How to unlock the best Qantas seats using the ‘T-80’ rule

The inside tip for grabbing the best seats which Qantas usually reserves for top-tier frequent flyers.

By Staff Writers, March 14 2023
How to unlock the best Qantas seats using the ‘T-80’ rule

Want to snare a great seat at the front of the plane on your next Qantas flight but don’t have the Platinum or Gold status which unlocks those first few rows?

There’s a simple and completely free way to gain access to the full Qantas seat map, and without paying extra for those better seats.

Known as the Qantas T-80 rule, or sometimes just as the ‘Qantas seat selection hack’ it’s a favoured trick of savvy travellers.

How the Qantas seat selection map works

The Qantas T-80 rule (which isn't really a formal ‘rule’ per se)  gets its name from the fact that Qantas usually opens up its full advance seat selection map 80 hours before each flight.

From the moment that flights go on sale all the way up to that 80 hour mark, Qantas sets aside the front rows of economy for its most important frequent flyers, so they can enjoy prize pick of the seats during the seat selection process.

For example, on Qantas’ workhorse Boeing 737 which dominates domestic routes along with short overseas hops to New Zealand, Bali and Noumea, the first two rows of economy – including row 4, which is blessed with plenty of legroom to stretch out – are visible only to Platinum One frequent flyers and Chairman’s Lounge members.

For everybody else, those rows on the Qantas seat selection map are greyed out and inaccessible, even if nobody has actually selected those seats.

In the same way, Platinum, Gold and Silver frequent flyers have a few rows per tier set aside for their own seat selection, with those rows appearing in grey to any traveller holding lower status (Golds might not be able to choose any seat ahead of row 7, for example).

But this all changes 80 hours before the flight departs – or, in airline parlance, T-80. 

Qantas seat selection at T-80 hours

80 hours before your flight departs, Qantas opens up the entire seat map for all passengers.

This includes every seat not already reserved in those sought-after front rows, which until the 80-hour mark have been exclusively available to elite frequent flyers.

(One exception is that Platinum Ones booked into economy may have the seat next to them marked as unavailable so that it remains empty – something which frequent flyers call a ‘shadow’.)

The upshot: even a low-ranking Qantas Bronze or Silver can snare one of the better economy seats near the front of the plane – and while apart from the first row they might have no more legroom, if you travel only with cabin bags you’ll be quicker off the plane and on you way.

There are many benefits to being near the front of the plane, even in economy.
There are many benefits to being near the front of the plane, even in economy.

You’ll also find the cabin crew take your meal order sooner rather than later, minimising the likelihood that you’ll miss out on your preferred meal.

Because the Qantas T-80 rule is a favourite of many frequent flyers, you’ll want to log on to the Qantas website or app’s Manage My Booking screen and make your new seat selection as soon after the T-80 mark as possible.

However, if you have you eyes on that Row 4 mentioned earlier, you’ll soon be faced with an additional charge

From Thursday April 18, those prized Row 4 seats on the 737 will be classified as extra legroom seats and thus carry a price tag of $35 to $70, depending on the length of the flight.

Qantas maintains that Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members will not have to pay extra for these seats, nor will they lose advance access to Row 4, which will continue to be blocked to the hoi polloi until the T-80 countdown begins. 

Calculating your T-80 timeline

To work out when the Qantas T-80 rule kicks in for your flight, just subtract 80 hours from the departure time.

In practical terms, that’s three days prior (72 hours) plus another eight hours – so if your Qantas flight departs at 4.55pm on a Monday, to find out when its T-80 seat selection map will open up

  • first subtract three days, which gets you to 4.55pm Friday 
  • then subtract another eight hours, and you’ve got your T-80 threshold at 8.55am Friday

Tip: set an alarm on your phone for a little before that, allowing time to log onto the Manage My Booking page with your booking or voucher reference, so you won’t miss out. 

The best Qantas economy seats for your T-80 seat selection

As previously mentioned, row 4 on the Qantas Boeing 737 is the winning choice for its extra legroom (and you could find yourself rubbing shoulders with a VIP Chairman’s Lounge member). And even with the extra legroom charge, it’s still a very fine option. 

The equivalent rows on the Qantas A330 are 23 and 45, each of which is facing the cabin’s bulkhead wall; on a Qantas 787, shoot for a seat in row 40 or 46.

