Qatar Airways will reveal the latest premium product in its airborne family when the airline’s first Boeing 737 MAX takes wing later this month.
But it might not be the slick ‘mini-Qsuite’ slated for Qatar Airways Airbus A321neo series: instead, there’s every chance that Qatar Airways’ initial Boeing 737 MAX business class could be a more conventional offering.
That’s because these first 737 MAX jets were initially headed for Russia’s S7 Airlines, until US sanctions meant Boeing was no longer allowed to deliver planes to Russian airlines.
Qatar Airways has now taken over the lease of these nine 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which will replace its older Airbus A320 jets on short-range flights around the region.
The first of the Qatar Airways 737 MAX jets is expected to begin flying in the coming weeks, although the specific date and route of the inaugural flight remains to be confirmed.
Likewise, there’s been no official details shared on what’s in store for the business class cabin.
As flown by S7 there were eight business class seats in a two rows of 2-2, with each being a well-padded recliner – in short, a typical domestic business class (or in the US, first class) for many countries, and certainly better than an inferior Euro-business class proposition.
However, as noted in our S7 business class review, there’s no leg rest nor any AC or USB charging facilities.
Qatar Airways has of course talked up its plans for a ‘mini-Qsuite’ on future single-aisle jets such as the Airbus A321neo and Boeing 737 MAX 10.
CEO Akbar Al Baker has previously told Executive Traveller that the A321neo would be crowned by something akin to a ‘mini Qsuite’ where “every seat will have aisle access” and the seats would convert into a fully lie-flat bed.
Unlike the highly-regarded Qsuites “they will not have doors”, Al Baker stated, but “they will have something very similar, so you will have some privacy.”
Al Baker indicated the single-aisle Qsuite seat would use an existing design from an established manufacturer rather than a fully bespoke effort – although the end product would be heavily customised, with high-quality fittings and finish plus plenty of small yet thoughtful touches when it comes to personal space, comfort and convenience.
However, given the number of doored single-aisle business class suites now flowing onto the market from every major seat manufacturer, it’s possible Qatar Airways could change course and opt to recreate the doored Qsuite experience on the Boeing 737 MAX 10 or A321neo simply to stay ahead or at least keep up with the crowd.
The same ‘mini Qsuite’ is also bound for the extended-range A321LR jets – which will be earmarked for destinations with insufficient demand for a twin-aisle jet – “because the product is so much enhanced that you really don’t need” a different seat, Al Baker says, “and we want to standardise the product we have on our aeroplanes.”