In Defence of Qantas Dreamliner’s Premium Economy
Indeed it is a bit dramatic to be calling for ACCC intervention in a case where it is more about ones personal experience over what myself and many think to be one of the best flying experiences that exists in global aviation today. The author has every right to his opinion but the fact is that he was a little short sighted in his review and I felt unnecessarily harsh on the seat… which in turn painted the whole Qantas Premium Economy experience, not as advertised and substandard.
JetItUp tells me that I have been on eight Qantas Dreamliner flights totalling nearly 64 thousand KMs of distance travelled. Of those eight flights, six have been in Premium Economy, one in Business and one in Economy. I’ve sat in a number of different rows and seats on those Premium Economy flights with the latest (flying Perth to London on QF9) being in a similar bulkhead seat (20F) to the one complained about in the article.
While it is not a 100% positive experience being in the Bulkhead seats of the Qantas 787’s… compared to other carriers and other aircrafts, the seats are amazing and allow for maximum comfort for any long haul flight. The service on the Dreamliner’s is impeccable, the food is above average for airline food, the cabin and seats are modern and comfortable. Unlike the other Premium Economy seats I was able to almost sleep flat for most of the 17 hour journey from Perth to London at the bulkhead with the extra leg room.
SeatGuru also lists the bulkhead seats as being highly sought after… of which the only downside on the wings is the proximity to the baby bassinet.
Instead of a Premium Economy seat with a screen in front of you and above all a footrest that allow one to stretch out I got bulkhead seat with no screen, along with nowhere to put a pair of headphones or tablet other than on the floor.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that a bulkhead seat doesn’t have a screen in front of it and that it is stowed away inside the seat… this is true of any bulkhead seat in any airline around the world. It is also incorrect that there is no footrest in the bulkhead row (more about that below) and there was more than enough room for me to slide a 13″ MacBook Pro plus some other bits and bob in the pocket at the front
The so called leather and very flexible footrest that the bulk of other Premium Economy passengers are afforded is a footrest which is a hard metal fixture that has a simple extender and a soft mesh centre that results in one having to try and sleep with your knees bent while at the same time trying to prevent the metal bar at the top of the fixture cutting into your feet as you try to sleep.
This is the one section that made me want to write this post. I felt that the flexible footrest at the bulkhead was the best feature of the seat and allowed me to relax at an almost business class level. With the added leg room, you are able to almost lie flat (I am 178cm and of average build) once the Premium seat is reclined (38 inches of pitch) and settled into a comfortable spot.
I was not even given a choice of accepting or declining a bulkhead seat when checking in.
This is completely false as any Qantas customer can choose their seating online up to three hours before the flight takes off. As soon as the author knew he was in Premium Economy he should have checked the seat allocation and chosen to his liking. It’s true that at checkin there might not have been the option to change as every other Premium seat in the cabin might have been pre-allocated, but even the most basic flyer would have the option to choose.
A Few Cons:
The one downside I will agree on is the lack of room to stow personal items and drinks. The bulkheads need to remain clear for takeoff and landing meaning need to place most items in the bag holders above. This was highlighted to me on one of my more recent flights on the Qantas A380 Premium Economy upper deck (Seat 24J) which is an isle, emergency exit seat. There was literally no bulkhead, no place to store anything and I must admit this was frustrating… similar experience might be had on the same 747 Premium Economy seats… however every bulkhead on the 787 Dreamliner has the footrest and at least minimal space to stow items. As I mentioned above, I was able to stow the laptop in front of me no worries.
Don’t take my word for it… I’ve embedded a YouTube review below that looks at the Premium Economy seats and talks about the pros and cons of the bulkhead and rear seats of the Premium Cabin.
Overall, my experience of the Premium Economy Dreamliner cabin is that it is up there with the best flying experience in the world. The ChannelNewsAU article is grossly inaccurate and in fact sensationalist in its review of the bulkhead seats… the seats which should be, and are most coveted by any frequent flyer who travels for a living.
Disclosure: I travel for business regularly and obtain upgrades through Qantas Classic Points Rewards.