In passenger comfort, there are milestones that redefine the industry and take it on a new flight path and Qatar Airways’ Qsuites is just such a turning point.
Pan American introducing economy class in the 1950s, Malaysia Singapore Airlines introducing free drinks and entertainment in the late 60s, Pan American introducing the jumbo jet in the 1970s, Qantas adding business class in 1979 and EVA Air premium economy in the early 90s.
Then there were evolutionary not revolutionary changes with business class seats morphing into sloping beds then finally flat-beds. Next, the flat beds in sets of two went through another change emerging as a single cocoon in various shapes.
Qatar Airways new Qsuites built by seat maker B/E Aerospace and three years in development will bring “a new level of luxury” to business class.
They are more a revolution than evolution because business class turns into first class and redefines expectations of business travelers.
On one hand, passengers get a private suite but at the same, there is the flexibility to turn the center suites into a family space with “paired rear and forward-facing suites” which take cabin innovation to an entirely new level.
The interior is designed with the airline’s signature colors of burgundy and grey, enhanced with elegant and warm rose gold detailing which drip opulence and class.
A media panel comes with an all-access power port, with USB, HDMI and NFC capabilities for passenger convenience.
Each solo suite (on the 777-300ER) has two air vents which are certainly appreciated.
But the main event is the sliding door, although there is plenty of privacy with it open. The door is simple to operate, although there are instructions for its removal in an emergency.
For total privacy, you just need to press the DND button and the flight attendant will leave you in peace.
And talking of peace the flatbed is excellent and ensures a good sleep. You get two pillows – large and small – plus a cozy blanket.
For those who find sleep a bit of a challenge or those who just want to catch up on all those must-see movies, Qatar Airways’ In-Flight Entertainment, which is very good goes up a notch or three with Qsuites. There are more than 4,000 options all told with over 300 movies and the content is high-resolution.
The Qsuite is dominated by a giant, 21.5-inch high definition touch screen that is both crisp and responsive.
Control is a touch screen or via a controller and a neat feature is the moving map which can be placed in a picture-in-picture window so you can keep an eye on a feature that may be coming up that you want to photograph.
The system is simple and intuitive when using the touchscreen to navigate the big selection of games, music, and information.
There are also outside cameras that can be selected.
And the all-important food and beverage have been given a makeover with a specially designed menu and holder.
Qatar Airways is also rolling out what it terms “Super Wi-Fi”’ that can reach speeds topping 50 megabits per second, a feat that would make it better than many home broadband services.
The first fleets to be fitted are the Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 and the system uses Inmarsat’s GX Aviation technology.
The high speed will enable viewing of streaming services such as Netflix and the great news is the service is free for the first hour with a charge of US$10 for an entire flight if you want to extend.
Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar Al Baker says the airline is the first carrier in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region to allow high-speed broadband connectivity providing rich content without restriction. “Business travelers, in particular, will be able to maximize their ‘office in the sky’ with seamless continuity,’’ he said.
Inmarsat is the same company that provides the space-based tracking service that monitors the airline’s flights worldwide and its GX service offers users the newer satellite-based Ka-band technology that uses spot beams to provide “a foundation layer” of global coverage designed to serve a high-speed global audience.
It also offers the flexibility to add and redirect bandwidth where airlines need it most across hubs and traffic hotspots, according to Inmarsat.
“This unprecedented service adds to the airline’s award-winning, five-star onboard experience by allowing passengers to seamlessly browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights,” Inmarsat Aviation president Philip Balaam said.
The Qsuites are being progressively rolled out on Boeing 777 and A350 fleets which are currently flying to London, Paris, Frankfurt, New York, Chicago, and Washington DC.
Qatar Airways and B/E Aerospace are designing a new version of the QSuite for the A380 and 787s.
Qatar Airways’ presence in the Australian market is significant with double-daily flights from Sydney, and daily flights from Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, and Canberra.
Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth are serviced with A380s, featuring a tri-class configuration over two decks.
The airline’s offering into Europe is industry leading with over 45 European cities and new destinations London Gatwick, Mykonos, and Thessaloniki.
And what is very important is the transit airport in the new Doha Hamad International Airport.
Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First and Al Mourjan Business lounges are state-of-the-art and there is also an airport hotel with swimming pool, spa, gym, and squash courts.
The Qsuite will commence service from Canberra and Sydney from July 2018. Flying from Canberra, Sydney to Doha Qatar Airway’s international hub and connecting onto London, Paris, Frankfurt or USA cities; Washington, New York, and Chicago.