Qantas needs to make urgent changes to its 787 Dreamliner product if it wants to avoid disappointing its premium economy customers or have those in business class suffering renal failure.
The 787-9 which Qantas puts into service between Melbourne and Los Angeles this December and from Perth to London in March 2018 needs more toilets and more seat pitch in the premium economy section.
Both of these routes are long, around 14 hours for the LAX flights and 17 hours for the first non-stop passengers services from an Australian city to London.
Yet there are only three toilets provided for the combined load of 70 high yield customers in the Qantas Dreamliner, which seats 42 in business class and 28 in premium economy.
That’s clearly inferior if not contemptuous of passenger well being for such long flights. On the Melbourne Los Angeles route which Virgin Australia is about to re-start with Boeing 777-300ERs there are three toilets for 37 business class passengers and two for 24 premium economy passengers.
The failure of one of those toilets on the Virgin flight to LAX from Melbourne will obviously prove less calamitous for its passengers than it would on a Qantas 787-9.
On Singapore Airlines A380s there are presently either four ‘loos for 60 seats in business class or six for 86 such sleeper seats where the entire upper deck is for business class.
On Emirates A380s in the version usually found on Australian routes there are five toilets for 76 business class seats.
The SingaporeAir and Emirates A380s will begin flying with all new interiors in the near future.
It isn’t clear from this statement from Emirates if it will reveal all of its new cabin products at the world’s largest travel show, ITB, in Berlin from March 8-12.
However the refurbished bar on the Emirates A380 shown underlines just how lacking the 787 experience will be on very long haul flights compared to those that stop on the way to London or elsewhere in Dubai.
The fact remains that the Perth-London non-stop still means a one stop flight to London from Sydney and Melbourne, and one stop in an A380, whether it goes via Singapore or Dubai, is a flight with superior seating on those two airlines, and for that matter on Etihad via Abu Dhabi, compared to the cramming that is going on in a Dreamliner with no bar and too few ‘loos.
There is also a problem with the new Qantas premium economy product in the 787 compared to the head on competition with the Virgin Australia 777-300ER on the Melbourne-Los Angeles route. The Qantas Dreamliner has a seat pitch of 38 inches or 96.5 cms in those seats compared to a much roomier 41 inches or 104 cms on the Virgin jet, which also has its own two ‘loos in the corresponding part of its interior.
The Qantas jet will be quieter and fly higher than the Virgin 777, but on the Virgin flight passengers in the window seat can actually get out of it when the seat in front is reclined. It looks exceptionally difficult to to this in the new premium Y that will arrive with the Qantas Dreamliners.
The Dreamliner reality for Qantas is that the jet is too small for purpose over very long flight stages, and the misery of flying in it in nine across standard economy has already become a sore point, and caused lots of sore hip bones, elsewhere in the world.
Qantas will have to fix this, the hard way, after its is avoided by customers, or the easy way, by putting in fewer seats, and more toilets, so that it is competitive with the A380s flown by its alliance partner Emirates, or those of a resurgent Singapore Airlines.