Review: Qantas Boeing 737 ‘extra legroom’ economy

Stretch out and give your legroom a bit of the business class treatment, but without the hefty price tag.

By Chris Chamberlin, June 8 2021
Qantas Boeing 737 ‘extra legroom’ economy
Aircraft Type

Boeing 737-800

Airline

Qantas

Seat

Economy extra legroom

Notes
The Good
  • Upgrade your inflight space for as little as $30 per person, per flight
The Bad
  • All bags must be stored overhead at the exit rows, where these extra legroom seats are available
X-Factor
  • Extra legroom seating is gratis for some frequent flyers, and can also be free via online check-in

Introduction

When your travel budget (or points balance) falls short of business class, or that premium fare can't be justified on a relatively short flight, choosing an extra legroom seat in economy still provides a touch of business class comfort.

Giving more room to stretch out, extra legroom seats cost as little as $30 – or may even be available at no charge, thanks to your frequent flyer status.

Here's what to expect when travelling aboard a Qantas Boeing 737 in an extra legroom row.

Check-in

Even if you've snagged an extra legroom seat, your baggage allowance remains the same as for all other passengers in economy, as below.

  • Domestic checked baggage allowance:
    • 1x23kg: standard allowance
    • 1x32kg: Qantas Club, Qantas Silver
    • 2x32kg: Qantas Gold, Platinum, Platinum One, Chairman's Lounge
    • 2x23kg: other Oneworld Sapphire/Oneworld Emerald guests
  • Carry-on baggage choices:
    • One 10kg bag: maximum dimensions of 115cm
    • Two bags (14kg total, max. 10kg in one item): maximum dimensions of 105cm each
    • 1x10kg bag + 1x suit pack: maximum bag dimensions of 105cm, maximum suit pack dimensions of 185cm
    • Plus: One personal item for all guests, such as a laptop satchel, handbag, overcoat, camera, or duty-free goods.

Airport lounge access may be available prior to departure for Qantas Club members and Qantas Gold frequent flyers and above – facilities and opening hours vary between airports.

Flight

Want to stretch out on your next Qantas flight?

Extra legroom seats are available on a first come, first served basis. These can be selected when booking your flight, or through the 'manage booking' tool on the Qantas website for existing reservations.

Charges apply – here's what you can expect to pay on several popular routes, noting that as the flight gets longer, the asking price gets higher:

  • Sydney-Melbourne / Sydney-Brisbane: $30
  • Brisbane-Melbourne: $40
  • Sydney-Perth: $70

Those fees are per person, per one-way flight, although charges don't apply for Qantas Platinum One and Qantas Chairman's Lounge members selecting these seats.

Other frequent flyers may also be exempted from the usual extra legroom fees when waiting until online check-in to select an extra legroom seat, or when switching seats at the airport – such as via check-in kiosk or in the lounge.

Seat

You'll find economy extra legroom seating at the emergency exit rows aboard every Qantas Boeing 737, being rows 13 and 14.

Given the location of the exit door, these rows offer eight inches of extra legroom versus that of a standard seat.

With a total pitch of 38 inches, your knees won't come close to the seat in front.

There's also plenty of room to stretch forwards, even with the seat frame slightly in the way.

All bags need to be in the overhead lockers for take-off and landing, although the seat pocket can be used for small items such as tablets and headphones throughout the journey.

Given the option of an aisle, window, or middle seat in these rows, aisle seats (C/D) are the choice pick as you can easily access your belongings in the lockers after take-off. The window seats offer a view, but have a much smaller arm rest:

Some aircraft offer charging ports, which may be found in the seatback, or above the floor in this case:

While row 4 also offers extra legroom at the front of Qantas' Boeing 737 cabins, unlike the exit rows, it's not available for purchase.

There's space enough for comfort and a small cabin bag, or you can remove it to stretch further forward.
There's space enough for comfort and a small cabin bag, or you can remove it to stretch further forward.

Instead, it's largely reserved for Platinum One and Chairman's Lounge frequent flyers until closer to departure, when other travellers may be able to select these seats too.

Meal

As in regular economy, food and beverages are complimentary, with your choices being tailored to the time of day and length of your flight.

On journeys under 3.5 hours, food is typically limited to an appetiser or snack – such as a sweet slice on a recent mid-morning hop from Brisbane to Sydney:

Returning in the evening on a 5:05pm departure instead found a serve of BBQ chicken laksa buns, with beer and wine also being free after 5pm on selected routes, including key capital city flights between Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

However, travellers with food allergies or other requirements should note that special meal requests are currently only being accepted on flights of 3.5 hours or more – and where hot snacks are served, they often contain nearly every allergen in the book.

