This tiny design innovation has changed flying in economy class forever



  • Qantas recently added the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to its fleet.

  • The plane features a new economy class seat with a foot net.

  • The foot net is like having an ottoman where you can proper up feet on a long flight.

As much as airlines want to wow us with their shiny new luxury suite or walk up bar, the reality is that most of the flying public will never get a chance to fly at the front of the plane. 

While it is rather difficult to really screw up a premium cabin, a poorly executed economy class seat can easily make flying a nightmare. 

Which brings us to Qantas. Australia’s national airline is as well known for its impeccable safety record as it is for the globetrotting routes it flies. 

In October, Qantas added the first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to its fleet. The fleet of eight Dreamliners will be used on various ultra-long-haul routes including the 17-hour-long, 9,008-mile non-stop flight from Perth, Western Australia to London. 

Qantas economy class seatQantas economy class seat

Qantas economy class seat

Tom FergusonThus, if you’re one of the 166 people flying in economy on board the Qantas Dreamliner, you better hope they did a good job. 

And they did!

The Qantas Dreamliner economy cabin is brand new. The airline decided to carry fewer passengers in a bid to offer better overall comfort.  

But the real gamechanger here is the foot net. It’s a spring-loaded black net located at the base of the seat in front of you. Simply place your feet inside the net and recline. The effect is similar to that of an ottoman.  Thus, you can actually prop your feet up and relax in coach! 

Qantas Foot netQantas Foot net

Qantas Foot net

Benjamin Zhang/Business InsiderQantas isn’t the first airline to offer a footrest type device for its economy class passengers. Turkish Airlines and ANA, for example, have had it for years. But the Qantas seat is a marked improvement over the traditional footrest which supports only your feet. The foot net actually cradles both your feet and calves, offering more overall support.

I had the chance to briefly experience the seat in October on a flight from Seattle, Washington to Honolulu, Hawaii. And I can confirm that the foot net along with supple seat padding and a generous degree of recline makes it more than pleasant enough for a 17-hour journey. 

The foot net debuted on the Qantas Airbus A380 in 2008 and can now be found across the airline’s international fleet. It remains a feature unique to Qantas. 

Qantas Economy seat by David CaonQantas Economy seat by David Caon

Qantas Economy seat by David Caon

Tom FergusonDavid Caon, the seat’s designer, used a Featherlite seat from famed German manufacturer Recaro as the basis for the Dreamliner unit and adapted it for ultra-long-haul travel.

In addition to the foot net, the airline added bespoke fabrics, mood lighting, and a special tray to hold tablets. 

Correction: Qantas clarified that the foot net debuted in 2008 onboard the Airbus A380. 

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