Many airlines have both First Class and Business Class sections, but sometimes it ends up being about the same thing. For those who have never flown First Class, the idea is to make the flight experience similar to flying your own private jet but for a substantially lower price. Business Class is a level down, absent of the more spacious and attentive experience of First Class but still several levels above Economy or Coach.
Back on March 8, Qatar Airlines unveiled its Qsuite class. Basically it is a high end Business Class that falls just short of a full First Class experience. Business travelers often use long flight times to conduct small meetings or just get their work done, and the new Qsuite seating arrangements offers the option to seat groups of two, three, or four together in what amounts to a restaurant-type setting. There is also a double bed option that gives you plenty of space to stretch out and sleep, a design concept that took two years to complete.
If you’re thinking this sounds a lot like a modular-type design you are correct. Of course there are limitations to the number of people that can be comfortably (and profitably) modularized, but this added flexibility is something unavailable except on a private jet flight. Passengers can have the use of privacy panels, making the modular experience either open or cozy, but the Qsuite panels can either be used or stowed away to provide just a bit more space. To finish off the modular aspect of the surroundings there are mobile video monitors available for each passenger.
Since Qsuite is designed for the longer flights, meals become an important part of the Qsuite experience. To maximize the concept of modularity and “togetherness” there is the opportunity to order anything on the menu at any time. But taking things up another notch, groups can order certain menu selections that can be shared by everyone in the group. Presentation of the food is not done on plastic but the restaurant style of china and cutlery.
After eating many people opt for an in-flight nap, and the accommodations for this are no less pampering. There is the option of having two flat beds that are next to one another, and your sleeping attire comes with a cotton sleeping suit. The expected comfort kits are designed by Bric and have products from Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio. Before falling asleep you can entertain yourself with a selection of more than 3,000 movies, games, and audio options courtesy of their Onyx One entertainment system.
The most recent American city to be added to Qatar’s Qsuite availability list is Los Angeles. Other American cities are New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Houston, and Dallas. The Qsuite service internationally is available in airports in London, Paris, Canberra, Australia, and Shanghai, China.
While intended primarily for business travelers on those long client trips, the ordinary person can also book a flight if they want their significant other or family to travel in style. But each seat will cost you about $5,000 one way, so for a group of four you can expect to pay more than $40,000 for the round trip flight experience. It has yet to be confirmed whether children of any age will be allowed to take part in the Qsuite service.
The question is whether the pricey and luxurious in-flight experience is something only for the well—to-do. Most ordinary people can get a First Class seat that can accommodate adults and children, and costs substantially less. The Qsuite service is focused on specifically serving business customers whose schedules are packed with business to take care of and want the convenience of having group meetings without having to create makeshift mid-air conference areas. The modular privacy panels are clear evidence of this.
The expansion of the service indicates that it is very popular among business travelers who in all likelihood are having the company pick up the tab. But there is little doubt that Qatar has created a business traveling experience that is likely to be imitated by many other airlines who want to attract cabin spaces that suit the needs of the on the go professional. Generally only available on the Boeing 777 models, there is a continuing effort to make the larger aircraft suitable for even larger sections of Qsuites.