Qantas’ new A380 business class reveals massive changes

International travel is back, as are Qantas’ flagship Airbus A380s. Superjumbos now fly between Sydney and Los Angeles, with Sydney-Singapore-London from mid-June and Melbourne-Los Angeles in December.

And while some high-flying travelers will settle in first class, the majority of premium passengers will settle in the A380 business class cabin – and they will be delighted with what they find.

Business class travelers who haven’t set foot on the red-tailed A380s since early 2020 will particularly appreciate the multimillion-dollar makeover that replaced the old, sagging Skybed II seats with the same ones Business Suite like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

When Qantas put its entire fleet of A380s in mothballs at the start of the pandemic, only a few had been refurbished – but now, everything the returning superjumbos have been upgraded, with not only these modern seats in business class, but also two new premium lounges on the upper deck, as well as new premium seats in economy class.

Here’s what travelers can expect from Qantas’ new Airbus A380 business class.

1. The best seat in the fleet

Officially dubbed the Qantas Business Suite, Qantas’ new A380 business class seat is the same as the airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which in turn was an evolution of business class on all Qantas Airbus A330s.

If you’ve flown on these planes before, you’ll already have a pretty good idea of ​​what to expect and the many ways the Business Suite is superior to the A380’s Skybed II seat.

2. Direct hallway access

The most fundamental flaw of Qantas’ decade-old Airbus A380 business class seat was a 2-2-2 layout which meant passengers seated near the window had to climb over their neighbor to exit (and return to) the seat.

It’s a pain to any times, doubling during night flights which make up most of the A380 routes. And it’s no fun being the passenger between the window seat and the aisle, either.

With the new A380 Business Suite, Qantas is getting rid of it by switch to a 1-2-1 layout that gives each passenger direct access to the aisle.

3. More privacy

The 1-2-1 design and layout of the Business Suite allows travelers to enjoy much more privacy during the flight. Even if you’re seated aisle-side, part of the Business Suite’s rear shell extends forward like an enveloping wing to help create a personal cocoon.

If you’re traveling with a partner, the middle seats have a divider that can be lowered so you can share a bit of the experience.

However, the best place to experience that private jet feeling are the seats located directly at the window: there is a side shelf more the curved seat shell between you and the aisle.

4. A completely flat, non-sagging bed

A common criticism of the Skybed II was that, largely due to its age, the seat developed a noticeable sag or sag when extended into bed mode. The Business Suite offers a correct flat bed, with more support where needed.

However, this leads to the only area where the Skybed II is arguably better than the Business Suite.

The Skybed’s pod-like design (below) left plenty of room in the front of the seat, while the Business Suite sees your feet tucked away in a ‘cubbyhole’.

Some travelers find this gives a rather snug fit, especially if their feet are above average height.

Our tip: if you have heavy weights or simply like more foot room, the front row seats of the A380’s two business class cabins have a much larger cutout. These seats are 11A, 11E, 11F, 11K, 16A, 16K, 17E and 17F.

These eight seats on Qantas' refurbished Airbus A380 offer maximum space for your feet.

These eight seats on Qantas’ refurbished Airbus A380 offer maximum space for your feet.

These photos show the oversized “toe box” for seats in both A380 bulkhead rows, these being rows 11 and 16/17.

Obviously, choosing a seat forward of the main business class cabin carries the risk of infants being reserved in both cradle positions at 17E and 17F.

5. More personal space and storage

Another substantial improvement of the Business Suite is the extra space it offers for such bulky items as laptops, smartphones and reading glasses.

It was a serious breach of Previous Qantas A380 Business Class Seat: You had to deftly juggle just about anything you wanted to use or keep close at hand during the flight.

The large, flat bench next to each Business Suite is an obvious place to temporarily plant your laptop, with an L-shaped recess behind it; meanwhile, a large bin below and in front of the bench is perfect for storing your shoes, toiletry bag, gadget bag or whatever.

Still not enough space for you? Take a seat near the window (as an example, in the seat map above, compare 18A adjacent to the window to 17A or 19A adjacent to the aisle).

This allows easy access to the long, deep bins below the A380’s upper deck windows, and these bins are ideal for your shoes, pillow, blanket and even a slim bag or backpack.

You can still access these bins if you’re in a window seat closer to the aisle, but it will involve a bit of stretching on the seat shelf.

6. A better office in the sky

When there’s work to do, privacy and storage space are key to turning the A380 Business Suite into your temporary office suite. And there are two other points in its favor.

AC and USB ports are located on this side shelf, so you won’t have to blindly rummage around the bottom of the Skybed to plug in your AC adapter (and there’s no way you or your seatmate will accidentally knocked him out.

Gone is the wobbly top table of the Skybed. The table that slides out of the shelf in the Business Suite isn’t just big enough for a 17-inch laptop, it’s pleasantly stable.

All that’s missing for the busy business traveler is in-flight internet, as Qantas’ current system is limited to domestic flights: the airline doesn’t expect to see international WiFi for a few years.

7. The “big screen” experience

If you like to relax with an in-flight movie or indulge in boxed bingefest above the clouds, the Qantas A380 Business Suite is for you.

After years of supporting the A380’s low-contrast 12-inch screen, the new A380 Business Suite is like a personal IMAX screen.

It’s a generous 16 inches, so you can really lose yourself in the spectacle. It’s also a high-definition panel, just like your flat-screen TV at home, with more brightness and more contrast.

8. Two business class lounges on board

As solid as Qantas’ Airbus A380 business class upgrade is, we highly recommend spending some time outside from this seat and in one of the two new salons at the very front of the upper deck.

Dark green leather sofas, wood-paneled walls, and dim lighting evoke a bit of a “cocktail lounge” vibe, and you can order from a menu of snacks, light meals, and drinks, including signature cocktails such as an “Australian Negroni” with mountain. pepper and river mint.

To the left of the staircase, where the crew office once was, you’ll find a long bench seat similar to the original Qantas A380 lounge, but much more comfortable.

The old and generally underused lounge to the right of the stairs has been completely redesigned into a social space with cafe-style tables and banquettes.

AC and USB outlets are hidden under the tables, with a large flat screen on the wall between the lounges so you can grab a drink and some snacks, sit back and enjoy a movie with your friends.

In short: however you measure it, these refreshed superjumbos are a boon for the business class traveler.

About Marion Alexander

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