The best seats in Economy Class on Qantas' Airbus A330

By John Walton, April 28 2011
The best seats in Economy Class on Qantas' Airbus A330

Australian Business Traveller reveals the best seats to pick on on the aircraft you're most likely to encounter on your travels.

This week: we review the best economy class seats on Qantas' Airbus A330.

The plane

Confusingly, Qantas has four separate layouts for the A330: two for domestic flights and two for international flights. International layout planes are also seen on flights to Perth.

Qantas uses its A330s internationally to Asian destinations Tokyo, Jakarta, Manila, Shanghai and Hong Kong, plus Singapore and on to Mumbai. It's also seen on the Sydney-Auckland-Los Angeles-New York run.

Domestically, you'll find it between Sydney and Perth, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane, plus between Perth and Melbourne.

(Picture: Terence Ong)
(Picture: Terence Ong)

The Economy Class cabin

Economy is at the back of the plane, with two cabins of seats in a 2-4-2 layout. (Seats A & B on the left of the plane, then an aisle, seats D, E, F & G in the middle, another aisle, and then J & K on the right hand side.)

There are two sections of the cabin on each plane, although the number of seats vary across each configuration.

Each seat is a standard Economy seat with 31 inches of pitch separating your seat back from the one in front. There's a personal TV at each seat with on-demand entertainment. Some newer planes also have in-flight power points and USB charging sockets.

The best seats on the plane

With four different configurations, it's difficult to give hard and fast seat rules, but once you see the seat map for your plane you can pick seats according to a few rules. (Click on the combined seat map diagram below to magnify, or click here to open it in a separate window.)

23A 23B 23J 23K: These are always good seats, in pairs at the front row of the Economy section. However, on all but four planes they are bassinet crib positions so you may be disturbed by a crying infant or moved at the last minute to make room for one. Depending on the layout, they're usually a bulkhead (with a wall in front), but on four planes in the domestic fleet they're exit rows, with unlimited legroom in the B and J seats. (The window seat's legroom may be slightly constricted by the emergency slide.)

44A 44B 44J 44K: On the internationally configured planes, these are exit row seats, with unlimited legroom in the B and J seats. On the domestic versions (four planes), the exit rows are in row 45 instead.

Seats D, E, F & G at the front of each cabin: the actual row numbers for the four bulkhead and exit row seats in the middle section at the front of each cabin vary, but they're usually between 23-25 and 44-46. These have extra legroom, although stretching out in the D and G seats for a sleep is subject to your feet getting run over by the food and drinks trolleys, since you'll stick out into the aisle.

54F/56F: if you want a bit more elbow room, this seat towards the back is a good choice. As the cabin narrows, the middle section narrows from four seats to three. This seat is the first of the three seat section, and is either in row 54 or 56. It's great for getting some sleep, because the person in the E seat next to you can always clamber over the person in D on their other side to get out. Plus, with the extra room you're less likely to get jostled.

A & B and J & K seats: with only two seats next to the window, it's better to be in one of the window pairs than a middle pair -- the window passenger can lean against it, and the aisle passenger has slightly more room as a result.

The worst seats on the plane

The last rows of each cabin: although row numbers vary, it's usually obvious which seats are the last of each section. These are noisier and subject to more disturbance from the lavatories and galley kitchens -- and often they don't recline all the way. Avoid sitting behind row 55 in general, which is towards the back of all the different layouts. The back of the first cabin is either row 41, 42 or 43 on most of the configurations, although it's row 35 on four of the international planes. Pick seats elsewhere in the cabin to be safe.

E & F seats: the middle of the centre four, these seats are best avoided. With every other seat on the plane either an aisle or window, there's no need to choose a middle seat unless you're in a group of three or more -- and even then, pick the window pairs and sit one behind the other.

Next week: Economy Class on Virgin Blue's Boeing 737-800.


John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Nov 2012

Total posts 24

Do Qantas A330s really have 31 inch pitch in Y? I flew back from Tokyo some years ago and even the 5'8" Japanese people in adjacent seats had their knees jammed in the back of the seat in front of them (I had a middle row to myself, and counted myself as very fortunate).

I no longer fly Qantas much at all, mainly because of the lack of legroom, and so now - as bronze FF -  flying long haul I must pay to reserve any seat. On a Singapore-Melbourne booking for May rows 23-28 were unavailable - so even paying extra, I cannot access the seats you recommend. The best I could do was 29B. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Sep 2011

Total posts 7

I think the seats in row 23 are bulkhead seats - NOT bulkhead and exit row.  This means they have less leg room due to the bulkhead, but the benefit of no one reclining into your space.  Is that correct?

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