Qantas Adds More Dreamliner Service To San Francisco (Not Necessarily Good News)

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Qantas ordered the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to replace is ageing (and fuel guzzling) Boeing 747s and, since the airline has its first Dreamliner delivered, we’ve seen a number of 747 routes taken over by the newer aircraft.

Now, with Qantas preparing to take delivery of yet more Dreamliners, the airline has announced that it will be replacing the 747 on its daily Sydney – San Francisco route with a 787-9 Dreamliner from 4 December 2019.

On the face of things this looks like good news but, while there are certainly positive elements to the aircraft swap, not everyone will be overjoyed to see the 747 retired.

On the positive side of things the Dreamliner offers a great Business Class cabin with a 1-2-1 seat layout offering all passengers direct access to an aisle.

Qantas 787 Business Class
Qantas 787-9 Business Class

The Qantas 747 offers an older Business Class seat (SkyBed II), the seat layout generally doesn’t offer all passengers direct access to the aisle, in some rows, there’s a chance of being seated between two other passengers as there are 7 seats seat out across the cabin and the seats are narrower than the ones in the Dreamliner.

However, in defence of the older style seat, the seats on the Qantas 747 offer more personal space than the seats on the newer Dreamliner.

In Premium Economy and Economy the tale of the tape would suggest that the Dreamliner offers the better seating with the 787 offering wider Premium Economy seats than the 747 and more legroom in Economy Class than the 747 but, for reasons I’m not too clear on (I haven’t flown in these cabins), passengers in these cabins appear to prefer the 747.

a row of black seats
Qantas 787-9 Premium Economy

The most obvious bad news comes when you consider the number of seats each aircraft offers in the three cabins as, in each case, the Dreamliner offers fewer seats than the 747.

Here’s how the 787’s cabins compare to those of the 747:

  • Business Class: 42 seats vs 58 seats
  • Premium Economy: 28 seats vs 36 seats
  • Economy Class: 166 seats v 270 seats

It’s already tough to find award seats on Qantas’ routes too/from the US and this significant decrease in capacity is not going to help at all.

Business Class capacity is dropping by over 27% and Premium Economy Capacity will fall by over 22% so this aircraft swap will be a serious hit to those looking to redeem AAdvantage Miles or Qantas points to travel between the US and Australia.

Bottom Line

As far as paying Business Class passengers go the fact that Qantas is swapping in a 787-9 for the 747 is good news as, by most people’s reckoning, the Dreamliner’s premium cabin is considerably better than the one offered by the 747….but that’s probably where the good news ends.

The Premium Economy and Economy Class cabins on the Dreamliner aren’t very popular and the fact that all cabins will be seeing a significant reduction in the number of seats on offer means that award seats will be scarcer than ever.

From a miles & points perspective this won’t be music to anyone’s ears.