Am I on a refurbished or old Qantas A380?
During the recent Qantas ‘USA Fly Away’ sale, we bought business class tickets from Sydney to New York, travelling on A380’s between Australia and the USA, and on 787s transcontinental in the USA.
These flights are part of a longer trip planned for late in 2020. We booked them so early, because of the Qantas ‘USA Fly Away’ sale which only lasted for 4 days – 26 to 29 November. Qantas has all sorts of offers all the time, most of which don’t suit, because the destination is wrong, or we don’t have enough time to make a decision, or for myriad other reasons. But every now and again, a special offer coincides with some tentative plans we have, and then we pounce!
The prices for this trip were so good, it would have been foolish to say no.
We have paid AU$6,263 each, including taxes and credit card charges for Business Class tickets Sydney to New York via Los Angeles, return. To give you a comparison, if I booked the same flights today (Wed 8 January) via the Qantas website, the cost would be AU$8,552 ex credit card charges. So that’s a saving of over AU$2,250 each.
These business sale fares are in the ‘I’ booking class and are therefore classified as ‘Discount Business’ for status credits, points and upgrade purposes.
These return fares will earn 560 status credit – 40 points shy of retaining Gold status and 37,200 Qantas Frequent Flyer points.
What version of A380 am I on?
QF11 and QF12 are the flights we have booked. They are serviced by A380’s on the Sydney/Los Angeles legs, and by 787-9s on the Los Angeles/New York legs.
Now the 787’s are fine, there is only one version of the interior fit-out for these planes, so no issue there. But on the A380’s there are now two versions – the original, and the refurbished.
On the basis of the seating plan, which indicates 2-2-2 – it looks like our outgoing leg is on a non-refurbished version of the A380:
Whereas, for our return leg, it looks like we are on a refurbished A380:
There are other telltale signs too – the refurbished version of the Qantas A380 has 28 rows in business for a total of 70 Business Class seats. The non-refurbished version has only 22 rows for a total of 64 seats. You can see this even more clearly from the Qantas seat maps.
Above is the original layout of the upper deck of the Qantas A380, and below the new layout, including the layout of the new lounge area in the nose of the plane. Also, that highly desired mini Economy cabin in the old configuration disappears in the new, now occupied with Premium Economy seats.
Status, fare categories and seat access.
Another interesting aside is that I have no access to allocate myself seats in the forward business class cabin, even though I have Platinum status. Have a look at the Qantas seat booking charts above.
My guess is that this is reserved for flex and full-fare paying Business Class customers, as well as Platinum One and Chairmans Club passengers. I may be granted access to these seats closer to the flight time – but on the other hand, I might have lost my Platinum status by then.
If you are booked on an A380, try and look at the seating plan to work out if you are on an original or newly configured plane. You can tell by looking at the:
- Lounge at the front of the upper deck (lounge both sides of the stairs)
- Number of rows in business (22 old; 28 new)
- Seat configuration (2-2-2 old; 1-2-1 new)
You can see these characteristics best if you click through to the seating plans on the Qantas site, or from the seat and row count within the seating allocation section of your on-line booking.
A lot could change between now and our trip at the end of September 2020, including the allocated plane. On the other hand, I quite like the idea of travelling in the old version on the way out, and the new on the way home.