Qatar Airways is raising the stakes in the battle for business fliers on ultra long-haul flights.
Beginning in June, the carrier will roll out business class “suites,” pod-like cabins with sliding doors, and, for a few customers who request it, the possibility of creating a quasi-double-bed suite from a pair of middle seats. With the center partition removed, the suites can also be converted in an airborne “family room” seating up to four people—presumably people who know each other well. Large video screens will add to the flying den ambiance, and more than 3,000 content options—from movies to games to music—will be available.
But that's not all.
The seats, which were two years in the making, also have other notable touches: According to The Telegraph, they'll be hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose gold. Passengers on overnight flight will also receive pajamas from the White Company and amenity kits from luggage brand Bric.
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Perhaps the most luxurious amenity of all? Passengers will also be able to eat any time they wish, or set a 'Do Not Disturb' option on the door of their suite—just like a real hotel room.
The seat/beds, dubbed QSuites, aren’t actually the first enclosed beds in international business class; Delta, for example, is installing its own version of the concept on its A350s, to debut in September 2017.
The first flights to get the new chairs will be the Doha to London route, aboard a new, extended-range Boeing 777-300. The seats will be installed on the rest of its long-distance fleet at a rate of one plane a month, including the A350-1000, the latest version of that jetliner, which competes with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which Qatar Airways also flies. (The carrier currently has 194 aircraft in its fleet.) The design may need to be tweaked somewhat for each type of aircraft, due to differences in the width and configuration of the plane, which means the rollout will be relatively slow.
The QSuite is also setting the stage for phasing out first class altogether on many planes, the airline said. While passengers on Qatar’s fleet of A380s will be able to fly that top class—after all, Qatar’s competing directly with Emirates’ and Etihad’s own over-the-top products in that category—on most other aircraft, the highest class of service will be business.