Qantas brings non-reclining business class to Bangkok

Get ready for the business class seat that’s more like a sofa...

By David Flynn, February 16 2024
Qantas brings non-reclining business class to Bangkok

Innovative upgrade wrapping passengers in cosy comfort, or sleep-wrecking slab on that crucial 9+ hour overnight leg to Sydney?

Travellers on Qantas’ popular Sydney-Bangkok flight will soon make up their own mind about the debut of a unique non-reclining business class seat on the route.

Described as being ‘a sofa in the sky’, the same Finnair AirLounge business class seat already features on selected Qantas flights between Sydney and Singapore, with Qantas flying a leased Airbus A330 jet from Oneworld partner Finnair to address a shortfall in its own fleet as post-pandemic travel continues to grow.

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'.

Also read: Qantas cuts A380 flights, trims New York schedule

And from Sunday March 31, Qantas will replace its own Airbus A330 on the Sydney-Bangkok route with another Finnair A330.

The change will be accompanied by new flight numbers and a footnote that the flight “is operated by Finnair For Qantas.”

  • Sydney-Bangkok QF23 becomes QF295
  • Bangkok-Sydney QF24 becomes QF296

The Finnair A330s are expected to remain a fixture on the Sydney-Singapore and Sydney-Bangkok corridors until the end of 2027, at which point the first new Boeing 787s intended to replace the A330s will arrive.

Read more: Qantas to replace A330s with Airbus A350s, Boeing 787s

Thankfully, you’ll still earn same number of Qantas Points and Status Credits as if this was a 100% Qantas flight on a red-tailed jet – and that will include a double serve of Status Credits when the next Qantas Double Status Credits offer drops

Qantas’ new Sydney-Bangkok business class 

So what can Bangkok-bound business travellers expect?

You can read our review of Finnair’s radical take on business class here: it’s a seat travellers either love or loathe, with very little middle ground.

The Finnair A330 business class cabin.
The Finnair A330 business class cabin.

Most people 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 there’s a sharp shift  into ‘so uncomfortable, I’ll never fly it again’ territory.

The entire padded inside of this over-sized curved shell is your seat – and it’s a seat that’s fixed in place.

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

It doesn’t recline into sundeck-style mode, let alone to become a bed. It doesn’t recline at all. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean you have to sit bolt upright for the whole flight.

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

One corner of the AirLounge’s front shell, off to the side of 18” video screen, contains an alcove for your feet.

When it’s time to sleep, two padded panels swing up between the seat and ottoman to create a continuous space which becomes your fully-flat bed.

How the Finnair A330 business class goes from sofa to bed.
How the Finnair A330 business class goes from sofa to bed.

The AirLounge’s fixed-in-place nature requires more effort on the part of the passenger to get comfortable.

Because the seat doesn’t recline, you’re either sitting upright or lying flat – there’s no in-between position unless you create it yourself.

So be prepared to change position, wiggle around and nestle in, lean this way and slouch that way in order to make yourself at home, because the seat won’t do any of that for you.

You'll have to figure out how to find the most comfortable positions in Finnair's A330 business class.
You'll have to figure out how to find the most comfortable positions in Finnair's A330 business class.

Premium economy for Sydney-Bangkok

There’s a hidden bonus from this A330 switch: unlike the Qantas jets, the Finnair versions include premium economy (while gaining the same count of 28 business class seats),

This opens up new opportunities for not only greater comfort than economy – at a higher cost, of course – but also potential points-based upgrades from economy to premium economy.

Finnair's all-new premium economy seat is a fresh entrant on the Australia-Asia market.
Finnair's all-new premium economy seat is a fresh entrant on the Australia-Asia market.

Finnair’s A330 premium economy cabin is quite small and intimate, with just 21 seats (in three rows of a 2-3-2 layout) and its own dedicated washroom.

Qantas will soon be flying Finnair jets to Singapore and Bangkok.
Qantas will soon be flying Finnair jets to Singapore and Bangkok.

These premium economy recliners are quite a comfortable one overall, with the standout feature being a single-piece ‘waterfall’ legrest as shown in the photo below, although without a footrest to complete your relaxing recline.

The single-piece 'waterfall' legrest on Finnair's premium economy seat.
The single-piece 'waterfall' legrest on Finnair's premium economy seat.

Each passenger gets their own AC and USB power outlets, with a second USB socket in a handy recess below the 13” video screen.

Power to spare for premium economy flyers.
Power to spare for premium economy flyers.

With the same 38” pitch as the Qantas A380 and 787 premium economy seats there’s a decent amount of legroom, and as ways the front row (row 21) delivers maximum stretch.

Standard legroom is good, but there's no beating that front-row legroom.
Standard legroom is good, but there's no beating that front-row legroom.

However, in other dimensions Finnair’s premium economy seat is a notch behind its Qantas equivalent – the recline is 8” whereas Qantas has 9.5 inches, while the 18.7” seat width is narrower than the Red Roo’s 19.5-21 inches.

There’s also a movable 6-way head rest, although you don’t get Finnair’s Marimekko-designed neck pillow: while Finnair is supplying the aircraft and crew, Qantas will look after the catering and IFE content as well as ‘soft product’ elements such as pillows and blankets.

Get comfortable on the trek to Singapore or Bangkok.
Get comfortable on the trek to Singapore or Bangkok.

And if you’re suck in economy, you can always try to select one of Finnair’s extra legroom seats, found in the centre section of rows 32 through 36 (in other words, any of the D, E, G or H seats in those rows).

