My Struggles Booking Qatar Airways’ Qsuites…

In March Qatar Airways revealed their new business class product, which they’re calling Qsuites. The product looks stunning, as each seat is a fully enclosed suite with direct aisle access. The way I see it, Qatar Airways already has the world’s best business class product, and that’s only improved further with this new seat.

Generally I do everything in my power to try new airline products as soon as they’re introduced. Qatar Airways began flying the Qsuites between Doha and London as of this past Saturday, June 24. They did this without much fanfare, which is to say that they never formally announced it as the inaugural flight, there were no festivities, etc.

Unfortunately I’ve had a non-refundable trip booked for that date for several months now, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to take the inaugural. I didn’t mind that too much, since I was hoping to fly it shortly after it was introduced, so I can get the real experience (I also wasn’t actually convinced the inaugural would happen).

So last week I had mapped out the perfect itinerary. At the moment there’s no Qsuites award availability between Doha and London (while space is wide open on other flights, that’s not the case on QR7/8, which have the new seats).

My plan was to book a paid business class ticket from Tunis to London via Doha, which seems to be the best deal at the moment for flying the Qsuites, at slightly under $1,600 one-way (you can fly roundtrip for less than double the cost of a one-way).

I was going to do it for this coming weekend, and then found an Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to Boston with business class award availability a day later, which seemed like a good thing to combine it with, as that would get me back to the US.

Since one ticket was a near full fare ticket with a lot of availability, and the other was an award flight with just one business class award seat remaining, I decided to book the Aer Lingus flight first, by phoning up British Airways Executive Club. Making the reservation went smoothly, and after a few hours I phoned up Aer Lingus to get a seat assignment (since the Aer Lingus record locator didn’t seem to be working online), and they informed me I wasn’t booked on the flight.

Hmmm, I’m usually pretty good at this stuff, so I went to ba.com and saw I was apparently confirmed on the flight, but my ticket hadn’t yet been issued. So I called British Airways back, and they informed me that what they had booked me a “phantom” seat, and I didn’t actually have anything confirmed (which is even stranger since there was one “U” class” seat when I booked, and that disappeared as soon as I booked). Perhaps I should write a separate post about that situation, but the moral of the story is that there was nothing they were able to do.

As a result I figured I’d wait a day or two and then revisit, and I also held off on booking the Qsuites flight, since I figured the availability would still be there.

Well, this morning I was going to book my ticket from Tunis to London via Doha (and later figure out how to return to the US). Shortly before confirming my ticket I saw the following seatmap for the Doha to London flight on both Saturday and Sunday:

Wait a second, that’s not the Qsuites seatmap, which looks like this:

Grrrr, it looks like the Qsuites product isn’t even reliably on the Doha to London route yet! So I guess my issue with the Aer Lingus ticket was a blessing in disguise, or else I’d be booked on a six segment itinerary to the US, only to fly Qatar’s old product.

Now I’m a bit conflicted about what to do. Do I book the Doha to London flight for early next week? There’s no guarantee they won’t extend the days on which they take the plane off the route.

Qatar Airways is notoriously unreliable to begin with, let alone when they don’t even promise a certain plane on a certain date.

What would you do — sit in a hotel room in Tunis until 24 hours out when a seatmap still shows the Qsuites, wait until Qatar Airways has a few more planes with the new product in service, or just hope that flights starting next Monday have the new product again?

I really want to experience this product, but I also want to be (somewhat) practical…

Comments

  1. Hmmm I’ve been considering booking a Aer Lingus flight recently and the phantom availability does seem to be an issue… I’ve looked at IAD-DUB and so far UA/EF says that there is Y/C availability… Qantas says there is Y availability. BA.com of course doesn’t list anything and Avios.com doesn’t list any availability… I was about to call BA but it seems like they are plagued by phantom availability as well… Curiously EF says that they pull the availability directly from EI so I’m wondering if you saw availability on EF?

    FDW

  2. Well, I was on the DOH-LHR, on Saturday morning. Not 100% convinced this is the best on a morning flight.
    At first my seat (6J) felt kind of claustrophobic – how ever after take off, when the doors were released (they are in locked mode during take off and landing), I grew more and more in to the relaxation and privacy that this seat has to offer.
    QR Suites also offers First in Business their new dedicated dining program.
    I especially enjoyed the “Snacking-concept” offering samples of everything for Chicken Satay to delicious French Macrons.

  3. I’m risk averse, so I would probably wait until they have a few more planes in service to see what the emerging trend is for that route.

