Slim and light don't describe the Airbus A380, but sure do describe Qantas' carbon fiber seats on their A380.

Slim and light don't describe the Airbus A380, but sure do describe Qantas' carbon fiber seats on their A380.

The Airbus A380 is the largest commercial airline in the sky today. It is massive. When you think about this plane you don’t think about “light.” However there is something light about the seats on Qantas Airbus A380’s…they have carbon fiber.

What’s carbon fiber you ask? (if you don’t ask, skip this paragraph) In easy terms it is woven fiber material that is stronger and lighter than metals used in other airline seats. For a more complex answer, read this. While the carbon fiber on the seats is what got my attention about the Qantas’ seats, there are plenty of other cool things going on.

About a year ago, Mary Kirby, via her Runway Girl Blog, talked about the 2009 Australian International Design Award of the Year for their seats. Not only because of the high-tech materials used, but also the way the seats recline. Like a high-end movie theater, the bottom part of the seat moves forward when one reclines, taking away less room from the person behind you.

Qantas told me, ’œThe carbon fibre backshell on the Qantas A380 Economy seats is exclusive to Qantas and provides a unique natural element and visually stunning appearance. The material was selected for sleek design appeal and aircraft weight benefits.’

These carbon seats might be exclusive now, but I am sure we will be seeing seats like these on future flights. As carbon fiber gets cheaper and airlines are looking to cut costs and green house emissions I imagine more carbon fiber will be used. And as Kirby shows, you might be seeing this seat on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner as well.

Two more pictures: ONE & TWO

Thanks Dan for pointing this out!

Image: Jalopnik

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF & FOUNDER - SEATTLE, WA. David has written, consulted, and presented on multiple topics relating to airlines and travel since 2008. He has been quoted and written for a number of news organizations, including BBC, CNN, NBC News, Bloomberg, and others. He is passionate about sharing the complexities, the benefits, and the fun stuff of the airline business. Email me:
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Oh that looks fancy.

I wonder how much weight these seats saved. I bet it was well over 1000lbs.

Hey Dan!

Well with 332 economy seats on a Qantas A380, I would imagine it would be quite a bit. I am trying to find out for sure. And even a little bit of weight saved can really add up to money and carbon emissions savings!


That looks cool. Any word on how much weight it is actually saving and how that translates into fuel savings? What about the pitch increase with these seats, or did they just make it possible to shove more seats into the plane. I would be curious to see how the recline feature with the sliding bottom works for taller people. As it is now when I sit in most economy seats my knees are within an inch of the seatback infront of me, if I have to slide forward I would not be able to recline.

Hey Ben!

I wasn’t able to get any answers (yet) on weight savings, but I would imagine they have to be significant for the extra costs that are associated with the carbon fiber.

According to, the A380 in Qantas’ fleet have 31.0″ of pitch, which isn’t bad. But with the slide reclining and footrest, it should make it feel like there is a bit more room. Hopefully I can check it out sometime soon!



Those look great, and so comfortable! Seems like a good move; weight savings are respectable and certainly beneficial. But it’d be nice to see some marked improvements in reclinability…….


I’m really curious about the difference in weight between the old and the new fancy carbon fiber seats.

having ridden on a Qantas A380, the seats were not that noticably different than the older-generation seats that are on most other aircraft.

Cathay Pacific also use this style of seat. It is completely useless for tall people since reclining reduces the amount of knee space available and that is what we are most short of. Read online reviews to see how happy people are with that. They also use thinner cushions which makes life even more miserable for taller people. BTW SeatExpert claims a 31-32 inch pitch on Qantas A380.

its only a backshell. more for the looks than for real benefits.
i bet it could be made of simple non reinforced plastics.
but of course this wouldnt look as “cool”.

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