Qantas Hits New Heights of Comfort with New Premium Economy

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Feb 23, 2017

by ALEX GREIG, Online Writer

A collaboration between Qantas and industrial designer David Caon has yielded Premium Economy seats so comfortable you’ll swear you’re in Business.

The Premium Economy cabins debut in Qantas’s fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners from October. The class-leading seats offer comforts seen in some carriers’ business-class cabins – we’re talking more premium than economy.

Premium Economy is a little like brunch. It sits between Economy and Business, fulfilling a much-needed in-between. It’s a great compromise, offering a very nice upgrade from Economy without the price tag of Business.

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Qantas’s new Premium Economy cabin has 28 seats in two-three-two configuration to allow maximum aisle access to passengers. Each seat is 10 per cent wider than Qantas’s existing Premium Economy seats at 20.5 inches, and that dreaded middle seat? To soften the blow, it’s 23 inches wide – that’s a lot of personal space.

Each seat has an ergonomic headrest that can be fitted with a purpose-designed pillow and a footrest that can be set at your desired height with a net to cradle your legs as you sleep. The seat-back is supremely comfortable with superior lower lumbar support and the armrests of aisle seats lower completely so there’s no need to return the seat to the upright position to get up.

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The pièce de résistance, as long-haul passengers will note, is the recline function of the seat. As the passenger pushes back in the seat, several sections of the seat shift, not just the back. Rather than shifting backwards, the seat shuffles forward and up, holding the passenger in a z-position and preventing the body from sliding down in the chair. The function also means that although there’s a full nine inches of pitch, the intrusion of the seat in front is minimal – less than four inches.

Other features of the new Premium Economy seats include enormous Panasonic seatback screens that are 25 per cent larger than existing Premium Economy screens, personal LED lights designed to minimise disturbance to other passengers, two USB charging points for every seat, as well as a shared AC power-point and five storage areas for your books, cosmetics and devices. Then, icing on the cake, there’s the bespoke blanket, mood-lighting and your own cocktail table.

It’s not just Premium Economy that’s improved: all of the seats on the new Dreamliners are larger and all of the cabins are more comfortable. This is to ensure the longer routes passengers will be undertaking on the aircraft (including the new Perth to London non-stop route in 2018) are experienced in the maximum comfort.

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Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the airline is pushing everything up a notch.

“Our Business Suite has been dubbed ‘mini First Class’ by some of our Frequent Flyers and our Economy seat for the Dreamliner has features that some reserve for Premium Economy.

“This new Premium Economy seat has serious wow factor. You have to experience how well it supports you when you recline to realise it’s completely different from anything else in its class.

“When you combine these seats with the increased cabin humidity and turbulence reducing technology on the Dreamliner, it makes it an aircraft customers will really enjoy flying on,” he said.

The first of eight Dreamliners will take to the air in December between Melbourne and Los Angeles, with the flights between Perth and London to follow in March 2018.