qsuite

Image via Qatar Airways

APEX Insight: The competition to woo premium passengers is heating up, and airlines are meeting the challenge with proprietary designs. Qatar Airways’ highly anticipated business-class QSuite was revealed today at ITB Berlin, following other recently launched patented firsts including United Airlines’ Polaris business-class seat and Delta Air Lines’ fully enclosed business-class suites.

On the opening day of ITB Berlin, Qatar Airways unveiled its new, patented business-class product, called the QSuite, during a ceremony attended by international media, travel industry representatives and VIP guests.

The airline’s new forward/aft facing QSuites offer privacy, comfort and flexibility, as well as plenty of room for dining, working and entertainment. With retractable privacy panels, suites can be joined to create a double bed or private room for four – features Qatar Airways claims are industry firsts. “[W]e offer more choices than any other airline. It only makes sense to give you the choice to make your own cabin-within-a-cabin, creating double QSuites or quadrants,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker at today’s ceremony. He also highlighted that, while the suite is roomy, and the flexibility of group interaction is a great benefit to travelers flying together, these new seats do not take up any additional cabin space, when compared to the existing seat model.

“It only makes sense to give you the choice to make your own cabin-within-a-cabin.” — Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways

The QSuite’s four-way travel concept, adapted to the needs of traveling groups, allows passengers in central double suites to lower the dividers between them, shift television screens to the side, and share a meal or chat during the flight. If the purpose of a trip is business, colleagues can conduct meetings as they might in the boardroom of a private jet. Qatar Airways will complement the group flying experience with a dedicated snack menu for gatherings, served in addition to the airline’s dine-on-demand meal service.

Al Baker worked with the airline’s in-house team to design the new suites with a mandate to “change the way people travel” and offer something competitors could not copy. “When we raised the bar, they followed us,” he said of previous developments. While conducting the renovations, Qatar Airways also worked on improving the usability of its in-flight entertainment system with a now fully revamped user interface that makes finding content easier.

The first aircraft to take off with the QSuite will be a Boeing 777 flying to London Heathrow in June. Qatar Airways plans to install the suites on all 777s, each accommodating 42 passengers in the QSuite class. The suites will also be installed on the airline’s first Airbus A350-1000, while the development of other models tailored to fit A380s and 787s are ongoing.

Marisa Garcia was once locked in a hangar in Oberpfaffenhofen while fine-tuning Gandalf’s new seats. Seriously. The firemen got her out. Writing is less confining, but she has lovely memories of those hands-on days.