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The refurbishment of Qantas' flagship Airbus A380 fleet is now underway, with all twelve of the superjumbos in line for a tip-to-tail make-over by the end of 2020
Business class passengers are the biggest winners: the ageing Skybed II seats are being replaced by the modern Business Suite (the same as on Qantas' Boeing 787 Dreamliners and Airbus A330s), which means direct aisle access for every passenger; more personal space and storage around the seat; plus a large, lush personal video screen to help you while away the inflight hours.
There are also two lounges – one either side of the grand staircase connecting the upper and main decks – which have been designed as traveller-friendly social spaces.
With 70 business class seats to choose from (up from 64 in the original Qantas A380s), here's our quick reference guide to the prime picks – and a few seats which you might want to reconsider.
Qantas' refurbished A380: the best business class seats
|Maximum legroom and footspace||11A, 11E, 11F, 11K, 16A, 16K, 17E, 17F|
|Best seats for couples||Choose any of the paired E/F seats|
|Window seats||11A, 11K, 13A, 13K, 15A, 15K, 16A, 16K, 18A, 18K, 20A, 20K, 22A, 22K, 24A, 24K, 26A, 26K, 28A, 28K|
Qantas' refurbished A380 seatmap
Start by scanning this seatmap of the refurbished Qantas Airbus A380's upper deck business class cabin (premium economy is located behind the business class cabin).
There's a smaller 'mini-cabin' at the front, from rows 11 through 15, ahead of the galley and toilets. It offers a cosier, more intimate vibe than the main business class cabin (rows 16 through 28).
The seats in the first row of each cabin (rows 11 and 16) enjoy more legroom and space for your feet when the seat is converted to a bed, as the recess where your feet nestle is a larger space carved into the bulkhead wall instead of needing to fit under the seat in front of you.
The take-away? If you have large feet or simply want a bit of extra wiggle-room, shoot for seats 11A, 11E, 11F, 11K, 16A, 16K, 17E or 17F.
Avoiding the noise
But there's a downside to those rows, too: the potential for noise to interrupt your sleep.
Row 11 is directly behind the two new lounge areas, while row 16 is located just behind the galley kitchen. Also note that baby bassinets are at seats 17E and 17F, so the front rows of that larger business class cabin could be subject to the squeals of infants.
Rows 15 and 28 are close to the business class lavs, which always makes for a bit of foot traffic and noise.
If you're flying with a partner, all of the middle seats (the E and F seats) have a privacy screen which can be pushed down so you can share the journey.
Window or aisle?
The staggered layout of the Qantas Business Suite presents a few twists compared to a more conventional seating arrangement, which in turn makes it paramount for the savvy traveller to make an informed choice when it comes to the new A380 business class.
Looking more closely at Qantas' refurbished A380 seatmap below, only half of the window seats are actually located directly next to the window – the others are closer to the aisle.
However, all 'window' seats are labelled A and K: so there's no way of knowing without reference to the seatmap if you'll have the seat's shelf located between you and the window, or between you and the aisle.
Why does this matter? Many people highly value that view on take-off, landing or any time during the flight. These 'true' window seats also feel a little more private because you're a bit away from the aisle.
Fancy a 'real' window seat on Qantas' refurbished A380? You'll need to choose the A or K seats in rows 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 or 28.
There's a bonus here: you will also have access to the deep stowage bins sitting under the A380's upper deck windows. They're the perfect place to stash your pillow and blanket, shoes, a small bag and the like.
The caveat is that sitting directly next to the window means the seat's shelf is between you and the aisle, and 'passengers of size' can find it a little uncomfortable squeezing past that shelf and the rear shell of seat in front of them, every time they leave and return to their seat.
If you're happy to sit at the aisle and away from the window, select an A or K seat in rows 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25 or 27.