Qantas' first class facelift for the Airbus A380

By David Flynn, September 8 2017

Qantas' Airbus A380 first class suites are part of a multi-million dollar makeover for the superjumbos which will also see the flagship fleet fitted with new business class and premium economy seats.

Here's what you need to know about Qantas' A380 first class facelift.

When you'll fly them

For first class passengers eager to see a better suite, patience will be a virtue.

The first of Qantas' 12-strong superjumbo fleet is expected to go under the knife by June 2019, although a rapid refresh pace (with the 'design integrated' project being managed by Airbus itself) will see the entire fleet upgraded by the end of 2020.

Interestingly, this will take the A380s almost to the cusp of Qantas' plans to begin flying either the Airbus A350ULR or Boeing 777-8 on non-stop routes to London and New York by 2022 – and those long-range jets may or may not feature a first class cabin of their own.

What's changing in Qantas first class

Unlike the rip-out-and-replace process which will see the A380s fitted with the latest design Boeing 787 business class and premium economy seats, first class is in line for a more measured 'refresh' of the current model (below).

Qantas says this will see each suite "fully refurbished" including the fitting of "contoured cushioning" plus a larger HD video display to replace the current 17 inch panel.

None of this is a bad thing by any stretch: there's basically nothing wrong with Marc Newson's bespoke design for Qantas' A380 suites, which we rate among the best of the 'open' first class suites sans sliding doors (a la Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Etihad).

It'll be interesting however to see how the colours and materials palette changes, and if the revamped first class suites adopt some of the design DNA of the Boeing 787 business class seats and the new-look Qantas Chairman's Lounge furniture.

However, as part of a rolling upgrade to first class, by the end of this year the A380 suites will gain a memory foam mattress and 'pillow menu'.

What's not changing in Qantas first class

Again, Qantas' decisions here fall into the safe realm of not fixing what ain't broke.

The first class cabin will remain at the front of the main deck, despite some speculation that Qantas would shift it upstairs.

That would not only have added significantly to the total works bill, but the narrow footprint of the upper deck would also have reduced the number of first class suites by cutting out the middle row of four suites, paring the total number of berths down to 10.

Retaining the full tally of 14 suites will be welcome news to the many frequent flyers who use their Qantas Points to upgrade from business class to first class (a steal at 60,000-75,000 points from Sydney or Melbourne to London) or book first class outright with points.

Also read: The best suites in first class on the Qantas Airbus A380

There's also a new lounge...

Qantas' A380 overhaul will also expand the small lounge nestled into the nose of the A380's upper deck...

... with what the concept art shows as a significantly larger and more open, appealing space.

While ostensibly a business class lounge, this area is popular with first class passengers who want to socialise with friends or colleagues travelling in a lower cabin class.

Qantas doesn't permit those passengers to join you in the companion dining mode of your first class suite...

... but as a rule the cabin crew are usually happy to escort them up to the business class lounge, where they can join you over a bottle of wine or champagne from the first class cellar.

David

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.

mviy

mviy

05 May 2016

Total posts 527

It's actually 75,000 points now to upgrade from MEL/SYD to LHR on the cheapest Business fares which I guess most would be on. 60,000 points is from the more expensive fares.


If travelling solo you can apply for an upgrade at the gate. Doing that one could just get an upgrade on the second leg and only pay for that portion of the upgrade cost if so.

KinHo

KinHo

03 Sep 2017

Total posts 51

I understand the design nature of herringbone seat configuration is to fit more seats but personally I like window seats close to the window. I like looking outside. The view is never the same on every flight. 

But nowadays I also feel guilty whenever I take a peek lifting the shades and sunlight floods the cabin, and a hundred pairs of eyes looking my way....

AT

AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 259

Don't feel bad, I do it if it's day light outside and it's logically day time from where I've departed from. Nothing annoys me more people who shut the shades at midday. 

11sjw

11sjw

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 293

Given I'm someone who has had a migraine or 3 induced from shades going up and down I can say I definitely prefer them down.