The best Bangkok lounges for Qantas passengers

And here’s some final advice: ahead of the 6pm flight back to Sydney, Qantas directs loungeworthy travellers – including business class passengers and top-tier frequent flyers – to the independent Miracle Lounge. 

You should ignore that and steer well clear of the second-rate Miracle Lounge, unless you’re in economy or premium economy and holding only Qantas Cub membership – because there are far better lounges available through the Oneworld and Qantas/Emirates partnerships.

Business class passengers should make a beeline to the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge in Concourse D for its à la carte dining room, cocktail bar and refined ambience.

Qatar Airways' Premium Lounge at Bangkok.
Qatar Airways' Premium Lounge at Bangkok.

Just be aware that the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge doesn’t open until 4pm, so if you’re at the airport earlier (which we’re almost certain you will be) head for one of the two options below. 

The Cathay Pacific Lounge in Concourse G is the go-to for Qantas Gold, Platinum and Platinum One frequent flyers (because the Qatar Airways lounge is only for business and first class passengers). 

Cathay Pacific's Bangkok lounge.
Cathay Pacific's Bangkok lounge.

With the same elegant design as many of its siblings – including Hong Kong’s The Deck and The Pier plus Cathay lounges at Tokyo Haneda, Taiwan and Manila – you can look forward to delights from The Noodle Bar and a tended cocktail bar, a pleasing buffet spread plus plenty of comfortable chairs and sofas where you can settle in.

Another option for Qantas business class passengers and Platinum- or Gold-grade frequent flyers is the Emirates Lounge at Concourse G.

Emirates' Bangkok Lounge.
Emirates' Bangkok Lounge.

It’s exactly what you’ve come to expect from Emirates lounges around the world, and that’s a good thing if you’re a fan of the excellent buffet and the self-pour Champagne and spirits.

Read more: The best Qantas and Oneworld lounges at Bangkok

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2017

Total posts 55

Or save yourself some money and be actually comfortable on an A350 with Thai.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 671

This seat is shocking. Give me a traditional electric business class seat any day. Why Qantas thought it was OK to spring something so radical on its premium flyers for such a long time is pretty risky. Think I'll be flying Thai to BKK; better seat as well as better aircraft in the A350. Pass.

Why pay business class when you have to either sit bolt upright or lie flat?  For anyone with back problems, this is pure hell.  Similar to the SIA aircraft with the offset foot alcove.  It seems comfort is the last consideration lately when it comes to seating design.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Sep 2012

Total posts 5

I've flown the Finnair product SYD to HEL via HKG. Other comments encapsulate the seat experience - you either love or hate them. I was skeptical but loved it, especially for sleeping and lounging. I'm 173cm 75kg reasonably fit male who flies first and business lots. With a better mattress/topper it would be better than some first beds as the width across the shoulders and length AND the privacy is exemplary for business. Other's points about the need for better pillows, storage space and the bar in the footwell are noteworthy. I prefer the seat to any long haul business product out there, including QF, BA, LX etc.  My wife, on the other hand, didn't like it. She doesn't sleep well on planes generally and said she preferred the CX seat (which I don't like). However, I have evidence that she slept soundly between HEL-HKG.

My only problem, as someone who used to fly up to 80 sectors p.a. in J class on QF is they have lots of work to do to regain trust. If I had to fly them, I'd go for the Finnair plane over the QF old birds. I'm old enough to remember TAA and Qantas when I loved the feeling of coming home on their wonderful service with happy staff and new hard product, especially the A380 First. Sadly atm, QANTAS = Quite avoidable now, try another service 

One World

31 Mar 2020

Total posts 18

Ahhh, i fly often SYD-BKK, so do i pay more for inferior everything or pay less for great service, Thaiairways wins that argument

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2017

Total posts 55

I have to agree with GAAN that certain seats will suit an individual and maybe not others. I am a lanky 188cm 75kg runner and find lots of business class seats in bed mode very uncomfortable. This is one, others rave about how good it is., The other is SIA which just does not suit me but many call it the best in the sky. Give me a well padded, conventional, powered reclining to flat bed any day. As long as it has the length, I am happy.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 140

Be careful of the metal rod in the corner of the footwell in some seats 

15 Feb 2014

Total posts 11

My back is aching just looking at it. Slumping for that length of time is not healthy for the spine.

04 Dec 2017

Total posts 69

Seems a little strange you pay a business class fare and have to prop yourself up with pillows. This seat seems to be a step backwards. I don't see any other carriers the least bit interested in adopting it. Perhaps it would be wise for Qantas  to think a little more about this seat.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2020

Total posts 24

not a huge fan - I enjoy watch the screen in recline mode - here the seat and screen are fixed so can only watch when sitting upright. I also had a metal upright support bar about 3/4 of the way across the leg well - was in middle seat, unsure if this is part of all the seats?

The Finns usually excel in design, but not sure this is a hit or will be ordered by other airlines.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2020

Total posts 24

not a huge fan - the fact you need multiple pillows to get comfortable is a tell tale sign that all in not well. I also had a metal support bar about 3/4 of the way across the foot area. Like to recline to watch screen but could not really do that.

Finns usually excel in design - cannot see this seat being ordered by other airlines.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 380

On a normal chair that reclines into a bed, your head rests on a head rest in bed mode. In this, your head rests where many many passengers before you have placed their backside. 

19 Feb 2024

Total posts 1

I flew this FA flight from Singapore to Sydney recently. I agree with the "love it or loathe it" sentiment and I loathed it. I cannot understand how anyone at FA or Qantas settled on this design. Perhaps there's a reason why FA have these planes lying around to loan out?


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