Guide to Qantas seat selection

It’s not all about the Qantas Points when it comes to securing the best Qantas Airways seats. In fact, a little organisation and effort could be all that stands between you and some extra legroom.

Looking to master Qantas seat selection?

Whether you’re a seasoned frequent flyer or an occasional traveller, selecting the best possible seat each time you fly Qantas will ensure that you travel as comfortably as possible.

Whether you’re flying from Sydney to Melbourne, or in for a long-haul trip overseas, Qantas makes it entirely possible to select extra legroom seats, as well as a seat with a bassinet. However, sometimes you just want to be at the front of the cabin just because.

We’ve put together a guide to Qantas seat selection to help you snare your preferred seat the next time you fly (avoiding a middle seat at the back). Read on to learn more.

Is Qantas seat selection free?

In Australia, essentially yes. If you’re travelling on a Qantas-operated domestic service, the good news is that you can select your Qantas seat for free (with a few limitations – more on that below). The only exception to this is QantasLink services, where you can only request a preference for an aisle or window seat.

qantas seat selection 717 interior economy
While Qantas seat selection is free on most domestic services, there are restrictions when flying QantasLink

As expected, those with status – namely Qantas Platinum One, Platinum, Gold or Silver Qantas Frequent Flyers or equivalent OneWorld and Emirates Skywards Frequent Flyer members – along with guests booked on the same ticket, also get free Qantas seat selection. This is regardless of the fare bucket booked, or whether it is a domestic or international flight.

Similarly, if you’re a traveller booked into a premium cabin (namely, Qantas First Class, Business Class or Premium Economy), or a guest of a premium cabin traveller booked on the same ticket, you’ll be able to select your seat for free also.

In addition, standard seat selection is free for those who are:

  • travelling on international flights with an Economy Saver or Flex fare
  • travelling on an Economy Classic Flight Reward, or
  • requesting seat selection upon check-in at the airport.

For everyone else, it’s all about timing. Whether you like the window seat, prefer the aisle, or have your eye on those extra legroom seats, attempting to select a seat on your Qantas flight early is key.

Who can’t undertake Qantas seat selection for free?

If you’re a passenger travelling international Economy class on a deep discount sale fare, unfortunately, you won’t be able to select seats for free in advance. You’ll need to pay to do so.

qantas seat selection dreamliner economy

Note that you can select a seat for your flight at the airport, however.

When can I select my seats on Qantas?

Qantas has recently introduced the ability to pay for Neighbour Free seats, another way to secure some extra room upon booking. However, as soon as a booking has been processed and ticketed, it’s usually possible to select limited Qantas seats free of charge.

Bear in mind that a long way out from the departure date, economy seats at the very front of the economy cabin are usually blocked off to high-tier Qantas Frequent Flyers, and exit row seat bookings attract a charge for most travellers.

However, as we’ll explain below, it’s possible to select the best seats closer to the departure time of your Qantas flight.

The T-80 rule

Less of a rule and more of a hack, the ‘T-80 rule’ refers to when seats become available 80 hours before departure.

When you fly with Qantas, you can choose a seat as part of the booking process. But as savvy frequent flyers know, by reviewing your seat choice 80 hours before departure, you may be able to significantly improve your position in the cabin.

This opportunity arises because Qantas restricts access to certain parts of each cabin to elite frequent flyers until close to departure. The most sought-after seats at the front are usually reserved for Platinum-level customers and above, while the next few rows are accessible to Gold status holders and above, with Silver and Bronze members only able to select seats further back.

Those restrictions are usually lifted 80 hours before a flight, which means all passengers can access the seats that remain unallocated. If you’re really keen on getting the best possible seat, that’s the time to review your options.

How to use the T-80 rule

The T-80 rule is understandably a go-to hack for many members of frequent flyer programs. As such, to be successful in your seat selection, you should make a point of logging on to the Qantas app or website’s ‘manage booking’ portal as soon after the 80-hour mark as possible.

As a rule of thumb, we suggest calculating (72 hours) before your flight, before then subtracting another 8 hours. For example, say your flight is due to depart at 6:05am on a Friday:

  • Subtracting three days will take you to 6:05am on a Tuesday
  • Taking away a further 8 hours will get you to 10:05pm on Monday

The 80 hour rule can often fall in the early hours, but we think the early alarm is well worth securing the best seats, especially on long-haul flights!

Simply check your flight seat map from 80 hours before the flight departs. If available, you’ll be able to re-select your seats.

Selecting an exit row seat

Exit row seats are very popular, and with good reason. Who doesn’t want to kick back with a bit of extra legroom in economy?

Passengers boasting the highest tiers of Qantas status – Platinum One and Chairman’s Lounge members – are able to pre-select emergency exit row seating at no charge. Unfortunately, for everyone else (even Qantas Platinum members), a fee is levied. The amount you’ll be asked to cough up varies. It will depend on the flight classification (domestic or international) and the flight length. As such, you can assume domestic flights won’t attract as steep of a fee.

Selecting a seat at the front of the cabin

If you frequent Australian flights, it’s well worth knowing that the front of the economy cabin boasts extra legroom – at row four on the Boeing 737 and rows 23 and 24 on the Airbus A330 – as well as arguably more attentive service from the flight crew.

For a bit of extra effort and organisation, you’ll also likely get faster service at the front of the plane, almost guaranteeing you won’t miss out on the popular meal choice.

Qantas seat selection: Conclusion

While Qantas provides seat selection to a number of travellers everyone else, it’s all about timing (and the T-80 rule). Whether you like the window seat, prefer the aisle, or want extra legroom, attempting to select a seat on your Qantas flight early is key. A seat selection can make or break a journey – particularly if you’re flying long-haul.

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8 thoughts on “Guide to Qantas seat selection”

    1. Avatar for Adele

      Hi Hayley, that’s a tricky one! If you think you’ll need to use the bathroom facilities, I’d probably opt for up the back. Depending on how full the flight is, you may be able to ask the checkin staff to block off a row for you. Happy travels.

  1. Avatar for Alan Brown

    Flying with QF to Vancouver in August in Business. We will be flying another 5 sectors after this, and QF is the only airline we are unable to reserve a seat on now. Another reason we will be avoiding The Flying Kangaroo in the future

  2. Avatar for Carly

    Hi Adele, Just wondering if you know when you can book seats on a Qantas operated flight but when you’ve booked with another airline? Flying SYD>LAX>BOS on American Airlines, the first flight is QF11 have been able to select the AA seats but not Qantas. Booking is showing on Qantas website. Thank you in advance!

  3. Avatar for Julian Werrett

    I fly at least 4 times a month, sometimes 2 or 3 times a week. to regional NSW from Sydney.
    They’re invariably on Qantas Dehavilland propellor driven aircraft.
    I book my flight, put in, my seat preference. Choice of window or aisle. I pick aisle. Invariably this gets changed to no preference.
    I watch the countdown to check in. I check in as soon as the flight is open to check in.
    Invariably, I’m put at the back of the plane.
    How can I book a seat down the front.
    I always have to get a hire car, and my seat position always puts me at the back of the hire car Queue
    Any advice/help, would be much appreciated.
    Kind Regards

    1. Avatar for Adele

      Hi Julian, the best time to checkin to secure your preferred seat is exactly 80 hours before take off. The seats you will be able to access will also be dictated by your QFF status. All the best for your future travels.

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