Qantas on the hunt for 'next-generation' premium economy seat

By David Flynn, June 26 2018

Qantas' latest premium economy seat has been flying for barely eight months but the airline is already scoping out its replacement.

And while Qantas CEO Alan Joyce hyped the current David Caon-designed premium economy seat (below) as "revolutionary" for the comfort it would offer on 17 hour flights between Perth and London, this next-gen design will cradle passengers for as many as 20 hours on non-stop 'Project Sunrise' flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London and New York.

Qantas' Boeing 787 premium economy seat
Qantas' Boeing 787 premium economy seat

Also on the cards is an all-new economy seat for what will be the world's longest flights.

Qantas "has already engaged with global aircraft seat manufacturers, inviting them to come up with concepts for next-generation Economy and Premium Economy seats for the long-haul flights," the airline said in a statement today.

Earlier this month Qantas International CEO Alison Webster told Australian Business Traveller that the intent is  "to see what kind of a step change we can create for our customers."

Qantas is aiming to have its ultra-long range Project Sunrise jets carry over 300 passengers across four classes, including new first class suites, and is also polling some 12,000 of its frequent flyers on other proposed creature comforts such as

  • a communal bar, dining or self-service café zone
  • a work & study section including work stations
  • a stretch/exercise zone
  • a crèche

Some of these would be located below the main deck in special modules located in the cargo bay, where Qantas and potential Project Sunrise partner Airbus are also considering offering railway-style sleeper berths.

Airbus' concept bunk beds would see pssengers sleeping in the cargo hold
Airbus' concept bunk beds would see pssengers sleeping in the cargo hold

"One of the concepts that we have is maybe if we're not carrying freight you do something lower where cargo is on the aircraft, do you have an area where people can walk? Do you have berths like on a train?” Qantas CEO Alan Joyce posed at a speech in London earlier this year following the airline's inaugural Perth-London Boeing 787 flight.

“Could some of the freight areas we may not use be used as an exercise area? Could they be used for berths for people to sleep in? Is there a new class that’s needed on the aircraft?”

Photos: how Airbus plans to put passengers in the cargo hold

Qantas has also flagged creating a number of spacious 'change and refresh' stations – which might not include a lav – where travellers would change into their PJs and freshen up during the flight.

However, it has ruled out inflight showers due to the fuel impost of carrying the amount of water required.

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

This sounds like QF has decided that their new PE seat on the 787 is a disappointment and that they need to do better. At least I hope that's what they're thinking. From looking at reviews the seat certainly fails to live up to the "revolutionary" hype.

I would like a communal area to be upstairs at least for Business/First.

reeves35

reeves35

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 555

The W class seat on the 787 is a disappointment but it is principally a function of space not design. The addition of 2 or 3 inches to the pitch would've overcome just about all of the major pain-points of the seat. Of course, this assumes such a change doesn't blow up the economics of a 787 which are probably not as brilliant as we were originally led to believe hence so many airlines also going for 9 abreast in Y.

Eli

Eli

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 90

No no, that was just plain greed!

iM

iM

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Jul 2016

Total posts 50

I've done LAX-SYD in PE on the 787 and in my opinion it's well ahead of Air New Zealand's B-777 PE seating,for example, which I flew to/from LAX via AKL a few months later. Just had a quick sit in China Airlines A350 PE on my most recent trip to/from LAX (in Business) and it seemed quite good, especially the hard shell seat back and huge legroom. Horses for courses I guess...

YK

YK

01 Dec 2017

Total posts 1

Might be some what challenging to have it upstairs on either a 777 or A350!

Mdm Milton

Mdm Milton

Malaysia Airlines - Enrich

01 Jun 2015

Total posts 22

Even PE on China airlines of Taiwan are doing better than this.

Bob Burgess

Bob Burgess

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 184

I agree, there isn't that much 'wrong' with the Boeing 787 premium economy seat, just give it an extra 3-4 inches of pitch and get ride of the strange footrest. It will be very interesting to see what Emirates' promised 'sleeperette' premium economy seat looks like, maybe that will be the direction Qantas needs to go in, with a seat that is a not flat but more than just a recliner.

Libertyscott

Libertyscott

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 154

That's it. There would be plenty of positive, free publicity with pitch akin to that of NZ, and a decent footrest. Passengers want space, a decent recline and good padding on a seat. A seat that isn't impossible to get out from the window when the seat in front is reclined. So either fix what it has, or go for the hard shell approach that JAL has. It's not hard.

moa999

moa999

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

A company should be at least looking at a new seat for every new model - manufacturers are continually improving designs - any Sunrise aircraft is 2-3 years off

And that includes the first suite for the a380 refresh

pearsonlive

pearsonlive

10 Jul 2015

Total posts 9

Maybe offering a pitch of 40+ inches would improve the current seat. Both NZ and VA offer this on their long haul PE cabins.

