Qatar Airways has been hinting for a while that they would be revealing a brand-new business class product. They were promising that new product would be revolutionary, and for once the reality lived up to the hype. The new seat is called the QSuite and will be accompanied by enhancements to the soft product as well.
The new business class product will consist of suites that can be fully enclosed which are arranged in a 1x2x1 configuration. Qatar is branding this as “first in business,” and the product backs up the slogan. The overall product is closer to what most airlines offer in first class and in many cases even better than that. The most revolutionary part of the new concept is the adjustable design of the center rows of seats. The privacy divider can be removed to create a bed wide enough for two people.
The ability to convert between a private seat and a combined suite is great because both solo travelers and families/couples can be accommodated on the same plane.
Taking this new design concept a step further, the center seats can be further combined into a quartet by sliding open the center divider. This way a family of four or a group of business colleagues can eat, play or collaborate.
The seat is quite spacious, both horizontally and longitudinally. There is a table next to the seat that allows free space to move your arms without feeling cramped. The table offers an area to place your belonging so you don’t have to hold them on your lap, and opens to provide another storage area inside. Those who have had a chance to test out the product at Qatar’s mock-up also noted that the footwell was very spacious. Very tall passengers said the seat was comfortable even when in the upright position.
Qatar also announced several enhancements to the food and entertainment:
As an addition to Qatar’s existing “dine on demand” service, the new Business Class menu will offer a variety of sharable snacks available throughout the flight, which blends well with the sociable cabin arrangement. For passengers who wish to maximize the amount of time spent sleeping while still being able to have a meal when they wake up, a new “Express Breakfast” will be offered. Additional soft product enhancements include elegant new chinaware and cutlery, high-end soft furnishings, and luxurious bed linens.
Qatar announced a new partnership with The White Company to provide exclusively-designed cotton Business Class pajamas. Another partnership has been forged with luggage brand BRIC’S to provide new custom amenity kits featuring products from Italy’s Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio.
Qatar Airways is known for having one of the best in-flight entertainment systems in the sky. The next generation of the user interface, called Oryx One, will be even better than the existing product. Oryx One’s interface has been redesigned to make it easier to search for your desired content. It will offer an industry leading 3,000 entertainment options. The new user interface was developed by incorporating technology from the online media sector, presenting movies, games, and a special children’s menu in a format that is supposed to be highly intuitive to passengers.
When and Where to Find the New Business Class
Qatar’s plan for the first route to operate the new business class is the London-Doha route beginning in June of this year (though the exact date has not been finalized). Qatar’s new 777s will all get the new suites, of which 70 are currently on order across three versions. In addition, Qatar has 37 new A350-1000s on order, which will also be delivered with the new suites. While those planes are being delivered, Qatar will be retrofitting its existing 777s and A350s.
A modified version of the suite will be installed on 787s and A380s. Those planes are a bit narrower than the 777s and A350s, so Qatar may have to make the suite a bit smaller. They have not yet announced specifics on this issue, so once more information becomes available it will be interesting to note how consistent the products are. If there is a noticeable difference, it will be a key consideration when booking flights. When all the upgrades are complete the vast majority of Qatar’s long-haul fleet with have the new product, however older A340s and A330s are not expected to receive the new suite.
All said, Qatar plans to the have the new suites completely rolled out by the end of 2018. This is a very ambitious schedule, so we will be watching for news of any delay announcements. It’s great to see an airline that already had a fantastic business class product pushing the envelope with respect to both quality of product and pace of roll out. Hopefully the competition takes notice and a race to the top begins.
Award Booking Options
Qatar Airways is a member of the oneworld alliance, which means their primary U.S. partner is American Airlines. Qatar currently flies from 10 cities in the US, which makes their flights very accessible for American travelers. Unfortunately, Qatar award space does not show up when searching on AA.com. A good alternative resource is the British Airways website. While the interface is not the best, and you can only search for one day at a time, the results are reliable. Once you have found the flights you want, you can book by calling American. They do not charge a phone booking fee to book awards on Qatar.
Business class awards to the Middle East are 70,000 miles each way from the U.S. This compares very favorably to the 115,000-mile price for first-class awards. It also is significantly cheaper than booking directly with Qatar, since they use a distance-based award chart which makes long-haul awards prohibitively expensive. Since Qatar’s new product is going to be as nice as a first-class product, you may want to book this product and save an incredible 90,000 miles for a round trip ticket versus a first-class award.
There are a variety of ways to accumulate AA miles. They are a transfer partner of SPG, and have co-branded cards available from both Citi and Barclays.