Qantas has a fleet of twelve A380s. which the airline has only committed to flying for another ten years. But right now, the fleet is still relatively young, with the average age at less than ten years, and all 12 of the planes undergoing refurbishment.
The first refurbished Qantas A380 is taking flight in September, so there’s still plenty of time to fly it. With the most up-to-date cabin and seats being rolled out, there are plenty of good reasons to make a date with a Qantas A380.
Over the years Qantas A380s have graced many airports. They are frequently seen flying into Hong Kong but right now Qantas is cutting capacity on these flights in response to the problems in the area.
Currently, the A380s are flying;
- the daily Melbourne-Los Angeles-Melbourne service (QF93/94);
- the daily Sydney-Los Angeles-Sydney service (QF11/12);
- the six times weekly Sydney-Dallas Fort Worth-Sydney service (QF7/8);
- the Melbourne-Singapore-Melbourne (QF35/36) service; and
- the daily Sydney-Singapore-London-Singapore-Sydney service (QF1/2).
The refurbished A380 rollout
A report last week in Business Traveller notes that the first refurbished Qantas A380 is due to take flight at the end of September. Three more will take to the skies before the end of the year, and the remaining eight will be rolled out throughout 2020. Business Traveller is reporting Qantas CEO Alan Joyce as saying that the refurbished planes will not be on any particular route, rather they will be spread around – “surprising and delighting passengers”.
Perhaps you won’t be so surprised and delighted if you get one of the older planes. Qantas isn’t saying which one of their A380s will be first off the refurbishment line. That’s leading to a lot of speculation on local frequent flyer forums about which A380 is where, maintenance schedules, and examination of future seating plans. But, to date, there’s no conclusive evidence to enable us to set down a definite plane by plane rollout.
Inside the refreshed Qantas A380s
The refurbishment will equip the A380s with the lastest Qantas seats, which will be a big benefit for passengers.
The front of the main deck will see the 14 Qantas First Class Suites kept. They won’t be getting sliding privacy doors, rather there will be a slight refresh of the cabin and the seat. If you can live without those privacy doors, Qantas first class has always been a fine way to fly.
In business class, the Skybed II seats you now see on the Qantas A380s will be exchanged for the Business Suites used on the 787-9 Dreamliners. These operate the long haul routes to Heathrow, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco, and soon Chicago and Santiago.
Qantas’ Business Suites are considered one of the finest business class products in the sky. There will be 70 business seats in the refurbished A380s in two separate cabins in the upper deck. The first cabin will seat 20 passengers in a 1-2-1 configuration and the second cabin will seat 50 passengers with the same configuration.
But the legroom issue in premium economy isn’t to be fixed
Behind business class on the upper deck is the premium economy cabin. There will be 60 premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. These seats will also be the same as you see in premium economy on the Qantas Dreamliners.
Premium economy on the Dreamliners doesn’t have a huge amount of legroom. Interestingly, Qantas has not taken this recurring criticism on board with the A380 premium economy product.
The main economy cabin
Aside from first-class, the entire main deck is given over to the economy cabin. The economy cabin will seat 341 passengers. Qantas has chosen to bump up their business and premium economy seat numbers and the refurbished A380s will have 30 fewer economy seats than the older A380 cabins. There are not going to be many changes in the economy cabin, although Qantas says there will be improved seat cushioning and inflight entertainment.
The 3-4-3 economy class configuration will remain intact.
If you are looking to fly on a Qantas A380 in the next 18 months, it might pay to ensure you are on a refurbished one. Given they are not being rolled out on a route by route basis, keeping an eye on the seat map for your proposed flight on your preferred date could be a good place to start the detective work.