The first of Qantas’ upgraded A380s has completed its inaugural flight, delivering a new level of comfort for customers travelling on the national carrier’s largest aircraft.
The multimillion-dollar upgrade of 12 aircrafts includes new seating across expanded Business and Premium Economy cabins and a refresh of the aircraft’s First and Economy seating. The on-board lounge has also been redesigned. The upgrade comes at the same time as Singapore Air’s roll-out of their upgraded A380 aircrafts, which began last year.
Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the mid-life upgrade of the A380 would ensure its status as one of the most popular aircrafts with customers. “The A380 is a crucial part of our long-haul fleet and this upgrade program will see customers enjoy everything the aircraft has to offer for years to come,” he said, adding the upgrade would benefit customers in every cabin. “Australians are used to flying long haul and we know it’s important to make the journey comfortable.”
“By the end of this upgrade, we’ll have next-generation seating across our entire long-haul fleet of A380s, A330s and 787s,” said Joyce.
Designed by David Caon, the refitted Qantas cabins see a smarter use of space, with an all-premium-class upper deck (comprising Business and Premium Economy). “Working with Airbus, we’ve been able to use the cabin space more efficiently and improve the economics of the aircraft while also providing a better experience in every part of the aircraft,” Joyce said.
Qantas’ new A380 also features a larger, dedicated Premium Economy cabin including a self-service bar, with 25 additional Premium Economy seats installed, in response to increased demand for premium seating on long-haul routes. The Premium Economy capacity now reaches 60, shaving 30 seats off the Economy cabin.
The Qantas Business Suite, dubbed “mini First” by the airline’s frequent flyers, replaces the previous Skybeds, in a 1:2:1 configuration that now gives aisle access and greater privacy to every Business Class passenger. The total number of Business Suites has also increased by six to 70.
The expanded on-board upper deck lounge, now with seating for up to 10 Business and First passengers, showcases deep green leather couches and wood panelled walls. Passengers can order from a custom-designed menu of snacks and light meals created by Qantas chef Neil Perry and his Rockpool team – such as dry laska goreng with fishcakes and seared prawns and mushroom arancini in a tomato ragu – to be enjoyed in the upper deck lounge. The lounge also features a new self service bar where passengers can order signature cocktails including an Australian Negroni with mountain pepper and river mint as well as the Qantas signature gin and tonic with pink grapefruit.
As for ‘big’ First, the 14 First Class Suites have been upgraded and now offer contoured cushioning, seat finishes and a larger, higher resolution entertainment screen. First guests can also expect a redesigned Martin Grant ‘sleeper suit’, introduced from November, along with new amenity kits including socks made from bamboo cotton and skincare from Australian brand, LaGaia Unedited. The range incorporates a Qantas-signature Australian native scent of lemon myrtle and geranium in a refreshing facial mist, accompanied by a moisturiser and lip balm. From late November, LaGaia Unedited will also move into Qantas’ Sydney and Melbourne First Lounge spa facilities.
The Economy cabin, while not receiving contoured seats or pyjama sets, has a new colour palette and improved inflight entertainment.
With each aircraft taking approximately eight weeks to upgrade, two further A380 aircrafts are expected to undergo refurbishment before the end of 2019, with the remaining nine to be completed by the end of 2020.