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

Filed Under: Qatar

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?

  1. I agree that this is just all around confusing. Additionally, as you mentioned, product consistently is EXTREMELY important—super disappointed as well to hear that we’ll have yet another J variant thrown into the mix.
    I’m crossing my fingers it will be on paar with the original Qsuites

  2. It is indeed very surprising :/ ~~ the 787 fuselage is only about 5 inches less than the A350’s …….. let’s hope it’ll be truly innovative and original like Qatar would do ~~~ and hopefully the door won’t get TOO low lol the BA club suite doors are said to be so low that when you’re sitting upright you can still see everything in the cabin

  3. They should offer the same business class seat that Jal have on their 788/789 fleet and Korean in their 748, 777 and 330. Put some door in it and I bet people would be satisfied.

  4. Am I the only one who feels claustrophobic in the Qsuite? Same problem with the old BA business class. No such problem with most other airline seats.

  5. @GlobeTrottter: I agree. QSuite is not what I prefer at all. The “old” A787 and A380 seats is my favorite and and un-claustrophobic.

  6. I must say that QR has always nailed it with their business class products in my opinion. I don’t really care about inconsistency, as long as the seats are good in all variants. Not all aircraft types or markets have the same requirements, and cost for the airline is also an important factor.

    Personally, I like all newer QR seats a lot, and I don’t think that there are only advantages about Q Suites. Anyways, compared to what many other airlines offer, QR is top notch when it comes to hard product, and I am glad that there is still innovation and product launches, even during this pandemic.

  7. Likely going to be the Ascent Adient seat (same seat class that will be installed on HA’s 787s). They offer reverse herringbone seats with closing doors and are the only reverse herringbone seat that I know of which would theoretically offer double beds (there’s a picture of it on their website).

  8. Maybe the double bed will only be for bulkhead seats like SQ’s latest A380 J seat. That’s reverse herringbone with a double bed on some.

  9. @Globetrotter – No you are not the only one. The height and angle of the door was a big reason for this as it cast shadows throughout the suite and this was a small negative in my book – this is why I am glad they are lowering the door level (yes, I am one of those people who gave that feedback!). You lose too much natural light with a door as high as they had.

  10. @GlobeTrotter, @Sean M. And @GEIR OVE KRISTIANSEN – 100% agreed. Much prefer the old QR 787/A350 reverse herringbone without doors.

  11. The Adient Ascent seems a likely a choice. I’d still fly them even if I were booked on the Collins seat tbh. Where will these be flown to, I wonder? What sorts of market are they thinking about?

  12. Though perhaps the greater mystery is what business class seats their A321neos and A321LRs (which apparently are delayed until 2022) will have. In another article from Executive Traveller from yesterday, it said that on their A321neos, business class will have seats with all aisle access (discounting the Collins Diamond and Thompson Vantage), won’t have a door (but will have lots of privacy), and will use an “existing design from an established manufacturer rather than a fully bespoke effort,” largely discounting the Thompson Vantage Solo, which otherwise would be my best guess. It was also described as a “mini-Qsuite,” possibly suggesting that it could be a type of staggered seat, such as the Stelia Solstys or Safran Optima or Thompson Vantage XL, though I don’t believe that any staggered seats with all aisle access have ever been installed on a narrow-body aircraft and I suspect that it would be somewhat tricky to do. It could also be another reverse herringbone seat (like AA’s A321T first class), though, with limited space on the A321, I’m not sure if they would make the most sense. I’m quite stumped on this one, though it probably will be a new seat for narrow-body aircraft unless they use the Safran Cirrus/Versa as AA did.

  13. To be frank, I can’t imagine them going with Adient Ascent seating despite the weight restrictions. Wouldn’t it result in higher fuel consumption? I guess these routes are gonna be deployed on medium haul flights. QR is in the process of retiring the A330s along with A320s. A330s are deployed on routes like Ho Chi Minh City, Seychelles, Chennai, Madrid, Athens etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if they deploy the 789s on these routes.

