Qantas has started updating seat maps for select A380 flights, indicating that its first refreshed superjumbo is ready for takeoff!

The inaugural flight for the spruced-up plane appears to be QF2 departing London Heathrow on 30/9, arriving into Singapore on 1/10 and continuing onto Sydney. The A380 will then turn around as QF1, departing Sydney on 2/10 for London via Singapore.

According to eagle-eyed participants on the Australian Frequent Flyer discussion forum, after that the plane will fly as follows:

  • QF2 3/10 LHR-SIN-SYD
  • QF1 5/10 SYD-SIN-LHR
  • QF2 6/10 LHR-SIN-SYD
  • QF1 8/10 SYD-SIN-LHR
  • QF2 9/10 LHR-SIN-SYD
  • QF11 11/10 SYD-LAX.

Qantas has previously said the refreshed A380s won’t be permanently allocated to a particular route, so until the upgrade program is finished in late 2020, it’ll be a matter of luck if you find yourself flying on one.

The tell-tale signs on the seat map are the new 1-2-1 layout in business class (older planes are 2-2-2), the fact that premium economy takes up the back half of the upper deck, and that there is no economy seating on the upper deck (on the older A380s, rows 24-28 are premium economy and rows 32-36 are economy on the upper deck).

It’s been more than two years since we first learned that Qantas was going to refurbish its 12-strong fleet of A380s, so it’s fantastic to finally see progress. According to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, the whole fleet should be upgraded by the end of 2020.

Customers travelling on the upgraded aircraft will enjoy a big improvement in the business class and premium economy cabins, with small enhancements to first class and economy.

First-class has already seen a ‘soft product’ refresh with new bedding and amenity kits. The seats themselves will now be improved with better cushioning and bigger entertainment screens, while the cabin as a whole will be given a more modern look.

Qantas A380 first class

In business class, the changes will be more dramatic. We’re going from this outdated seat design and 2-2-2 layout …

Current A380 business class seats 

… to the more spacious seats and 1-2-1 layout already flying on Qantas’ 787 Dreamliners.

Business class on the 787s and soon on the A380s

Business class on the 787s and soon on the A380s

Business class passengers will enjoy far superior comfort, privacy, storage space and entertainment screens compared to now. This product compares well with the world’s best.

In premium economy, the 2-3-2 layout will remain, but we’re going from these dated seats …

Current premium economy seats

… to this next-gen product, which is also currently on the 787 fleet and offers improved comfort, recline, storage and entertainment.

Qantas premium economy

New Qantas premium economy

Qantas premium economy detail

New Qantas premium economy

The main criticism we’ve heard about the new premium economy seating is the fact that Qantas is continuing to be stingy with leg-room (by way of comparison, Virgin Australia offers three inches more leg-room in its 777 premium economy cabin).

The business class and premium economy cabins will take up the entire A380 upper deck, which will also have a redesigned space for relaxing or socialising at the front.

A380 upper deck ‘lounge’ concept

In economy, Qantas has said it will make minor improvements to seat cushions and entertainment.

It’s great to see this mid-life refresh of Qantas’ A380 fleet finally kick into gear – many loyal customers have been eagerly awaiting these improvements, especially to the business class and premium economy cabins.

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