In an exclusive media event at Heathrow yesterday, Qatar Airways showed off its Quite product on the only operating aircraft with the new seats. TheDesignAir was one of the very few media outlets allowed at this exclusive show around. Currently only available on the 777 aircraft, the QSuite – Qatar Airways’ latest business class product – will soon to be expanded to Paris, New York and a second London service in the coming months.
Jonathan Harding OBE, Qatar Airways Senior Vice President Europe, who led the show around, said: “We are immensely proud to introduce the QSuite on flights out of London Heathrow. This is a game-changer for Business Class travel and sets a new standard in the industry. The QSuite brings First Class excellence into the Business Class cabin. At Qatar Airways we always look to provide the best for our passengers – be bold, innovative and customer focused.”
While the current roll-out of the product is running at approximately one a month, we take an exclusive peek at what will soon become commonplace in Qatar Airways’ skies.
First impressions count. We are strong believers in this. The entire cabin has been refitted, it’s not just a case of new seats. The galleys are adorned with a beautiful fretwork and bulkheads in the Qatar Airways burgundy.
Apart from the large seat structure walls that line the aisles, that feel more like first class suites, everything is swathed in fabric and leathers that do well to offer a quietness, absorbing sound, rather than reflecting it.
With Qatar Airways mood lighting, it felt like walking into a very trendy hotel, rather than an aircraft, although the walls to the suites do make navigating the aisle slightly more tricky than usual.
Featuring 42 seats in business class, the cabin keeps the same amount of the seats in the forward section, thanks to the forward / rear facing concept that runs throughout the cabin.
The actual suites themselves are vast, and offer an impressive amount of personal space. The forward/rear facing seats naturally have a slightly different feel depending which way you are travelling, but both are equally impressive.
The seat itself feels oversized, almost like a throne, when sat in it, with a high back which forms the major part of the bed when reclined. Thanks to a myriad of controls, the seat is fully customisable, with forward tracking, recline, seat massage and a Do Not Disturb sign.
Each seat offers plenty of storage, both hidden and table areas for laptops etc. The seats are also well supplied with a variety of ports and power, including HDMI, USB and even a contactless payment pad.
The personal table, which folds out to a huge sturdy table perfect for eating, is perfect for the centre seats, but not so much for the aisle seats, as the table, when folded out is immovable, meaning getting in and out of the seat if right next to the suite wall is virtually impossible. But that said, naturally the cabin crew are constantly on hand to help should you need to stretch your legs during service. Those on the inner seats (situated away from the aisle) have the ability however to slip out should they want.
Privacy is the most impressive element to the suites with each seat being cocooned in high walls. (Although an issue with passengers using the emergency release handle to open the door rather than just pushing it too is causing a few passengers to accidentally quick release the whole door panel off, but this is something that can be addressed as the product continues to roll out)
The high walls and large doors offer a great sense of privacy. Should a passenger want to travel by themselves, even in the 4 joining suites that make a “Quad” it’s totally possible, as the joining walls are fully adjustable. Centre dividers go down between seats, and even go fully down between the ‘double beds’ (which are then covered by a special insert to make the mattress seamless)
The dividers between passengers in the middle section, (forward rear facing) can also slide back, allowing for guests to communicate through the divide. Sadly, this element wasn’t passed on to the window seats, as this would have offered more options for passengers travelling together.
As for entertainment, the glorious Oryx magazine is now hidden away in the seat furniture, but a giant 21.5inch TV screen dominates the space, offering a fully immersive, first class entertainment offering.
Thanks to an increased seat pitch compared to the usual forward / rear racing configurations, each seat enjoys a small side storage unit which allows for personal belongings and the ability to stretch out when the seat is positioned as a flat bed.
While the addition of the ‘Quad’ is an interesting gimmick, which perhaps serves its demographic of middle-eastern families very well, probably won’t get as much use as the airline expects. However the advent of the concept has brought other benefits, such as flexible seating arrangements, large private suites, and storage a plenty to give passengers a real premium-business class product.
We were thrilled to see the product, and while we stand by our previous comment that it isn’t exactly bringing anything the skies hasn’t already seen before, they’ve managed to bring all the best bits together to make an impressive, unique cabin space, that is going to receive a lot of praise over the coming months.
The Big Picture