Qantas begins adding extra seats to 737 fleet

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 14, 2015
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce inspect a Qantas Boeing 737-800 at Brisbane. (Qantas)
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce inspect a Qantas Boeing 737-800 at Brisbane. (Qantas)

Qantas has commenced work reconfiguring its fleet of 67 Australian registered Boeing 737-800s with a row of extra seats, slimline lavatories and smaller galleys at the airline’s Brisbane maintenance hangar.

The move to add six more seats, which was first announced in July 2014, will increase the seat count of the Qantas 737 from 168 currently – 12 business and 156 economy – to 174 seats. By way of comparison, Virgin Australia’s 737-800s have eight business class and 168 economy class seats for a total 176.

The aircraft were also expected to be refreshed with new seat covers and interiors to improve the in-flight experience of passengers.

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Also, 38 of the 67 aircraft that currently do not have seat-back inflight entertainment will have wireless technology installed to give passengers the option of streaming content onto their own personal devices via the airline’s Q-Streaming application.

The use of smaller lavatories and a reorganised rear galley meant there would be no change to the 30in seat pitch in economy on the 737.

Adding six more seats per aircraft represented a little over three per cent increase in capacity, or the equivalent of an extra 2.3 737s in the fleet.

A Qantas spokesperson told Australian Aviation the eight New Zealand-registered 737s operated by subsidiary Jetconnect were not part of the reconfiguration program, with the cabin layout remaining at 12 business and 156 economy seats. The ZK-registered fleet, which is flown on trans-Tasman services, had the latest Boeing Sky Interior cabins and seat-back inflight entertainment, the spokesperson said on Friday.

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Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce launched the reconfiguration of the 737 fleet at the company’s maintenance base in Brisbane on Friday alongside Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Deputy Premier Jackie Trad.

“The 737 is the backbone of our domestic fleet and this refresh is part of our strategy to deliver the best experience for our customers, whether they’re in the air or on the ground,” Joyce said in a statement.

Half the 737 fleet would be reconfigured in Brisbane, with the remainder to have the extra seats installed in Sydney, Qantas said on Friday.

The company said in July 2014 the 737 reconfiguration would take about 12 months to complete.

Meanwhile, Qantas said 10 of its 28 Airbus A330 widebodies have been reconfigured with new business class and economy class seats.

A further six more A330s, which fly from Perth to Australia’s east coast capitals as well as internationally to Asia and Honolulu, would be in service with the seats, designed by Belfast-based Thomson Aero Seating, by the end of 2015.

And the airline also announced new Qantas lounges at Brisbane Airport.

Qantas said the current separate first class and business class lounges at the international terminal would be combined into a single facility along similar lines to its lounges in Singapore and Hong Kong.

At the domestic terminal, Qantas planned to boost capacity by 30 per cent with a redesigned Qantas club, business lounge and chairman’s lounge as part of a “multimillion dollar refurbishment of the airline’s terminal and lounges”.

Construction work was due to begin before the end of 2015 and be completed by early 2017.

“Queensland is where it all began for Qantas and we are very proud to maintain such a strong presence and commitment after almost 95 years of operations,” Joyce said.

“Brisbane is a crucial hub providing connections between our major domestic routes and services into regional areas as well as international flights to Los Angeles, Singapore, Hong Kong and as of a few weeks ago, daily flights to Tokyo.”

Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce try Qantas's Boeing 737-800 economy seats at Brisbane. (Qantas)
Queensland Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce try Qantas’s Boeing 737-800 economy seats at Brisbane. (Qantas)

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21 Comments

  • Greg Soper

    says:

    Please define a “slimline lavatorie” ..

  • Peter R

    says:

    The airlines are businesses, not charities

    The herd demands cheaper airfares every day & the airlines have responded it the only way that they know…….cram more seats in.

    Welcome to the future people.

