Qantas in 2016: Boeing 787 config, new lounges, inflight Internet..?

By David Flynn, January 11 2016
Qantas in 2016: Boeing 787 config, new lounges, inflight Internet..?

Qantas is set to soar in 2016 with the resurgent airline using its success of the previous 12 months as a springboard into the new year.

February will see the airline declare a bumper $900-odd million pre-tax profit for the July-December 2015 period – a figure almost as high as Qantas’ entire 2014-2015 results of $975 million.

By August, when CEO Alan Joyce opens the books on the full 2016 financial year, analysts expect Qantas will tally a record pre-tax profit of $1.64 billion.

So what’s on the Red Roo’s to-do list for 2016?

Countdown to the Boeing 787

With the first of eight new Boeing 787s due from the end of 2017, Qantas will begin exploring options on the seats and interiors of its new Dreamliner fleet.

Each of the red-tailed Boeing 787s will be fitted with approximately 250 seats split between business class, premium economy and economy.

It’s expected the business class seats will be based on the highly-regarded Qantas Business Suite of the Airbus A330s.

Also read: Where will Qantas fly its new Dreamliners?

By mid-year Qantas will complete the refresh of its Boeing 737-800 fleet, adding more economy class seats and in many cases beaming movies, TV shows and music via WiFi to passenger's own iPads and other devices.

And come December 2016, all 28 of Qantas’ domestic and international Airbus A330s will sport the Business Suite business class seat, with additional upgrades in economy and to the in-flight entertainment system.

The issue of a similar business class upgrade for Qantas’ Airbus A380s, which will soon reach the mid-point of their expected life with the airline, is certain to be raised again as an increasing number of competitors shift to modern seats with direct aisle access, larger screens and more storage space.

This year will also see a measured expansion of the Qantas network, with additional flights to current destinations and possibly a new pin on the route map.

Sydney-San Francisco flights will ramp up to six days a week by the end of January, while Melbourne will gain an extra three flights each week to Singapore – runnings Friday, Saturday and Sunday – from late April.

Sky-high WiFi

2016 could also see Qantas trialling inflight Internet, particularly on domestic routes.

“We are continuing to explore options to introduce on board WiFi” Qantas Head of Customer Experience Phil Capps tells Australian Business Traveller.

“We know many of our customers want to stay connected at all stages of their journey, but we want to do it right – so we are in talks with providers as new satellite platforms could create some fantastic opportunities, particularly on domestic flights.” 

New lounges

In the lounge landscape, Qantas will progressively open its new lounges at Brisbane Airport throughout 2016.

Work on Brisbane's domestic Qantas Club, Qantas Business Lounge and Chairman’s Lounge will be carried out in stages so that all lounges can be partly open while a second stage of expansion continues into 2017.

The all-new Qantas International Lounge – an extra-large space for first class and business class – is expected to open in September 2016.

Read more: New lounges coming to Brisbane Airport

Qantas will also be weighing up refreshes for other business lounges in its domestic network, using the new design template showcased by the recently-opened Perth lounge.

Trans-Tasman travellers will be hoping to hear of an long-overdue upgrade to the Qantas Auckland Lounge.

Woolworths + Caltex version 2.0?

On the frequent flyer front, by mid-year the revamped Qantas-Woolworths partnership will swing into high gear as shoppers trade their Woolworths Dollars into Qantas Frequent Flyer.

10 Woolworths Dollars will convert to 870 Qantas Points, but with Woolworths Dollars only earned on selected products (marked with an orange ticket) the stage is set for savvy shoppers to pounce on deals which represent the best points-per-cent haul.

A wild card in the equation will Qantas’ intent to sign up a new fuel deal with the likes of Caltex to earn points at the pump, replacing the now-defunct Caltex/Woolworths offer and countering Virgin Australia's alliance with BP.

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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.

QFF Gold QC gold

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 56

No talk of Gold Coast lounge upgrade. Bummer.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2554

Seriously? It's barely three years old, it's a Qantas Club serving only a handful of QF flights a day. It's going to be a long way down any lounge refresh list.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 783

You don't need windows :)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2013

Total posts 363

I wouldn't be surprised to see an announcement this year regarding the Qantas Club in Hobart. With the Hobart terminal redevelopment ramping up, it looks like there may be space for two new lounges - one each for Qantas and Virgin Australia. Unlike the Gold Coast, Hobart's lounge is in dire need of an expansion and upgrade. 


