My Thoughts On Qatar Airways’ New Business Class Qsuite

As just about all of you probably know by now, Qatar Airways revealed their new business class “Qsuites” earlier today. We also learned when the product will be launched, what planes it will be on first, what impact the new product has on seat count, etc.

In this post I wanted to share my thoughts on the new product, though first I wanted to add a few disclaimers:

I’d like to think I’m fair towards Qatar Airways

Some people love Qatar Airways, while others can’t stand the airline. Personally I have both good and bad things to say about the airline. I think Qatar’s CEO is passionately nuts, and can’t be trusted. I also think service on Qatar Airways isn’t on the same level as some other airlines.

However, I also think Qatar Airways has the world’s best business class product, and I’ve flown a lot of business class products.

So coming into the announcement today I was ready to call Qatar Airways on their BS as necessary, given how much they’ve been hyping this new product.

Business class seats can only take up so much “real estate”

It’s insane to see the degree to which business class products have improved over the past couple of decades. I remember back when angled seats were considered cutting edge.

air-tahiti-nui-business-class-a340-5

Meanwhile nowadays people have come to expect direct aisle access from every seat.

Qatar-Airways-787-Business-2

So the quality of products keeps improving, to the point that the world’s best business class products look as good as the average first class product did a decade ago.

However, there are limits to how much real estate each business class seat can take up on a plane. While airlines are getting smarter about utilizing space, I was never expecting that Qatar Airways’ new business class seats would be as big as Etihad’s Apartment, for example.

Qatar Airways’ product reveal was HORRIBLE

I was excited to tune into the live unveiling of the new product, but gosh was it a disappointment. If you’re going to unveil a new product and stream it online, you’d think they’d have the CEO say a few words, and then the camera would have a clear view of the new product. Nope, that would be far too logical.

Instead we got a cheesy-as-could-be reveal. They played a song from “The Godfather,” then Akbar supposedly “unlocked” the new product by putting his (little) hand on an iPad.

QSuite-1

Then for the next 30 minutes they pointed the camera mostly at the musicians.

QSuite-2

The best we got was a partial view of the seat. On top of all that they had blinding lights and what seemed to be a smoke machine.

QSuite-3

Is that really how you unveil a new product?!?

So, what do I make of Qatar Airways’ new business class?

I was sort of excited to say “Akbar was full of hype, as usual.” But I can’t. I’m impressed — Qatar Airways’ new business class product looks spectacular.

Qatar-New-Business-1

The Qsuite seems to have a fairly efficient configuration, to the point that it concerns me. Qatar Airways isn’t reducing the seat count while introducing the new product, meaning that the seats don’t take up more space than before.

While Qatar Airways is trying to make these seats sound revolutionary, to me they look very similar to Etihad’s Business Studio, except Etihad doesn’t have doors at their seats.

BUSINESS_STUDIO

BUSINESS_STUDIO_SLEEP

BUSINESS_STUDIO_DINING

However, what’s brilliant is how creatively Qatar Airways is utilizing space here:

  • Each seat will have a sliding door
  • In the center section you can potentially open up the suite so that four people can face one another
  • Two of those people can turn their seats into a “double bed” (I put that in quotes because it doesn’t look like a true double bed, since there’s still a partition in the area around your feet)
  • The finishes look stunning

Qatar-Airways-New-Business

So color me very impressed. The window seats seem to be about as spacious as the best business class products out there, except with more privacy. Beyond that, we’re seeing a lot of innovation in the center section, as you can turn two seats into a quasi-double bed, or potentially even open up the center section for a party of four traveling together.

Qatar-New-Business-3

However, I do have a few potential concerns:

  • The seat could be claustrophobic with the door closed, though that shouldn’t be an issue; if that’s the case, just leave the suite door open
  • It could be awkward if you have a party of three traveling together in the center section, and then a fourth person is seated in that section as well
  • I imagine it could also be awkward if you’re seated next to a stranger in the center section, in one of the two seats that turn into a double bed
  • I’m still skeptical about how spacious these seats are, given that Qatar Airways isn’t reducing their seat count when they introduce this new product

Bottom line

Is Qatar Airways’ new business class truly revolutionary? Probably not. Will it change business class travel forever? Probably not.

But the way I see it, Qatar Airways already had the world’s all around best business class product, and it just got a whole lot better. The hard product definitely looks like the best in the world. But I think it’s marginally better than the current best business class products out there (like the window seat in an Apex Suite configuration), rather than completely revolutionary.

Kudos to Qatar Airways — I can’t wait to experience this product! Hopefully on a super cheap paid business class ticket, given Qatar Airways’ consistently excellent business class fares. 😉

What do you make of Qatar Airways’ Qsuite? Is it better or worse than you were expecting?

Comments

  1. I was expecting a more tasteful EK First suite as the Super business class – but whatever. Or a QR A380 F with a door.

  2. While QR is great at polishing the existing products from other airlines, they really are not “revolutionary”. Emirates introduced the world’s first enclosed First Class with sliding doors with shower/bar on board, while Etihad introduced the unique “Apartment” or even Business Studio where this Qsuite likely got the idea from. I think the only revolutionary product QR has introduced was the exclusive Premium Terminal years ago – too bad they got rid of it. It would have been great if they still have maintained the concept.

