If you’re flying long haul on Qantas, chances are you will find yourself on an Airbus A380. Grabbing a decent seat can make a huge difference to the quality of your flight.
It’s worth noting that the Qantas A380s are being refurbished, with the first freshened aircraft rolling out in September 2019. All 12 A380s in the Qantas fleet should be done by mid 2020. The changes will be most noticeable on the upper deck with significant modifications to the business and premium economy cabins.
The highly sought after small economy cabin at the rear of the upper deck will disappear. This will be a blow to regular economy passengers.
But, it will be a few months until the first refurbished A380s start rolling out. In the meantime, what are the best seats on a Qantas A380 ? The seat map below might give you a few pointers.
Best seats in first class
Located at the front of the main deck and with only 14 ‘suites’, is there such a thing as a bad seat in first class on a Qantas A380?
Australian Business Traveller reckons 1A and 1K are the best seats in first class, as there’s a wall in front of you rather than another seat. But they are also the closest seats to the first class toilets with the associated noise and passing traffic.
5A and 5K are good for privacy – no other passengers have cause to pass by. But they are close to the galleys.
It’s a dilemma I would like to have, but I reckon around rows three or four are optimal. Windows are preferable to the centre seats because your seat can swivel towards the window for extra privacy.
Best seats in business class
The current A380 64 seat business cabin is a bit dated, because not all seats have direct aisle access. The layout is 2-2-2 and uses second generation Skybeds. After the refurbishment, the layout will be a crowd pleasing 1-2-1 featuring the world beating Qantas business suites.
The business class cabin is divided into two parts. There’s a small three row cabin at the front of the upper deck and a larger eight row cabin further back. A galley separates the two cabins. The front cabin is highly desirable owing to its privacy and peace. If you choose centre seats you will have aisle access and no one clambering over you.
The downside … this cabin is usually only available to Qantas Plats. However, the gurus at Australian Frequent Flyer reckon availability can open up closer to the flight once the airline has a better idea of final bookings
In the main business cabin, my preference would be for the middle E and F seats. Both have aisle access and no-one climbing over you. Unfortunately for passengers who like window seats, that means clambering over someone to get to the aisle, not to much of an issue if you are traveling with a partner, but a bit inconvenient for solo fliers.
Best premium economy seats.
Premium economy is a great compromise between the expense of business class and the bottom-numbing trauma of 14 hours in economy. The premium economy cabin on the Qantas A380 features 35 seats in a 2-3-2 layout. The Qantas premium economy product has an excellent reputation.
But what seat? Row 24 is an exit row and has acres of leg room. Referring back to the gurus at Australian Frequent Flyer, the consensus seems to be that the choicest seats are 24A or 24K, the exit row window seats.
I’ve done Qantas premium economy and it was fine, particularly for a daytime flight. I haven’t done overnight in premium economy but I believe things are cosy with the Qantas supplied doonas.
As we reported earlier this year, premium economy is about the same price that an economy seat was four or five years ago.
Best economy seats
Every economy traveler on a Qantas A380 wants to head for that small cabin at the rear of the upper deck. The basic economy layout is 3-4-3.
Downstairs, bulkhead and exit rows are the best pick. Working from the front, seats 48A, B and C are exit row seats and offer lots of legroom and a fast exit after landing. But they are adjacent to two crew seats. Seats 51H, J and K face a bulkhead and offer privacy and legroom. The window seat, 51K is the pick.
The centre seats in row 52, seats 52D, E, F and G all face a bulkhead and offer a lot of legroom.
Row 66 is a choice economy row. The row faces a bulkhead. Seats 66A,B C, H,J and K are all adjacent to crew seats, but on those long non stop hauls you won’t be sharing your space with the crew too often. The window seats, 66A and 66K would be the best picks.
Down towards the back of the economy cabin on the main deck are two interesting seats: 80A and 80K. Checkout the seat plan below. These two seats offer a degree of privacy, lots of legroom and easy access.
The centre seats in row 81, seats 81D, E, F and G all face a bulkhead.
Heading upstairs to the highly sought after economy cabin, all of row 32 faces the bulkhead and there is no passing foot traffic. But there is some criticism that row 32 doesn’t allow a lot of room to stretch out. Nonetheless, the choicest picks are the two window seats, 32A and 32K
Row 35 is another good option in the upstairs economy cabin. Lots of legroom. The layout in the last two rows in this cabin, rows 35 and 36 is 3-2. The pick of the seats here is seat 35K. It offers exit row space and a fair degree of privacy.
Regular travellers on any aircraft type are experts at snagging the best seats early. Qantas also blocks out seats in anticipation of their elite frequent flyers booking and not wanting to sit in 73E.
But seats do free up in the days leading up to departure, as bookings fall through and the unsold blocked out seats are released. It’s well worth checking the Qantas website in the days before your flight to see if you can improve your seat.
What constitutes the best seat is a function of quantitative factors like space, privacy and pitch. But it is also highly subjective. What suits a single traveller won’t necessarily suit a couple or a family. And if you are travelling with children, that’s a whole new scenario.
There are big changes coming to the upper deck of the Qantas A380. By this time next year, all the economy passengers will be seated on the main deck, premium economy will be expanded and upgraded, and business class will see the fabulous business suites in a 1-2-1 layouts.
But until then, happy flying.
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