Qantas Announces New Dreamliner Cabins & Seat Plans

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Qantas started dropping hints on the cabins, seats and configuration that we’ll see in its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners back in August and, earlier today, the airline finally announced what passengers can expect to find in the airline’s new aircraft.

While Qantas isn’t expected to receive its first Dreamliner until October 2017 the airline has shared details of its new Business Class cabin with a modified seat and an economy class cabin with marginally more leg room than offered in Qantas’ other long-haul aircraft.

We’ve also been promised a new and “revolutionary” Premium Economy seat for the Dreamliner but that isn’t yet ready for a public unveiling.

Qantas’ 787-9 Dreamliner

The rumours back in August were almost spot on with the cabin seat ratios:

  • 42 Business Class seats
  • 28 premium Economy seats
  • 166 Economy Class seats (the rumours were one out with 165)

The 42-seat business class cabin will offer aisle access for all the seats in the cabin (now a prerequisite for any self-respecting Business Class product) with a 1-2-1 layout while the 28 seats in the Premium Economy cabin will be in a  2-3-2 layout.

The Economy Class’ 166-seat cabin will have 9-across seating (3-3-3 layout) and will offer 32″ of seat pitch for all passengers.

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-09-54-52Qantas 787 Dreamliner – image courtesy of Qantas

Qantas Dreamliner Business Class

The new Business Class seat is, as expected, a small variation on the airlines highly popular A330 Business suite. The only major difference appears to be that while the A330 suite has a full wall dividing the two centre seats….

qantas-a330-business-suite-qantas-2Qantas Old A330 Business Class – image courtesy of Qantas

….the new Business Class seat on the Dreamliner features a centre partition that can be raised and lowered:

qantas-787-business-class-seatQantas NEW 787 Dreamliner Business Class Seats – image courtesy of Qantas

qantas-787-business-class-seat-2Qantas NEW 787 Dreamliner Business Class Seats – image courtesy of Qantas

The Business Class “suites”, as Qantas calls them, offer the following features:

  • 80” Bed/Seat length, 23-24” Seat width, 24-25” Bed width
  • Seat can be in a recline position from take-off right through to landing
  • Do-not-disturb feature
  • 16” personal entertainment device with touch screen
  • In seat USB and PC charging

Qantas Dreamliner Premium Economy

The fact is that we don’t really know too much about what seats Qantas will be installing in its Dreamliner Premium Economy cabin.

We know that Qantas Group CEO has called them “revolutionary”, we know we’ll be given more information in “early 2017″ and we know they’ll be laid out in a 2-3-2 formation….but that’s about it as facts are concerned.

It’s probably safe to assume that the seats will have the same 38″ seat pitch as found in the airline’s 747 and A380 aircraft and, based on the width of the Dreamliner, the seat width will be probably somewhere in the region of 19.5”.

Qantas Dreamliner Economy Class

Qantas is keen to emphasise the extra comfort that Economy Class passengers will be getting in the Dreamliner Economy Class cabin:

Economy passengers will also have more room – including an extra inch of seat pitch compared with the national carrier’s A380 – and an all-new seat. It features a new personal device holder and USB ports; more storage areas; a seat-back mood light designed to minimise disturbance for other passengers; and a high-definition entertainment touchscreen that is five per cent larger.

The seats also feature an updated version of the popular Qantas ‘footnet’ first introduced on the A380, designed to cradle the legs during sleep.

qantas-787-dreamliner-economy-class-seats-1Qantas NEW 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Seats – image courtesy of Qantas

qantas-787-dreamliner-economy-class-seats-2Qantas NEW 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Seats – image courtesy of Qantas

The new seats will even feature an iPad/tablet holder:

qantas-787-dreamliner-economy-class-seats-3Qantas NEW 787 Dreamliner Economy Class Seats – image courtesy of Qantas

The headline facts about the new seats are as follows:

  • 32” Seat pitch | 6” Seat recline
  • Only Economy seat to feature mood light integrated into seat, personal electronic device shelf and more storage for small personal items as well as stowage for water bottle and literature
  • 12” IFE screen with high definition and touch screen
  • Individual USB and shared PC charging
  • Foot net to provide extra support

You may notice that there’s no mention of the seat width in the information Qantas supplied and I’m reasonably sure that’s not an accident.

With 9-across seating in the Dreamliner passengers will almost certainly still only have seats that are 17″ wide (the same as in the rest of Qantas’ long-haul fleet) and that’s not comfortable at all.

Even if you’re not suffering from any extra width around the waist the narrow seats can be an issue. If you have any width at your shoulders 17″ will feel tight and your proximity to the passengers next to you will be very obvious.

Other Details

Per Qantas:

[The Dreamliner will offer two] new self-service bars – one for Business and one in Economy provides passengers with the opportunity to socialize and help themselves to drinks and snacks inflight

Neither of these is likely to be a full-on bar as you’ll find in the Emirates and Etihad Business Class cabins – it’s more likely that they’ll be more in line with what you find on the American Airlines 777-300ER where snacks are laid out and passengers can help themselves.

This is what Alan Joyce had to say about the airline’s new Dreamliner:

The Dreamliner is an aircraft built for comfort. The windows are bigger, it helps reduce jetlag, it’s extremely quiet and there’s a system that smooths out turbulence. Customers are going to love it.

We’re planning to make the most of the 787’s amazing range, so we’ve designed the cabin to give Qantas passengers a better experience on long haul flights.

Many of the cabin design elements reflect what our customers have told us. Personal storage rates really highly, so we’ve created extra space in Economy for customers to store their personal devices and water bottles.

We’re proud that our new Economy seat includes features other carriers reserve for Premium Economy.

We’re also redesigning the in-flight experience for the Dreamliner, from rethinking our menus to making better use of the self-service bars during different phases of flight

Qantas is still apparently undecided on whether or not to install WiFi on to their new Dreamliner – Alan Joyce say that they’re “working through that” and that the airline’s priority is domestic WiFi.


Qantas has been sensible with its new Business Class seats – they didn’t need revolutionising, they just needed a few tweaks and that’s what the airline has done.

The Business Class cabin looks spacious and understated and I think that will give the cabin the longevity the airline is almost certainly looking for.

I’m not convinced by all the emphasis Qantas is attempting to place on how much more comfort Economy passengers will have. Sure, 32″ of seat pitch is a 1″ improvement over what passengers get in the airline’s other long-haul aircraft but at around 17″ the seat will still be very tight indeed.

The Economy Class dimensions are marginally better than what ANA and American Airlines offer (not exactly hard to better the latter!) but JAL still blows Qantas out of the water with 33″ of seat pitch and over 18″ of seat width thanks to its 8-across seating.

jal-787-dreamliner-economy-seat-mapJAL’s Dreamliners have just 8 seats across the Economy Class cabin giving over 18″ of seat width

There has been a lot of mention of how low-density the aircraft is….but that’s because of the size of the Business Class cabin and not really to do with giving Economy Class passengers more room so that’s a smoke and mirrors game the airline is playing.

Overall this looks like it will be a very nice aircraft to fly in if you’re in Business Class but it will be no better than tolerable for those in Economy Class.

Don’t be fooled by the “look how much more space we’re offering” hype – it’s easy to offer marginally more than the airlines with the least comfortable cabins. I’d have been impressed if Qantas had gone out and matched what the likes of JAL offer in Economy Class….but that was never going to happen.


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