Qantas plans rapid roll-out for A330 Business Suite

By David Flynn, January 5 2015
Qantas plans rapid roll-out for A330 Business Suite

Qantas plans a fast roll-out for its new Business Suite business class seat on domestic and international Airbus A330 jets, and will focus on Singapore as the first city to see Business Suites on flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

"We want to focus on getting good penetration into Singapore, and then as we get more (upgraded) aircraft we’ll focus on other Asian destinations and Honolulu" explains Kylie Morris, Qantas' Head of Customer Experience.

Qantas plans to debut the international Business Suite on Melbourne-Singapore from mid-January, with the Sydney-Singapore and Brisbane-Singapore routes expected to follow.

Detailed AusBT review: Qantas Business Suite A330 business class

"We really want to get penetration into each market" Morris tells Australian Business Traveller. "As soon as they try the Business Suite the current seats just won’t be good enough, so we want to give them the Business Suite with reliability and consistency."

“By March we’ll have five domestic and international A330s, and by August we’ll have 11” Morris says of the rapid ramp-up, which sees each A330 upgraded at Qantas’ Brisbane maintenance hangar.

While both the domestic A330-200 and international A330-300 jets will carry 28 Business Suites, the domestic seats are covered in leather while the international ones will be clad in cloth.

"The domestic A330-200s leather seats aligns with what we have in business class on our Boeing 737s" Morris says.

"On the international A330-300s we’ve gone for cloth because we know from an ergonomic perspective that cloth is more comfortable than leather after a period of about six hours." 

In addition to all-new Business Suites neing fitted at the pointy end, the 10 international A330s will receive Recaro economy seats based on those of the airline's flagship Airbus A380.

Each seat includes a 'footnet' into which passengers can tuck their feet, an oversized 'multidirectional' headrest, a 11.1 inch video screen with USB port and a shared AC power socket.

The economy seats on their 18 domestic counterparts will be refreshed with new cushions and fabrics.

Both the domestic and international A330s are also being fitted with Qantas' Q Streaming Wi-Fi system, which beams video and music from the plane's inflight entertainment system directly to a passengers' own tablet or smartphone.

Video & review: Q Streaming in action

The first of 18 revamped domestic A330-200s took wing on December 31 and is now flying on the Sydney-Perth, Melbourne-Perth and Sydney-Melbourne routes, allowing as many passengers as possible to sample the new seats before being joined by a second A330-200 at the end of this month.

Revealed: Best business class seats on Qantas Airbus A330-200 Business Suite

However, Qantas has a very limited window of opportunity before Virgin Australia's next-gen A330 business class seat takes flight on east-west routes in March.

Like the Qantas Business Suite, Virgin's seat – which CEO John Borghetti says he "would classify as more ‘business first’ than business class" – adopts a 1-2-1 layout to provide direct aisle access for every passenger.

Virgin's seat also converts into a fully-flat bed and sports a 16 inch video screen.

Borghetti expects all six of the airline's A330 jets to upgraded by July, with the seats then being fitted to its five Boeing 777s from November 2015 through to February 2016.

Read: Up close with Virgin Australia's new Airbus A330, Boeing 777 Business Class seats

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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.

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 38

Memo to Kylie Morris: the Skybed Mark I seats have not been good enough compared to the market for about five years now.

Thank goodness the A330s are finally being upgraded - new product looks very good but perhaps still not in the same league as new Singapore and Etihad seats?

David Flynn are you able to compare the three products for us please.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

It sure looks better than the regional J seats SQ uses on the BNE route!

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2375

And that's part of the issue too - although CX has 100% product consistency, SQ has different seats on diffgerent aircraft & services out of Australia, which makes any comparo a bit longer and more complex, not as quick and clean to do or to read.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

Sydney alone would be a nightmare, with five different aircraft on the five different flights currently. I think there's a total of three different J seats: New Business, Refreshed New Business, Regional.

If I was to write it (not that I fly SQ enough anymore to really know) I'd compare each to the Skybed I and Business Suite, with each SQ seat having a list of which flights it is usually on.

But that is still messy.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2375

GoldenClub: a little later on I will definitely be comparing the Qantas BusinessSuite to the latest from Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific, as Singapore and Hong Kong will be primary routes, but I don't see the need to directly compare the Qantas BusinessSuite to Etihad's BusinessStudio because they are not competitors on any route, so while such a comparo might be interesting for some readers it serves no practical purpose for travellers.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

David, doesn't Etihad fly BNE-SIN?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2375

Not for long - that route goes direct to Abu Dhabi as of June 1 with the Boeing 787. https://www.executivetraveller.com/etihad-to-launch-boeing-787-daily-direct-brisbane-abu-dhabi-flights
 

31 Aug 2013

Total posts 61

While both the domestic A330-200 and international A330-300 jets will carry 28 Business Suites, the domestic seats are clad covered in leather while the international ones will be clad in cloth.

If they have a turn down service, then this really does not matter.  I'd much rather see a single product across the fleet than worry about substitutions.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Feb 2013

Total posts 45

I tend to disagree, cloth for longer flights is a positive.

Last week I flew J return to CGK, like others in J, reclined in the seat for the flight to up to CGK. Leaving SYD @14:25 and arriving CGK @18:00, I'm not going to crack out the shades and grab a few hours sleep.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

With the Skybed I, I find it's far more comfortable to have the turndown service mattress pad put on even if you're not sleeping.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2375

Yep, the mattress really smooths out the Skybed (the II as well as the I).