DGP

DGP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 170

We just flew Vietnam Airlines Boeing 787-9 on the weekend in Premium Economy. They have 42 inches of legroom in Premium Economy on this aircraft type.

Eli

Eli

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 90

[Edited for language] Look, there was a ridiculous build up to the PE seat on the 787 and the PER-LHR route. By all accounts it's a massive let down, unless they add 3-4 inches. So Joyce throws out this little piece of crap to pacify. He is playing you ALL!!.

 

Better seat in Y?. Please, that means WORSE! If QF refused to deliver on comfort for the 787, do you really think its coming on their ULH planes. NO!!.

 

When it comes to airline CEO's under delivering...Joyce is at the top.

 

Wake up to the nonsense Australia!. You have been played hard!.

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

You've hit on a key reason why so many Australians who privately fund their own travel avoid Qantas and any airlines operated by it.

stmaus

stmaus

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 102

And the only reason business travellers stick with QF is because they are chasing LTG.

Rav

Rav

18 Aug 2017

Total posts 40

The first thing needed to be done by QF is retire Joyce and start over with passenger comfort number 2 priority after safety in all classes, when that happens with economics third will Qantas go back to the best airline in the world. The object is not to lose money but be prudent with the right priorities.

Jedinak K

Jedinak K

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Sep 2012

Total posts 213

Don't think it has ever been the "best airline in the world". It has definitely won awards for being the safest though.

AT

AT

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 259

I agree with the general feedback that the PY on QF 787 is not as great as the media release but....the 787 just doesn’t have the physical real estate to do the “wow” factor, really only a 777/747/A380 size can do that well.

Yes the could add more inches on 787 but that’s never going to pass the economics test at a board level, on any airline, unless the fares go up A LOT.

Bernoulli

Bernoulli

21 Apr 2017

Total posts 35

I haven't tried the QF 787 PEY seat but take CX in PEY on the a350 regularly. I find the CX PEY seat excellent and I would be surprised if there is a better PEY seat currently in the market. Btw the a350 rocks also!

Libertyscott

Libertyscott

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 154

For its post-Spaceseat PE, Air NZ used the CX seat, covered in leather, legrests at all seats, and higher pitch. Legrests and higher pitch are critical.

aggie57

aggie57

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 152

Even the much hyped business seat on the Qantas 787 is tight on space. The premium seat, well at 6’ 3” I simply don’t fit.

Joe

Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 387

Current "First" class is simply crap in comparison to most of its competitors flying first to from Oz. Its a deluxe business class at best. 17K to a DFW with a lounge at DFW thats simply a joke at best(and thats the first lounge!) and for a pencil case filled with amenities other premium carriers offer in business class.

Joyce told us the new business class on the A330/787 was a "mini first class" The 787 is all about QF and nothing to do with pax convince and/or comfort. its about the economics of this route and ac that had joyce and his cohort salivating yet it was painted as all about the passenger. In reality the A380 is vastly superior aircraft when it comes to passenger comfort but you hardly hear a boo out of QF re the A380?!

Then he told us the PE seat was revolutionary yet complains vastly outnumber complements, It does look nice in pictures but that pitch is criminal.

I really have to agree with Eli...we are paying premium prices while being had. You probably won't ever realise that until you've flown the likes of EK, QR, SQ etc

iM

iM

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

27 Jul 2016

Total posts 50

Joe, 17K is business class on a QF A380, or am I misreading your post?

Timmy22bc

Timmy22bc

18 Oct 2015

Total posts 34

What’s the point in asking if hi don’t listen? A previous poster nailed it, we’re all being played. Joyce has made up his mind already & it will be another flop.

Michael Kao

Michael Kao

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 339

In addition to higher seat pitch, i think it's also important to ensure the seat has good padding especially on those ultra long flight. I've been on some 14+ hour flights in J and F, although the flat bed and direct aisle access is nice, a poor padding can really wear your butts out after 14 hours.

A nice recliner sofa doesn't have to be fully flat yet one can take a nice nap on it.

JKH

JKH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 131

A veiled acknowledgment by QF that the W class seat on their ScreamLiner is a failure.

‘Revolutionary,’ Joyce said.

‘Ridiculous,’ is what others say.

Heaven help anyone in cattle class for that matter.

Aircraft seating these days, especially on ULR flights poses risk for circulatory problems.

