The best seats on QantasLink's Boeing 717 planes

By John Walton, August 26 2011
The best seats on QantasLink's Boeing 717 planes

Flying on one of QantasLink's regional Boeing 717 planes? We've got the lowdown on the best seats to pick for extra legroom and a quieter flight.

The plane

There are 11 Boeing 717 planes in the QantasLink fleet, with two more to come in order to boost the Western Australia fleet. They're relatively new planes, about ten years old, but don't come with any in-flight entertainment or at-seat power.

The planes are primarily used for WA services between Perth and Kalgoorlie, Newman, Paraburdoo, Exmouth, Karratha, Port Hedland and Broome. They are also seen on routes from Perth to (and between) Adelaide, Ayers Rock, Alice Springs, Darwin, Cairns and Gove/Nhulunbuy.

The cabin

With only basic economy seats, the 717 is definitely a regional plane. The cabin is laid out in a 2-3 configuration, with seats A and C to the left of the single aisle and seats D, E and F to 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 always 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.

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. But any seat in row 1 is a good one when you want space to stretch.

Row 15: this emergency exit row is one of two exit rows, but it's the only one that reclines -- row 14 in front doesn't. 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 15A and 15F: 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.

Row 14: as mentioned above, row 14 is an emergency exit row, but so is row 15 behind -- so row 14 seats don't recline. Window seats 14A and 14F also have the problem of the wings getting in the way of the view.

The worst seats on the plane

Row 23: 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.

Row 13: with the emergency exit in row 14 immediately behind, row 13 doesn't recline. Avoid.

Rows 16-23: the back of the plane has an inch less legroom (31 inches rather than 32) and is closer to the side-mounted engines. Pick a row in front.

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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