Qantas Charges $10 Extra for Worst Seat on Plane

Seat 9A on the Qantas Boeing 737-800 has no window
Seat 9A on the Qantas Boeing 737-800 has no window. So why does it cost $10 extra?

When selecting a seat on the Qantas website, you may be offered the opportunity to purchase a “preferred” seat for an extra $10. Qantas advertises these seats as “closer to the front, so you can disembark faster”.

Bizarrely, if you’re flying on a Boeing 737-800 – and you probably are if you’re on a domestic Qantas flight – the “preferred” seats are also possibly the worst seats on the aircraft. That’s because the row allocated by Qantas for preferred seating has no window!

The Boeing 737-800 infamously features a windowless window seat in row 9. If you’re sitting in 9A, there is no window at all to look out from – just a wall panel with an air-conditioning duct and wiring inside. This is an essential part of the aircraft’s air-conditioning system, but it does mean that the unlucky passenger who selected seat 9A gets all the disadvantages of a window seat, without the main benefit!

This is also the case on Virgin Australia and Rex Boeing 737-800s.

Virgin Australia 737 seat 9A
Seat 9A on Virgin’s Boeing 737-800 is also missing a window. Photo: Virgin Australia.

On the Qantas Boeing 737-800, seat 10F is missing a lot of its window. Seats 9F & 10A also have somewhat misaligned windows, but you can still get a partial view of the outside world from those seats. It’s just 9A – and the folks in 9B & 9C – who don’t get any window access at all from their row.

With this in mind, it’s bizarre that Qantas designates row 9 as “preferred seating” which it charges an extra $10 for!

Qantas 737 seat selection
Qantas designated row 9 as “preferred seating”.

Qantas typically blocks access to the seats closer to the front of the plane until closer to the departure time. A passenger without any Qantas Frequent Flyer status would generally only have free access to “standard” seats behind the exit rows from the time of booking, with row 9 the only row closer to the front of the plane offered (for an additional fee) from the time of booking.

If you have Qantas Gold status (or higher), you can select any seat from row 9 or beyond from the time of booking for no additional charge.

Qantas Gold seat selection on QF500
When logged into my Qantas account, I can select a seat in row 9 for free as a Gold frequent flyer.

At least Qantas does warn you when selecting seat 9A that there is no window! (This warning is also shown when selecting seat 9F, which has a partial window, but not for seat 10F which is missing most of its window.)

Qantas warns passengers that seat 9A has no window.
Qantas warns passengers that seat 9A has no window.

By comparison, Virgin Australia does not warn you when selecting seat 9A that there is no window! But at least Virgin doesn’t charge more to sit there than any of the other seats around it that do have windows!

Virgin Australia 737 seat selection
Virgin Australia seat selection.

Rex’s Boeing 737-800s also have no window at seat 9A, which passengers are not warned about when choosing their seat online.

Rex 737 seat selection
Rex seat selection.

The trick to choosing a good seat on Qantas

If you want to choose a seat closer to the front of the plane when flying Qantas, and you don’t have status, one option is to pay an extra $10 for a “preferred” seat that is quite possibly the worst seat on the plane. But there is a better option…

Until 80 hours prior to departure, Qantas blocks the up-front seats so they remain available to Platinum, Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge frequent flyers booking at short notice.

But exactly 80 hours before the flight’s scheduled departure time, Qantas removes the block on most remaining up-front seats. That’s 3 days and 8 hours before take-off. Anyone can then select from the remaining vacant seats for free through “Manage Booking” on the Qantas website.

Qantas T-80 seat map
At 80 hours prior to a flight’s scheduled departure time, Qantas releases most remaining seats for selection.

Alternatively, if you want a quick getaway and you’re flying into an airport where Qantas uses both the front and rear doors for boarding, why not just choose a seat towards the back? You might even disembark before the unlucky folks in row 9 who just spent the whole flight staring at a wall.

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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]

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Justin

It’s hardly the worst seat on the plane – there’s over 50 middle seats that are worse.

Window seats have other benefits than just the window – being able to sleep against the wall, only having to deal with one person next you you (and not getting your elbows hit by trolleys).

Sure, the window is good, but 9A is still a lot better than a of other seats.

Rob

At least it has extra legroom.

Being tall with long legs normal Qantas economy are painful to sit in, with you knees jammed into the back of the seat in front.. even before the person in front tries to recline there seat.

I have even been assaulted after a Qantas flight when the person sitting in front of me took offense at having my knees in his back ..

It is just sad that Qantas discriminates against tall people and forces them to pay extra to be able to fly ..