KinHo

KinHo

03 Sep 2017

Total posts 51

AT, 

I can understand why the cabin crew wants the shades down. To have the cabin environment dark,

1) to simulate a night time so that it gives pax a sense of time to sleep. For example, LHR-SIN flight departing at night will have a very short night during the 13 hours duration, as we are heading towards sunrise, and arriving around 17:00. 

2) for other pax to enjoy the entertainment unit better. 

Having said that, cabin crew leave shades up for short daytime flight. Like a SIN-HKG flight departing 8:30 arriving 12:30. Mainly because there's no real need to sleep or simulate an overnight condition a short flight. 

alan-aa1981

alan-aa1981

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

27 Sep 2017

Total posts 17

I agree with you 100%. There is nothing worse personally than not being able to look outside especially during daytime hours. I love looking out of the window. I was really hoping that QF were going to replace their existing First Class seats with something more luxurious. American Airlines, Etihad, Emirates have a much better product. Having said that Qantas Business Class is much better nowadays, so no issues switching across to Business if required...

DGP

DGP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 169

What I don't understand with the QF First Class Suites on the A380 is why is the partition wall retractable on the F line of seats (that separates the Aisle and the A line of seats)?  Surely no one who travels in these seats, travels with the wall down?

mviy

mviy

05 May 2016

Total posts 527

If you can't pick the seats you want and you're travelling with a friend one of you could be in an A seat and another in a centre seat?

PK

PK

03 May 2012

Total posts 113

It is retractable for safety reasons.  It blocks the line of sight to the windows on the left during takeoff and landing for those in the F line of seats.

Joe

Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 387

It's a very very plain F offering on QF.  Service is less formal but very attentive. Crew are not really that polished in appearance or service - style too casual. Agree food isn't award winning but pretty good quality generally.  Lavs are very sub-standard for and a joke for F class. Sleep suit picks up every bit of lint and the amenity kit is very cheap....no mouthwash or any nice touches being an F kit. Really it's a non 'wow' service  when you've flown the ME 3 and a few others but unfortunately still charged at a premium price.

AT

AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 259

Joe I agree. I think QF F is a lovey way to fly but it's nothing flash in terms of service delivery. I agree crew are polite but Four Seasons service it is not. And as for the food well of course the criteria is you need to be a fan of Perry's Rockpool first and too bad if you're not. 

traveller99

traveller99

18 Nov 2015

Total posts 106

Agree with Joe. It's a good First Class, but far from being a leader. The service is I'd say average, food is average, toilets are just too small, no wi-fi but the seat/bed is extremely comfortable for sleep.


I've had a couple of bizarre experiences in Qantas First. Let me tell you one from about 18 months ago. Flying Sydney to LA. On the small plate menu is an asparagus salad, which I order. About five minutes later, the cabin manager comes over to me and says "I'm sorry Sir, you ordered the prosciutto salad, but we have run out". There was NO prosciutto salad on the menu! And then my steak was literally a big lump of dry meat, with no sauce at all. Finally, I was never offered wine with my small plate or main. Towards the end of eating my main I realised I have no wine and had to summon a flight attendant.

iM

iM

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Jul 2016

Total posts 50

My wife (F) and I (J) – don't ask! – had a private dinner in the A380 lounge out of LA one evening. I suggested we look around and take it in because it was as close as we'd ever get to a private jet! The crew were terrific and went out of their way to look after us (and it was just good luck nobody else felt like using the lounge at the time), and it's a great memory to share.

aggie57

aggie57

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 152

It's one of the best beds in the sky. Vs the Himalayan like skybed II upstairs. 

John Phelan

John Phelan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 322

Soon to be replaced by the A330/787-style J suites, so that's a big improvement.

Thai Traveler

Thai Traveler

Jetstar Airways - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jan 2017

Total posts 10

The lounge upstairs is also used as a sick bed and one other time used by the captains son to sleep on and we were told we could not sit there because of this when we complained.

