by Telegraph Luxury Travel Editor and John O'Ceallaigh from The Telegraph
Unveiled this morning, Qatar Airways’ new QSuite will provide the airline’s customers with a business-class product that is set to rival and even surpass the first-class experiences offered by some of its rivals.
A first for business class, the QSuite is a partitioned suite that will provide each passenger with a private enclave throughout the flight. Customisable spaces, these suites can be conjoined to create the first-ever double bed available in business class, as well as a “cabin within a cabin” constructed when adjustable panels and movable TV monitors are stowed away to fuse four individual suites into a private communal space for friends and families travelling together.
Two years in the making, the cabin was launched today at ITB Berlin, the world’s largest travel trade show, at a ceremony attended by the airline’s group chief executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker. Calling it “the future of premium travel,” he said the QSuite would challenge industry norms by offering “more privacy, more choice and more personalisation… enabling our passengers to enjoy a first-class experience in business class.”
In addition to enjoying these structural innovations, Qatar Airways’ business-class passengers will enjoy a number of enhanced experiences. Seats will be finished with hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose gold; passengers on night-time flights will be gifted pyjamas by The White Company; amenity kits designed by luggage brand Bric’s will feature products from Italy’s prestigious Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio.
Entertainment options will also be improved, with the Oryx One in-flight entertainment system being improved and a total of 3,000 different content options (from films to games to music tracks) available. Already able to eat at any time they wish, passengers will also benefit from expanded dining options including a menu of sharing dishes that should particularly appeal to the parties of four sequestered in merged QSuite quadrants.
The first QSuites will be retrofitted onto the airline’s existing aircraft from June onwards, at a rate of about one plane per month. With some 194 aircraft in its current fleet, it may be some time before passengers can be assured their own flight will incorporate this new feature but the launch will go some way in ensuring the airline, only 20 years old, remains one of the main innovators in what is an extremely competitive market.
The launch of QSuites comes shortly after the unveiling of Delta Air Lines’ new all-suite business-class cabin, which like Qatar Airways provides all business-class passengers with a partitioned area to call their own but doesn’t allow for the same level of customisation or integration between neighbouring seats. It will debut on Delta’s first Airbus A350, due to enter service in autumn.
Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad, meanwhile, offers its first-class passengers use of private “Apartments” with beds and separate seating areas, some of which can be interconnected. The airline’s A380 aircraft also include The Residence, a private “better than first-class” cabin that includes a lounge, shower room and separate bedroom.
Dubai’s Emirates has also offered its first-class passengers individual suites for some time but hasn’t debuted a new premium cabin concept since the launch of Etihad’s Residence or Qatar Airways’ QSuite. Expectations are high that its next upgrade will include innovative concepts that will reclaim some of the attention garnered by its Middle Eastern rivals.
Though it will be far less accessible, the launch this autumn of Crystal Aircruises plane will also significantly redefine assumptions about the levels of extravagance aircraft can provide. Currently being developed by luxury cruise company Crystal Cruises, the Boeing 777-200LR will accommodate just 84 guests (rather than the 314 to 451 passengers that would ordinarily occupy such an aircraft) who will have use of a stand-up bar, two divans, spacious lounge and 24-cover restaurant area.
The plane will take its guests on extended, private round-the-world tours. It is already possible enjoy similar itineraries aboard the Four Seasons Private Jet. Though less comprehensively kitted out with unexpected features, this Boeing 757 accommodates its 52 passengers in fully lie-flat seats sheathed in white Italian leather and provides them with gifts and mementos including Bulgari amenity kits, blankets made of Mongolian cashmere and earphones by Bose.
This article was written by Telegraph Luxury Travel Editor and John O'Ceallaigh from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].