31 Aug 2013

Total posts 61

Other airlines have had no issues with leather on their long-haul planes (NZ, SQ, VX etc).  If Qantas really believes it is a problem on the long flights, then maybe the domestic fleet should also follow.  It makes me wonder if it has more to do with the different shaping of the leather and fabric seats.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2223

It's just more comfortable for the passenger, which is why QF wants cloth for over six hours (and leather for under), but since you've mentioned SQ, their mantra is 'sit on leather, sleep on cloth', so the sitting side of their seat is leather, which then folds down to reveal the cloth-covered bed side.

Of course, this all goes out the window when you get their regional sloping J which comes in nice, slippery leather.

I believe the old Spacebed was cloth, though.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 12

Any idea when it wil be rolled out on the SYD-BKK route?

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1253

I reckon they would have mentioned it if they knew!

22 Jul 2011

Total posts 98

Not sure I'd call one aircraft a month a rapid roll-out.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Mar 2013

Total posts 42

Considering they need to strip out entire cabins, presumably do some rewiring, general maintenance, install a brand new business cabin, refresh economy/completely replace economy cabin, generally upgrade cabin interiors, ensure it is all done correctly to ensure aircraft and cabin integrity, test EACH AND EVERY item to ensure it works, I'd say that one aircraft per month is very fast. 30-31 days to do all that to an aircraft is very ambitious. And that is presuming no problems have been/will be found during installation.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2375

It takes 30 days to refit each aircraft and that's often done at the same time as other checks - if you reckon you can do it faster, I'm sure Qantas would love to hear from you.

And with 11 A330s by August the rollout is faster than 'one per month', as some are being done in parallel.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

These are all valid points, but do you acknowledge that the average consumer will still assume that "rapid" means something that Qantas can't meet. Personally it's a word I wouldn't have used if I was a Qantas PR hack, because it's only going to give me grief later. Undersell and over-deliver is a safe and reliable strategy, especially when a large part of the fleet will still be flying older seating.

07 Oct 2012

Total posts 1253

But QF did not use it.

Anyway, who cares... planes are getting refurbished at the rate of 1 per just under a month.

10 Sep 2012

Total posts 151

... And that's a reasonable rate.  It's not like they can ground their entire A330 fleet at the same time, and even if they did, the reconfiguration teams wouldn't have the resources to work on so many aircraft simultaneously.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2375

Hi Gipps – 'rapid' was my choice of word, not Qantas', and it was used to reflect that given the scope of the project this rollout is fast. It's pretty much as fast as Qantas can make it, it's definitely not a leisurely pace. The 'average person' who says one a month is slow is clearly not informed as to the scope of the project and so I'd discount their opinion on 'rapid'.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2013

Total posts 715

Hi David, as I've stated (from a marketing perspective and my experience and qualifications in that field) it's a loaded term in marketing, and one I'd personally avoid if I was directly involved - whether I made that representation myself, or others were making it for me (even with the best of intentions, third parties can create headaches for marketing campaigns). 

Different opinions may well be out there, I'm only expressing my own (as AusBT has invited me to do so). Joe Public may be ill-informed, but from my experience marketers generally can't write off segments of the community, and generally have to work with it as they find it.

Feel free to discount (I don't feel compelled to force agreement on others, I'm just happy throwing my opinion into the pile), but I would highlight even Kylie Morris acknowledges (in your quoted caption) through her words that there are expectation management issues now as Qantas manages the rollout (because having had a taste of the new seats, customers will find it hard to sit back in the old ones).

Several more comments have been deleted, in this case with one user launching into personal attacks rather than discussing the article and adding value to the conversation, as per AusBT's comment policy. As already warned, further comments along the lines of those which have been deleted will also be deleted.

31 Mar 2014

Total posts 314

Is there confirmation yet if the A322 without seat back IFE in economy will have it installed, or will they leave them as is. They would have to install the system for business. Would think they would extend the upgrade down the back too?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Nov 2014

Total posts 5

This is what Qantas' A330 Fleet Development page says:

"Domestic Business Class customers on A330 aircraft will also enjoy the same Panasonic eX3 system, while Economy customers will have an individual inflight entertainment experience through either seatback touchscreens or devices provided by Qantas in every seat."

One could guess that they would be taking the systems from the QF 767s and installing them in the ex-JQ planes. 

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2375

A number of comments have been deleted for varying degrees of personal attack or side-tracking the topic, rather than discussing the article and adding value to the conversation, as per AusBT's comment policy. Further comments along the lines of those which have been deleted will also be deleted.

09 Jan 2015

Total posts 1

I think cloth for long haul is a good selection. Leather is just for the look perhaps. Have anyone sleeps on mattress made with leather or mostly on cloth mattress?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Jan 2013

Total posts 11

Hi David.  Thank you for yet another article with content suitable for the subscribers to this site, and for sticking to the facts.  Great work.  Cheers.

20 Nov 2014

Total posts 1

Hi David,

Any hint as to where in line the BNE-PER rollout is in that chain?  I did notice you mentioned a second would be following at the end of this month, but wonder if that will be added to the SYD-PER and MEL-PER legs.


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