  • Chris Grealy

    says:

    As if cattle class weren’t uncomfortable enough already. I note that none of the people pictured above will be required to endure the new arrangements, and I will be giving them a big miss as well.

  • glen towler

    says:

    I was on a flight from SYD to WLG and the lav was already very small already unless they have converted there NZ registered 737-800 already. I found the seat pitch just awful and I am 6ft 2 inch tall. I won’t be flying them again. I now know why people just don’t like flying Qantas.

  • Tom Barber

    says:

    The QF spokesperson is incorrect as the 8 ZK registered Jetconnect 73H’s don’t feature the BSI interior.

  • Craigy

    says:

    @Glen Towler I am 6’1″ and I don’t have any problems with the seat pitch and I am not exactly slim frame. Just like I have no problems with Jetstar

  • Tom

    says:

    Sadly you don’t really have a choice in reality. All airlines have a 30″ pitch in regular economy. Long gone are the days of 35″except for premium economy.

  • Tony

    says:

    Let’s see a video of them crossing their legs with a row of seats in front, reclined or not. Premier surprised how comfortable seats were, like she had never been in an economy seat.

  • Peter

    says:

    These photos are of the interior layout of the Airbus 320 NEO, which means Nil Extra Options, which as the photos shows, includes the Nil seat option. Alan Joyce is actually explaining to the others that once Qantas delete the overhead lockers, individual grab handles will be fitted for the standing room only customers. Of course, Qantas will charge extra if you want to stand next to a window. Standing room tickets will be marketed as “leg room not an issue”. The second photo is for those who are prepared to pay for a seat, and as you can see, the seats are not fitted within the fuselage, and are in fact bolted to the wing. Qantas will be selling these seats with 2 options 1) on top of the wing and 2) underneath the wing, with an additional surcharge for the panoramic view for option 2), as the wing is not in the way as option 1). Both options come with an additional surcharge for the hair buffont as a result of the 800 kmh effect. Qantas/ Jetstar have taken a world wide patient on the NEO, but will likely on-sell the idea to Ryan Air.

  • Peter

    says:

    At the later press conference, Mr Joyce was quick to explain ” that if customers wanted cheap tickets, of course there would be a surcharge for that” He also advised that the inaugural flight for the NEO would be Melbourne / Geelong, where there was a proven need to separate the Have’s ( seated / pollies) from the Havenot’s ( standing / taxpayers ), and that some seated passengers actually like the 1960’s bouffant effect. Inflight trolley service to the seated passengers was currently a case of trial and error, and any crew that went missing in flight were probably due for redundancy anyway, so another cost savings measure.
    Mr Joyce also explained that the expected capacity of the standing only NEO was about 340, thus allowing Qantas to sell off the A380 fleet, and invest further funds into these types of ground breaking aviation break-throughs.

  • aussie0000

    says:

    Like a jail.
    Pack em & stack em..
    Glad we in Adelaide are serviced well and do not need dwarf sized hole toilets. QA, you lost me a long time ago

  • Alan Griffiths

    says:

    Congratulations. As I previously said in an earlier edition, there is no legroom in QANTAS 737’s – they remind me of previous days in Joyce’s obviously admired Ryan Air, including the short seatbelts. Just look at the 3 of them, …. lots of shoulder and hip space.

    What a joke!

    But, as another correspondent commented, what’s the choice?

  • Ian Deans

    says:

    For heaven’s sake Joyce, can you really cram any more cattle into your 737s? For a supposedly “full-service” carrier its a sick joke.. I’m only average height and even now have the meal tray in my face, and the skinny seats can’t get any thinner surely..

  • a Jensen

    says:

    Peter—- Hilarious sir, spilled my drink when I read this comment, made my day.

  • David

    says:

    I have always arranged my travel to use Qantas but last week I ended up on a Virgin 738 for the first time. I’m amazed that for the 176 seats on Virgin 738’s there’s more legroom than on the Qantas 738’s as currently configured. At 6’3″ my knees push hard into the back of the Qantas seats but not the Virgin arrangement. The Dash 8-400s have more legroom than the Qantas 738’s.
    I stuck with Qantas over the years because I don’t do quite enough travel to keep status on two airlines – but after last week I plan to change to Virgin.

