Photo gallery: Inside Qantas' new 737 with Boeing Sky Interior

By David Flynn, November 25 2011
Photo gallery: Inside Qantas' new 737 with Boeing Sky Interior

During Qantas' recent Boeing 787 Dreamliner preview Australian Business Traveller also got a closer look at the first of the Red Roo's Boeing 737-800NG (or 'Next Generation') jets fitted fitted with Boeing's slick Sky Interior.

Some frequent flyers may already have flown in this bird, which took to the Aussie skies last month. It'll be followed by 17 more over the next two years, forming the backbone of Qantas' investment in updating its domestic fleet.

Based on the cabin of the Boeing 787, Boeing Sky Interior represents a major makeover for conventional aircraft interiors. Once you've flown in a Boeing 737 fitted with this new cabin (and Qantas and Virgin Australia both have them), you'll notice a dramatic difference compared to conventional aircraft interiors.

But until you make that flight, here's our photo walkthrough of the new Qantas 737 with Boeing Sky Interior.

The airplane’s entry area is brighter and more open, showcasing the new design at the first opportunity. For starters, you can't help but notice the scalloped and LEC backlit recess overhead.

That design element is repeated along the roof of the cabin from tip to tail, and is just one pointer to a shift from sharper angles to smoother lines and more organic curves.

That includes the steep sweep of the overhead luggage bins, which are a little larger on the inside and also provide more headroom for passengers, as well as contributing to the cabin's more spacious, "lighter and brighter" appeal.

Speaking of lighter and brighter, another standout feature of the new interior design is the LED lighting in the plane's ceiling and sidewalls.

The colour and intensity can be changed by the cabin crew, with the ability to cycle through preset 'themes' throughout various stages of the flight, including boarding and during meals, as well as mimicking sunrise and sunset.

Here the sidewall lights are dimmed...

... and then shift into a soft warm plum colour.

There's no truth to the rumour that the lights switch into a pulsating rainbow-like Saturday Night Fever disco mode during the John Travolta safety video.

So what else is new? Check out the business class seats.

While these Marc Newson/Recaro seats are the same design as on Qantas’ six 737-800 'classic' aircraft already in domestic service, they're covered in a grained 'claret' leather.

It's a crowning touch to an already excellent seat, which is 22 inches wide and has a 37 inch pitch, with an extendable legrest with foldout footrest.

The tray table has sufficient room for a 13 inch notebook.

There's also a very comfortable adjustable headrest.

For the work vs relax choice, both options are covered with a laptop power socket and 10.6 inch seat-back touchscreen video display.

This is the sort of comfort that's easy to appreciate on the transcontinental east-west trek, which is where Qantas says the BSI-equipped Boeing 737s will most often run, although you'll also spot them on the 'golden triangle’ routes of Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane.

So how's the legroom? Well it's best at Row 1, of course, with naught but the bulkhead in front of you (although a bulkhead row doesn't always afford the most legroom).

There's a bit less legroom in the rows behind, but still enough to stretch out.

Back in economy is where you'll feel a squeeze at the knees.

There's just enough room to use your notebook provided it's a smaller model like this 13 inch MacBook Air (we've always considered that a 13-14 inch screen size is the sweet spot for travellers).

 If you grab an exit row seat, of course, there's plenty more room for legs and laptops.

Here's another smart yet subtle change in the Boeing Sky Interior: the substantially larger oval window surrounds let more light in, and while the windows are physically the same size they certainly seem larger.

The economy seats are 17.2 inches wide with 30 inches of legroom, a 9 inch seatback touchscreen and shared one laptop power points.

Another little touch fitted by Qantas – which you'll find on all seats on all of the Red Roo's 737-800s – is this USB socket next to the screen.

This lets you recharge your smartphone or tablet in flight, and also takes a USB memory key loaded up with digital music, photos and even documents.

Now we'll be the first to admit this is a bit of a technical solution in search of a real-world application.

We reckon travellers are far more likely to have a personal MP3 player than a USB memory stick full of tunes, although there may be some who have their laptop and a handy USB key but no MP3 player.

Running a slideshow of snaps stored onto your USB key seems even more remote, and as for reviewing PDF documents on this tiny screen? Thanks but we'll pass.