Using Qantas T-80 for an ‘upgrade’ to premium economy

Here’s another handy Qantas seat selection trick, courtesy of the T-80 rule.

Qantas sometimes flies its international Boeing 787 Dreamliner on short domestic legs. The Dreamliner includes a cosy premium economy cabin of 28 seats spread across rows 20 through 23.

The T-80 trick can also snare you a free upgrade to premium economy on some domestic Qantas flights.
The T-80 trick can also snare you a free upgrade to premium economy on some domestic Qantas flights.

Domestic Qantas 787 routes don’t list premium economy seats for sale – you’ll see only business class and economy – but the premium economy cabin can become available as an economy seat selection option at T-80.

Log in at the right time, check the Qantas seat selection map and if you see a seat on your Boeing 787 flight in row 20-23, click on it to enjoy a wider seat with more legroom and comfort than the standard economy seat – even if it’s just for a few hours.

Ah yes, the old T-80 trick, have used this many times as a QF Gold with great success. It's all about getting in early, literally as soon as the clock hits 'T-80' for your flight.

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 966

Been doing that for a lifetime JUST DON'T TELL to many people.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Mar 2018

Total posts 11

Wasn't aware of QF Dreamliner PY trick... any list of their Domestic routes? 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

18 Jul 2019

Total posts 1

Does anyone know if this works for Air NZ as well - flying to the cook Islands via Auckland in November...

Too late. Most good things come to an end when everybody is onto something. Wouldn't be surprised if Qantas stop the current way that they release seats. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 711

. . .  of change it to T72 !   

28 Mar 2018

Total posts 31

The 80 hour time is when bookings move from the reservations system to the airport control system. It's unlikely to change because of this. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jul 2018

Total posts 7

On my weekly commute GC to Sydney alarmed time in advance to allocate  ....3F was mine as was 3D and 3A for regulars ..the stare we gave when someone beat us to our preferred seat  LOL 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Dec 2017

Total posts 23

I had always thought that T80 was first for Platinum and Gold, and that "the rest" were on delay.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jul 2018

Total posts 8

I'm platinum and have regularly used this for myself however I have tried on multiple occasions for my mother and partner (both bronze) in the past 6 or so months (including a flight tomorrow) to get "better" seats at T-80 and right up to departure from there but for some reason as soon as 80hrs kicks in, it changes from seat map selection to preference dropdown selection and the seatmap is no longer visible... any ideas about this? TIA

28 Aug 2016

Total posts 20

Another way to do the calculation is just to set the alarm for your calendar appointment  to 80 hours before. You can also type “80 hours before 6:55am on Monday the 17th” into Wolfram Alpha. 

QFF

17 May 2017

Total posts 13

Just wondering is it only for Economy (& pseudo PE), or does it also apply for Business Class seats?

Asking as we've got a trip Per > Sin in Mid Oct'23 with QF and virtually the whole Business seat area is unavailable for outwards & Inwards. 

Maybe just busy with the seat sales but we're hoping we can move up a bit in the seating order to get a chance of a (limited) choice of meal, as Menu Select is still on the COVID fritz.

13 Apr 2017

Total posts 6

Yes it does - managed to luck out into 1A on the JFK-LAX route on the 787 as a lowly Bronze by waiting for T-80.

26 Apr 2023

Total posts 2

Probably something to remember on the long haul flights is that those seats behind the walls that are in the centre row CDEF of a AB CDEF GH do have more leg room but you might be next to a family with crying babies if they have pull down tables or they may be used by other passangers rather dis-courteously as a short cut between aisles.  I sat in one once and could sleep as there were constantly people stepping over my legs keeping me awake! I generally like to take a seat near front but away from rear toilets to stop the loiterers waiting for the restroom keeping me awake.  Nearer the front get served meals and drinks earliers so more choice as well! Seat Guru is your friend 😊

26 Apr 2023

Total posts 2

Also can confirm this still works for Gold Status - it's 6 hrs after T-80 and a huge block of seats just opened up above me.  I almost had the pick of them all.  I see there are also other savvy T-80 rule followers possibly because I took awhile changing my seats flipping between seat Guru and Qantas manage my booking and seats were filling up ... 😊


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