Qantas will unveil a radical new-look cabin on its domestic fleet next month when the airline takes delivery of its first Boeing 737NG (or 'Next Generation') fitted with Boeing's slick Sky Interior.
The first of 18 new 737-800s will take to the skies in late October, the latest member of a 60-strong family of Boeing 737s which forms the backbone of Qantas' domestic fleet.
The biggest difference is the advanced design of the plane’s cabin, which uses the streamlined ‘Boeing Sky Interior’ based on the interior of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Boeing Sky Interior represents a major makeover for conventional aircraft interiors by embracing curves and colours to make the cabin lighter and brighter, as well as looking ‘softer’ and more spacious.
The airplane’s entry area is brighter and more open, showcasing the new design at the first opportunity and helping smooth the transition to the aircraft.
The gently sculpted sidewalls feature larger oval window surrounds (shown below) to let in more light, and while the windows are physically the same size they certainly seem larger.
While the overhead luggage compartments have been enlarged, a natty pivot-hinge design and upward-sweeping doors take up less space above the passenger to add to a feeling of greater headroom.
The ceiling is finished in a soft sky blue to convey a greater feeling of space and comfort, with LED lighting in the ceiling and sidewalls gently changing colour in different cycles throughout the flight. Note that the photo below is not of a Qantas 737-800NG, which at the time of writing is still on Boeing's production line.
There's no truth to the rumour that the lights switch into a 'Saturday Night Fever' disco mode during the John Travolta safety video.
But speaking of video, here's a little wrap-up we shot during our recent tour of Boeing's Seattle facility where the 737s are built, to highlight the new and noteworthy design features of the Boeing Sky Interior.
Apart from the cool cabin design, the seats on this latest 787-800NG will be the same as Qantas’ six 737-800s already in domestic service, except that the business class Marc Newson/Recaro seats will be covered in a grained ‘claret’ leather.
Business class passengers get a seat that’s 22 inches wide with 37 inches of legroom, an adjustable headrest, extendable legrest with foldout footrest, laptop power and a 10.6 inch seatback touchscreen.
Economy passengers will find their seats are a tighter 17.2 inches wide with 30 inches of legroom, a 9 inch seatback touchscreen and one laptop power point shared between every two seats.
Each seat also includes a USB port which can be used to recharge devices such as smartphones and tablets, as well as piping digital music, photos and even documents through the in-flight entertainment system – so you can listen to your own choise of music, watch a photo slideshow or preview documents on the touchscreen.
The new 737-800NG aircraft will be “prioritised on the east-west route” says Alison Webster, Qantas Executive Manager for Customer Experience, “but they will also feature on our prime ‘golden triangle’ routes of Sydney-Melbourne-Brisbane.”