Now, should the system be upgraded to play video from the USB key – something that Qantas' techie boffins tell us is more a matter of 'when' than 'if' – then this would certainly be a boon for travellers, who could load some of the latest downloaded videos onto a USB key and watch them on the seat-back screen instead of their laptop.


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.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Frequent Flyer

28 May 2011

Total posts 81

The business class seats are international premium economy seats recovered - with slightyly less legroom than Virgin btw...

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 328

much prefer to older 737-800 biz seats over these new C seat - the footrest/legrest is a joke compared with the older style chairs

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 328

oh and what a narrow exit row - cf this with a United exit row on a 757 or an A320

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 1209

Those red seats in J Class are hideous.  Look like something you see on American domestics with slippery leather.

Am I right in saying that the Y class pitch on QF 737s is identical to VA?  Someone paying full-fare economy on QF now needs their head read.


Virgin Australia - Velocity Frequent Flyer

28 May 2011

Total posts 81

Actually Virgin Y has a minimum pitch of 31 inches on the 737s - compared to Qantas at 30 inches.

26 May 2011

Total posts 62

Is there a Virgin conspiracy on AusBT? Ever noticed it's the same contributors criticizing Qantas on every post? Did you not, Noob, change your preference to VA some months ago? So why are you so concerned at QF's aircraft when you have stated you won't travel on them?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2555

Can't speak for the comments, Daniel, but our editorial is proudly independent and even-handed – we just call it as we see it for the Aussie business traveller. :)


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

Maybe a lot of us are just 'early adopters' who have made the move to Virgin now that it's prodiving a real alternative to Qantas, we're just 'ahead of the curve'! I honestly have not flown QF domestic for many many months, Virgin now gets all my domestic business.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Frequent Flyer

28 May 2011

Total posts 81

Because there is a common misconception VA has less pitch than QF, when it is actually the other way around - The reason? I'm an Aviation geek.....

26 Nov 2011

Total posts 6

Actually, rows behind the overwing exits on the 73Gs and 190s are 30". And if a row has been added beind the exits on VA's new 73Hs (which I am told is the case), then they are 30" too.

15 Aug 2011

Total posts 33

NOOB: you are my new hero from a fellow geek aviator;-)

14 Jan 2012

Total posts 14

At least Qantas is starting to realise that there planes are becoming old in style, replacing the cabin interior to be more competitive with Virgin Australia is a great idea. I don't care how much people bag Qantas out, I shall always remain a loyal customer to them. They have never let me down.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Jan 2012

Total posts 335

I flew on Qantas with the new sky interior the other day and i was disgusted with the legroom. Downright greedy to get more people on the plane to make more money. I tried out the screen on the seat and found it very basic and surprisingly dissappointing.


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

Ummm... There are the same number of seats on the BSI 737-800's as there have been on any QF 737-800 since they were first introduced 10 years ago. Nobody seemed to mind the legroom 5 years ago, so why all the fuss now suddenly, when QF is spending a signficant amount of money making the planes better? This is an excellent update that firmly places QF ahead of VA on their product offering (hasn't VA been actively removing IFE screens?)The cabin dimensions make it impossible for VA to offer, on average, any more than 0.7cm more legroom than QF on their 737's - that's nothing (about .28 of an inch, half the length of a headphone plug).

This product is far superior to anything VA offers. It's fine if you (and others) suddenly hate QF, but don't try to paint VA up as a holy messiah when really they offer nothing better. Tell VA to give me a call when they bring something new to the table and I'll be happy to chat then.

Cue the string of people voting this comment down...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Jan 2012

Total posts 335

Thank you for your correction(s). Could you answer my question below?

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Jan 2012

Total posts 335

Can some aviation geek please tell me, how many, which Qantas 737s have the red seats in business now??

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2013

Total posts 57

Informative, useful review but "airplane"? - Obviously you're spending too much time with Boeing. It's an aeroplane not an airplane!

On another note, from my experience I can't understand this pointless Qantas v. Virgin stuff. Having flown both a number of times over the past year I can honestly say that they are both excellent offerings both business and economy, especially compared to US and European airlines. Oz airline travellers don't know how well off they are. 

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