28 Jul 2013

Total posts 28

All very good news for paying customers. But what about their pathetic frequent flyer scheme where it is simply impossible to get business class seats to almost anywhere. And what really bugs me is the inability to buy one seat and use points for a partner. If anyone knows have to achieve this in the QF system please tell.  

And what about the thousands of Platinum and Gold Flyers who have retired and lost all thier priviledges.  QF seem totally oblivious to the fact many of these people will fly regularly long haul for the next 20 years, but now grab the cheapest business class seats available. .

Looks like a pretty long to-do list! Can't wait to see them in the flesh inflight. 


10 Oct 2012

Total posts 7

No word on the economy seat confiuration on the 789s yet?  I fly a lot of QF and almost always in Y (> 450K kms last year on QF Y alone) and having flown BA's 788 Y seating, I'm not a fan of the 10 abreast seating - it felt like a 737 for a 9 hour flight).  I know that JL and NH are the only ones so far to have 9 abreast, but I just hope, dream and pray for 9 abreast on the QF 789s - otherwise, I'll be actively seaking out other aircraft types and potentially other airlines.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2554

No word on the economy seat confiuration on the 789s yet?  Expect to see 3-3-3 (

BA's 788 does not have 10 abreast seating. It's 9 abreast. Nobody's 787's has 10 abreast seating.

I think you're "hoping, dreaming and praying" for 8 abreast on the QF789's . If it's really 9 abreast you're hoping for, your wish will come true, just about everybody has it in Y, except for a handful of NH early run 788's. 


10 Oct 2012

Total posts 7

Yes, sorry - I meant 8 and 9 abreast rather than 9 and 10 abreast


10 Dec 2015

Total posts 177

Physically, there's no way any operator can fit near 250seats into a 3-class 789 cabin WITHOUT 9abreast in conventional Y(i.e. not  radical Y concepts such as Thompson CozySuite which nobody invested in despite being presented to airlines since before 2011)  but still with reasonable seat counts in J and PY.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 467

AC 787-900 has 30J, 21Y+,247Y for 298 total.  If you took out one seat per row in Y there would still be 263 seats.  Increase J and Y+ a bit and you have 250.




10 Dec 2015

Total posts 177

I sort-of knew someone may bring up AC's 789(Or NZ's).

AC fleet is a special case as this carrier, as part of its larger strategic shift to lower op cost per seat, has been tweaking its premium(reducing) vs non-premium(increasing) ratio in cabins across its younger widebody fleet in recent yrs and 789 is the youngest in AC fleet.

In any case, I'm pretty certain U'll agree that 247Y in a cabin of  298seats in total(i.e. 82%+ ratio) is clearly Y-heavy and not typical at all among 789 operators.....not <reasonable> seat count in J for normal FSC(Full Service Carrier) longhaul intercon ops by my books.  Historically and even today, Y ratio hovers around the 75% range for FSC longhaul intercon ops.

In fact look around all 789 operators today.  Except LCCs and NH's domestic birds, which airline is operating or planning a total seat count near 300 on a 789 except AC and NZ?


<<Increase J and Y+ a bit and you have 250.>>

No you won't unless U meant increase by only 2-2.5 more J seats(Which won't really change the Y-heavy picture) because:

1) U forgot how much space each state-of-the-art J such as those used by AC occupy.  A rough rule of thumb is that each J of such design takes up the equivalent cabin floor area of @ least 5.5-6Y(i.e. each bed is @ least 74in long regardless of fishbone or staggered layout and 2rows of Y triplets only give 64in length/pitch).

2) AC doesn't hv Y+.  It has PY.  Another rule of thumb: Each PY takes up the same cabin floor area as about 1.5 Y.

There's no official word on the configuration. That said, its basically certain to be 9-abreast in Economy class (I believe when you were typing "9-abreast" in your comments you actually meant "8-abreast"). However, QF may find a way to mitigate the unpleasant aspects of this, either through using the Thompson CozySuite OR using a forward-backward seating configuration (both of which create extra space through, essentially, overlapping the armrest space and providing individual upper-body space). This would allow seat widths of AT LEAST 18.5" - Thompson claim their CozySuite can reach nearly 20" in the Dreamliner but I think 19" is a more conservative estimate.

