Qatar Airways Will Begin Flying The A350 To Atlanta In 2018

Filed Under: Qatar

In 2016, Qatar Airways began flying between Doha and Atlanta, a route which the carrier’s CEO claimed was “in order to rub salt into the wounds of Delta.” Yes, Delta is really suffering. 😉

Qatar Airways has been operating their Atlanta service using 777s (both 777-300ERs and occasionally 777-200LRs). The 777 is the backbone of their fleet, though they have an increasing number of A350s that they’re using for longhaul service to the US. It looks like there’s an update on this front.

As of March 25, 2018, Qatar Airways will begin flying an A350 daily between Doha and Atlanta. The timing of this is a bit unusual. As of now, no airline flies regularly scheduled A350s to Atlanta. However, as of March 24, 2018, Delta plans to operate their daily flight between Atlanta and Seoul Incheon using an A350. So I’m shocked that Qatar decided to fly the A350 to Atlanta a day after Delta is starting service, rather than a day before. For an airline that loves making a point, I figured almost certainly that they’d start flying the A350 to Atlanta before the hometown airline does.

This swap represents a capacity downgrade. Qatar Airways’ 777-300ERs have 358 seats, while their A350s have 283 seats. However, the good news is that it represents a significant upgrade in terms of the passenger experience. Qatar Airways has used their old business class product on the route until now, which features fully flat beds in a 2-2-2 configuration. While it’s a spacious configuration, it’s most certainly not cutting edge.

Meanwhile Qatar’s A350s feature a beautiful reverse herringbone product in business class.

It’s great to see the amount of product upgrades we’ve seen on Qatar’s US routes. As of March, flights to Atlanta, Boston, Miami, New York (once daily), and Philadelphia will be flown by A350s, while flights to Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York (once daily), and Washington, will be flown by 777s.

Is anyone else as surprised as I am by Qatar adding A350 service to Atlanta a day after Delta does?

(Tip of the hat to @airlineroute)

  1. I really don’t see how Delta will be affected by this. Qatar will affect the passengers coming in from the Middle East or the Indian Subcontinent. I don’t think pax from either of the Middle East would have considered making a stop in Amsterdam and then to Detroit (The option when using Delta), it would be much more convenient to fly a middle eastern carrier (most likely the one serving the city they live in). As for the pax from the Indian subcontinent who could have flown one-stop via Amsterdam to the USA with the help of the Jet Airways and Delta tie-up, I don’t think it affects that target audience much as most people on the Indian subcontinent prefer the Middle Eastern Carriers and the ones who would have chosen Delta would be either:

    a. Business pax due to their loyalty status with 9W who will still choose the 9W-Delta combination
    b. Economy pax choosing 9W and Delta via Amsterdam due to very cheap promotional fares

    I don’t see either of these two audiences changing to Qatar because of the introduction of the A350.

  2. Finally!!! As an ATL resident, I don’t even care if they launch before or after DL. I despise the bully mentality that DL has in ATL. I wish we had more options/competition so it wasn’t so expensive to fly out of ATL. Jetblue hasn’t even flown out of ATL to NYC yet and DL has already cut their ticket price, literally, in 1/2. I welcome QR, their “best in biz class,” their upgraded planes, & faster way to get to the ME and beyond!

  3. from business class point of view, yes it is an upgrade but Y in A350 is tight compared to 777. The majority of the people will be in Y. Something to think of when you say such things.

  4. I would still prefer their spacious B777-300 rather than A350 which feels cramped and sleeping like in a coffin.

  5. I much prefer their glorious A350 compared to the (non-Qsuite) B777, which feels old and tired, and forces you to share space with a neighbour. The A350 feels – and is – open and spacious in comparison.

  6. @ken I understand that you may prefer the 777 over the A350, but from the seat dimensions point of view, Qatar’s A350 has 18 inch seats on its A350s in a 3-3-3 configuration, while the 777 Y seats are 17 inches wide in a 3-4-3 configuration, so the economy class experience is also upgraded, with more room and a better IFE system. I am aware that window Y seats on the 359 can feel cramped do to the curvature of the aircraft.

