We’re still nearly three years away from service launching, but Qantas continues to tease out how it plans to make 20+ hours on board comfortable for passengers flying on its longest routes. This week the carrier unveiled details around the first class suites and business class seats that will carry passengers on the A350-1000 nonstop between Sydney and London or New York City as part of its Project Sunrise program.
We think our A350 cabins have the most sophisticated and thoughtful design of any airline, combining cutting edge technology with sleep research to shape the look and feel for what is effectively a new era of travel.– Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce
Larger First Class Suites for Qantas A350s
The A350s will feature six first class suites on board in a 1-1-1 layout. Each will be approximately 50% larger than those found on the A380 and includes a 57″ tall wall separating it from the rest of the cabin.
The suites are split between a 22″ wide seat and an 80″ long bed. The seat side also includes an ottoman and extra large tray table, allowing two passengers to work or dine together on board.
The space also features a 32″ screen for entertainment, complete with Bluetooth pairing for headphones. Multiple power points are on offer, including USB, AC, and wireless.
The suites also include ample personal storage, and a touch-screen controller to manage the various electronic components.
Business class beds on board
Up to 52 passengers will travel on the ultra long-haul flights in the business class cabin, each separated from the others by a 47″ tall wall and suite door. The 42″ wide suites feature a bed 80″ long and 25″ wide. As with most business class seats flying, however, it appears the bed will narrow at the foot well where it meets the row ahead of it.
Passengers will have access to an 18″ inflight entertainment screen with Bluetooth pairing, as well as similar power options as in the first class suites.
Free WiFi on board
Qantas will continue its partnership with inflight internet provider Viasat to deliver fast, free Wi-Fi to all passengers on board the A350-1000s. This will be enabled by the launch and activation of the ViaSat-3 constellation, bringing a global coverage footprint to that network. The first satellite is scheduled to launch in April 2023. The third, which will provide critical capacity over Asia and the Pacific, is expected to orbit in early 2024, well ahead of Project Sunrise flights commencing.
Can an airline still be innovative??
The new cabin renderings are lovely. Even putting aside that only 2-3% of passengers will ever get to fly in the first class cabins, they are absolutely lovely to look at and long for.
But are they innovative?
A 1-1-1 layout for first class on a wide-body is not new. And unlike its competitor Emirates, Qantas will leave the middle seat passenger without windows. Emirates offers a synthetic window view for its middles.
Similarly, the seat + bed design should offer maximum comfort for travelers, rather than building a single component that is supposed to support both functions. The concept, however, is hardly new. Lufthansa flew a similar layout a decade ago upstairs on its 747-400s, though without the privacy door.
And for business class passengers, the tapered footwell is not surprising – that semi-staggered design seems to be the top choice for airlines today – but it is also somewhat more of the same.
Nuance and detail matter. The fit and finish could make the difference for passenger comfort on Project Sunrise. Or it could just be a very, very, very long flight with a bed and some snacks along the way. At least in the front half of the cabin.
We’re still waiting to learn details on the back of the plane, though the initial layout at least suggests plenty of legroom for those passengers, at least by economy class cabin standards.
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