  3. This is like the amazon review which gives a one star to the product because the postman was ugly, no problems with the product.

    You can’t judge till you have sat your cute little butt in those seats.

  4. What about actual space? How wide are the seats? How much leg room do you have? Are your feet crammed into a small alcove when lying flat?

  5. Looks like a phenomenal product! I wonder about the backwards-forwards seat layout though – do you think people will be able to feel when the person sitting behind them moves around like on American’s first version of the 787-8 seats?

  6. It’s kind of hard to tell, but it looks like there might be a divider that can slide up between the middle seats, so a party of 1 or 3 could still be split from the rest of the middle “room”.

  7. @Chris T — yeah, but the openness would be lost. It wouldn’t be worthwhile.

  8. It’s striking that nobody in the publicity photos is sitting back in the seat (apart from the Mom when the kid’s in the flat bed. It looks like the seats are essentially eight abreast shoulder to shoulder plus the width of the divider and door… So basically premium economy width. Add in what look like pretty tight foot cubbies and shorter aisle seats, and I’m not sure this is a giant leap forward (beyond the moving screens). Basically BA J with narrower seats, higher dividers, a door and direct aisle access?

  9. It is interesting that none of the pictures show the center divider up between the pairs of seats in the middle. Based on the pictures showing the notch where that divider would go, it looks like it might be lower than the other walls, which could make these seats rather unappealing for single people — not unlike Etihad’s various business class seats.

    In general I think the pictures also seem to exaggerate the space and size of the seats a bit. It looks very, very similar to Etihad’s newest business seat, and that is generally more cramped than the pictures make this seat look — but I suspect in reality this seat is actually the same.

    If you did happen to be traveling in a group of 4, it would be fairly spacious if you opened up all the dividers, at least while sitting up. But if you are traveling alone it might be fairly cramped and claustrophobic.

  10. I don’t think it beats reverse herringbone seats for the simple reason that there are no bad seats with that configuration. I wouldn’t want any seat in the center section of this.

    And the jury is still out on the measurements of these seats and their comfort. Hopefully a trip report is forthcoming this year.

  11. i rarely ever compliment QR, but gotta give them credit this time where it is due. this looks really nice.

    A half-full calls it Business Plus. A half-empty sees it as First Minus.

  12. I will definitely put this on the to do list. Its a good looking product. There will be plenty of questions about the middle cluster of 4 seating and the privacy when traveling solo v in a group. Its good to see innovation in the industry

  13. @Lucky,

    Any idea when these seats are going to be rolled out and available for booking?
    Also what type will they be on first?

  14. It looks quite nice. However, all the photos and videos are made with computer generated imagery, and not the real product. So it’s difficult to get a sense of the proportions and finishes. I wouldn’t be surprised if the seats are much smaller than they appear.

  15. @Henry- it’s definitely more first minis than business plus. The only thing it’s missing to make it F class is a little bit of width and maybe an open foot well. That’s all.

  16. I mean… how many hours you fly in the air for a long haul flight?? 12 ? 13? Or maybe more?

    This is an outstanding new business class concept for me as a royal qatar business class traveller for years.

    You do not get this level of products when flying with other airliners, they could be very basic. Please do report fairly.

  17. @Ben On the hard product side of things yes, it on the soft products side of things it is definitely more like Business Plus.

  18. I know you’re kind of shy, but it will be great if you can get a TPG style photo of you and Ford with Tiffany and her husband in the 4 seat grouping together with the food & drink laid out etc. Another scenario I can imagine that would make a great photo is seeing you and Tiffany on one side with your laptops and/or business papers working together with a really brainy/glasses yet happy look, while Ford and her husband have fun chatting/relaxing/socializing with drinks and snacks on the other side. And it will be great if you can get an FA or two in the pictures as well, either walking by or coming with food/hot towels/drinks/ etc. Or maybe even someone from the flight deck. Basically want it to look like the photos and videos revealing the product, except with you guys in the photos on a real flight. I guess we might already be getting something like this when your recent secret project is released.

  19. I am always a bit surprised when I see people bashing QR. I took them to India and I was astonished at the amazing service in the air. Even the older 777-200’s felt very spacious if less private than I prefer. I have flown many, many airlines and they are sincerely the best in-flight. The ground experience is nothing in remote bases, good to great in DOH. With the new business suites, they look to take the hard product up several levels. I just wish that they could get the ground portion of the experience better. I am flying them HOU to DOH to SIN later this year. While it will be on the 777-200 for the long, long hauls, I am still looking forward to the experience. Yes, their CEO is a bit nuts, but he evidently has focused on quality compared to so many other airlines. Emirates for one is pitiful in business compared to Qatar. I have not flown Ethiad as of yet.

  20. The new layout looks great. However, I actually like to talk with the cabin crew so I an not a huge fan of the door.

  21. I am in Berlin at the travel fair where the new product was launched yesterday. It looks just as spacious in reality I can assure you. There are dividers between each seat so nothing to worry about. But single travelled should book window seats of course. The Qsuites will be retro fitted on B777 and A350, starting with London in June. This is an amazing product and I can’t wait to try it in the air.

