Back in May, we had a world exclusive – the first photograph of the new business class seat that Qatar Airways was fitting on its Boeing 787-9 fleet.
Qatar Airways has now confirmed our story and provided an official photograph. The seat will fly commercially for the first time today, from Doha to Milan.
The official press release for the launch is here.
The history of Qsuite
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.
Business class on the Qatar Airways Boeing 787-9
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 its first Boeing 787-9 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.”
But it isn’t Qsuite ….
One fact jumps out from the press release we received yesterday. The seat is not called Qsuite. It is referred to, multiple times, as the 787-9 Business Class Suite.
Qatar Airways wasn’t ready to fit an older seat design on its 787-9s so the aircraft sat in storage for two years.
Here is the leaked image which we published in May:
…. and here is the image Qatar Airways released yesterday, which admittedly is not hugely informative:
The first thing to note is that this new Business Class Suite 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, it looks incredibly similar to the Cirrus NG seat that Virgin also used for its A350 Upper Class Suite.
However, it is actually the Adient Ascent seat which was only certified for use in January. This makes Qatar Airways the first airline to use the Adient Ascent seat and explains the two 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 has 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.
To quote ….
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al-Baker, said:
“In-line with our commitment to offering our passengers an unparalleled travel experience, we are pleased to introduce this much-anticipated Business Class Suite on Qatar Airways’ newest wide-body aircraft, the Boeing 787-9 which will debut onto a number of key routes within our network.
“The new Business Class Suite sets yet another industry standard with a uniquely private experience for premium passengers travelling with us, which is becoming increasingly valuable during this pandemic, while showcasing Qatar Airways’ 5-star standards of excellence and Qatari hospitality that are quintessential on all of our flights.
“Our passengers deserve the best and I am confident that they will appreciate the larger Dreamliner variant for its unmatched comfort in the sky. Passengers can rest assured that its responsible impact on the environment fully aligns with our ambition to achieve the highest levels of sustainability.”
How does the 787-9 Business Class Suite 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.
Where will we see the new seat?
Qatar Airways has said that the initial routes for the new Boeing 787-9 will be Athens, Barcelona, Dammam, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid and Milan. The capacity is 311 seats – 30 Business Class Suites and 281 seats in Economy Class.
Whilst Doha still remains on the UK Red List for travel, let’s hope that we can see the seat in person before too long.
You can find out more about the new seat in the official press statement here.