Is It Worth Upgrading To Premium Economy On Qantas?

Estimated read time 5 min read


  •  Qantas offers premium economy on its Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft, with comfortable seats and more legroom.
  •  Premium economy provides better in-flight services, including improved food and drink options, entertainment, and amenities.
  •  Passengers in premium economy can enjoy a better airport experience with dedicated check-in and fast-track security, but no lounge access is provided.

More and more airlines are introducing premium economy – on some or all of their aircraft. As economy cabins have become more cramped, and onboard services reduced, a better cabin has become increasingly appealing. Qantas offers premium economy on many of its international routes, and is one of the best of any airline. We look here at the cabin and highlight the advantages of upgrading.

Premium economy with Qantas

Qantas introduced premium economy as a fourth cabin back in 2008. The cabin is now offered on the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787, and is planned on the upcoming Airbus A350 aircraft.

Discover more aviation news for Australia and Oceania here.

On the A380, there are two different configurations – one with 60 premium economy seats and one with 35 seats. In both configurations, premium economy is located towards the rear of the upper deck, with seats arranged 2-3-2 (economy on the main deck is arranged in a dense 3-4-3 layout).

VH-OQB Qantas Airbus A380-842 (1)

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

With the 787, all aircraft are configured the same way with 28 premium economy seats, arranged 2-3-2 between the business and economy cabins. All premium economy seats offer at least 38 inches seat pitch (with some featuring additional legroom). All seat data here is based on information from

Qantas Boeing 787

Photo: BeAvPhoto | Shutterstock

Pricing of premium economy can vary significantly, and this is, of course, a major factor in deciding on the value of an upgrade. Especially when booking in advance or with sales and promotions, the cabin is often available for a relatively small premium over economy class. This is not the case with much more expensive business or first class fares.

Smaller cabin and more comfortable seats

The improved hard product is the main reason most people consider upgrading. Over time, economy cabins have become more dense, and seats generally more cramped. Qantas is not the worst for this, with economy seats offering 31 inches seat pitch on the A380 and 32 inches on the Boeing 787.

In premium economy, you are guaranteed a larger, more comfortable seat with more legroom than in economy. This is not the same as the flatbed and additional space you will get in business class, but it comes at a much lower price of course. Especially on a long overnight flight, the difference in comfort and rest can be significant.


Photo: Qantas

All premium economy seats have at least 38 inches seat pitch (compared to 31 or 32 inches in economy) and a seat width of 20.5 inches on the 787 and 19.5 inches on the A380 (compared with 17.2 inches / 17.5 inches in economy class). Seats also offer more recline than economy seats, adjustable headrests, footrests, and larger armrests.

Better in flight service and experience

It’s not just the seat comfort that makes a difference during the flight. Premium economy offers better service, entertainment, and attention in the smaller cabin. Food and drink menus are improved, with better quality meal options and service on china tableware. This is especially the case on long-haul routes, where passengers will be offered a business-class style pre-departure drink as well.

Qantas premium economy

Photo: Qantas

Entertainment is improved, too, with a larger screen and noise-canceling headphones provided. Passengers also get a small amenity kit, improved pillows, and a wool blanket.

Better airport experience

On the ground, premium economy will help as well. Passengers can use a dedicated premium economy check-in and can utilize fast-track security at some airports. Anything that makes the airport experience quicker and more predictable is valuable these days! No lounge access is offered for premium economy passengers.

Consider points and status earning

For more regular travelers, the benefits of loyalty programs are important as well. With Qantas, the Qantas Frequent Flyer program offers the opportunity to earn points from flights (with oneworld alliance airlines and other partners as well as Qantas) and redeem these for free flights or upgrades.

Qantas A380

Photo: Qantas

Status Credits earned from flights bring elite status and associated benefits when traveling.Qantas Frequent Flyer still awards points based on the flight distance and cabin/booking code of the ticket (it has not switched to a revenue-based earning system like many other airlines). This is a consideration for some people, as the earnings of both points and Status Credits can be significantly higher in premium economy than in economy. A low discounted premium economy ticket could earn much more, making the upgrade even better value.

Love learning about points and miles? Read more of our loyalty news and guides here.

As an example, for a flight from Sydney to London, earnings could be as follows (for a one-way flight):

  • In discount economy: 6,200 Qantas Points and 70 Status Credits
  • In discount premium economy: 12,400 Qantas Points and 140 Status Credits
  • In full fare premium economy: 17,000 Qantas Points and 165 Status Credits

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