Trogdor

Trogdor

11 Dec 2015

Total posts 81

There's an easy test for this - let's see if the seat dimensions and pitch of this "next generation" seat will exceed those of premium economy on ANZ, CX, JAL, and VA.

If it is better (remembering these airlines use their PE on routes far shorter than 20 hours), then Alan gets to call it "revolutionary"

londoner

londoner

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

12 Jul 2016

Total posts 28

introduce the Air New Zealand SPACESEAT mark 2 Qantas

reeves35

reeves35

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 555

The Spaceseat will never reappear. It weighed too much and took up too much space. Developments of W Class seating will focus on more cradle style seating but it will need to fit into a footprint of maximum 41"X 21". Anything more than that will destroy the economics of the class as well as encroach on J class and risk too many people downgrading from J to W.

Rav

Rav

18 Aug 2017

Total posts 40

If that is the shell PE seat it was brilliant, add in the service from ANZ and they had a massive winner but they have now come back to being also rans no better than the mob instead of making the others catch up.

alex_upgrade77

alex_upgrade77

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 244

What surprises me is that QF couldn't anticipate what terrible feedback they'd get on the legroom/pitch issue and adapt. Wasn't it obvious in testing that the recline would make it almost impossible for a window seat pax to get out when their neighbors are sleeping? On a 17 hour flight? Instead they spin all this wellness garbage and 'e voila' a premium product people are already avoiding.

reeves35

reeves35

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 555

QF supposedly did trials with frequent flyers etc but you'd have to wonder if they did or, if they did, whether they listened to feedback. As soon as the first photos appeared, well before the actual 787s arrived, it was obvious there was an issue between the pitch and the recline that meant a person in the window seat was stranded if the aisle seat in the row in front was reclined.

Gazza129

Gazza129

11 Nov 2017

Total posts 8

Surprise surprise! They made a massive error with the "improved" A330 J seat with no drop down screen and other things. Now another costly change.

PB69

PB69

02 Feb 2018

Total posts 5

one word stands out that would make all the difference - 'cradle'. forgot those silly bunk beds - offer a wraparound seat like a hammock or cocoon that actually cradles people and supports them in their sleep. do that in economy and a more souped up version in Premium Econ and they will sell out every flight.

OzjohnS

OzjohnS

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jul 2017

Total posts 2

Paying my own way. PE becomes a critical design for my purchase decision. A LTG already. Have had one DVT, so lack of movement space in 789 is a health hazard, even with injections and socks. The Dreamliner/A330 'New' Business seat lacks the shoulder/head adjustment of the A380, so tipped slightly up and cupped from horizontal for on-back comfort now not an option. Pure cost saving. If departure lounge and arrivals lounge in London is added in the total Business experience still is pretty good PER-LHR, even if more expensive. PE is not. Return is dreadful if connecting to Sydney in Perth: 737 domestic PER-SYD connection for 4 hours in less than PE 'Business' Seat. Never again. Exit row in E space is way better.

frankiek

frankiek

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Apr 2018

Total posts 1

Just once,have the airlines show a premium economy seat UPRIGHT and the seat IN FRONT with a SIDE view??So far have only seen any airlines show front seat upright and seat behind reclined...A most deceptive marketing photo?

Rick Hawthorne

Rick Hawthorne

01 May 2018

Total posts 4

As airlines continue to embellish their aircraft with additional creature comforts and seating options for passengers we must be aware that it does take time. However, I would have expected QF to be a little more pro-active and especially has other carriers have implemented premium Economy years before and have gone through several refinements. My first PE experience was with EVA Air. (MNL-TPE-EWR) in 2006. The economics involved mustn't be obvious to the passenger unless the pricing matches the value. I'm a loyal Philippine Airlines P.E. customer. It's a relatively new product limited to newly refurbished aircraft but it is being rolled out progressively, cautiously perhaps and the pricing on the MEL and SYD routes reflect this. I'm airborne again in July but because of my destination will use Cathay's PE. It will be interesting to compare. Just some thoughts.

Vulch

Vulch

09 Jan 2016

Total posts 44

It’s not brain surgery, we just want more space! As others have mentioned other airlines offer much more leg room for less $ than rip-off qan

ManHa

ManHa

08 May 2018

Total posts 19

Yes - all we want to a comfortable seat (with adequate leg room). That is essentially what every traveller wants.

Its amazing that QF leg room lags China Eastern/ Air AsiaX and Vietnam Airlines (these being 3 star airlines) - who are even more competitive with pricing.

Not sure who actually values these "extras" over seat comfort?


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