Qantas is buying 12 new ultra-long range Airbus A350-1000 aircraft that will be used for the new world’s longest flights, including Sydney and Melbourne – London. We can also expect non-stop service from Australia to New York, Frankfurt and Paris.
The plane will feature 6 first class suites, 52 business class suites (which are expected to offer doors), 40 premium economy seats with 40 inches of pitch and 140 coach seats with 33 inches of pitch. That’s generous spacing even in coach (a couple extra inches compared to other airlines) and overall just 238 seats in an aircraft designed for over 350 seats.
Day-long trips – up to 1000 miles longer than the current world’s longest New York to Singapore – will be made more comfortable with a “Wellbeing Zone” for stretching during the flight. Business class will have a walkup bar, though I’ve never found these as pleasant as the separate bar spaces on Emirates and Qatar Airways A380s.
As part of the announcement of the new aircraft, Qantas has released details of its new first class product. Perhaps most exciting it that there will still be first class, and of course 20 hour flights between capitals and major financial centers are where first class remains financially strong<.
With just six seats, first class will be arranged in two rows of 3 seats (1-1-1). The suite will feature a separate seat and bed (as we’ve seen from Etihad and Singapore on the Airbus A380, and Lufthansa had at one point on its Boeing 747s). With an aisle between seats there’s no divider to bring down to share space with a traveling partner, however.
The new Qantas first class seat will feature a 32 inch HD screen, a wardrobe to store clothes after you’ve changed into pajamas and a mirror on the door. The seat will be controlled via iPad, and most innovative will be individual temperature and humidity controls.
This new Qantas first class has the potential to be a top 5 product, but probably not as good as the new first class offerings from Emirates, ANA or Singapore Airlines and probably not better than Air France first class overall. If the Etihad A380 were to return I’d guess the new Qantas first class won’t break the top 5. However it will be leaps and bounds ahead of the Australian flag carriers’ current first class.
At just six seats, expect first class awards to be difficult to get even relative to Qantas’ relative stinginess on saver awards for premium cabins on other products.