Qatar Airways’ New 787-9 Business Class: Not What We Expected

While Qatar Airways has already taken delivery of several Boeing 787-9s, the airline hasn’t yet revealed what the business class seats on these planes will look like. While one might assume these planes would feature the same Qsuites as other aircraft, we’ve known for a while that won’t be the case.

Well, we now have a better sense of what the 787-9 business class seats will be like, and it’s not at all what I was expecting (I think?).

The basics of Qatar Airways’ 787-9s

Qatar Airways has an oddly varied fleet. The airline already uses 777-200s, 777-300s, 787-8s, A330-200s, A330-300s, A350-900s, A350-1000s, and A380-800s, for long haul flights (at least that was the case pre-coronavirus).

Qatar Airways Qsuites on the A350-1000

On top of that, Qatar Airways had ordered 30 Boeing 787-9s, the first several of which the airline was forced to take delivery of late last year. However, none of these planes have entered service yet.

Why? Because the airline was having problems with the new business class seats on these planes.

The problem with Qsuites on the 787-9

A few years ago Qatar Airways introduced Qsuites, the name of its phenomenal new business class seat. I rank it as one of the best business class products in the world.

The original plan was for a new version of this to be installed on the 787-9. As Qatar Airways’ CEO, Akbar Al Baker, explained late last year about the new 787-9 business class seats:

“It will have QSuite – the first time QSuite will debut on the 787, but it will be a new variant, next-generation QSuite.”

The reason for a new variant of the seat? Because the fuselage of the 787 is a bit narrower than of the A350 and 777, and allegedly the 787 cabin isn’t wide enough to have four Qsuites per row. The 787 cabin is only a few inches narrower than the A350 cabin, which is why this might come as a surprise to some.

On top of that, Qatar Airways was hoping to reduce the weight of the seats, so we also knew they’d be lighter.

However, based on everything we were told at the time, it sounded like the 787-9 would just be getting a slightly modified version of Qsuites, rather than a new product altogether.

Qatar Airways’ 787-9s will have new business class seats

While Qatar Airways still hasn’t officially unveiled the new 787-9 business class seat, Executive Traveller had an insightful interview with Al Baker about what we should expect from the new business class seat. It truly does appear like this is an all new business class seat, and not at all an evolution of the existing Qsuite.

Here’s what we know about Qatar Airways’ new 787-9 business class seats:

  • They’ll be similar to the current reverse herringbone seats found on the 787-8, A350-900, and A380-800
  • While Qatar Airways’ current reverse herringbone seats are from Collins, these new seats won’t be
  • The seats will feature “full privacy,” with a door
  • The center seats can still be used to create a double bed, if desired, but there will be no “quad” seats
  • The new seat will weigh 20% less than Qsuites, and the height of the door will be reduced from the current 53 inches “based on passenger feedback” (could someone please tell me what customers were requesting the door to be lower?!)

I’m a bit confused about some of these things, so let’s try to process all of this for a second.

Below are some pictures of the current Qatar Airways reverse herringbone business class seats.

Qatar Airways’ current reverse herringbone business class

Qatar Airways’ current reverse herringbone business class

If Qatar Airways wanted to offer reverse herringbone seats with doors, then you’d think it would look something like British Airways’ Club Suites. These are literally Collins Super Diamond seats with doors, so it seems like a logical evolution. Also keep in mind that Qatar Airways owns a stake in British Airways’ parent company, the airlines have a partnership, etc.

British Airways’ Club Suites

Qatar Airways indicates that the seats aren’t from Collins, so should we just expect similar seats from another manufacturer?

But then there’s one more oddity. Qatar Airways also claims there will still be double beds. There’s simply no way for reverse herringbone seats to turn into double beds, since the seats are never parallel to one another.

At that point I can’t help but wonder if Qatar Airways is instead going with a staggered configuration, similar to what you’ll find with Delta’s new business class suites. The difference would be that the center seats would be staggered so that they’re close together in every other row, so that a double bed could (potentially) be created.

Delta One Suites

There’s only one other option — the Adient Ascent seat, which is a highly customizable product. It’s what Hawaiian Airlines will be installing on 787-9s, and what American Airlines is considering as a new business class seat.

The Adient Ascent business class seat

This seems to check all the boxes, and therefore I’d assume this is Qatar Airways’ new business class seat on the 787-9.

Bottom line

Qatar Airways’ new 787-9 business class won’t be anything like the Qsuites that we’re used to. Based on how this is being described, I’m not sure there’s anything “next generation” about this, in the sense that it doesn’t really seem like an evolution of the current product.

While I’m a huge fan of Qsuites, there’s something to be said for product consistency, and it’s quite disappointing that Qatar Airways will be introducing yet another different type of business class seat.

While we still don’t officially know what seat Qatar Airways will offer, the Adient Ascent product is the only one that checks all the boxes — it has reverse herringbone seats, it has double beds, and it’s not from Collins.

What do you make of what we know about Qatar Airways’ new 787-9 business class seat?

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