  4. Lucky, just wait until you can book it with greater reliability (such as when they have more planes that have it). Too much unpredictability about anything having to do with Qatar at this point to risk a “wasted” trip. I’ll look forward to the review regardless of when you end up taking the flight!

  5. Wow, this should be an easy one…go to London or even Doha and wait there for the first flight available with miles. Can even talk to the staff there who should be better informed.

  6. Gotta agree with many of the others here: just wait until Qatar reliably has the QSuites available and then book. Your need to jump the gun is about you and not your readers, I think. Sorry!

  7. I think you have to wait until it is the plane is flying a route reliably and then bring three friends with you on the same flight to see if you can actually do that living room setup shown in the rendering.

  8. How much is a flexible ticket? Just ask in the lounge if it’s the Qsuite product and if not change onto a flight that is … you might be stuck in London for a day or two while figuring out how to get home, but how much does that suck?

  9. Tom’s got it. Wait a while until we want to read about a 4-person trip. Make it a contest and invite some readers!

  10. If you think this is unreliable @lucky, try Vietnam airlines A350 aircraft from HCMC to Hanoi. Changed 3 times in couple of weeks! Took me three flights to get on one!

  11. Got to Tunis, there’s some great sightseeing there and Tunisians are wonderful people. I can probably hook you up with someone to show you around and can definitely recommend some great food.

  12. I think that they may be switching planes around a lot because of all the jockeying that have had to do with the embargo situation. Add to this that this is a new product about which they have made no fanfare for what is arguably the most advanced business class hard product to date and one may deduce that they are a. just working out the kinks, or b. not sure about the deployment of their equipment for the near term given the embargo…. Alas, I think that you should hold your horses until the dust settles on this rodeo!

  13. I really don’t mind which choice you make, but whenever you ask these questions, it seems that you’ve already made up your mind.

  14. Hi ben, nearly same experience i had. Booked with my parents and wi fe long time ago qr A 350 biz from Fra to Doh, now changed ac to 777-300 grr

  15. Perhaps should rename title “My struggle indirectly financing an oppresive state sponsor of terrorism”. It’s interesting how some on the left have more disdain for christian american small business owners than the most anti-gay, anti-women, anti-freedom and pro-terrorism regimes. But don’t worry your precious little minds about that if you can book a nice flight in a suite, jetting around the world and relax while reading huffpo about how horrible Trump is for cancelling the Paris accord. Carry on.

  16. Depends on your time schedule – if you can afford the 24 hr delay and you’ll already be in place, as long as you can work from the hotel, wait the 24 hrs and go for it.

    If you really cant (or cant be bothered to wait, which I might not be were I in your shoes), wait until there is more reliability, invite 3 friends, and try to do a “Living Room Trip”.

  17. Hi Lucky, I just tried to book Qatar award flights using AA miles by calling the Australia desk, and was told AA no longer has an award booking agreement with Qatar. Could that be true?

  18. @ Spgguy — Based on doing research beforehand and also based on my limited experience, it felt very safe and wouldn’t have qualms recommending it.

  19. Another consideration is that if you fly now, even if you manage to get on the flight with QSuites chances are the middle 4 seats will be full of families as this is currently around eid al-fitr which is one of the biggest holiday season for muslim countries, so you won’t get much opportunity to try out the middle seats. I am visiting London now and see so many ME families in the shopping district.

  20. Just cough up for a flexible ticket, if you want to review early. It’s what others do (unpredictability when it’s only one or two aircraft fitted out with the updated seating is nothing unsurprising). Gotta spend that credit card referral and click bait advertising revenue sometime 🙂

  21. Hi Lucky,
    I’m just curious why you didn’t go to the Paris Air Show to see the QSuites hard product (and plenty of other things that might be interesting to you). I went there (for other reasons, not primarily to see the QSuites) and saw the A7-BED plane as well (BTW, probably the Paris Air Show was the real reason why they installed their new product on this particular plane). There was plenty of space and time to take pictures, ask questions etc. (they just let in a few people at a time, but you could stay as long as you like in the plane).
    Greetings from Switzerland,
    Fritz

  22. I think you should call Qatar and ask them what day and what flight will they have the Qsuites FOR SURE, then take Tiffanny, Andrew, and Ford on that flight so yall can do the living room setup thingy. I’d love that review & instagram stories

  23. In my experience, Qatar Airways bookings and information staff are terrible. Misinformation, failure to understand simple questions and poor customer service frustrate. In the air, staff are professional, the product is excellent. The staff at Al Safwa lounge are the sweetest (food mediocre though). They provide no dedicated booking service for first class passengers. Even BA offers that. I like your previews and appreciate the effort made. Pity various air miles programmes are so annoying to book through.

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