Qantas fan pays 2 million points for two old A380 business class seats

The bidding frenzy at an online auction saw the ‘pre-loved’ business class seats bought for estimated value of $40,000.

By David Flynn, August 5 2021
Qantas fan pays 2 million points for two old A380 business class seats

Many Qantas frequent flyers would say they've spent more than enough time hunkered in the airline's old Airbus A380 business class seats as they trekked from Sydney or Melbourne to Singapore, London, Los Angeles and Dallas.

The original Qantas A380 business class seat, designed by Marc Newson.
The original Qantas A380 business class seat, designed by Marc Newson.

But it seems one Qantas fan can't get enough of them, and has paid 2,000,00 Qantas Points – worth an estimated $40,000 in real Aussie money – to buy a pair of the superjumbo Skybed sleepers.

The original Qantas A380 business class seat, designed by Marc Newson.
The original Qantas A380 business class seat, designed by Marc Newson.

That's how the hammer fell at the end of today's Qantas Points Auction – the airline's latest pandemic-era pivot which has included selling off fully-stocked Boeing 747 bar carts, running scenic 'flights to nowhere' and even a flight to observe May's combined supermoon and lunar eclipse from high above the clouds.

"Whilst travel remains the number one thing frequent flyers want to use their Qantas Points on once borders open up, we know that many are keen to use some points on unique, big-ticket items," reasoned Qantas Loyalty CEO Olivia Wirth.

"Points Auction gives members the chance to bid on special experiences, and we expect these items to create a points bidding frenzy."

Qantas Loyalty boss Olivia Wirth is finding new ways for grounded frequent flyers to spend their points.
Qantas Loyalty boss Olivia Wirth is finding new ways for grounded frequent flyers to spend their points.

Bidding for the A380 business class seats kicked off at 8am with Qantas setting an opening of 350,000 points for the two premium pods, which having been used for crew training since 2008 were said to be in almost mint condition.

Describing them as "a priceless piece of Qantas memorabilia", the airline suggested that the prospective owner picture themselves "reclining on a Skybed in your media room, sipping champagne, watching the latest TV series. They’ll be the hottest seats in the house!"

Qantas even included a voltage converter so the seats can be plugged into a standard AC socket to activate the reclining mechanism, massage function and reading light – although the inbuilt video screen doesn't work unless it's hooked up to an A380 inflight entertainment system.

The in-seat video screen doesn't work, but wouldn't you rather watch your wall-mounted 65" HD telly?
The in-seat video screen doesn't work, but wouldn't you rather watch your wall-mounted 65" HD telly?

And weighing a hefty 175kg, with an additional 60kg for the two-metre wide timber rig they're mounted on, it's little wonder Qantas specified the seats "will only be delivered to the ground floor of the house/apartment building."

By early afternoon bidding had soared towards and then beyond the one million mark, levelling out around 1.2 million points in the early evening – until a flurry of last-minute bumps took it to 1.3 million... 1.4 million... then a bold gambit straight to 1,888,888 points in the final 30 seconds, but with just seconds to spare the winner went over the top to lock in a victory at two million points.

Yes, somebody paid two million Qantas Points for a pair of second-hand business class seats more than a decade old...
Yes, somebody paid two million Qantas Points for a pair of second-hand business class seats more than a decade old...

To give this some perspective, two million points could buy six around-the-world trips in business class – or four in first class – with Qantas and its Oneworld partner airlines.

But that's clearly not a priority for the rusted-on Red Roo fan who is now the proud owner of these two 'pre-loved' business class seats, developed by famed Australian designer Marc Newson for the Qantas Airbus A380's debut in 2008.

The mighty Airbus A380 served as Qantas' flagship from 2008.
The mighty Airbus A380 served as Qantas' flagship from 2008.

Just over a decade later, in 2019, Qantas started ripping those seats out of the superjumbos in a multi-million dollar upgrade to the airline's latest Business Suite – which also features on Qantas' Boeing 787 Dreamliners and Airbus A330s – along with two new upper deck lounge areas and second-generation premium economy seats.

Qantas was retrofitting the A380s with new business class seats and lounges when Covid struck.
Qantas was retrofitting the A380s with new business class seats and lounges when Covid struck.

As it happened, only six of Qantas' twelve A380s were refurbished before the impact of Covid-19 saw the entire fleet grounded and put into 'hibernation' at Victorville, on the edge of California's Mojave Desert, awaiting the day they'll return to the skies.

Google Earth provides a bird's-eye view of the Qantas Airbus A380s in storage.
Google Earth provides a bird's-eye view of the Qantas Airbus A380s in storage.

Also read: Sad sight as Google Earth shows Qantas A380s sitting idle in the desert

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce is confident they will return, with as many as six superjumbos flying by the end of 2023 and, demand pending, all twelve by the end of 2024, when travel is expected to have returned to the pre-Covid levels of 2019.

In other Qantas Points Auctions earlier this week, a Boeing 787 flight simulator session went for 1,200,000 points, while an escape for four people to a luxury Queenstown resort with three night's accommodation and business class return airfares commanded a staggering 3,765,000 points.

The final item is a one-day return trip on a Qantas Dash-8 turbo prop for up to 30 people including full hospitality onboard – perfect birthdays, anniversaries or a getaway without any reason at all.

Bidding opens at 8am Friday August 6 at 1.2 million Qantas Points, and the sky is quite literally the limit...

PS If you're the person who bid two million points for these Qantas A380 business class seats, we'd love to hear from you and learn what you plan on doing with them.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.