Qantas’ new A380 business class reveals massive changes

A far better business class experience awaits travellers on these upgraded superjumbos.

By David Flynn, April 20 2022
Qantas’ new A380 business class reveals massive changes

International travel is back, and so are Qantas’ flagship Airbus A380s. The superjumbos are now soaring between Sydney and Los Angeles, with Sydney-Singapore-London to follow from mid-June and Melbourne-Los Angeles in December.

And while some high flyers will ensconce themselves in first class, the majority of premium passengers will settle into the A380’s business class cabin – and they’ll be delighted with what they find.

Business class travellers who’ve not set foot on the red-tailed A380s since early 2020 will be especially appreciative of the multi-million dollar make-over which has replaced the saggy old Skybed II seats with the same Business Suite as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

When Qantas put its entire A380 fleet into mothballs at the start of the pandemic, only a few had been refurbished – but now, all the returning superjumbos have been upgraded, with not only these modern business class seats but two fresh upper deck premium lounges, along with new premium economy seats.

Here's what travellers can expect from Qantas’ new Airbus A380 business class.

1. The best seat in the fleet

Formally branded as the Qantas Business Suite, Qantas' new A380 business class seat is the same as that of the airline's Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which in turn was an evolution of the business class on all Qantas Airbus A330s.

If you've flown on those aircraft before, you’ll already have a pretty good idea of what’s in store and the many ways in which the Business Suite is superior to the A380’s Skybed II seat.

2. Direct aisle access

The most fundamental flaw of Qantas' decade-old Airbus A380 business class seat was a 2-2-2 layout which meant passengers sitting by the window had to clamber across their neighbour to get out of (and back into) the seat.

That’s a pain at any time, doubly so during the overnight flights which make up the bulk of the A380 routes. And it’s no fun being the passenger between the window seat and the aisle, either.

The new A380 Business Suite sees Qantas do away with this by switching to a 1-2-1 layout which gives every passenger direct access to the aisle.

3. More privacy

The Business Suite’s design and 1-2-1 layout sees travellers enjoy much more privacy during the flight. Even if you’re in an aisle seat, part of the Business Suite's rear shell extends forward like a wrap-around wing to help create a personal cocoon.

If you’re travelling with a partner, the middle seats have a divider that can be lowered so you can share a bit of the experience.

However, the best place to get a touch of that private jet feeling are the seats located directly at the window: there’s a side shelf plus the seat’s curved shell between you and the aisle.

4. A flat bed, not a sagging one

A common criticism of the Skybed II was that, due largely to its age, the seat developed a noticeable sag or droop when it was extended into a bed mode. The Business Suite offers a proper flat bed, with more support where it’s needed.

However, this leads to the single area where the Skybed II is arguably better than the Business Suite.

The Skybed's pod-like design (below) left plenty of room at the front of the seat, while the Business Suite sees your feet tucked into a 'cubbyhole'.

Some travellers find this makes for rather a tight fit, especially if their feet are above average size.

Our tip: if you have plus-sized plods or simply like more wiggle-room for your feet, the seats in the front row of the A380's two business class cabins have a far larger cutout.  Those seats are 11A, 11E, 11F, 11K, 16A, 16K, 17E and 17F.

These eight seats on Qantas' refurbished Airbus A380 offer maximum room for your feet.
These eight seats on Qantas' refurbished Airbus A380 offer maximum room for your feet.

These photos show the oversized 'foot nook' for seats in the A380's two bulkhead rows, those being rows 11 and 16/17.

Obviously, choosing a seat at the front of the main business class cabin comes with the risk of infants being booked into the two bassinet positions at 17E and 17F.

5. More personal and stowage space

Another substantial improvement of the Business Suite is the extra room it provides for items as large as laptops down to smartphones and reading glasses.

This was a serious failing of the previous Qantas A380 business class seat: you had to deftly juggle pretty much anything you wanted to use or keep close at hand during the flight.

The large flat bench next to each Business Suite is an obvious place to temporarily plonk your notebook, with an L-shaped recess behind this; meanwhile, a large bin below and in front of the bench is perfect for tucking away your shoes, amenity kit, gadget bag or what-not.

Still not enough space for you? Grab a seat located at the window (by way of example, in the seatmap above, compare the window-adjacent 18A to the aisle-adjacent 17A or 19A).

This affords easy access to the long, deep capacious bins below the A380's upper deck windows, and those bins are ideal for your shoes, pillow, blanket and even a slim bag or backpack.

You can still get to those bins if you're in a window seat located closer to the aisle, but it will involve a bit of stretching across the seat's shelving unit.

6. A better office in the sky

When there's work to be done, the privacy and storage space are keys to transforming the A380 Business Suite into your temporary office suite. And there are two more marks in its favour.

The AC and USB ports are located on that side shelf, so you'll no longer need to go blindly fumbling around the bottom of the Skybed to plug in your AC adaptor (and there's no chance that you or your seatmate will accidentally knock it out of place).

Gone is the Skybed's wonky, wobbly tray table. The table which slides out from the Business Suite's shelf is not only large enough for a 17-inch laptop, it's pleasingly stable.

All that's missing for the busy business traveller is inflight Internet, as Qantas' current system is restricted to domestic flights: the airline doesn't expect to see international WiFi for some years.

7. The ‘big screen’ experience

If you're fond of winding down with an inflight movie or indulging in a boxed-set bingefest above the clouds, the Qantas A380 Business Suite is just the ticket.

After years of putting up with A380's dim low-contrast 12-inch screen, the new A380 Business Suite is like a personal IMAX screen.

It's a generous 16 inches, so you can really lose yourself in the show. It's also  a high-definition panel, just like your flatscreen TV at home, with more brightness and greater contrast.

