Qantas confirms all Boeing 747s to be upgraded to A380 interior, Skybeds

By John Walton, August 17 2011
Qantas confirms all Boeing 747s to be upgraded to A380 interior, Skybeds

Qantas has confirmed its plans upgrade the older lie-flat-but-at-an-angle seat version of the Qantas Skybed (which is on 747s and smaller Airbus A330 planes) to the newer, fully flat bed that you'll find on the Airbus A380. 

For long-haul business travellers heading to Africa, Asia, or North and South America, Qantas' confirmation that cabin upgrades are definitely coming for its Boeing 747-400 planes will be welcome.

You might have missed the announcement during the rest of Qantas' "A New Spirit" announcements yesterday in the unprecedented flow of changes for the airline.

Why are business travellers looking forward to fully flat beds rather than lie-flat seats? Check out our exposé of the lie-flat lie for all the insider details.

Qantas' A380-style fully flat Skybed: what business travellers have been waiting to see on the 747 fleet too.
Qantas' A380-style fully flat Skybed: what business travellers have been waiting to see on the 747 fleet too.

Since fully flat second generation Skybeds are a good bit longer than the first generation Skybed lie-flat seats, we suspect that the new cabins might contain fewer people as well. And we certainly hope that the middle seat from row 23 backwards in the rear cabin of business class disappears.

Qantas flies Boeing 747s on many of its long-haul routes, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Tokyo and Johannesburg, plus connections to London and Frankfurt via Hong Kong, Bangkok, and Singapore. Buenos Aires -- which will be replaced by Santiago as Qantas' South American destination -- is also a 747 destination.

As we noted yesterday, Qantas will be dropping flights from Hong Kong and Bangkok to London, handing those slots over to partner British Airways instead, with the plan of consolidating its A380s on to the Sydney-Singapore-London route.

Four of the airline's 26-strong Boeing 747 fleet will be retired this financial year. It would make sense if these were the oldest in the fleet, which arrived in 1989 and have been in service for 22 years now.

There's been no news about how Sydney-Perth Boeing 747 flights will be affected by the retirement of these planes.

By 2014, all but the nine newest 747s -- which arrived between 1999 and 2003 -- will be retired. Six of the ones Qantas will be keeping are the extended-range 747-400ER variety, which come with an extra fuel tank that's particularly useful for trans-Pacific routes. (Of course, even this model isn't ideal, as diversions for refuelling on the Sydney-Dallas-Brisbane-Sydney route have shown.)

The airline has 50 long-range Boeing 787s on order, and we'd expect these to replace the remaining 747 fleet between 2014 and the end of the decade.

Don't miss the rest of our comprehensive coverage of Qantas' "A New Spirit" announcements for the very latest on the airline's future.

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.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Frequent Flyer

28 May 2011

Total posts 81

Would it be worth QF keeping one or two of the newer 747-400 (not the 747-400ER I know they are keeping all of them) and refitting it with new seats etc for the SYD-PER route? 

Otherwise, would they sacrifice one of the newest 747-400ER for the SYD-PER route over international routes?

The other question is whether it is worth having such a large aircraft on a 5 hour route when it can be easily done by a newer A330 which has better fuel efficiency? (Only guessing there, just assuming an A330 would be less costly to run than a 747)


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

They have 6 -ER aircraft, and these will be joined by the three newest regular -400s (the 1999 onward deliveries - the others are all getting old ie 1989-94). They are developing a fleet of A332 aircraft for the PER routes (this should get larger once JQ receives 787s) - the only reason we see a 744 there now is due to VA entering the market. The A332 is far, far more efficient on these sectors, so CASM is lower (basically they make more profit from each seat they sell).

12 Jul 2011

Total posts 75

About time. The first Gen SkyBed is seriously uncomfortable when you're trying to sleep.

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 61

Will the A330 Skybeds ever get upgraded to fuly flat?

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