The best seats on QantasLink's all-economy class Boeing 717

By John Walton, November 30 2012
The best seats on QantasLink's all-economy class Boeing 717

If you're booked on one of Qantas' refurbished regional Boeing 717 QantasLink jets, you really need to pick one of the best seats on the plane to avoid the worst of the knee-crunching slimline seating on the all-economy aircraft.

QantasLink uses over a dozen Boeing 717s on its regional routes, primarily for WA services between Perth and Kalgoorlie, Newman, Paraburdoo, Exmouth, Karratha, Port Hedland and Broome.

You'll also find them on routes from Perth to (and between) Adelaide, Ayers Rock, Alice Springs, Darwin, Cairns and Gove/Nhulunbuy.

As far as planes go, they're relatively new, about ten years old, but don't come with any in-flight entertainment or at-seat power.

This Best Seats guide is for the newly refurbished 125-seat 717s. You'll spot these because they have 25 rows, not 23. If your plane has 23 rows, you want the Best Seats guide for the older 717 layout.

The cabin

After the installation of new slimline economy seats with less personal space than ever, the 717 is one to treat with caution.

The cabin is arranged in a 2-3 layout, with seats A and C to the left of the aisle and seats D, E and F on the right of it.

A 2-3 configuration always means that seat choices will depend whether or not the flight is full.

On a full flight, passengers who prefer window seats should choose an A seat (one of the two on the left). Aisle fans should similarly choose a C seat.

But if the flight is relatively empty, and thus the middle E seats on the right hand side of the plane are likely to be unoccupied, try picking a window F seat or aisle D seat and asking the check-in agent to block off the E seat next to you. You'll then have extra elbow room.

The engines of the 717 are mounted on the side of the plane at the back rather than under the wings, which means that seats at the back are pretty loud.

Note that the row number for extra-legroom exit row seats has changed from the older layout as well.

The best seats on the plane

1D: this aisle seat at the very front has a remarkable amount of legroom because the bulkhead doesn't stretch all the way into the aisle, so you can stretch your legs out fully.

Row 16: this emergency exit row is one of two exit rows, but it's the only one that reclines. So you'll have extra legroom for the exit row, nobody reclining into you, and you'll be able to recline. The only downside is for window seats 16A and 16F: with the positions of the wings you'll have a restricted view.

1A 1C 1F: although there's an argument that you can't stretch out your legs all the way because of the bulkhead, the lack of someone reclining back into you is a big plus. Skip middle seat 1E, though, and note that 1A and 1C look to have less legroom than they used to on the older layout with fewer people.

Row 15: as mentioned above, row 15 is an emergency exit row, but so is row 16 behind it -- so row 15 seats don't recline. Window seats 15A and 15F also have the problem of the wings getting in the way of the view.

The worst seats on the plane

Row 25: all the way at the back of the plane, you get the triple problem of engine noise from the side-mounted engines, no recline and two lavatories at the back of the plane.

Rows 20-24: these seats still recline, but they're right next to the engines. Definitely ones to skip.

Row 14: with the emergency exit in row 15 immediately behind, row 14 doesn't recline. Avoid.

Rows 17-19: the back of the plane has less legroom (up to an inch less than the front, depending on row) and is closer to the side-mounted engines. Pick a row in front.

More of AusBT's handpicked Best Seats recommendations:

And for the very latest news you need to know, follow @AusBT on Twitter!

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.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on The best seats on QantasLink's all-economy class Boeing 717