Thats why now we always use Emirates code share

Bob Burgess

Bob Burgess

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 184

Qantas has a great first class, not a 'private suite' but fairly private without the door which turns it into a compartment like Emirates etc and which I find makes things too cramped. No reason to change a great product at this stage.

aggie57

aggie57

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 152

I agree. Emirates first with the door closed is like sitting on the dunny in a gaudy 5-star hotel for hours on end. 

crosscourt

crosscourt

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 351

I've always maintained that EK is all bling and no substance.

AfricaTraveller

AfricaTraveller

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

20 Jan 2018

Total posts 33

Maintain whatever you want, the truth is that Emirates kills Qantas on all fronts. QF has a very lacklustre product at all levels, and in my opinion, the partnership with Emirates is the only thing that keep the Qantas nose above water.

I look forward to that partnership ending before Qantas drags Emirates down. I will never again fly Qantas. A very average and ordinary airline with woeful customer service....and website

crosscourt

crosscourt

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 351

Whatever that's your opinion… and why did it take 15 months for you to comment? In my view EK is terrible on the ground, as is QR and that first lounge in dubai is soulless and cold with some of the worst shower rooms anywhere etc etc etc. QF has shown they don't need EK to stay above water. And let's not get me started about EK's balance sheet compared to unsubsidized QF which is one of the most profitable airlines in the world. I repeat my comment (to you) EK is bling, no substance. That's all.

AfricaTraveller

AfricaTraveller

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

20 Jan 2018

Total posts 33

Seems I have upset you. Certainly not my intention. I'm simply expressing my opinion as you have been doing.

What does it matter how late I am in replying? I have only now seen the thread and felt compelled to respond. I don't look at AusBT much at all, as it is full of Qantas apologists too embarrassed to admit their consistently poor choice. I'm sure that's not you.

Qantas have let me down so badly in the past that I will not fly with them again. It's not just me, look at the huge percentage of posts in the FlyerTalk Qantas section that are complaints about the airline. That, in comparison to the small number of complaint posts in the Emirates section.

It boils down to simple preference, so I suggest you cool your jets my friend. I fly to several countries in Africa many times a year in Emirates F, and (I repeat, this is just MY preference), having tried QF first in the A380, the Emirates product is better at all levels.

If you find the F door closed makes you feel like you're in a dunny, keep the door open. Millions of EK F fliers never complain about it, so consider yourself in a miniscule minority, and like me, you are unable to let go of a previous injustice.

I suggest we move on with our lives.

Let's just agree to differ and keep the discussion civilised.


crosscourt

crosscourt

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 351

Touche. I agree.

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1377

I agree. I like the more open cabin feeling. And each suite is private enough, particularly the A side.

zoomzoom

zoomzoom

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 90

QF F is too expensive and not a match for the products of the Premium carriers of Asia and ME. 

triumph8

triumph8

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2015

Total posts 43

Just this week after an itinerary change I flew emirates first rather than Qantas as planned.

Qantas does not compare well in any respect with emirates first. Food better on emirates, wines simply superb, with dom perignon and cos d estournal along with a 63 vintage port, and all of that is before we compare the seats and privac

Will never ever pay for Qantas first again will just do QF codeshare on emirates 

KinHo

KinHo

03 Sep 2017

Total posts 51

QF really need to lift its game. I would really like to see Qantas get back to a highly commended and regarded airline. With more praise than complaints. 

The longer they stay supplying a sub standard product, the more certain the company will go back into the situation some 2-3 years ago, making a loss. 

Not a lot of food makes me feel sick but the breakfast scrambled eggs with a mash potatoes texture and an oily smell got me there. I can stomach rubbery overcooked eggs but this didn't look like eggs. Ok, given that this was in EY, MEL-LAX. 

mhh

mhh

31 Aug 2017

Total posts 4

So Qantas will slowly do a mild update to enhance its lacklustre F product, to end up still behind the competition? 

kimshep

kimshep

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 492

Good old QF .. is there any other airline that charges the highest of premium fares and announces a cabin / frame revamp 21 months out .. and then takes a further 12 months to do it?

robfol

robfol

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 Mar 2015

Total posts 39

Needs additional USB & power points and much better placement of them. 

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