The best seats in Premium Economy on Qantas' A380

By John Walton, February 28 2011

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

This week: Qantas' Premium Economy offering on the Airbus A380.

The plane

The A380 is Qantas' flagship, with nine superjumbos in service and a further eleven on order from Airbus.

It's most often seen on flights from Sydney and Melbourne to London Heathrow via Singapore, plus the long trans-Pacific journey between Sydney and Los Angeles.

The Premium Economy cabin

Qantas has decided to put Premium Economy at the back of the top deck of the A380, and has 32 seats in a 2-3-2 layout.

(For infrequent travellers, that means that A & B seats are to the left of the cabin, then an aisle, the D, E and F seats in the middle, another aisle, and the J & K seats on the right.)

The rows are staggered to take account of the emergency exits and the galley kitchens, so there are some seats with great legroom on offer -- and some where you should steer well clear.

A regular power socket (which fits most regular plugs) is shared between every two seats, and a USB socket for each seat provides power for recharging smaller electronic devices. The tray table and entertainment screen both swivel up from your armrest rather than folding down from the seat back in front of you.

The best seats on the plane

38J 38K: the best pair of seats, on the right-hand side at the back of the cabin, with metres of legroom thanks to the emergency exit. It might get a bit chilly next to the door in 38K, though, so you might want to bring a light jacket or a wrap. You might also get a bit of noise from the self-service bar behind the seats and the galley at the rear of the cabin -- so if sleeping all the way is your goal, you might want to sacrifice legroom for quiet.

34A 34B 34J 34K: to the left and right sides of the cabin, these bulkhead seats immediately behind business class have extra legroom, nobody reclining in front of you, and an easier escape to the aisle for window seats 34A and 34K. While there is crying baby potential from the bassinet crib in the centre seat 38E, the cabin's small enough that a crying baby will be a problem wherever it's seated.

38D 38E 38F: the best triple in the cabin, this is an emergency exit row. It is close to the double lavatory -- so, again, if sleeping is more important than legroom to you, pick another row.

A and K seats: all window seats have a storage bin, which means extra elbow room and space to put your papers too, so they're an immediate pick unless you're a serious aisle seat fan.

A, B, J and K seat pairs: in all rows, these seats have 40" of pitch (the space between your seatback and the seat in front of you), while the centre DEF triples have less at 38", so go for the window-adjacent pairs.

The worst seats on the plane

39D 39E 39F: a bad choice, since these seats are right next to both of the premium economy lavatories. There is a small privacy screen between 39D and the loos, but the screen makes the seat quite claustrophobic.

34D 34E 34F: the designated bassinet crib is at 34E, so even if you do select these bulkhead seats you're more likely to be moved to make way for a baby. The actual bulkhead in front of the D and F seats also doesn't stretch the whole way across to the aisle, increasing the likelihood of a trolley running over your feet.

E seats: avoid these middle seats if flying alone, and if flying with a partner aim for the window pairs instead.

Next week: Business Class on Emirates' 777-300ER.

John Walton
John Walton

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.

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