Sunday, 2 September 2018

35J and 35K on a Qantas A380: The Best Economy Seats in the Sky!

Source: Qantas
What if I told you it is possible to book an airline seat with unlimited leg room, in a row of two seats (no middle seat), in a cabin of just 30 seats with its own toilet and great service, all for the cost of an economy fare plus an exit row surcharge. Would you believe me? Stuck in the 7th level of Dante's Hell downstairs on a long haul flight passengers can only dream of such luxury but for a lucky few life in the stratosphere between continents can be almost bearable. I am talking about one of the best kept secrets in the sky - seats 35J and 35K in the upstairs cabin on a Qantas A380.


Tucked away in five rows of their own, at the back of the Premium Economy section on the upstairs deck of Qantas's A380s is an intimate cabin populated by savvy travellers.  It is as though when the planes were being configured someone made a mistake and left a blank on the plan then a few rows of seats were added to fill in the space. There is only one catch - a new configuration for the A380s is in the process of being rolled out, and over the next few years the seats will disappear. In the meantime, you can join the savvy travellers on the upstairs deck for the price of an economy ticket - but don't tell too many people because the seats sell out fast.

Seats 35J and 35K - pros and cons


Hard as it is to believe, not everyone wants the luxury of 35J and 35K. Check out the configuration of a Qantas A380 on Seat Guru  and you will see that 35J gets a 'Mixed reviews' label and 35K an, almost unbelievable, 'Bad seat' label. All I can say is there is no accounting for taste. However just in case you are one of the doubters I have drawn up a list of pros and cons so you can decided for yourself.

Pros -

  • Unlimited leg room -  
There are no seats in front, just a bulk head which is so far away even the tallest person wouldn't reach it with their legs. The bulk head has a rear facing jump seat for cabin crew on take off and landing.
  • No third seat in the row - 
This part of the cabin is configured 3-2 with the 3 seats in the middle of the cabin and 35J and 35K along with 36J and 36K on their own in two rows of two.
  • A small cabin -  
With only 30 seats in the cabin that feeling of hurtling through the abyss packed into a giant sardine tin doesn't exist.
  • Great service -  
With a lot less people to look after the crew are always friendly and helpful. The same crew service the Premium Economy section but even that has only 35 seats. 
  • Your own toilet -  
There is never a queue for the toilet. It sounds a bit pathetic but little things like that make a big difference when you are on long haul flight. 

  Cons -

  • They won't last forever - 
Qantas is in the process of reconfiguring its A380s. If we are lucky the present configuration will last for another year or so.
  • You have to book early -  
David, who is addicted to travel, has a 'book early, book often' philosophy which usually sees us reserving our airline seats almost a year in advance. If you are the type who waits until the week, or month, before you travel, then you aren't even in the race.
  • You must pay an exit row surcharge -  
If you don't want to pay an exit row surcharge then you can go for 36J and 36K (36K has extra storage space next to it). However you lose the comfort of having no seat in front of you. Row 32 also has great seats, without the exit row surcharge, if you can get them. We have only been able to get these seats once. We suspect they are held back for high level frequent flyers and last minute emergencies.
  • 35J and 35K are at the back of the plane - 
If you have a thing about sitting in the last couple of rows of the plane then these seats aren't for you.
  • They can be a bit chilly -  
Being close to the refrigerators in the galley this section of the cabin can be a few degrees colder than the rest of the plane. Bring a jumper.
  •  There is no window - 
Being next to the emergency exit, there is no window. If looking out of the window is a priority, you won't like 35J or 35K.

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26 comments:

  1. I loved the idea until I realised there was no window - I get into a claustrophobic panic when I can’t look out (even in the night!)

    Good to know these seats exist though for us economy fliers!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I understand where you are coming from. If the seats had a window they would be perfect.

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  2. You got me - I had no clue that you could even read seat reviews online! I love the back of the plane and the idea of your own toilet and only two seats - but I'm afraid that the "no window" might not be for me. But for all the other advantages I might could do without it!

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    Replies
    1. A window would be great but I am happy (reasonably happy) to give it up to get the extra comfort and the ability to sit next to hubby without sharing the row with a stranger.

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  3. WOW! I am all for anything with more room and just two seats. Will have to check this out before they disappear!

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    1. My advice is to book early. It is the only way to get them.

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  4. Now, why did I find out about this this Late in the game when they are about to disappear? It must be because I am not a savvy traveler!

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  5. Sounds like you found the needle i the haystack! Great analysis, too!

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  6. I, too, would be one who needs a window seat. I'm not too tall, so leg room isn't usually an issue. But I sure love to watch the clouds and scenery as we travel. Thx for the review, though. I've not yet had the pleasure of flying Qantas.

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    1. We stick to Qantas whenever we can but we live in Australia so that is hardly surprising. I do like the feeling of flying on the world's safest airline.

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  7. Love discovering tips like this. I might want a window and don't enjoy being cold but the other perks make Quantas a lot more attractive for my next long flight. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. I hate being cold and a window is nice but believe me everything else about these seats makes up for it.

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  8. I really need to improve the way I deal with flying - usually I get an overpriced last minute seat!

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  9. Thank you for sharing this well-kept secret! These seats sound perfect and knowing ahead to request them seems to be the ticket -- literally!

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  10. Now I'm wondering if it's only Qantas that has this configuration. I'll be heading down the Seat Guru rabbit hole to investigate. Good tip about booking far in advance. We rarely do, but this is good motivation! Thanks for sharing the tip. :)

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    Replies
    1. I believe some other airlines have a similar upstairs economy cabin in their A380s but none are as small as Qantas. Try Singapore Airlines - they may have one.

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  11. I've heard about these A380s with economy seats upstairs, but the only one I've ever flown on is the Air Emirates one that does the Amsterdam-Dubai route, and they are VERY strict about only putting business and first class upstairs. They won't even let me go up and see the upstairs before or after a flight, and I've asked, in writing, in advance, several times!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe they have a bar (for first and business class) in the section which Qantas uses for its upstairs economy seats.

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  12. I just paid for a preferred seat on Air New Zealand's Cook Island to LAX to get the bulkhead with all the legroom. This looks like a similar type arrangement with the added bonus of the close by restroom. Thanks for the tip.

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    Replies
    1. The Qantas seats are great not just because of the extra legroom but the fact that they are in such a small cabin without so many other seats around. David and I also love the fact that the row has only two seats not three. Normal bulkhead seats can be a bit of a two-edged sword. We had bulkhead seats coming back from Singapore recently on Singapore Airlines and the extra room in front of us was usurped by a group of passengers who wanted to stand around and chat. I was trying to sleep and they woke me up. David finally asked them to leave but I couldn't get back to sleep.

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  13. Great post, Lyn! I wish I could find reviews like this for every airline. If you only knew how often I search for some input about airplane seats, but people don't bother to write about their experiences. Thanks for sharing this!

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    Replies
    1. We spend a lot of time in the air. Maybe I should write about our experiences more. I think there is a guy who does a blog of airline reviews. Can't remember his name though - sorry.

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