UPDATE | Qantas' Boeing 787 Dreamliners will carry 236 passengers across business class, premium economy and economy, Qantas has confirmed.
Up the front, 42 Dreamliner Business Suites in a 1-2-1 configuration – an updated version of the already-popular A330 Business Suite, but with a moveable privacy divider between the centre pairs of seats for couples and colleagues travelling together.
Premium economy comes in a cosy 28-seat cabin with just four rows in a 2-3-2 layout, although the design of these seats is still very much under wraps.
Down the back in economy, seating for 166 passengers in a 3-3-3 layout, with an inch more legroom in each row than on Qantas' current Airbus A380 fleet, plus new niceties like a tablet tray and a water bottle holder.
PREVIOUS | Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has described the airlines' forthcoming Boeing 787-9 as being blessed with "a very luxurious configuration" to match the very long-range routes which the Dreamliner will fly.
Those non-stop routes could include Sydney-Chicago, Melbourne-Dallas, Brisbane-Dallas and even Perth-London, Joyce said, after the first of the red-tailed Boeings join the Qantas fleet from October 2017.
"They're all on the list and it depends on the support we get from the various governments to what network we actually settle on" Joyce told media on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) conference in Dublin this week.
"We're just starting to have a dialog with the airports."
So what will Qantas' long-legged Boeing 787 look like on the inside?
"You'll see a very luxurious configuration, and it's there for the distances that were flying" Joyce expanded.
"There will be a big business class and a big premium economy cabin", and while the economy seats will be nine-across in a 3-3-3 arrangement, Joyce promises "we will be giving some very good seat pitch for economy seats given the the lengths we’ll be flying."
A premium Dreamliner
According to one internal Qantas Boeing 787-9 configuration plan sighted by Australian Business Traveller the Dreamliners could see 42 seats in business class, 28 in premium economy and just 165 in economy.
That total of 235 seats is definitely on the comfortable side when compared to other airlines and supports claims of generous leg room in economy rather than a standard and squeezy 31 inches of Qantas' Airbus A380s as well as the Boeing 747s which the Dreamliner will replace.
Gareth Evans – chief of Qantas’ international arm – describes the layout as being "a premium configuration" which also has implications for other parts of the plane's design.
For example, the kitchen galleys have to support serving the more extensive food and drink menus to a relatively large number of premium customers "to have the level of catering needed for long-haul sectors" Evans explains.
"So we're making sure the aircraft is being configured and capable of flying those very long haul roues. For example, Melbourne-Dallas is actually 20 nautical miles longer than Perth-London."
Evans says that Qantas is now finalising "the product specification and exact seating arrangement" for the Boeing 787, and working with Irish seat manufacturer Thompson Aero "on a number of the products for this aircraft."
Thompson created the airline's highly-regarded Airbus A330 Business Suite (below) and will be refining the design for the Qantas Dreamliners based on customer feedback since the seat debuted in early 2015.
AusBT review: Qantas A330 Business Suite business class
However, the routes to be flown by the next-gen jet likely won't be revealed until shortly before the first of the red-tailed Dreamliners arrives in late 2017.
Qantas' initial order is for eight of the long-range Boeing 787-9s, with 15 purchase options and 30 purchase rights up its sleeve.
Four of the fuel-efficient jetliners will be delivered in the 2017-2018 financial year and four more from 2018-2019.
The Dreamliners will replace five Boeing 747s and also be used to launch new international destinations.
"We've held onto a couple of Boeing 747s a little longer than in the original plan because we've got opportunities out there" Evans says, "and some of that 747 fleet will be retired with arrival of the 787s."
"But there are also opportunities for growth out there, so we're working through exactly what the network will look like."
Read more: Where will Qantas fly its new Dreamliners?
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