By the end of September Qantas will begin flying its refurbished Airbus A380. The plan is that there will be three more by the end of the year. They wont be dedicated to any particular route. They will be shared across the network to London, LA or Dallas/Fort Worth and Singapore.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said “roughly one A380 will be upgraded each month, with variations on that as we have to do some (maintenance) C checks and we are the fist airline to do that, the first aircraft is actually in the hangar now, which means we have committed to use these aircraft with these reconfiguration for up to 10 years. We can’t dedicate them to one particular route so people will be surprised and delighted when they see the upgraded A380’s".
The Business class designs featured on its Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be used in the upgrade of the A380’s. This will mean there will be two business lounge nooks at the front of the upper deck.
First Class Suites on the A380
There will not be any major changes to the 14 first class suites on the lower deck. A refresh of materials with more comfortable cushioning plus a larger HD video screen will be part of the change.
Business Class Seats on the A380
The original Skybed II seats will be replaced by the very popular Business Suite of the Boeing 787 Dreamliners. There will be a movable divider between the middle seats so that travellers can choose to socialise or be private. Plus direct aisle access for every passenger with the 1-2-1 layout. Passengers can enjoy a bump-free flat bed, plenty of storage and workspace. The 16 inch HD video screen is much brighter and sharper. There will be a slight increase in the number of business class seats from 64 to 70 in the refurbed cabin.
The first five rows of business class are definitely the prized spot to sit as they have their own small cabin which has an exclusive vibe. Behind this area is the main cabin with 50 seats across 14 rows.
Business Class Lounges on the A380
This refurbished area is designed for socialising with two tables fitted with soft LED lighting surrounded by padded benches. These comfortable benches have room for five passengers. Qantas designer David Caon said regarding the new design “Today everybody’s sitting along the bench and facing one direction and that’s not necessarily the best layout and the best arrangement for people to be in. Our lounge should be something where people are able to sit and face each other and discuss and talk….. the kind of space that if there are two people that are travelling together but not necessarily sitting together, they can go to the lounge and spend time together".
The A380 will also feature a second lounge on the other side of the stairway. This area has been repurposed from a small cabin crew office to a nook with seating for three people with a self serve mini bar for drinks and snacks plus a large video screen for watching in flight movies.
Part of the A380 refresh will see the upper deck become an all premium/business class area. In the words of Alan Joyce “Its going to have 30% more premium seats – new business class product, new premium economy product – and that shows you how well the premium market is going".