the toilet. Eliminating it, with the toilet approximately equal the seventh row on the port side, the six rows of business will fit.   

Between the aisles, replacing three rows of economy with business, requires an extra 24 inches. The ladder to the pilots rest bunks requires approximate 25 Inches at the front, requiring approximately 49 inches to be found. The removed cupboard could possibly be replaced beside the ladder.  Removal of the cabin divider gains 16 to 20 inches.

With 33 economy seats to be removed, as there only 27 economy seats in the front cabin, two rows of 3 seats are be removed elsewhere.  Removal front centre row in the second cabin, gains 30 inches.  This will allow the galley to be moved aft to provide sufficient space for the six rows of business seats.

Removal of last centre row of seats will provide space for the ladder to the cabin crews rest bunks. 


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