  14. Want less weight/cost, get rid of all those monitors. As long as have good wifi, who needs them ?

  15. 99% of J class seats worldwide don’t have doors, so why are people complaining about Qsuites?

    For those of us who love privacy and solitude (and hasn’t Covid19 proved we’re the healthy ones?!), this is one of the few ideal products on the market. So instead of you flying on the 99% of seats you prefer, you’re complaining to get the other 1% altered to fit your preferences?!

    My whining aside, Qatar’s reverse herringbone is +/- my 2nd favourite J seat, so I’m happy to give Qatar the benefit of the doubt until we know for sure what they’re planning.

  16. Following up on bruh’s reply, is a list of (expected) routes available on which this product will fly?

  17. What’s this obsession with doors? It’s claustrophobic and makes the cabin look like an office full of cubicles. Qatar at least chose a better looking design than Delta, but still. Reverse herringbone provides plenty of privacy already. Don’t forget that at the end of the day this is public transport and you’re sleeping in a dorm.

  18. @Jim F – I’ve read somewhere that 789’s deployment is gonna be delayed, given the crisis. This is just my prediction though they can deploy it on routes with high premium demand such as Singapore, Muscat, Kuwait and many European routes. QR is unpredictable lol

  19. The only herringbone seat with semi double beds has the window seats positioned like reverse herringbone seats and the inner seats positioned like regular herringbone seats. That way, Center seats can create a partial double bed near the head area. Passenger’s legs will still go different directions. This is the arrangement in seat maker Jamco’s “Spread Your Wings” herringbone design.

    They cannot fit Qsuite on the 787 because it is already a stretch to comfortably fit a suite with doors on the a350 which means it is nearly impossible to do it on a 787 or a330.

  20. Has any airline ordered the Aria seat from Optimares?
    The seat colours in the video seem to be focused on SQ (at least, that’s the first association that comes to my mind when seeing the seat(s))

  21. Could it be similar to united’s Polaris but with doors? The only correlation I can between United’s and what Al Baker said was that some of the seats are angled and some of the seats in the middle can, in theory, make a double bed.

  22. I have said this a few years ago when Q suites was first launched. QATAR AIRWAYS has a great soft product, an impeccable onboard service including excellent choices of food and wines, but the hard product inconsistency across the entire fleet has been a major issue. To me the best business class seat is the old burgandy color typically found on the B777 200 ER recently replaced by QSuites and soon to exit the fleet. However best business class seat in the market is new ANA, Emirates and SG…

  23. I’m confused – by your article.

    You write :” There’s simply no way for reverse herringbone seats to turn into double beds, since the seats are never parallel to one another.”

    Then you conclude: ” the Adient Ascent product is the only one that checks all the boxes — it has reverse herringbone seats, it has double beds.”

    Spot the contradiction!

  24. @Benny, Undoubtedly the ultimate solution for his Excellency AAB, would be the Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat currently being used in BA club suites, despite the inconvenience of the narrow aisles.

  25. @Lucky:
    Please desist from this schoolboy mistake:
    “none of these planes have entered”
    “None” is singular (=not one) therefore takes a singular verb:
    none of these planes has entered…
    It’s confusing because the verb is adjacent to a plural, but it’s not the subject to which it should agree. Lesson over.
    Also, why do you, and others continually laud the reverse herringbone config? It allows for NO TRUE window seat. You have to crane your neck to see out which is especially difficult with a lap and diagonal belt.
    My money goes on staggered seating every time. In line with the direction of travel, lap belt only. All seats have aisle access, and every other row in the middle is adjacent. Perfect!!

  26. I always liked the J seats on the A380s. You could talk with others and the cabin crew were much more engaged and personable. Q-Suites, while beautiful, does make one feel very isolated.

  27. Where the seat is aligned to the aisle, I find Qsuites unbearably claustrophobic. Seats in the opposite alignment – where the seat is closer to the window than it is the door, for example – Qsuite is virtually flawless.

  28. We had to ask for a lower door level cuz we need to be able to see all the pretty ladies sleeping throughout the flight!

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