Qatar Airways has revealed all-new business class suites with sliding 'privacy doors' and middle seats which convert into a double bed.
The airline promises the first-influenced design – dubbed the Qsuite, built by seatmarker B/E Aerospace and in development for three years – will bring "a new level of luxury" to business class.
The staggered 1-2-1 layout allows every second pair of middle seats to become a double bed – providing your seatmate is of a similar mind to you, of course.
The paired middle seats alternate: in one row the seats are directly next to each other, in the next they are more noticeably separated.
Going one step further, however, the 21.5-inch video screens between each middle row can slide back...
... so that all four passengers can enjoy a 'family room' approach.
Each suite is well-appointed, with the seat itself measuring 21.5 inches wide and joined by further personal space around, plus a range of controls to adjust the seat into the perfect position...
... which can also be used to transform the seat into a fully-flat bed of 79 inches:
The high walls are a clear influence drawn from the first class suites of competitors Emirates, Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines.
These stand at 135cm from base to top, being high enough for privacy but low enough for the crew to peer in and offer assistance without having to open the door.
The doors open and close by hand, and feel quite heavy, as they're of solid construction and aren't in any way transparent:
When you're done dozing or are ready to emerge, just slide the door open again and you're all set:
Speaking of sleep, there's also a hotel-style 'do not disturb' button which changes the colour of the seat light from white to red, indicating your wish to be left alone:
There's an NFC contactless reader too which lets you set up an inflight video and music playlist using the Qatar Airways app on your smartphone ahead of your flight and, when you're onboard, tap the phone to transfer that playlist to your suite's entertainment system.
We expect the reader can be used to make quick card payments for services like inflight phone calls and perhaps even inflight Internet as well.
(Many aircraft already have credit card readers embedded into the remote control to unlock inflight calling and SMS, but a contactless reader such as above would also prove compatible with Apple Pay, Android Pay and other smartphone and smart watch transactions, meaning you won't have to fish your wallet and credit card out of your bag mid-flight.)
Qatar Airways – especially CEO Akbar Al Baker, whom most employees simply refer to as 'The Chief' – is known for exacting attention to detail, and the Qsuites appear to be no exception.
The finishes are exacting and high-end.
Al Baker boasts that the Qsuite "will change the way people travel in business class", and says the patented design will prevent other airlines from copying the product.
Alongside the new Qsuites, Qatar Airways promises to introduce upgrades to business class "dining, amenities, entertainment and service."
For a closer look inside the new Qsuites, watch this three-minute video:
First Qsuite flights in June
The first Qatar Airways jet to fly the Qsuites will be a factory-fresh Boeing 777-300ER on the Doha-London route from June.
This will be followed by the new Airbus A350-1000 in the second half of the year, for which Qatar is the global launch customer.
Qatar Airways will also "aggressively retrofit" the new suites across its existing its Airbus A350 and Boeing 777 fleets at a rate of one aircraft per month.
The Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 will see a similar-but-different skew of the seat – with the same emphasis on privacy – because the initial version of Qsuite won't fit onto the narrower Boeing 787 and isn't compatible with the curved walls of the A380's upper deck, where Qatar has its superjumbo business class.
Speaking with Australian Business Traveller, Al Baker confirmed these Qsuites would be more so a "tweak" when compared with the A350 and Boeing 777 product, rather than another design entirely.
"You will (still) have 100% privacy, so when you are within your space you will be able to be totally independent from other passengers," Al Baker explains.
Qatar Airways will retain first class only on its Airbus A380 superjumbos, with all other aircraft topping out at business class, but is considering updating the first class design to create fully-private suites.
Australian Business Traveller is attending ITB Berlin as a guest of Qatar Airways.