Want to snare a great seat at the front of the plane on your next Qantas flight but don’t have the Platinum or Gold status which unlocks those first few rows?
There’s a simple and completely free way to gain access to the full Qantas seat map, and without paying extra for those better seats.
Known as the Qantas T-80 rule, or sometimes just as the ‘Qantas seat selection hack’ it’s a favoured trick of savvy travellers.
How the Qantas seat selection map works
The Qantas T-80 rule (which isn't really a formal ‘rule’ per se) gets its name from the fact that Qantas usually opens up its full advance seat selection map 80 hours before each flight.
From the moment that flights go on sale all the way up to that 80 hour mark, Qantas sets aside the front rows of economy for its most important frequent flyers, so they can enjoy prize pick of the seats during the seat selection process.
For example, on Qantas’ workhorse Boeing 737 which dominates domestic routes along with short overseas hops to New Zealand, Bali and Noumea, the first two rows of economy – including row 4, which is blessed with plenty of legroom to stretch out – are visible only to Platinum One frequent flyers and Chairman’s Lounge members.
For everybody else, those rows on the Qantas seat selection map are greyed out and inaccessible, even if nobody has actually selected those seats.
In the same way, Platinum, Gold and Silver frequent flyers have a few rows per tier set aside for their own seat selection, with those rows appearing in grey to any traveller holding lower status (Golds might not be able to choose any seat ahead of row 7, for example).
But this all changes 80 hours before the flight departs – or, in airline parlance, T-80.
Qantas seat selection at T-80 hours
80 hours before your flight departs, Qantas opens up the entire seat map for all passengers.
This includes every seat not already reserved in those sought-after front rows, which until the 80-hour mark have been exclusively available to elite frequent flyers.
(One exception is that Platinum Ones booked into economy may have the seat next to them marked as unavailable so that it remains empty – something which frequent flyers call a ‘shadow’.)
The upshot: even a low-ranking Qantas Bronze or Silver can snare one of the better economy seats near the front of the plane – and while apart from the first row they might have no more legroom, if you travel only with cabin bags you’ll be quicker off the plane and on you way.
You’ll also find the cabin crew take your meal order sooner rather than later, minimising the likelihood that you’ll miss out on your preferred meal.
However, because the Qantas T-80 rule is a favourite of many frequent flyers, you’ll want to log on to the Qantas website or app’s Manage My Booking screen and make your new seat selection as soon after the T-80 mark as possible.
Calculating your T-80 timeline
To work out when the Qantas T-80 rule kicks in for your flight, just subtract 80 hours from the departure time.
In practical terms, that’s three days prior (72 hours) plus another eight hours – so if your Qantas flight departs at 4.55pm on a Monday, to find out when its T-80 seat selection map will open up
- first subtract three days, which gets you to 4.55pm Friday
- then subtract another eight hours, and you’ve got your T-80 threshold at 8.55am Friday
Tip: set an alarm on your phone for a little before that, allowing time to log onto the Manage My Booking page with your booking or voucher reference, so you won’t miss out.
The best Qantas economy seats for your T-80 seat selection
As previously mentioned, row 4 on the Qantas Boeing 737 is the winning choice for its extra legroom (and you could find yourself rubbing shoulders with a VIP Chairman’s Lounge member).
The equivalent rows on the Qantas A330 are 23 and 45, each of which is facing the cabin’s bulkhead wall; on a Qantas 787, shoot for a seat in row 40 or 46.
Using Qantas T-80 for an ‘upgrade’ to premium economy
Here’s another handy Qantas seat selection trick, courtesy of the T-80 rule.
Qantas sometimes flies its international Boeing 787 Dreamliner on short domestic legs. The Dreamliner includes a cosy premium economy cabin of 28 seats spread across rows 20 through 23.
Domestic Qantas 787 routes don’t list premium economy seats for sale – you’ll see only business class and economy – but the premium economy cabin can become available as an economy seat selection option at T-80.
Log in at the right time, check the Qantas seat selection map and if you see a seat on your Boeing 787 flight in row 20-23, click on it to enjoy a wider seat with more legroom and comfort than the standard economy seat – even if it’s just for a few hours.