Qantas 787 Business Class Cabin Review

Qantas 787 Business Class

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The first Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner landed in Sydney on 20 October and since 6 November the aircraft has been flying domestic routes as the airline gets its crews accustomed to the new aircraft.

This aircraft will not commence service on an international route until mid-December when it starts flying to LA so this is one of the first looks at what the Qantas 787 Business Class cabin is actually like to fly in.

As luck would have it the new Dreamliner was scheduled to fly between Sydney and Melbourne while I was visiting Sydney last week and that wasn’t an opportunity I was about to pass up. Courtesy of 9,000 Avios and $13.95 I booked a one-way Business Class trip on the Dreamliner to see what it was like (I paid for a coach fare in the opposite direction) and, although it was a super-short flight, I think I got a good look at what Qantas’ new aircraft offers.

Note: this review will focus on the seat and cabin and will not cover the food and drink on offer nor service either – both are likely to be very different when this aircraft is flying its more usual long-haul routes so reviewing those here would be rather pointless.

The Qantas 787 Dreamliner

When I arrived in Melbourne I found the Dreamliner parked up at one of the end gates in the terminal so most of the aircraft was obscured by the jet bridge leading to the forward door – not good for photographs!

Qantas 787 Business Class

Boarding was called on time and, thanks to some very effective gate-hovering and my oneworld status, I was the first to board the aircraft.

Qantas 787 Business Class

The Qantas 787-9 Dreamliner’s Business Class cabin offers 42 seats set out across two cabins in a 1-2-1 layout:

Seat Map courtesy of SeatGuru.com

Qantas 787 Business Class

The nature of the seat layout means that some of the Dreamliner’s Business Class seats are preferable to others.

The seats on either side of the aircraft alternate between being open to the aisle and being close to the window and, as you should be able to see from the images below, the seats closest to the windows are considerably more private.

Qantas 787 Business Class

In the case of the center seats, one seat is always more open to the aisle than the other – in the image below the seat on the left has less privacy than the seat on the right as there is very little between it and the aisle.

Qantas 787 Business ClassQantas 787 Business Class

This is even clearer when the aisle-side seat is viewed from behind…

Qantas 787 Business ClassQantas 787 Business Class

…and when you take a closer look at the seat on the right where there’s a ledge and storage between the seat and the aisle.

Qantas 787 Business Class

I had done my research before booking my flight so I knew what to expect on board…that’s why I had selected seat 3K which was as private as you can get.

Here are seats 2K and 3K – see how different they are?

Qantas 787 Business Class

Impressions

I liked the colour scheme. It’s understated, it’s clean and it reminded me of the furniture you find at a Park Hyatt (that’s a good thing).

The seat was comfortable to sit in and although I felt cocooned inside my own private area it didn’t feel claustrophobic.

One of the first things I noticed when took my seat was the footwell:

Qantas 787 Business Class

It didn’t look all that spacious and I was concerned that it would suffer the same drawback that I found in the Delta 767, the American Airlines 767, the Qatar airways A340 and the Malaysia Airlines A330.

In the case of each of those Business Class cabins there isn’t really enough room for your feet when you’re lying down and it can feel confining and uncomfortable – I’d find out a little later on in the flight if the Qantas 787’s Business Class cabin has gone down the same unfortunate path.

The seatbelts on the Dreamliner are similar to those that you find in a car….

Qantas 787 Business Class

…and I really don’t like them. They’re not really an issue when you’re sitting upright but, when you’re lying down and you’re expected to wear them during turbulence, I find them incredibly uncomfortable and confining.

Storage-wise there isn’t that much around the type of seat I was sitting in.

There’s a magazine rack next to the IFE screen, a shelf/table between the seat and aisle, and an L-shaped storage area above the shelf/table:

Qantas 787 Business Class

Technically this L-shaped storage area isn’t meant to be used for take-off and landing….

Qantas 787 Business Class

…but, as there was nowhere else to put anything, that’s where my Macbook stayed when I wasn’t using it.

It’s worth noting that there are no overhead bins above the centre section until you get to row 3 so, if you like your bag close to you at all times, you may wish to choose your seat(s) accordingly.

Inside the L-shaped storage area is where you’ll find the Qantas noise cancelling headphones and a bottle holder…..

Qantas 787 Business Class

…and next to it is where Qantas has placed the seat controls…

Qantas 787 Business Class

Qantas 787 Business Class

…the headphone socket, USB port and a universal power outlet:

Qantas 787 Business Class

I like the do not disturb button which you’ll find alongside the seat controls:

Qantas 787 Business Class

This changes the light which illuminates your seat number from white to red and lets the crew know when you wish to be left alone – great if you don’t want to be woken for breakfast on a long haul flight.

Qantas 787 Business Class

You may notice on the image of the seat controls that it looks like the seat can be placed into a reclined position for take-off and landing but, when I checked with the crew, this isn’t the case just yet.

The Qantas A330 aircraft are now certified to allow passengers to be in a partially reclined position for take off and landing and there are plans to do the same for the Dreamliner….but the certification hasn’t yet been done.

The light buttons on the seat control panel control the reading light (at head height just above the headphone hook)….

Qantas 787 Business Class

…as well as the lighting in the footwell and the lighting under the L-shaped storage area.