Both would be pretty radical solutions however. I'd like to see it happen though... It would make the Dreamliner 9-abreast a lot more comfortable and allow QF to have pretty much the best Economy hard product in the world.

Anyway, as for the 787-9s, I'd expect they'll have 36 Business Suites (I'd suspect they might modify the Business Suite design a little so that passengers in middle pairs will be able to talk to each other more easily... maybe the privacy partition's top part will be able to be lowered?). 21 Premium Economy seats (3 rows of 7 abreast). 193 Economy seats to round up the seat count to 250.

And when it comes time for the A330s to be replaced, I think they'll do so with the 787-10 (commonality reasons). For that cabin configuration, I expect the same size Business and Premium Economy cabins (with CX and SQ both going into PE, there's clearly a market for it that won't cannibalize Business demand), with all the extra space the 787-10 has being devoted to Economy class (this should give the jets roughly the same 300ish person capacity the A330-300s have).

This of course is just my speculation.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 388

what about Premium Economy? Use a refurbished version the  PE from the A380or are there better PE seats avaliable?

Well this is Qantas' decision to make, but with respect to PE I don't know what they'll do.

If they keep the current design the Marc Newsom DNA will still be there. Its a well-regarded PE product too.

That said, if they go to a different design... I'd suggest the Stelia Aerospace Celeste... that may be more comfy and will also provide a fixed back shell. But it may need QF to apply the stylist to make it fit in. In addition, the Celeste's cradle-recline allegedly makes it quite easy to sleep in which MAY increase the threat of Business cannibalization (but frankly I doubt it because I'm a side-sleeper).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 388

What about this configuration? Could this work? 

Economy 3-3-3 Cozysuite 185

Business 43

Premium Economy 35


Sorry for the slow reply. First, I think that many seats wouldn't fit into the 787-9 (I'm going off estimates from the LOPAs and seat maps I've seen). Second, I don't think QF would want there to be a huge Premium Economy cabin (35 is quite large) due to the risk of Business Class cannibalization. In addition, 35 is pretty much the size of the current A380 cabin (and I think the 747 cabin) so your speculation represents a big increase in the proportion of PE.

36/21/193+ seems the most reasonable to me, presuming they want around 250 seats on the jet.

05 Aug 2011

Total posts 16

Great Qantas MORE seats in a 737-800 Get real, I need my knees out of my nose in economy class already......

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Nov 2012

Total posts 25

The most cramped flight I've had was on a Qantas A330 from Singapore to Melbourne a few years ago.  It was also my last flight on Qantas international, I haven't been back, and won't be. There are better options on other airlines - think JAL going to Japan, for instance.

Even using Jetstar A320s around  Asia, it's possible to get some legroom at very reasonable extra cost. And no, there's no way even Jetstar can fit 7 across on an A320 ...

In the intra-Asia case, why would I fly so-called premium wide-body in Y, when I can a get much better deal in a budget airline narrow body? 



04 Apr 2014

Total posts 208

Qantas, you need wi-fi on those long haul flights like yesterday. As a regular US domestic and trans-pacific traveller coming down to Australia on 15 hour flights unable to connect to business networks is very 00's. 

04 Dec 2012

Total posts 12

"Pre-tax profit", what a joke ... Qantas doesn't pay any tax according to a recent news story. So much for being an Australian icon.


14 Jun 2013

Total posts 353

Qantas paid no tax in the 2013-2014 financial year because that was the period in which it incurred a loss ($2.84 billion). You don't pay tax when you lose money.

14 Jan 2016

Total posts 6

I've been very patient with QF for many years. To be honest I think their people are there greatest assest yet I finally walked when I was offered cordial on a Dallas flight and the limiting FF program and inability to upgrade due lack of seats and restrictions. All points used and now with Virgin Velocity and Etihad Guest. Good luck to QF and it's people yet after discovering VA's fresh approach to competition as well as Etihad's one stop quality offering to the world plus their Sydney international lounge, I now have a better alternative. Broke one minute and record profits the next. Need a change of culture and leadership and then I may reconsider. Great page David, thanks.

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