Qantas plans a Project Sunrise surprise with A350 business class

Qantas plans Project Sunrise surprise with A350 business class

As Qantas unveiled with fanfare its new Airbus 350 first class – and the lavish private suites are truly a ‘halo’ product – the airline has yet to lift the curtain on its plans for the A350 business class.

However, it is those 52 business class seats where the bulk of premium passengers on Flights “Project Sunrise” will spend the 18-20 hours flying non-stop from Sydney and Melbourne to New York, London and Paris from late 2025.

And the A350s won’t just be for those ambitious, record-breaking marathons.

Qantas has already confirmed that the A350 will take over from the Boeing 787-9 on the Perth-London line in 2026and it is likely that a second tranche of A350 orders will see these modern jets effectively replacing the double-decker Airbus A380s when these superjumbos are retired towards the end of this decade.

They are also likely to inherit other flagship routes from the Boeing 787: while the A350s have almost identical seating numbers, many more of these are devoted to the more efficient premium cabins (First, Business and Premium Economy) than on the Dreamliner.

In short, the Airbus 350 represents the next generation of international business class from Qantas.

So despite the current shroud of secrecy, what do we know so far about Qantas’ A350 business class?

Clues to Qantas’ A350 business class

Two diagrams shared by Qantas give several clues for those looking closely.

Firstly, the cutaway diagram of the Qantas A350 provided to the media earlier this month, which shows the cabin end to end while also calling out the first class suites and the “wellness zone” taken into sandwich between premium economy and economy.

The Business Class cabin is also part of the mix, and it’s immediately apparent that the layout is different from that of the first-generation Business Suite launched on the Airbus A330 in 2014 and later refined for the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A380.

Granted, this is, as the footnote to the diagram attests, an “artist’s impression only, subject to change” – but let’s zoom in for a closer look.

While the window seats always alternate between being right by the window or next to the aisle, the middle seats are either directly side by side in the middle of the two-seater pod – or away from each other , some passengers in opposite lanes.

In industry jargon, this arrangement is kindly referred to as a “honeymoon/divorce” arrangement – and that’s notable because Qantas Business Suites have their middle seats in a completely different arrangement (which is neither honeymoon or divorce: maybe “just good friends”?).

So the Qantas A350 business class seat is obviously do not the same Thompson Aerospace Vantage XL model used for the airline’s current Business Suite, and Executive Traveler understands that Thompson Aerospace is not a seat supplier to Project Sunrise.

Instead, the Qantas A350 business class seat could come from any number of other specialist companies – such as Adient, Collins, Recaro, Safran or Stelia – and it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if this was a new seat concept that has yet to be officially launched (although this may change if the seat breaks in the coming months).

A second observation of the cutaway diagram: note that the business class seats located directly in the aisle have what appears to be a sliding door or some other form of “screen” to provide greater privacy from traffic in the aisle and the passenger directly in front of them.

None of the business class seats away from the aisle – whether in the center section or right next to the window – show this screen in place.

This treatment is repeated in this first Qantas A350 cabin plan. Again, here’s the full picture from tip to tail…

…and here’s a close-up of the business class cabin. Notice how each seat located next to the aisle has some form of extended door, screen or panel to help passengers maintain privacy?

This is not the case with any of the Qantas A350 business class seats positioned a way from the driveway. Come on, take a closer look.

Does that mean only seats adjacent to the aisle will have those suite style doors? If so, this is a decidedly unique take on the suite-with-doors trend, and it would be a ‘first’ in business class design.

Returning to the Qantas A350 coupe, all business class seats appear to be framed by high walls – another measure to provide a greater degree of privacy and help transform these suites into cozy cocoons for the globe-trotting trek .

Again, this is an “artist’s impression only, subject to change” – and the First Class Suites perched in front of the Business Class cabin certainly have the same generic feel.

Predictably, Qantas declined to comment on any of this, and Executive Traveler will share more details of Qantas’ Project Sunrise A350 business class as they become available.

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