  22. I really do not see the hype on these seats. They are nothing else than a modern version of BA’s YinYang J concept, even with the 2-4-2 seating. The seats do not look wider than BA’s, either. So when bashing BA for their Biz, there is no reason to be impressed here.

  23. What about humidity in long distans plane, up to 18 hours. Is it higher
    after refit ?
    Asking because of asthma.

  24. @Chilangoflyer
    You’re completely wrong. BA’s main problem – and a fundamental difference to Qsuites – is the lack of direct aisle access from every seat. That’s a major flaw in the now ageing Club World product.

    Apparently BA’s revised CW design for A350s *does* feature universal direct aisle access; that would be a major improvement. But they’ve said they won’t be retrofitting it to the fleet because it’s not a sufficiently significant improvement.

    Pity. I’m a UK-based OWE, but BA is certainly not my default airline and, as time passes and CW gets left behind, BA gets proportionately less of my business.

  25. The 4th of the 3 center-suites could simply raise the two dividers and so it will be a 3-cabin-party, the 4th is not involved. Or do I miss something?

  26. @ Christof — In theory you’re correct, though I wonder if people will easily figure out how to operate it like that. Also, it could get pretty loud for the fourth person if a party of three is having a conversation.

  27. I’m curious – four of the seats can become a “family suite”, with the ability for two of them to have a double bed. What about the other two? Does the “family suite” not become two double beds? Sorry if I am missing something…

  28. @Paul
    That’s why I said, it’s a MODERN version. And BA is not the only airline not having direct aisle access. So this cannot be the reason for the bashing of BA CW. I mostly read the 2-4-2 seats as an argument. And QSuites are nothing else than 2-4-2 and therefore a big step down from the actual 1-2-1. Nothing to make any hype about, that’s all I said.

  29. Actually, from the video I think it’s clear that there is a privacy partition which can be raised in the middle section. This is the pure genius part: if you’re alone in the middle of a group of 3, you raise the middle partition wall, you keep the screen in the closed position… and you see nobody. Not even in the honeymoon seat. It took me a while to figure it out but yes, there is the privacy wall in the middle which can be turned on, and this means that
    – A group of 4 will be by all means in the perfect configuration, unmatched in modern airlines
    – Same goes for a group of 3.
    – If you are two, you can either sit side by side (closing the screens), or face to face (opening the screens and closing the privacy wall in the middle).

    Seriously, this has raised the bar for all business classes in the world. And since many airlines have just barely completed the switch to 1-2-1 full flat, Qatar will enjoy superiority for quite a long time.
    Maybe it can be compared to Etihad, but then come other two factors: 1) price. Etihad is expensive, Qatar is often among the cheapest, and 2) the airport: DOH is a breeze, AUH is a big mess.

  30. In my opinion,it’s wonderful! As always Qatar Airways is the best in everything!excellent service and best service I’ve ever experienced,Comfortable Flights,Yes in my opinion it will change the business Class travel for ever, and yes it is truly revolutionary
    And Hundred Times better than what I expected,I don’t know but I have a feeling that you don’t like Qatar Airways lol my fav airline (just a feeling idk if it’s true) same goes with my love Kuwait Airways (My Country’a national airline) btw I love your reports 🙂

  31. Lucky I hope you are correct on the hard product being an improvement – but as several people have commented here already it looks to me like the width is now actually 8-across in 2-4-2 configuration, given the shoulder-to-shoulder design. I also I also wonder how awkward that may become even in the window seats with 2 large/tall people in the shoulder/shoulder configuration (like the godawful American Zodiac seat?).

    I Iove QR in business class so I hope this works well, but a move to the BA -style seat width or a variation of that layout would be a big step down in my opinion from the current 787/A350 reverse herringbone seats, doors or no doors.

  32. @Chilangoflyer

    “They are nothing else than a modern version of BA’s YinYang J concept, even with the 2-4-2 seating. The seats do not look wider than BA’s, either. So when bashing BA for their Biz, there is no reason to be impressed here.”

    You’re the one who brought up the comparison between BA and QR, and by saying “there is no reason to be impressed here” – you’re dead wrong.

    Even if the seats are not wider than BA’s, the space around it is. I’m not claustrophobic but sitting in BA Biz window seat was the tightest space I sat in in all biz flights.

    Also… in BA Biz, I have to face the passenger sitting on the other side in awkward silence during take-offs and landings when the partition has to be down. Not a problem with QSuites.

    And let’s not even go into the finer details of the material and luxury in QSuites when compared to the more mundane BA Biz.

    I can bet you that if 10 folks were shown either photos or the real seats in BA Biz and QSuites, a clear majority of them would choose QSuites.

    To say that you’re not impressed with QSuites really makes me wonder what is wrong with you?

  33. Thank you Ben for giving an objective view. All the other bloggers kept talking about the awesome “double bed.” But I kept wondering how wide it could possibly be? This is the only blog that questioned it along with other question marks about the product

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