Conscious of the criticism that Plane Talking doesn’t sing from the PR song sheets when it comes to Qantas, or anyone for that matter, the revealing of the latest Airbus A330-200 at Sydney Airport this morning had been anticipated as a possibly genuinely good, positive, story.

But no. Following the tweets and photos posted by Australian Business Traveller, this isn’t so.

Go to this link to see what has been done to the business class cabin. In particular, check out all of the photos showing the supposed ‘work space’ that has been created in what at first glance looks like six rows of seven abreast seating, with the middle seat in the triple in the centre of what is a crowded cabin.

With permission, one of the AusBT shots of the plastic pan in the middle
With permission, one of the AusBT shots of the plastic pan in the middle

Now ask yourself, if you are sitting in either of the outer seats that sandwich the ‘work space’, which consists of hard plastic depressions where two buttocks might otherwise has been planted, how exactly will you use it?

Will you really try to rotate your upper body through 180 degrees to use the keyboard and screen of a standard 15 inch screen lap top, with one hand somewhat constrained by the geometry of the supposed ‘work space’, or try to eat sideways, or what?

It is as if someone planning this new configuration has set out to make it fail.  Especially compared to the refurbished 744s that Qantas earlier in the year was quite correctly promoting to business travel account managers as having vastly superior fittings in those jets in any class to those in the Virgin Australia A332s.

But also announced today, or in reality, confirmed, is the removal of those jets from the Perth transcontinental services for a cross over to all A332 scheduling between Sydney and Melbourne and the resources capital of Australia by May.

Now, consider the competition. It also has A332s on these routes, and while the oldest two have three middle seats in a 27 seat layout, the newer ones have full sized two by two by two seating with superior legroom to the 36 seat layout Qantas is putting the same type of jet with the middle seat in each of six rows with inferior legroom blocked out for a so called work space that is ergonomically awkward and perhaps even painful to use.

The numbers are clear. In Virgin Australia there will be 24 or 27 seats in the same cabin Qantas sells up to 36 out of the installed 42 seats, with six of them blocked off for ‘work space’. What a joke.

The Australian Business Traveller story is a must read and look article. But ask yourself, what-the-hell was Qantas thinking?

The Qantas ‘contras’ who want board seats, Alan Joyce’s removal, and from all accounts, a distribution of all of the locked up cash and value in the Qantas enterprise and its coffers, may be mercenary in their approach. But they would never have contemplated doing this to a product which is supposed to be at the apex of the Qantas domestic brand.

This cabin configuration is, like some other recent Qantas domestic initiatives, a gift wrapped presentation of its premiere tier customers to Virgin Australia.

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