Qantas A380-style 747 revamp in full swing: third jumbo takes off

By John Walton, February 17 2012
Qantas A380-style 747 revamp in full swing: third jumbo takes off

Qantas continues its roll-out of the upgraded Boeing 747s today with the third rejigged jumbo taking off from Brisbane today as the QF15 flight to Los Angeles.

The refurbished aircraft now boasts enhanced seats and other fittings already seen on Qantas' Airbus A380, including the fully flat Skybeds in business class.

The plane and its upgraded siblings will be found on Qantas' longest routes, with a spokeswoman confirming this will include the marathon 15+ hour Sydney-Dallas flight, Sydney-Buenos Aires (which will be Sydney-Santiago from March) and Brisbane-Los Angeles.

From May 6th Qantas will introduce another of the upgraded 747s onto the Los Angeles-New York "tag" flight which continues from Qantas' flights into LAX, as part of a reshuffle of routes and aircraft announced this week.

A Qantas spokesperson confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that "there will be one reconfigured (Boeing 747) approximately every month with all nine to be complete by October."

Inside Qantas' refurbished Boeing 747

Qantas has swapped out the first class section in the nose of its newest 747s for improved business class seats.

They're the Marc Newson-designed second-generation Skybeds, which go fully flat rather than ending up at an angle to the floor.

(Why is the second-generation version of the Skybed better? We explain in our article debunking the lie-flat lie.) 

You'll also find new seats in economy, and the premium economy section located further forward in the plane.

Join us for a photo tour of Qantas' refurbished 747s for all the details.

Are you on an upgraded plane with better seats?

If you don't track aircraft registration numbers (and few normal people do), there's a fairly simple way to tell whether your flight will have the comfier business class seats.

Just check whether or not you can potentially book seats in the nose of the jumbo as a business class passenger -- and count the number of seats across. Here's what the layout looks like:

If there are four seats in row 1, you're on a refurbished plane and can look forward to a fully flat second-generation Skybed II rather than the angled-flat first-generation version.

If you're on a rejigged jumbo, check out our guide to picking the best seat in business class on board.

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

12 Jul 2011

Total posts 76

John, any word on if Qantas will use any of the re-jigged jumbo's on SYD/SIN/FRA?

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 667

No word yet, Matt — if we had any info on that then I'd have popped it in the article alongside the LA, Dallas and South American routes.

Of course, you can count as well as I can, and Qantas won't need nine refurbed jumbos to fly just those routes, so at some point between now and October I'd expect to see them popping up elsewhere.

(Attention readers: if you do see the revamped 747s on other routes, do let me know, via our @AusBT twitter account or email: [email protected])

02 Sep 2011

Total posts 16

Wait hold on, I thought the 747-400ERs were getting refurbished. But BNE-LAX doesn't need a ER, or use one (usually). 

I heard that there are 3 non ERs getting refurbished then 6ERs getting refurbished. If some are going on BNE-LAX does that mean the refurbished is a normal 747?

Im flying SYD-DFW in July and looking at my chances of a new one. 

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 667

Okay, so for those of us who are counting, there are six of the extended range 747-400ERs in Qantas' fleet.

Plane nerd warning for passers-by: if discussion of plane regos brings you out in hives, perhaps a Food Week article might be more to your, er, taste.

Three have been done already according to Qantas' list: OEG, OEH (the latest one), OEI. That leaves OEE, OEF and OEJ to be done in the -400ERs

Since Qantas is planning to refurbish a total of nine 747s, that means there are three regular 747-400s to refurbish, for a grand total of six. (Yes, Qantas has said one a month to October, and that's 7-8 months depending on when you start counting, but I'm pretty sure that's a "roughly" rounding error.) 

No prizes for guessing which ones will be refurbed: they'll be the most recent three, delivered in '99-'00, OJS, OJT and OJU, or I'll eat my Neil Perry-inspired hat. (OEB is unlikely; it's an ex-Asiana bird.)

I'd rate your SYD-DFW chances of a refurb at roughly half for July, more if the -400ERs are refurbed first, less if the -400s are refurbed. However! If you don't get a refurb, see if you can winkle your way into First Class seats with business class service on the route.

19 Feb 2012

Total posts 1

We flew on a refurbished 744er from buenos aires at the end of January. 1A/B. A few comments - loved the new A380 flat seats - about time. And the IFE was  a huge improvement. However, the reconfigured lower deck has a distinct lack of loos. For 50+ people, just one toilet right at the back of the cabin is not enough (the other toilet is shared with PE. Especially when people are wanting to get changed into PJs, and crew are getting into service uniforms etc.  Its also a trip through 2 cabins from the front. The crew were also complaining about the lack of loos now on board. (including only 1 now on the upper deck). I actually think QF could get rid of the self serve bar (which seems rarely used) and put in another toilet.

26 May 2011

Total posts 19

I would agree with this comment. I have also flown on the first one done and was in Zone A J class. I wasn't feeling the best so the walk all the way back to that one toilet was annoying to the point where I was staying near the self service bar. It just wan't enough for that many people and the amusing dash to change into/out of PJs only highlighted it. I don't know too much about aircraft interiors but they probably should have put a toilet where row 5 is near the door if they didn't want to leave two between Zone A and B. That is the obvious flaw I saw in the design - one toilet for the upper deck is fine, one toilet for the remaining 40 pax is just riduiculous.  

26 May 2011

Total posts 19

But back to the topic, the actual interior is sensational and makes the 747 very attractive vs the A380.


19 Feb 2012

Total posts 1

Interesting how there is now on 14 business seats in the nose, which is the same number as the old first seats, which product is better? I think I would prefer guaranteed aisle and window access that the old first product offered.  Makes me wonder why the didn't leave a freshened first product in the nose and sell it as business?

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