8. Two onboard business class lounges

As solid an improvement as Qantas' Airbus A380 business class is, we highly recommend you spend some time out of that seat and in one of the two new lounges at the very front of the upper deck.

The deep green leather couches, wood panelled walls and low lighting invokes a bit of a 'cocktail lounge' vibe, and you can order from a menu of snacks, light meals and drinks, including signature cocktails such as an 'Australian Negroni' with mountain pepper and river mint.

To the left of the staircase, where a crew office used to be, you'll find a long banquette similar to the original Qantas A380 lounge, but far more comfortable.

The old and generally under-utilised lounge to the right of the staircase has been completely re-imagined as a social area with cafe-style tables and bench seating.

AC and USB sockets are tucked away under the tables, with a large flat-screen monitor on the wall between the lounges so you can grab a drink and some snacks, settle back and enjoy a movie with your mates.

In short: any way you measure it, these spruced-up superjumbos are a boon for the business class traveller.

09 May 2016

Total posts 12

still no comparison to Emirates

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 389

Based on what? I prefer the Qantas Business Suite. Okay, it doesn't have the personal mini-bar, but on a seat vs seat basis I don't reckon there is "no comparison" between them, and I definitely prefer the QF finishes and colour scheme compared to Emirates' bling overload.

bsb
bsb

21 Jul 2011

Total posts 82

Those Emirates bling busses are pitched at a particular audience. I think QF have nailed the 🇦🇺 sentiment. But each to their own. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 26

You are right. This is way cozier and better than Emirates!

20 Apr 2022

Total posts 1

ET or anyone know when the Qantas F lounge in LAX will be reopening? Supposedly was to be in the weeks following March 27.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 389

I don't think anybody ever put a timeline against that, even if Qantas said "weeks following March 27" that could mean four weeks or more.

cow
cow

25 Aug 2017

Total posts 16

Flew Singapore airlines in 2019 with their foot pods.  Too small,  limiting comfort and movement, creating a claustraphobic atmosphere.  Hopefully the Qantas pods will be better.  

26 May 2021

Total posts 2

But is it better than Emirates with the Bar ?

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 779

I actually like the new QF business seats compared to the old ones, but reading another web site QF didn't even rate and Emirates were around 9th place in Business seats. EvaAir was ranked 1st place.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Feb 2017

Total posts 14

Maybe as EK have an actual bar with a person serving at your call but neither are better than Qatar! Their service, lounges & most definitely their A380 bar is the best in the skies IMOP. But hey, that’s just me. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Jan 2017

Total posts 16

Those seats look very close to the Emirate ones. They are far more superior than the pods. 

I really look forward to the comfort in the future.

16 Mar 2020

Total posts 2

Came back on QF12 on March 29 from LA to Sydney and told 2 hours before departure there was no In Flight Entertainment on the 14 hour flight. Very unhappy traveller who paid overs for a Qantas business class fare and got a Jetstar memory.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1437

Not sure this is new I flew on this configuration some years back. The only difference is that they have finally changed the least three.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 389

It's 'new ' for most people because Qantas only had a few refurbished A380s flying before the pandemic hit and everyone remembers the old Skybeds.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Oct 2017

Total posts 85

Never been a fan of feet cubbyholes. Every time I turn the hard surfaces seem to wake me. Personally also prefer the spaciousness of the Sky-bed II vs "claustrosuites" on any airline. Privacy never worried me so not sure what the big deal about that is. Newson Pods were released with much fanfare with reviewers praising them only to be criticized here. In a decade or so when the next generation Business class seats are released watch how these will be canned.  By then, most likely, seat pitch will decrease yet again but no one mentions that.

26 Oct 2017

Total posts 10

Any review of the new Premium Economy seats mentioned in the fourth par?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2559

Yes, on the Boeing 787 – we've not flown in the A380's premium economy cabin yet, but the seat's exactly the same. Overall I rate it as a good seat but hampered by lack of pitch – which translates into not enough legroom – while the footrest arrangement can also be overly fussy.

https://www.executivetraveller.com/review-qantas-boeing-787-9-dreamliner-premium-economy-seat

https://www.executivetraveller.com/review-qantas-boeing-787-9-dreamliner-perth-london-premium-economy

https://www.executivetraveller.com/qantas-boeing-787-dreamliner-premium-economy-review-melbourne-los-angeles

26 Oct 2017

Total posts 10

Thanks, David. Wife and I are booked Premium Economy ADL-LHR-ADL in October, via Singapore. Let's hope at least part of the Business class upgrade comes to fruition.

Hello David,

I was going to make a Business Class booking this week, however, I read a previous article from January stating that the A380 were not all refurbished and that it was pot luck getting the refurbished seating. Do you know for sure that if I book a seat in the A380 to LA for November, that it will be a refurbished seat? Thanks  

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2559

While I would not want to say "100% for sure, absolutely, swear on the grave of my grandparents" you will get a refurbished Qantas A380, I would suggest it's a very very safe bet. What was happening in January was that the first A380 to be brought back was un refurb'd, it was intended for training up the pilots and crew, but when demand skyrocketed that A380 needed to be pressed into service ahead of schedule, hence some A380 flights were on that 'original' model and some on a refubr'd bird. By the time we get to November the only Qantas A380s flying should all be refurbed.

09 May 2022

Total posts 3

They usually let you choose seats online on biz class. So if it’s a 2-2-2 config it’s the old and 1-2-1 it’s the new.

09 May 2022

Total posts 3

Yeah they’ll dedicate all the refurbed ones to the LAX route. If equipment changes, when you choose your seat online, it will be a 2-2-2 config on the old seats and 1-2-1 on the new.


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