The best business class seats on Qantas' Boeing 747s

By David Flynn, May 12 2016
The best business class seats on Qantas' Boeing 747s

Despite its age, the venerable Boeing 747-400 is a mainstay of Qantas' international fleet – plying routes from Australia to Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Santiago and Johannesburg.

Most of Qantas' Boeing 747s have been upgraded to the fully-flat Skybed II business class seats as featured on the Airbus A380, with the business cabin spread across three zones: the nose, the main deck and the upper deck.

A few of the Boeing 747s – notably those flying to Tokyo and Jo'burg – still retain the old first class seats at the pointy end, although these prized perches are sold as business class seats and come with standard business class meals and service.

The 14 lie-flat seats are a real blast from the past...

... and they're arguably the pick of the bunch on these older Boeing 747s.

The first three rows tend to be held for top-tier Qantas Frequent Flyers – PlatinumPlatinum One and Chairman's Lounge members – until close to departure time, while the four seats in row 4 are open to any business class passenger.

Read more: Get a Qantas first class seat for the price of business class

Moving on to the rest of the fleet: these have the newer SkyBed II business class seats in the nose.


At the very front of the plane, it's quieter, has virtually no foot traffic to disturb you, and feels more exclusive.

(There's just something about sitting in the nose of a plane, and if you're in row 1 you can sort of see forwards, which is pretty great.)

Our picks here are 3E and 3F if you want undisturbed sleep without anybody climbing over you to get to the aisle.

Some travellers (especially those flying with a companion) favour the 1A/1B or 1J/1K pairs, which are quiet and have nobody walking past you.

That said, the aisle seats 1B and 1J are very close together and this row contains two bassinet positions, so you're more likely to be disturbed by a baby.

Behind this is the main business class cabin:

As the cabin with the most passengers and also being closest to the engines, it's a somewhat noisier environment than up front or upstairs.

You'll want to avoid the middle seats (5E through 8E) which have all the negatives of having to climb over someone, without the positives of a window view to balance them out.

Many travellers also shy away from row 8: being near the lavatories and galley kitchens, they're noisier and more prone to disturbance during the flight.

Everything else is much of a muchness but for two glorious exceptions: 5B and 5J.

They're the primo picks for solo travellers: solitary aisle seats with no window seat next to them – and, thus, no window passenger clambering over you to get to the aisle.

Instead, you're next do a customised module with its own magazine bin and what amounts to a personal locker.

What business travellers will love about the locker is that when you close the lid you’re rewarded with a large secondary workspace where you can spread out your documents and folders or temporarily park your laptop.

Being located at an exit row, 5B and 5J also boast insane legroom – but expect them to be a little chilly, so consider adding a jacket, jumper or scarf to your inflight wardrobe.

Read more: The two very best business class seats on a Qantas Boeing 747

The third business class zone is upstairs in the 'bubble' or 'bump' – which on the very first Qantas Boeing 747s was given over to the exclusive Captain Cook lounge!

Read more: The fabulous bars, lounges and restaurants of the Boeing 747

Today's Boeing 747 upper deck still has an air of exclusivity, with just 18 passengers:

It's a quiet space to spend your flight, and row 14 (seats 14A, 14B, 14J and 14K) are all great choices.

With plenty of legroom due to their location at an emergency exit, window passengers can get out without disturbing the person sitting in the aisle seat next to them.

Some original material by John Walton

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


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.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 665

Ah, I was using "window" to mean "window seat" there -- I've edited that (and fixed the numbering snafu that we missed--thanks)!

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on The best business class seats on Qantas' Boeing 747s