Qantas completes Boeing 747 upgrade to A380-grade seats

By David Flynn, December 7 2012
Qantas completes Boeing 747 upgrade to A380-grade seats

The last of Qantas' upgraded Boeing 747s is now back in service, marking the completion of a $250 million makeover with new seats, interiors and inflight entertainment based on the Red Roo's flagship Airbus A380.

Nine of the airline's 18 Boeing 747-400 series aircraft were refitted over a 14 month period and will continue to form the backbone of the Qantas International fleet alongside the A380 into the later part of this decade.

The rejigged jumbos fly long haul routes including Sydney-Dallas, Sydney-Los Angeles-New York and Brisbane-Los Angeles.

Each of the souped-up 747s is fitted with 58 Skybed II seats in business class, 36 premium economy seats, and 270 economy seats.

Those second-generation Skybeds lie fully flat and are a substantial improvement on the original seats, which extended only to an angled position.

Read: Your guide to the best seats in business class on Qantas' refurbished Boeing 747

Designed by Marc Newson, the seats in all three cabins have won awards for their design and comfort, including a 2009 Australian International Design Award for the Economy seat.

Qantas says the response from travellers on the upgraded 747s has been predictably excellent.

"I'd argue the interiors on our A380s and upgraded B747s deliver some of the best on-board experiences around" says Alison Webster, Qantas' Executive Manager of International Customer Experience.

"One of the goals we’ve set ourselves is to be best for global travellers. That largely comes down to service, it comes down to network and it comes down to product, and the upgrade of the 747 interior is part of that."

But Webster is the first to admit that "it’s a competitive market and we’re focussed on continuous improvement of our product".

That process which includes refreshing sixteen domestic Boeing 767s, the entire QantasLink fleet of thirteen Boeing 717s and "assessing options to upgrade the interiors" of the Airbus A330s, "particularly those used on its international routes".

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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.

10 Mar 2011

Total posts 526

"I'd argue the interiors on our A380s and upgraded B747s deliver some of the best on-board experiences around" says Alison Webster, Qantas' Executive Manager of International Customer Experience....

Sorry Alison, but I'm afraid that the Skybed MkII Business Class product on Qantas is already  way behind when you compare it to the direct aisle access for all seat on Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines etc etc etc.... Given that Qantas has only just managed to upgrade the 747's, it clearly means that it will be quite some time before we see any new innovations for Business Class seats on Qantas.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 732

The Skybed MkII is pretty comfortable when sleeping I must say (something which is likely to improve with the new sleeper service), good thing about it is the width (other carriers have much less width), big miss obviously is direct aisle access as well as the fact that they decided to reduce the amount of restrooms. Big question now remains, why are they assessing options and not upgrading their Internationally flying A330's however???

01 Feb 2012

Total posts 370

 agree that it is wider than some, to me it even feels wider than the old First seat, but it doesn't feel as wider as the new CX seat, which widens when fully flat. Honestly, these " awards" that everybody seems to win, what do they actually mean? I like skybed2 and think it is a huge improvement on the old skybed and what's available in the US airlines but how many people believe the Qantas business seat is better than the new reverse herringbone design? Surely that had to be the future. At least for people who value direct access.

20 Sep 2012

Total posts 8

Are they retiring the remaining 9 747's?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2012

Total posts 124

A good question. I know that although the flag ship A380 flies 4 days per week on the Sydney - Hong Kong service, the other 3 days a serviced by an unrenovated B747 which still has sloping business class seats (MK I) and "first class" seats that are about as good as the MK II business class seats on the renovated B747's. Quite a contrast in product depending on what day of the week you book your flight.

01 Feb 2012

Total posts 370

Yes the current situation with the Hong Kong route is extremely frustrating to say the least. Little wonder Cathay can operate 4 flights a day profitably while Qantas does 1.5 at a loss?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jun 2012

Total posts 5

The 747s used on the mid week Sydney to Hong Kong route are actually the extended range 747s all of which have been upgraded. 

This is not so. The HKG 747s are not refurbished and still have first class.

Sorry, should say mostly not refurbished. I see they are slipping in an occasional refurb from time to time.


Qantas P1

18 Jan 2012

Total posts 73

They need product consistency and clarity on what routes have the A380 fitout. I recently travelled back from Singapore on a 747 and had the old product. It is frustrating and we need a better idea at booking as to what product we will have. I would have paid more $ to go on the A380 metal if I'd known I'd have a angled 747 seat

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 412

The CX new business seat is fantastic and in my opinion the best of any OneWorld Alliance airline. As to these awards, what are they? I certainly don't remember. Put the CX and QF business seat next to one another adn I know which would win hands down ... Cathay.

19 Sep 2012

Total posts 11

Cathay's new business class (which American will soon be installing) is amazing and hands-down better than both the Mk1 &2 Skybeds.  As someone said earlier in the year, Qantas needs to stop hiding behind pseudo Australian 'celebrities' and actually develop some competitive product offerings.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Jul 2012

Total posts 39

I fly on one of the last flights to LA via NZ in 2008 on an old B747 300. than the next time on a 747 was a 400 series. What a big difference. This year i flew on a refuribished 400 with the A380 interior to Dallas. Wow. Again what a difference. Admit still not a quiet as a A380 but now just as comfortable. And at the end of the flight the crew can make all the difference and I always pick Qantas as they offer great service.

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 97

It seems more than evident that Alison Webster has not experienced CX business seats given the flippant statement she made!But I must say it is typical of many Qantas claims which do not reflect reality.FF's are far more savy than QF give them credit.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

IT should definitely be flagged that while the upgrade program is complete,

that Qantas is still flying 9+ 747s that have not been upgraded, and may continue to do so for another couple of years.

As for the SkyBedII - yes the flatness is good....however

- A number of flights I have been on the bed has had a definite droop - ie no longer flat - unlike some other designs the end of the bed is not supported, ie it doesn't slide on top of the footbed.

- Have the IFE unit as a fold out is a big negative - no gate to gate IFE, and a much smaller screen than competitors

- Limited inseat storage compared to competitors


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 May 2011

Total posts 732

Agree on most points you make, however, as personal preference I actually enjoy a fold out IFE screen as you can adjust it properly to suit the position your seat is in. Ever so often I struggle getting a good view whebn the screen is fixed to the seat  / wall in front of you (you can only tilt the screen slightly in those cases).

01 Aug 2012

Total posts 30

Hmmmm, to me title and article do not match. The title says "Qantas completes Boeing 747 upgrade to A380-grade seats". Hence I assumed that all of Qantas' 747 would now have the new seats. The article then says that only half of the 747s have been upgraded. Boooo.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2540

Qantas set out to upgrade nine 747s, not the entire fleet. It has upgraded the ninth 747. Therefore the 747 upgrade programme is complete, so the title seems fine to me.

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