Qantas' first Boeing 737NG (or 'Next Generation') fitted with Boeing's slick Sky Interior made its Australian debut today, as the QF610 service from Melbourne to Brisbane.
If you were on that flight you'd certainly have noticed something different from the run-of-the-mill Boeing 737s which form the backbone of Qantas' domestic fleet.
We're not just talking about the obvious allure of that 'new plane' smell (it's like a new car smell but around $81 million expensive).
The radical new-look Boeing Sky Interior cabin is lighter, brighter and looks more spacious – and when it comes to headroom between your noggin and the luggage big, it is more spacious.
Based on the interior of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing Sky Interior represents a major makeover for conventional aircraft interiors.
The airplane’s entry area is brighter and more open, showcasing the new design at the first opportunity and helping smooth the transition to the aircraft.
The gently sculpted sidewalls feature larger oval window surrounds (shown below) to let in more light, and while the windows are physically the same size they certainly seem larger.
While the overhead luggage compartments have been enlarged, a natty pivot-hinge design and upward-sweeping doors take up less space above the passenger to add to a feeling of greater headroom.
The ceiling is finished in a soft sky blue to convey a greater feeling of space and comfort, with LED lighting in the ceiling and sidewalls gently changing colour in different cycles throughout the flight.
There's no truth to the rumour that the lights switch into a 'Saturday Night Fever' disco mode during the John Travolta safety video.
And speaking of video, here's a little wrap-up we shot during our recent tour of Boeing's Seattle facility where the 737s are built, to highlight the new and noteworthy design features of the Boeing Sky Interior.
Qantas' new BSI aircraft – dubbed 'Kalgoorlie' (rego number VH-VZT, for the boffins who track such things) - will be “prioritised on the east-west route” says Alison Webster, Qantas Executive Manager for Customer Experience, “but they will also feature on our prime ‘golden triangle’ routes of Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane.”
Apart from the cool cabin design, the seats on this latest 787-800NG will be the same as Qantas’ six 737-800s already in domestic service, except that the business class Marc Newson/Recaro seats will be covered in a grained ‘claret’ leather.
Business class passengers get a seat that’s 22 inches wide with 37 inches of legroom, an adjustable headrest, extendable legrest with foldout footrest, laptop power and a 10.6 inch in-arm touchscreen for video.
Economy passengers will find their seats are a tighter 17.2 inches wide with 30 inches of legroom, a 9 inch seatback touchscreen and one laptop power point shared between every two seats.
Every seat throughout the plane also includes a USB port which can be used to recharge devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as piping digital music, photos and even documents through the in-flight entertainment system – so you can listen to your own choice of music, watch a photo slideshow or preview documents on the touchscreen.
Qantas isn't the first to fly a BSI-equipped 737 in Australian skies, of course – the Red Roo was gazumped by Virgin Australia, which showcased its factory-fresh 737-800 on the day the challenger relaunched from Virgin Blue. Virgin Australia now has six BSI aircraft in its fleet.