Qantas's new A330 Business Suite - the best seats

The year is literally off to a flying start for Australian business travellers, with Qantas's next-gen business class taking wing on domestic and international routes.

Dubbed the Business Suite, the premium seat is being fitted and flown across Qantas' fleet of twin-aisle Airbus A330 aircraft.

The first domestic A330 Business Suite jet is already tick-tacking on the Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth transcontinental routes, with guest appearances on the short Sydney-Melbourne leg.

It'll be joined this weekend by an international A330 on the Melbourne-Singapore QF35/36 service.

But Qantas is moving to quickly build out its Business Suite fleet so that more travellers can experience the advanced seat that can be reclined on takeoff and landing, converts to a full lie-flat bed and offers direct aisle access for every passenger.

"By March we'll have five domestic and international A330s (with the Business Suite), and by August we'll have 11," says Kylie Morris, Qantas's head of Customer Experience, with one upgraded A330 rolling out of Qantas's Brisbane maintenance facility at least every 30 days.

After Singapore, the made-over A330s will continue their international march to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo, Shanghai, Jakarta, Manila and even Honolulu, while the domestic jets will take over more and more east-west sectors.

That's good news for business travellers and frequent flyers. The Business Suite is a superb seat which I'd easily rate as among the world's best business class pews.


However, unlike the previous generation of A330s, not all seats on the new fleet are created equal.

So here's a savvy flyer's guide to choosing the best Business Suite seats on the Qantas A330s ahead of your next trip.

Best seats for big feet

While all Business Suites boast the same generous amount of legroom, the seat's design means that in lie-flat mode, your feet are positioned in a cubbyhole at the end of the bed.

In most Business Suites this cubbyhole is nestled under the bench of the seat in front of you and there's space enough for average-sized feet.

But it you've got plus-sized plods, or simply want more 'foot room' when you sleep, angle for a seat in any row facing a bulkhead wall, as these suites have an extra-large nook at the end of the bed.

That's Row 1 on the domestic and international A330s, as well as Row 7 on the domestic birds.

Worst seats for peace and quiet

Unless the above consideration takes precedence, avoid rows 7 and 8 On the domestic A330s – these are located directly in front of economy and that cabin's baby bassinet positions.

On the international A330s, I'd avoid seats 7F and 7K, which are directly ahead of the rear toilet.

Best seats for being sociable

Enjoy travelling with your partner or chatting with a colleague en route?

The Business Suite makes for more of a solitary travel experience because the divider between the paired middle seats is fixed in place.

Unless you really lean forward, or crane your neck over the centre console, none of the centre seats work for couples.

However, the unique staggered layout of the A330's Business Suite cabin means there are a few seats where you can easily chat to a friend across the aisle.

On the domestic A330s those pairs are 3K/4F and 5K/6F.

Internationally, your best options are 1A/1E, 3A/3E, 5A/5E and 7A/7E.

All the same, I'd be sensitive about cross-aisle chit-chat bothering adjacent passengers.

Best seats for 'passengers of size'

Another quirk of the Business Suite's design is that despite the 1-2-1 seating layout, not every seat is directly next to an aisle.

That's because the suite comprises two elements: the seat itself, and a console with a wide benchtop.

Roughly half of the Business Suites located by the window – seats A and K – have the seat immediately next to the aisle and the console between the passenger and the window.

The remaining Business Suites swap this layout so the passenger is next to the window and their seat's console between them and the aisle.

A similarly varying arrangement takes place in the middle seats.

Here's the thing: there's only a 26cm (10-inch) gap between the front of the console and the rear of the seat in front of you.

So if the Business Suite's console is between you and the aisle, and you're someone who might be referred to as a 'passenger of size', there'll be a bit of a squeeze getting in and out of your seat.

It's not a big deal, but you might prefer choosing a seat that's immediately adjacent to the aisle. For a bit of extra comfort and elbow-room you can even lower the partition between your seat and the aisle.

The full list of those seats is: 1A, 1K, 3A, 3K, 5A, 5K, 7A and 7K for the window; or 1E, 2F, 3E, 4F, 5E, 6F or 7E in the middle (on domestic-only A330s you can add 8F to this list).

If you've already flown in the Qantas A330 Business Suite, what are your impressions of the new seat?

David Flynn is a business travel expert and editor of Australian Business Traveller.

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