The Playbook For The Modern Man

The Secret A380 Economy Compartment That’s Almost As Good As Flying Business

For savvy flyers, a hidden economy section on Qatar Airways’ A380 upper deck provides business-class feels for a cattle-class price.

We’d all like an upgrade for free, but – on most airlines – that is never going to happen. Enter: Qatar Airways’ A380, the world’s largest passenger jet (and the backbone of the Sydney-Doha route) which harbours a little known economy compartment at the back of the upper deck, which smart cattle-class passengers can pre-select for free.

This retreat-like economy section comprises of just eight rows, and is located directly behind the first and business class cabins on the A380’s upper deck, enabling you to escape the Great Cattle Class Crunch of the other 43 rows of economy downstairs.

Not only does it give you Pointy End feels for a hunched-knee price, but it is also perfect for couples who are sick of being split up by snoring armrest hogs.

Why’s that? Well this upper deck economy section has a different seating configuration to downstairs: up here you’ll be sitting pretty in a 2-4-2 layout (thanking your lucky stars you’re not sitting tight in the main deck’s 3-4-3), which means that – as long as you don’t book yourself into the middle section – you are guaranteed a seat next to your partner, with no armrest problems (other than ones of your own making).

Even better, the upper deck is a much quieter part of the plane, with just 23 rows of passengers in total, eight of which are economy, 14 of which are business and two of which are first, giving you the benefit of one of the most coveted aspects of a Pointy End ticket (peace and quiet) bundled in for free with your economy seat.



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The A380 being the world’s largest passenger jet, in our experience, while Oneworld or Privilege Club members may get first dibs on a true upgrade, non-priority passengers can almost-always pre-select one of these business-esque economy seats for free, providing they don’t choose an exit row.

Now that’s an upgrade.

While some passengers have expressed concerns that being at the back of the top deck means you have to wait slightly longer to get off on arrival, considering the marked difference in ambience (and flight attendant attentiveness) between the upper deck and the lower deck, we reckon it’s well worth the trade-off.

Oh and the jury is still out on the whole “getting off late” rumour too, with one Tripadvisor commenter posting the following (in response to said concern):

“I much prefer these seats. It’s a smaller, quieter cabin and the service is always good (perhaps there’s a better crew/passenger ratio). As for disembarking – on the Doha – London route upper-deck economy passengers disembark forward through business class so it’s usually quicker than economy below. For embarkation you board first as you must walk the length of the lower deck and up the stairs to access the economy upper deck cabin.”

If you’re looking to get your derriere into this compartment, book yourself a flight on one of Qatar Airways’ A380 jets, and get pre-selecting.


Doha (or for that matter, Europe, Russia, America, Africa, or any of the various other destinations Doha is a springboard to) is calling…

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  • richhart

    You’ve got to be kidding me. It might be quiet and the food service is fast, but it is not even close to business class. It’s barely premium economy. I’ve been in both that cabin and business class and there’s no doubt it’s nice but there is simply no comparison.

    Also if you don’t like turbulence I’d stick with downstairs as far forward as you can get.

  • Chellasp

    I traveled in this cabin – it was no way near Business class. You have to walk all the way to the back of the lower cabin to access your seat, while boarding. And you can walk back through Business class, when you are getting off, alright. But my MAJOR peeve is that the overhead bins are TINY in this section. Real tiny. So beware if you travel in this cabin, with a rollerbag.

  • Charbax

    I have sat in that upper back of A380 economy section about 20 times on British Airways over the past several years, they have it too. Emirates A380 doesn’t have it (not sure about the 2-class Emirates A380). Sure the overhead bins are small but window seats have a box for storage on the side. The box keeps opening if your lean too much on it but it’s fine. I also enjoy stretching my legs once or twice during the flight walking down at the back staircase to the lower floor they have lots of bathrooms at the lower back and very few if any other passenger use that surreal back spiraling staircase. I hope/expect Airbus is working on an all-electric A380e to be hopefully introduced within the decade.

  • Fuzi0719

    I get that you’re trying to make economy passengers feel a little better about their plight. But, claiming these are in any way like business class is misleading and boarding upon cruel.

  • Gaurav Sharma

    Ohh Singapore A380s had a similar setup back in the day and we as a couple used to love the 2-4-2 seating upstairs.. it definitely had a premium feel to it and the service was almost always on point. I once got my Singapore sling even before takeoff … In cattle class that’s an absolute dream these days.. I do part with by hard earned cash and hard earned points to fly business as aften as possible and then sometimes work takes care of things by sending me on an 8 hour flight overseas (bless corporate laws)
    Great article though and good to know Qatar has this secret oasis !! I’m sure this article was in no way intended to compare the 2 flying classes but to merely offer a tad-bit-more bang for your buck !!


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