Qatar Airways has hinted for several years that it was developing its own business class product. The CEO, Akbar Al Baker, is a bit over-the-top for my taste but appears to have lived up to his promise of a “revolutionary” product.
Some airlines’ newest first class cabins have private doors, beds that can be pushed together, and face-to-face dining. The Qsuite has all of these. In business class.
From the press release:
Each seat is crafted with thoughtful and luxurious details such as hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose gold finishing, bringing an unprecedented level of luxury, privacy and style to Qatar Airways’ Business Class offering. To further complement the customisable on-board seating experience that passengers will now enjoy, Qatar Airways is also launching a new food and beverage concept, introducing a menu that offers a host of new dining choices.
Images from the ITB reveal show business and political leaders sitting down to a four-person meal to demonstrate the new product. As you can see, the television monitors are able to slide away and reveal an open space in the middle so that four people can dine together.
How do you get four people to sit close enough to the center to see each other? A staggered configuration like this would normally have alternating rows. However, it appears that each Qsuite actually has two seats, only one of which folds down. This enables passengers to sit in whichever position they prefer.
People who travel alone will still prefer a window seat, though all seats have direct aisle access in a 1-2-1 configuration. This will mean incredible privacy for single travelers. On the other hand, couples can choose to sleep side-by-side in the middle of the cabin since the lie-flat seats are so close to each other. There’s clearly a lot of flexibility.
My only major criticism is that this configuration requires some seats to face backward. I don’t mind this when awake, but I have incredible difficulty sleeping on planes and find that rear-facing beds make this even harder. I’ll do what I can to avoid it and face forward. Those who fly in a group of four will need to figure out who gets the short straws!
Qatar Airways plans to reconfigure its existing fleet with the new Qsuite product starting this June, updating roughly one plane per month.
All images credit Qatar Airways.