Qantas Business Class Lacks PrivacyThere are many reasons that people pay more to fly Business class. In addition to a more comfortable seat and better meals, one of the key benefits is the privacy and exclusivity of Business class. But it seems Qantas forgot about this when it reconfigured its Boeing 737 aircraft, which are used on domestic and short-haul international flights.

When Qantas refurbished its Boeing 737s it added an extra row of Economy seats and traded the cloth Business class seat coverings with red leather. But Qantas also removed the dividing curtain between Business class and Economy. This has resulted in a constant stream of Economy passengers entering the Business cabin on almost every flight, and some Business class passengers not happy about it…

Does anyone know the reason Qantas decided to remove the curtains between Business and Economy on the 737 during the refit a few years ago? To me it loses a lot of the exclusivity of being in Business and having economy passengers walk through the cabin to get to the toilet can become annoying, especially on the longer flights to DPS or to Darwin. Off the top of my head, i cant think of any reason to get rid of it.

Our members have speculated as to the possible reasons for removing the Business class curtain…

Looks more modern.
No curtain flapping around pax in Row 4.
Easier for the FAs.

It’s a little bit of extra weight and something else to clean?

Many Economy passengers now enter Business class during the flight to use the Business toilet. There can be legitimate reasons for this. There are only 3 toilets on the Boeing 737, with one at the front of the plane and two slimline bathrooms at the rear. At times, the queue for the back toilets can get long. But the most common reason for Economy passengers using the Business toilet is a trolley blocking the aisle.

But without a physical barrier between the cabins, it’s all too easy for Economy passengers to waltz into Business class and destroy the privacy and exclusivity that those in Business class paid a lot of extra money for. It wouldn’t be so bad if it was just a one-off case, but it can be very frustrating for Business passengers when Economy passengers start queueing throughout the Business cabin.

I’ve had to wait 20+ minutes to use the loo when flying J on a Qantas 737. Everyone else in the queue had come from Y and no effort was made to turn them back. Another time, sitting in row 1, I’ve had a Y passenger doing stretches in front of my seat during the flight. I don’t think that’s good enough given the prices charged for a J ticket.

Some Qantas Customer Service Managers will make a point of turning Economy passengers around, but others allow the Business cabin to become a free-for-all. By comparison, Virgin Australia uses a small magnetic rope to divide the Business and Economy cabins on its Boeing 737s. This is usually effective and maintains the privacy and exclusivity of Virgin’s Business cabin.

It seems both VA and QF FA’s need a bit of training on being a bit more firm on board with wandering Y pax, but at least VA sometimes have ropey to help them!

(Read more: 737 Business Class: Qantas vs Virgin Australia)

At the end of the day, this is a first-world problem. But when you’re paying $1,072 for a Qantas Business class ticket from Brisbane to Melbourne, it’s not unreasonable to expect some privacy.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Lack of curtains separating Business and Economy on 737

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]