Qantas: no lie-flat beds on 747 from Sydney to DFW Texas

By David Flynn, April 19 2011
Qantas: no lie-flat beds on 747 from Sydney to DFW Texas

Business travellers on Qantas' fifteen-and-a-half hour flight from Sydney to Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) in Texas will have to make the journey without the benefit of a fully lie-flat bed.

While Qantas plans to upgrade its entire 747 fleet to the same lie-flat Skybed seating as its Airbus A380s a Qantas spokesman told Australian Business Traveller that the retrofits are not scheduled to begin until later this year, confirming that the SYD-DFW QF7 service would launch with the 747's first-generation angled bed still in place.

What's the difference between angled, lie-flat and fully-flat seats? Read our story on The Lie-flat Lie. 

Qantas is unable to use an A380 on the service because only the 'extended range' Boeing 747-400ER has the capacity to make the 13,800km journey non-stop, and even the return trip will require a stop-over to refuel in Brisbane due to headwinds over the Pacific Ocean.

The early cancellation of the current QF73/74 flights between Sydney and San Francisco on May 6 raised hopes among some that the same 747-400ER used for SYD-SFO might be in for a quick upgrade to the newer Skybed II business class seats before being rolled out for the launch of the Sydney-to-Dallas service on May 16.

The refit is a far more extensive operation, however, as the aircraft will also get new inflight entertainment systems from tip to tail and gain the A380’s self-service bars.

In the short term, at least high-status Qantas frequent flyers will have a shot at scoring one of the 14 first class seats which remain in the nose of these 747s. Although these seats are still sold as business class they're superior to the Skybeds, converting to a fully lie-flat bed (and having 79 inches of legroom).

None the less, the majority of business travellers will be looking forward to the eventual arrival of the fully-flat Skybeds onto the 747-400ER given that it's incredibly hard to enjoy a sound sleep on an angled bed. And as this 747-400ER lacks first class there's not even the option to trade some frequent flyer points for an upgrade.

With QF7 departing Sydney at 1.25pm and arriving in Dallas at 1.50pm, travellers will need to make sure they get as much sleep as they can during the long flight in order to adjust to the US timezone.

We can't help but feel that Qantas' reputation is going to take a hit with US business travellers who board QF8 in Dallas only to be faced with an angled flat seat for the even longer 19 hour flight to Brisbane – although at least with the plane departing DFW at 10pm to touch down in Brisbane at 5am (before continuing onto Sydney at 6.30am) they'll be a little more in the mood for shut-eye when they board the flight.


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.


15 Apr 2011

Total posts 580

But all the 747-400ER aircraft are fitted with First Class - so plats and golds are likely to get a flat bed anyway... The bed isn't actually that bad - the American carriers were all using products significantly worse until the past few years... American still flies with angled beds, the majority of Delta's fleet aren't even lie flat and Continental/United still have around half their fleet with angled/recliner seats. I agree though that it's not ideal!

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2561

Hi am - that's a good point. Yes, the nose of these 747s is still set up with the first class seats, which are sold as business class but would be available to high-tier frequent flyers. I'll add that to the article.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 665

Quite -- but when the options are (a) A380 fully flat bed to LA and the potential of AA Flagship Service connections from LAX to the East Coast or (b) 747 slopey beds to Dallas and then connections in US Domestic "First" class that's barely better than premium economy, I know what I'd choose! :)

13 Feb 2011

Total posts 30

I am glad that I read this article as I am booked DFW - BNE business class in September and didn't realise that the first 4 rows of the lower cabin have the first class seats.  I have now reassigned my seat from the upper deck to row 4 downstairs and look forward to a good sleep on a fully flat bed!

10 Jun 2011

Total posts 56

This DFW route is a real test for QF and they have wanted to offer it for years. Potentially it could be really successful route, but I believe before investing in the route fully they want to see if it works.

They are also more than aware that although their US competition has lagged miles behind them on the lucrative Transpacific route - that is going to start to change dramatically with the arrival of the 787 and the UA/CO merger and DL's continued international growth strategy

Having to stop in BNE enroute to SYD is a real minus for the key business travel city in Australia.  DFW/LAX is only 3 hours, and many people will continue to make the LAX connection in order to get the A380.  

I would have thought AKL would have been a more logical refuel point therefore being able to uplift Australia and NZ traffic and AKL then offering connections to MEL BNE ADL CNS

If the service works then QF will upgrade the product - look at EK when they launched the mega long haul DXB/LAX /IAH and SFO flights - they still configured economy in cramped 10 across seating and do not offer a flat bed in business yet the flights continue to do extremely well


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