  • Scott

    says:

    At 6ft 4″ tall, I already find Qantas seats quite unpleasant on the B738. The A330 and recently retired B767 were much more comfortable. My knees are hard into the seat during a flight and anything longer the 1.5 hrs causes me a bit of pain.

    The toilets on the B738’s aren’t very comfortable right now, ‘slimline’ is a concern.

    I travel quite often on the Q400 and ironically I find those more comfortable and less painful on my legs.

    1 inch or 2 inches would make a HUGE difference to tall passengers such as myself. I would expect this from a premium carrier. 30 inches just isn’t enough.

    Cathay Pacific offers 32 inches in economy on its flights of 1-3 hrs. Why can’t Qantas offer a similar product?

  • Ben

    says:

    Peter – Absolutely brilliant – Let’s just hope Michael O’Leary from Ryanair hasn’t read your comment. He might start getting ideas. I would also add a fuel surcharge for all passengers strapped to the wings for the increased drag and fuel consumption they cause. More seriously though – I do understand that airlines have to make money – However I wonder how long all these airlines (Qantas isn’t the only offender) will continually be squeezing more seats in and still call themselves a full service airline? Surely there has to be a point where seat pitch and width cannot be compromised further? Unfortunately the almighty dollar will be put ahead of passenger comfort. I know people have said if we demand cheaper fares then this is the price we have to pay – The thing is though you are invariably paying a premium to fly on Qantas so for that you should be able to have a slight bit more room. Fair enough if you book on Tiger or Jetstar you would expect it, but you shouldn’t have to expect it with Qantas. Maybe they should rename Qantas Jetstar Lite? What next? 11 abreast on the A380? 9 abreast on the A330? All squeezing in extra rows. Or if they ever order the A350, 777 or 787 – 10 abreast on the A350 and 777 and 9 abreast on the 787? All slimline seats, 29 inch pitch? I wonder where it will stop.

  • Scott

    says:

    I’ve never had an issue with the Qantas interiors and given the extra row isn’t going to change anything I think its a clever idea..more power to them for working smarter with what they have..

  • Peter

    says:

    Further info on the Qantas A320 NEO ( Nil Extra Options ) model : Boeing did some initial work with Qantas on the 737-800 MIN ( which is the opposite of MAX ), as this model also minimised many luxuries such as seats. In fact, Qantas had already registered the model as the 737-800 MIN MAX, translating as Minimum service / facilities to the Maximum.
    Two developments from the 737-800 MIN MAX can now be found in the NEO, and can be seen in photo 1, firstly the orange stool which is offered for shorter people / children to stand on the reach the overhead grab handles (surcharge applies). They can also be inverted to place babies in during flight ( velco fitted to ensure infants don’t “wander” during turbulence). The development panel deemed the orange stool a luxury, so it’s since been replaced with milk crates. Item 2 is the umbrella seen on the floor, available as an in-flight option ( surcharge applies ) for those seated on the wings in case of rain.
    Apparently the NEO was a result of passenger expectations, and Mr Joyce explained that if passengers wanted cheaper tickets, Qantas can now address that ( surcharge applies). Qantas have been aware of customer frustration with delays in disembarkation, however on the NEO customers are already standing, and with no delays unpacking the deleted overhead lockers, the exiting process will be much smoother, in fact a win/win for customers and Qantas turn-around times. He said there were no further plans to address de-camping at Qantas.
    At the press conference launching the Nil Extra Options model, Mr Joyce was available for further questions. Questions were free, however answers came with a surcharge, and credit card fees applied.

  • Happy

    says:

    No one will ever compare to the service Ansett offered.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Thanks Peter, well done. Enjoyed the parody!

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