Qatar Airways is adding another business class seat type to its line-up. The new seat will be fitted on its Boeing 787-9s, due to make their debut later this year.
Qatar’s industry-leading Qsuite was originally launched on its A350 fleet in 2017, enabled by the A350’s wide fuselage (the official Airbus designation is A350-XWB, which stands for eXtra Wide Body).
You can read our review of Qsuite on the A350 here.
Qatar Airways made full use of the A350’s 5.61m cabin width. The problem was that it had designed a business class seat that was physically too large to retro-fit on smaller aircraft types such as the Boeing 787-9 (below) which is ‘only’ 5.49m wide.
Qatar Airways’ 787-9s
This is how business class looks on the older Qatar Airways Boeing 787-8 fleet:
This is the Collins Super Diamond seat, which British Airways used as the basis for its Club Suite.
Qatar Airways was originally supposed to take delivery of the first of its Boeing 787-9s in 2019. Whilst the aircraft were built and ready to go, Qatar’s new business class seat was still on the drawing board. At the time, Akbar Al Baker, Qatar’s CEO, said:
“It will have QSuite – the first time QSuite will debut on the 787, but it will be a new variant, next-generation QSuite.”
Qatar Airways wasn’t ready to fit an older seat design on its 787-9s so the aircraft have been sitting in storage for the past two years – waiting for their debut this year.
Since then, Al Baker has moderated his comments. Last year, he suggested that “it will be a modified version of the 1-2-1 seat we have in the past.”
Qatar’s next-generation Qsuite on its 787-9s
The new seat was due to be unveiled at the ITB Berlin travel show in 2020 which ended up being cancelled. The rumours at the time were that the door would be lower, due to passenger feedback, and that the overall seat would be substantially lighter.
We now have the first image of what we believe Qatar’s new Qsuite will look like on the 787-9 fleet.
Whilst the image quality isn’t great, it gives a good impression of what the new suite is meant to be like:
The first thing to note is that this version of Qsuite is almost entirely unrelated to the original Qsuite now on Qatar’s A350s and Boeing 777s. It is also not the same seat as used on its 787-8s, A380s or older A350s.
At first glance, this looks incredibly similar to the Cirrus NG seat that Virgin also used for its A350 Upper Class Suite.
However, as noted in the comments, it is actually the Adient Ascent seat which was only certified for use in January. That would make Qatar Airways the first airline to use the Adient Ascent seat and would explain the 2 year delay…
The Adient Ascent is a reverse herringbone seat, which means that window seats face the window and the centre pairs face the aisle.
You can see more of the similarities when you compare it to the original, unmodified design concept for the Adient Ascent:
The easiest way to spot the similarities are in the adjustable arm rest and the seat controls.
Qatar Airways seems to have kept customisation to a minimum with the Adient Ascent, which features a fully closing door as standard. The biggest changes appear to the finish of the seat, rather than any major structural changes.
The seat also appears to have a fully retractable centre divider, which means that couples travelling together will have the option to create a more open suite, although you will still be facing away from each other at an angle.
On a side note, it is interesting that Qatar Airways has chosen the Adient Ascent rather than the Super Diamond, which it already uses on its 787-8s, A380s and older A350s. British Airways has added fully closing doors to their Super Diamond derivative, so what does the Adient Ascent offer that Super Diamond doesn’t?
How does the 787-9 Qsuite compare to the original A350 Qsuite?
Let’s be honest – the new 787-9 seat is NOT Qsuite. Whilst it does have fully closing doors – a trend that Delta launched with its Delta One suite in 2016 and which Qatar followed up with the Qsuite in 2017 – the new seat is, fundamentally, an off-the-shelf seat.
This original Qsuite, on the other hand, is a fully-bespoke seat that allows for a number of innovations no other seat on the market has, including the ability to turn a pair of seats into a double bed:
…. or a set of four Qsuites into a shared space for a family or business partners:
Whilst it does look like you will be able to turn the centre pair into a double bed, it’s not entirely clear how this works, given the reverse herringbone layout of the cabin.
That said, Qatar’s new Qsuite-lite will hopefully be a fantastic product and competitive with the best on the market. It just isn’t Qsuite.
Hopefully we will get a closer look at Qatar Airways’s new business class seat very soon and see for ourselves. The 787-9 is due to operate routes such as Milan, Madrid, Athens, Kuala Lumpur and Manchester.