The days of flying on an old, angle-flat SkyBed Qantas Business class seat are officially over. Almost seven years after announcing its Airbus A330 refurbishment program, Qantas has now finally upgraded its final Airbus A330 with the newest generation of Business class suites and upgraded Panasonic in-flight entertainment systems.
The Airbus A330-200 with registration VH-EBG, named “Barossa Valley”, was the last aircraft in the Qantas fleet to be refurbished. Its last flight in the old configuration was QF52 from Singapore to Brisbane on 4 June 2019. The aircraft then spent two months on the ground in Brisbane, before returning to service with a brand new interior as QF767 to Perth on 8 August 2019. The aircraft has since been flying around Australia.
The refurbishment of VH-EBG means there are now no aircraft remaining in the Qantas fleet with the dreaded first-generation SkyBed seats. The only other remaining aircraft configured with those seats, Qantas’ oldest Boeing 747, was retired in June.
The Qantas A330 refurbishments took seven years to complete
Three years ago, Qantas finished upgrading its entire Airbus A330-300 fleet with the new lie-flat Business suites and redesigned Economy seats. At the time, Qantas proudly announced that all its international A330s had been upgraded. But this conveniently ignored the fact that there were still several Airbus A330-200s flying on long-haul international routes with the older first-generation SkyBed seats.
Most of the remaining A330-200 upgrades had been completed a short time later. But there were still two remaining A330-200s that Qantas never intended to upgrade. These were leased aircraft that Qantas planned to eventually return to the lessor, so it didn’t make sense to invest in an expensive cabin reconfiguration for these planes.
But Qantas never did return those planes. VH-EBL and VH-EBG – the aircraft which has just been refurbished – continue to fly for Qantas today. VH-EBL was eventually upgraded at the end of 2018, with VH-EBG continuing to operate international flights in the old configuration until June of this year. At various times these aircraft were used on routes like Sydney-Beijing and Sydney-Denpasar, although they also popped up on many other international routes – much to the annoyance of frequent flyers as they had a clearly inferior product.
These two aircraft are now configured in Qantas’ domestic A330 layout with 28 Business seats and 243 Economy seats. In Economy class, in-flight entertainment can be streamed to Qantas-supplied iPads. 10 of Qantas’ 18 A330-200s are configured this way, while the remaining 8 aircraft are set up for long-haul operations with extra toilets and crew rest areas fitted.
The Qantas A380s are next to be upgraded
Qantas will soon begin cabin refurbishments for its Airbus A380 fleet. The first reconfigured A380 is expected to be flying next month, and the entire fleet should be finished by the end of 2020.
Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: ALL QF’s 330’s to get lay flat Business seating – Including Domestic