Hot meals – as opposed to hot snacks – are also only found on flights of 3.5 hours or more, such as between the east coast and Perth. On those same departures, wine and beer is instead complimentary from 9am.

Entertainment & Service

Inflight entertainment has returned on Qantas, with about half of the airline's Boeing 737s having seatback screens, and the other half offering streaming entertainment to your own device.

On the latter, handy tablet holders are fitted to the seats, allowing your own gadget to be mounted at eye line where the seatback screen would otherwise be. 

Inflight Internet is also available over WiFi on many Qantas Boeing 737 flights, which comes at no charge.

Cabin service is generally polite and efficient, with a second round of drinks regularly offered on mid-length routes like Melbourne-Brisbane or Brisbane-Cairns, with more passes of the bar cart on longer journeys such as east-west flights.

The verdict

As far as domestic economy travel goes, booking the exit row on Qantas provides the best experience you can have without flying business class.

Some flights can still be better than others, however – particularly with the availability of seatback entertainment and WiFi Internet varying between aircraft – along with the variance in refreshments and drinks based on time of departure and duration of travel.

Speaking of refreshments: with food being a key differentiator between Qantas and its competitors, it's disappointing that those with food allergies are left hungry with no alternative on flights under 3.5 hours, being the vast majority of domestic routes.

That's the case whether you book extra legroom economy or standard economy, but at least those travelling in the former are still sure to have a more comfortable journey – and that's what extra legroom economy is all about.

Also read: Extra legroom economy: Qantas vs Virgin vs Rex

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

28 Mar 2018

Total posts 13

One thing to note about the window seats in the exit rows. (13A/F or 14 A/F)

The seat cushions in the window seat can't block any part of the exit, so they are slightly lower than the others in the row. The difference of a centimeter or so can just be seen in the first seat photo. 

The effect can recreate the feeling of sitting in a low school chair at a parent teacher evening. 

They are also a LOT harder due to the reduced padding. 

Doable on the golden triangle, but but I've learned to BYO cushion if I get this seat when I fly home to Darwin.  

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2016

Total posts 31

It’s really unacceptable that @Qatas do not have a competitive view on this given - @VirginAustralia have had economy X fir some time now. 

Being that for myself , and I am sure others… whom are 6.7ft tall or 6ft plus? 

Or Whom may have Platinum or Gold. Would have a preference to sit in Economy X seats. 

Especially as you point out in the opening statement – justifying a short hop flight costs with business class versus economy making no sense/cost per ratio seat versus time… 

Having tried bothering airlines for this product their is absolutely no comparison vs the 2 airlines. VA definitely have a better hard project (minus wifi for now) Plus the aspect for platinum flyers “being valued” VA do not charge you for these seats! 

- which are close to the front

- you can actually store a bag at you seats

- you aren’t given a long lecture on operating an exit door 

- and valued as per loyalty to get our for “free” and dedicated bins above etc. 

I really wish they would make the “converted” row 4; extended to 4-6; by being larger and simpler to a true economy X!

But a very interesting read - thanks Chris! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 3

Please have some respect to the crew member giving you a “long lecture”, they're only doing their job. Im sure it’s hard enough speaking in front of a group of people who are treating them like an inconvenience. The 30secs it takes to hear the safety briefing is a tiny part of the flight. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2016

Total posts 31

But of course…. If you have read anything stated; in most of my posts - is the massive respect & kindness of the crew. Having crew members in my family; even they say how hard it is with rude passengers whom don’t listen to them, or their fellow crew members. 

The main point was NOT the Crew… 

…..It’s @Qantas why don’t they come up with a better plan on upgrading the economy cabin. 

…. Perhaps as the 737-800 is coming up for a much needed retirement they will adopt the A220 or something far more efficient (fingers crossed) 

- this would help return work to the industry, training engineers; and other crew. 

- create a better hard product for all cabins; and save costs long term in the carbon offsets / other projections floating around in other articles. 

Just hoping they don’t bring in the 737Max… ain’t nobody flying on that. 

Cheers - fly safe! 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Jun 2021

Total posts 1

I am  fit 77 yo. My husban 83. Can we access the extra legroom seats either side of the aisle?


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