Qatar Airways' Boeing 787-9 business class suites might not be the airline's renowned Qsuites, but they look like the next best thing.
A 1-2-1 layout offering direct access to the aisle? That goes without saying.
Sliding privacy doors which transform the suite into a cosy cocoon, if you're so inclined? Absolutely, and while this is obviously appealing when you need to sleep during overnight flights – with the seat becoming a fully-flat bed – it's likely to have increased allure in the post-COVID era.
The privacy panel between the paired middle seats can also be retracted if you're flying with a partner, colleague or friend, although the seats themselves don't join up as a double bed.
A fresh high-tech touch is the addition of wireless charging – compatible with both Apple and Android devices – so you can slide your smartphone into the 'dedicated phone holder' and keep it topped up en route.
The seat itself is the all-new Ascent Business Class Suite from Adient Aerospace, a joint venture between auto seat maker Adient and Boeing, shown with a little more detail below in these press photos.
As it happens, Qatar is the launch customer for the Ascent, which will also feature on Hawaiian Airlines' Boeing 787-9s due next year.
The reason these Dreamliners don't sport the Qsuite is straight-forward: "Because the Boeing 787 is narrower than the Boeing 777s and the Airbus 350s, we cannot really fit the Qsuites in," Qatar Airways Group CEO His Excellency Akbar Al Baker has told Executive Traveller.
Each of the Boeing 787-9s has 30 business class suites, ahead of 281 economy seats.
That puts Qatar's Boeing 787-9 business class cabin at around halfway between the 22 seats of the 787-8 and the 36 seats of the Airbus A350-900.
Qatar Airways' Boeing 787-9 routes
The first Qatar Airways Boeing 787-9 will fly between Doha and Milan on Friday 25 June, 2021, with passengers enjoying inflight WiFi and Qatar's à la carte dine-on-demand menu.
Other European routes earmarked for the Dreamliner include Athens, Barcelona, Madrid and Osla, alongside Karachi and Kuala Lumpur as part of the 787-9's push into Asia.
The Oneworld airline inked an order for 30 Boeing 787-9s, with seven handed over before the coronavirus pandemic put a sudden stop to the airline’s typically ambitious fleet growth, and pushed all Airbus and Boeing deliveries back until at least 2022.
Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has previously said the Boeing 787-9 fleet would replace most of the older and smaller Boeing 787-8s.
Up next: the 'mini-Qsuite'
After this will come the first wave of Boeing 777-9s, for which Al Baker said “we are developing new business class seats”, with the possibility of a “very exclusive first class cabin” for some later Boeing 777X deliveries, which would ply a handful of premium-heavy European routes favoured by well-heeled Qatari travellers.
“We have huge demand here in Qatar to two or three European destinations” such as London and Paris, Al Baker explains, “so we may introduce a very small first class cabin for our local passengers who want a very exclusive first class product.”