Qantas A330 new business class seat unveiled

The new Qantas A330 business class seat is a "quantum leap" over its current product, according to the airline's chief executive Alan Joyce.

The days of ensuring seats are fully upright for take-off and landing are nearing an end – at least for customers travelling in business class on transcontinental and Asian routes with Qantas.

The airline on Tuesday unveiled the final version of its long-awaited new A330 business class seats, with the first ones set to be in the air by the end of December and the entire A330 fleet to be updated by the end of 2016.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said the ability to have a mattress on the seat and to recline on take-off would be particularly valuable to business customers flying overnight from Singapore and Hong Kong to the east coast.

"Our new lounges in Hong Kong and Singapore in particular are designed to give people high-quality food on the ground," he said. "Neil [Perry] has been working with us on those lounges to really make sure people can eat before they get on the flight because that is what people want to do. The next stage of it is allowing people to sleep from gate to gate."

Qantas also has plans to open a new business class lounge in Perth next year, which will give business class passengers and platinum Frequent Flyer members a more premium experience than is on offer in the current Qantas Club.

The new A330 business class seats are based on the Vantage XL seat manufactured by Belfast-based Thompson Aero Seating, but they have been heavily customised in collaboration with designer Marc Newsom.

Virgin Australia last month unveiled new fully-flat business seats for its A330s flying transcontinental routes to be introduced from March. The Virgin seats are based on the Super Diamond model from B/E Aerospace.

Both the Qantas and Virgin models offer a 1-2-1 configuration giving aisle access to all passengers along with a fully-flat bed.

But Mr Joyce said the Qantas seat would offer 3 per cent more bed space, 5 per cent more total space and a working area 13 per cent larger than the Virgin seat.

"Particularly coming out of Perth or into Perth on domestic sectors, people want to work and want to be able to eat," he said. "It is a product that will give you enough room to work while you are eating – a feature that our business customers have said is really important to them."

The Qantas domestic business class seats will recline by 21 degrees on take-off and landing and the business class seats by 25 degrees, in a move that Mr Joyce said could allow for up to 45 minutes more sleep. The seats will also have a "do not disturb" function and larger 16 inch in-flight entertainment screens.

"In my view these new seats will deliver the best travel experience between Australia and Asia and probably the best domestic travel experience anywhere on the globe," Mr Joyce said. "This is an amazing investment and amazing redesign of business class."

Qantas will also update the economy class seats in its international A330s to the latest version of the Recaro seats featured in its A380 fleet. The seats will include new larger seat-back entertainment screens, foot nets and multi-directional headrests and an armrest that fits neatly between the seats when folded away.