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Qantas: Refurbished A380 in the air today

Qantas: Refurbished A380 in the air today

The first (VH-OQK) of the planned 12 refurbished A380’s re-entered service yesterday, and arrives in Sydney on Wednesday with new seating in an expanded Business and Premium Economy cabins, a redesigned lounge area on the upper deck, and with a minor update to the First and Economy seats. The remaining 11 aircraft are scheduled to complete refurbishment by the end of 2020.

Business

More Business and Premium Economy seats

By blocking off some of the exits upstairs, (yes they can do this, as long as the plane can still be evacuated in the same time) Qantas has created an all premium upper deck. with 70 Business Suites (+six), 60 Premium Economy (+25) That means the very desirable mini economy cabin at the back of the upper deck is no more.

“It … provides an increase in Business and Premium Economy seating to help match the demand we’re seeing on our long-haul routes.

CEO Alan Joyce

To complete the upper deck refurb, Qantas have redesigned the lounge/snack area to seat up to 10 passengers – and from the images, it looks a lot more serviceable.

First

The footprint of First Class downstairs, is essentially unchanged, with 14 First Class ‘Suites’ as before, but with bigger screens, and new seat coverings.

Premium Economy

Which Flights to book for Qantas’ reconfigured A380?

Qantas plans to cycle this plane through a number of routes. Sounds like a good idea to me – letting the crews get used to the new configuration, and ironing out any servicing issues on different routes.

Initially, the plane will operate on the QF1/2 service to London via Singapore:

  • September 30 — QF 2 (London–Singapore–Sydney)
  • October 2 — QF 1 (Sydney–Singapore–London)
  • October 3 — QF 2 (London–Singapore–Sydney)
  • October 5 — QF 1 (Sydney–Singapore–London)
  • October 6 — QF 2 (London–Singapore–Sydney)
  • October 8 — QF 1 (Sydney–Singapore–London)
  • October 9 — QF 2 (London–Singapore–Sydney)

After that, it’s on to transpacific flights.

Changes summarised:

  • Qantas Business Suite, replaces old Skybeds, changing from a 2-2-2 to a 1-2-1 configuration with direct aisle access for all, adding 6 ‘Suites’.
  • New Premium Economy seats – same as on the Dreamliner – nearly double the seats now 60 instead of 35
  • Redesigned and marginally larger lounge space seating 10 for Business and First Class patrons
  • Economy only get a change in colour, and an update of the inflight entertainment
  • First Class Suites get new cushioning, seat fabrics, a larger high res screen, but lose the sheepskin sleeping pads (big mistake – Huge!)

Qantas plans to have another two A380’s upgraded in 2019, with each arcraft taking about eight weeks to complete the upgrade.

“By the end of this upgrade, we’ll have next-generation seating across our entire long-haul fleet of A380s, A330s and 787s.”

CEO Alan Joyce

Qantas will be showing off changes to the onboard service in a hanger event in Sydney on Wednesday 2 October. I have unfortunately had to decline my invitation (Ahem!) as I will be out of town.

2PAXfly Takeout

This is on the whole good. A cabin refresh is definitely a good idea, together with expanded Business and Premium Economy, and direct aisle access for all seats in Business.

The upstairs lounge looks way more useful, but it remains to be seen if it gets used, while (unlike Emirates and Qatar) it stays unstaffed.

The downside is that First lose their sheepskin mattress liner, and economy passengers with high frequent flyer status lose their access to the mini-cabin on the old mainly premium upper deck.

Let’s wait until Wednesday to see if Qantas come up with any major service improvements.

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