  7. There’s absolutely nothing unusual about the timing of this schedule change. They’re doing it on the day of the IATA summer schedule change. That’s the timeline that most foreign airlines adhere to when they make gauge changes/ etc. Airlines like Qatar, Etihad, Emirates, etc only publish two large schedules a year (airlines like United/ American publish up to 12 or 13!), so the whole company plans for large-scale changes around those dates. Sure, day of week/ weekly gauge changes can occur from time to time, but for the most part, changes like this, where the whole gauge is changing for the season, happen on the day of the IATA seasonal change. That’s the story here. And they’re reducing by 50 seats (777 to A350) because they simply cant fill such a large plane and (try to) make money. While the A350 certainly has a nicer product, the reality is that it’s more right sized for the Atlanta market than the 777 ever was.

  8. @ Jason — I totally get March 25 is the usual switchover date, and that would be the default date on which they’d make the change. My point was that given the egos involved, I’m surprised they didn’t decide to move it forward two days just to beat Qatar. After all, this is the airline known for trying to “rub salt in the wound” of other airlines.

  9. you mean beat Delta? I dont think they care in this instance. While it’s a nicer plane, they’re shrinking in the market. Delta could probably just say it’s an instance of them shrinking their presence, and go on to point out that QR really cant compete in the market, or something like that. Also, it’s way more of a logistical headache to make such a change, seemingly minor, happen (trust me as somebody who has been intricately involved with this sort of thing).

  10. From a economy class point of view the 777 out of Atlanta can be quite nice. I was able to grab entire empty rows on the last couple of trips I was on, YMMV. The QR and TK flights keep fares down on the India & ME flights out of ATL.

  11. Ha! Just last night, I switched my ORD-ATL-DOH routing to ORD-DCA-IAD-DOH in order to try Qsuites (courtesy of a free change to my AA award booking). But had I not, I would’ve been elated with the A350 switch! If Qsuites doesn’t stick on the IAD-DOH route past 3/23/18, I may switch back if still possible. I hope Qsuites remain on that route after QR publishes its schedule “adhering to the IATA summer schedule change,” as Jason explains. (Maybe this is why JFK-DOH QR702 doesn’t reflect Qsuites after 3/23 also–at least as of 11/20/17?)

  12. While I haven’t flown QR before this post is causing me to think. I am within about 3 hrs driving distance to Atlanta. Currently struggling to find any (JFK, BOS, PHL, IAD) round trip biz award availability on QR for the summer. Wondering if I should just trying and ‘settle’ for the A350 to DOH or be patient and hope award availability opens up for the JFK Qsuite route. If it wasn’t for all the Qsuite buzz I wouldn’t even care. Any thoughts?

  13. Any chance of Qsuites flying soon to DFW, i have got a award ticket booked AMD-DOH_-DFW-DTW in Sep 2018? would love to try the new Qsuites, also would be very helpful as i am flying with my kid.

  14. So surprised, but glad. I’ve flown this route a few times on the 777-300ER and it was quite full (maybe 80% in business and economy). Of course it’s not just amounts of people on a plane, but price also factoring to determine profitability…. You CAN get deals on Qatar out of Atlanta, but they aren’t insanely low or anything.

    So anyways, hopefully the route is here to stay and enjoy the new, better plane. Business hard product offerings out of Atlanta have ALWAYS lagged – basically no matter the airline.

  15. Some of QR 77W have over 18 inch width and 33 inch legroom but A350 has only 31 inch legroom. Then 77L has 19 inch width and 33 inch, so it is a downgrade for economy class passengers most of the time. In rare cases, you get an inch narrower seat with 77W but I am fine with 17 or 17.5 width but 31 inch legroom over 15h flight is a killer. QR 787 is worse in that regard. I still don’t understand why QR keeps shrinking its seat legroom on newer airplanes for super long hauls when they cannot fill the airplane.

  16. Emirates and Etihad seem to be undergoing cost cutting, judging by the disappointing meals in both business and economy on my recent trips.

    I just wish QR would fly out of DTW. it’s only DL and LH from here, no TK even.

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