First announced last year, Qantas has commenced the process of refurbishing its 737 fleet. The first of the aircraft has entered the maintenance facilities in Brisbane, where about half of the fleet will be refurbished.
Under the refurbishment, each of of the Boeing 737 aircraft will receive an extra row of economy seats at the rear of the aircraft. A reconfiguration of the galley and toilets at the rear of the aircraft will free up the space for the extra row, with Qantas saying that there will be no change to the current legroom provided throughout the aircraft.
The additional row will provide 6 seats, taking the number of economy seats in the 737 from the current 156 economy seats to 162 economy seats. Overall, this results in an increased seating capacity of over 3%. After the refurbishment, the total seating capacity will be 174 seats, made up of 12 business class and 162 economy seats,
By way of comparison, the current Virgin Australia seating plan offers 176 seats on the Boeing 737. In this case, the seating is in a configuration consisting of 8 business class and 168 economy seats.
At present, the 737 fleet has differing entertainment options. The older aircraft have drop down monitors offering a single entertainment option to all passengers. The newer aircraft have had personal seat back IFE monitors since delivery,
As part of the refurbishment, the 38 aircraft without personal IFE will have the Q-Streaming product installed, allowing passengers to view over 400 hours of content on the own personal device, such as tablets or laptops. The 29 aircraft with the personal IFE system will retain the existing system.
Work on the first aircraft has commenced in Brisbane, and is expected to re-enter service before the end of the month. On the current plan, approximately half of the fleet will undergo the refurbishment in Brisbane, with the balance of the modifications being performed in the Sydney facilities.