Qantas 787 Business ClassQantas 787 Business Class

The remote control for the IFE is hidden under a flap in the armrest and is surprisingly basic for an aircraft this new:

Qantas 787 Business Class

Qantas 787 Business Class

There’s the usual flight attendant call button on this remote and the light switch you’ll find here controls one of the overhead lights (I never figured out how to switch the second overhead light on):

Qantas 787 Business ClassQantas 787 Business Class

The IFE screen isn’t particularly big…..

Qantas 787 Business Class

…but the touchscreen controls are excellent and go a long way to explaining the older-style remote control – you don’t really need it for the IFE.

Also, the IFE screen tilts so the viewing angle can be adjusted for when you’re lying down – that’s actually very useful and something which you don’t find in a lot of aircraft.

As a unit I found this to be the best all-round screen I’ve had on an aircraft….and that’s despite the fact it wasn’t all that big.

The entertainment on offer looked pretty good (it was a very short flight so it’s not like I had a lot of time to delve into it in any great depth).

Everything was easily accessible from the home screen….

Qantas 787 Business Class

…the movie selection looked good….

Qantas 787 Business ClassQantas 787 Business Class

….there were a lot of genres to choose from when selecting TV shows….

Qantas 787 Business ClassQantas 787 Business Class

…and there were a varying number of episodes of each show the IFE offered (from 2 episodes to a full series):

Qantas 787 Business Class

The headphones for the IFE were perfectly ok…

Qantas 787 Business Class

…but I can’t say how comfortable they are over a long period as the flight wasn’t long enough.

The tray table is stowed next to the seat and is deployed by pressing the rectangular aluminum button under the seat controls:

Qantas 787 Business Class

It’s not the largest table I’ve seen on board and aircraft but it should be more than enough for most people’s needs. Here it is with reference to an iPhone 6….

Qantas 787 Business ClassQantas 787 Business Class

…and a 15″ Macbook:

Qantas 787 Business Class

The best thing about the table is that it has a very good range of motion so you can move it as close to you as you like or, if you prefer, a decent distance away from you too.

During the flight I took the opportunity to test out the big question I’d had in my mind since the moment I had taken my seat – just how cramped or confining is the footwell of the Qantas Dreamliner?

To my great surprise it was comfortable…..and I really cannot emphasise how sure I had been that the opposite would be true.

Qantas 787 Business Class

Looking at the area where your feet go when the chair is in lie-flat mode it’s hard to believe that your feet are not going to be constrained in some way…but they’re not (at least mine were not).

The seat is wide enough to allow for a number of sleeping positions and, as someone who prefers to sleep on their front, I was pleased to note that this was possible without feeling restricted.

When the seat is almost fully reclined the seat’s shell reveals a set of basic seat and light controls that are easily reachable when you’re lying down (I like that they thought of this):

Qantas 787 Business Class

I tied the seat out in various degrees of recline and couldn’t fault it – the padding was comfortable, there was no feeling of being constrained and, unlike some Dreamliner seats I’ve tried out (like in the American Airlines 787-8), there’s no coffin-like effect going on.

Qantas 787 Business ClassQantas 787 Business Class

The last thing I should point out is that while walking around the cabin during the flight I noticed one small advantage that the less private seats on the aircraft have.

The seats that aren’t protected from the aisle all have a storage area that the more private seats do not.

Here’s that storage area at a window seat….

Qantas 787 Business ClassQantas 787 Business Class

…and here it is at one of the centre seats:

Qantas 787 Business ClassQantas 787 Business Class

My seat did not have this and, considering how little storage area there is available, this could be useful to some.

lastly, if you take a look at the image above you should be able to see how much privacy the divider between the central seats offers. This can be lowered or raided depending on how friendly you wish to be with the person next to you so, if you happen to be traveling by yourself and find yourself in one of the center seats, you’re not going to be forced to be sociable 🙂

Thoughts

Clearly a one hour flight between Melbourne and Sydney isn’t long enough to provide a definitive answer to the question of how good this Business Class cabin is….but it has given me a very good idea.

I think I’ve flown in enough Business Class cabins to know how comfortable or uncomfortable a seat is going to be within the first few minutes of sitting down and the Qantas 787 Business Class seat shows a lot of promise.

The lack of storage around the seats is disappointing but, aside from that and the seat belts that I didn’t like, there really isn’t all that much to complain about.

I was surprised at how much room the footwell provided for my feet – I was convinced it would be terrible from the moment I set eyes on it – and I liked the amount of room there was around me when I was lying down.

The seat was comfortable in the various positions I tried out and I liked the practicality of where the USB socket and the power outlet have been housed – both allow for a passenger to charge items placed in the L-shaped storage area or on the shelf next to the seat.

Overall I liked the Qantas 787 Business Class cabin quite a bit and, although I haven’t gone into it in this blog post, I should add that I really liked the Qantas crew that I had on this flight too (I’ve written about this separately).

This is going to be the aircraft that flys non-stop between Perth and London come March 2018 so it’s incredibly important that the cabins are up to the task of keeping passengers as comfortable as possible for 17+ hours – based on what I’ve seen so far the Business Class passengers should be just fine.

 

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