Qantas reveals premium economy design

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Ahead of the launch of its B787-9s in October, Qantas has revealed the final piece of the interiors: a 28-seat premium economy cabin featuring a next-generation seat. The seat is a meaningful upgrade from its existing premium economy model, launched in 2008, with a seat width of up to 22.8in – a claimed increase in width of nearly 10% – and a 25% increase in the size of the HD Panasonic IFE displays.

One of the biggest benefits passengers will appreciate is the unique recline motion, which the airline claims will provide “a class-leading level of comfort”. As the rear of the seat is reclined, several sections shift to support the body during the movement.

The seat is based on a prototype by Thompson Aero Seating, heavily customized by Australian industrial designer, David Caon, who was also responsible for refurbishment of the airline’s fleet of B717s and B737s, as well as the design of some of Qantas’ International lounges including Hong Kong and Singapore. He also collaborated with fellow Australian designer, Marc Newson, on the interiors of the airline’s A380s.

“Developing a new seat comes with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Working with Thompson and Qantas, I think we’ve created a new standard for premium economy,” Caon said. “We’ve made sure this seat offers genuine comfort through design elements not seen before on aircraft. There are a number of new bespoke design elements that we hope will really set the benchmark for this class.”

Below: The custom Thompson seat looks comfortable, but the 38in pitch looks tight. The business class seats on the Dreamliner are also by Thompson Aero Seating, based on the Vantage XL platform

The seats are in a 2-3-2 layout at a 38in pitch and also include an ergonomically designed headrest that can be fitted with a pillow, a 30% increase in meal table surface area over the current premium economy model, and a re-engineered footrest that also helps increase comfort when reclining. Further features include five individual storage compartments and two USB charging points per seat, as well as shared AC power and a personal LED light.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce unveiled the seat to employees and media at the airline’s Sydney headquarters, stating, “This new premium economy seat has serious wow factor. You have to experience how well it supports you when you recline to realize it’s completely different from anything else in its class.”

The first of eight Dreamliners will be delivered in October, with Qantas’ first international B787 services taking flight in December between Melbourne and Los Angeles. Flights between Perth and London, which will directly link Australia and Europe for the first time, begin in March 2018.

“The Qantas Dreamliner will by flying some of the longest routes in the world, including non-stop from Perth to London, so we’ve focused on making each cabin the most comfortable in its class,” added Joyce.

Qantas introduced premium economy on its A380 aircraft in 2008 and later rolled it out on the B747. Qantas will assess updating existing premium economy cabins with the new product in-line with its fleet planning and product cycles

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Ever since his first flight on a TriStar, Adam has loved air travel, and since becoming editor of the Aircraft Interiors International brand he has really enjoyed the opportunity to be involved with the latest aircraft and airline products before they are even launched. Adam co-ordinates the running of the magazine, from commissioning articles and artwork, to ensuring that high standards of quality are maintained, as well as managing online content. Adam is proud to sit on the jury of the Crystal Cabin Awards and to have laid on the bed in Etihad's Residence.

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