Qatar Airways Unveils Its New Economy Class Seat & Soft Product


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Monday was the first time that Qatar Airways used its official press channel to confirm that it would be introducing a new ‘enhanced’ Economy Class and today that Economy Class offering was unveiled to the world at the ITB Berlin trade fair.

Rumors had suggested that Qatar Airways may introduce a staggered seating layout as part of its enhanced Economy Class offering but, as I said on Monday, I didn’t see that as a practical option for the airline….and it seems Qatar Airways agrees with me.

The new Qatar Airways Economy Class cabin is an enhanced version of the airline’s existing cabin and does not offer staggered seating.

Image Qatar Airways – click to enlarge

Here’s what the new Economy Class offering will include:

  • Seats with a semi-fixed shell with automatic 6 degrees of recline
  • Seats will recline a full 19 degrees
  • The new seats will offer extra legroom (no figure specified)
  • All seats will come with an adjustable lightweight headrest
  • The seat back tables will be “dual multi-functional” for “maximum adaptability and table space”
  • Most Economy Class seats will have access to 13.3″ 4K entertainment screens
  • All Economy Class seats will have USB-C ports with high-speed charging capability
  • The Qatar Airways enhanced Economy Class includes enhanced appetizers, main courses, and desserts
  • Personal comfort kits will be on offer for all Economy Class passengers.

Here’s an image from Rob at Head For Points showing a view of the tray table and new IFE screen:

Dining Enhancements

Qatar Airways is introducing “Quisine” to its Economy Class cabin and the airline claims this will “redefine” its Economy Class service.

In summary this is what passengers can expect:

  • More meal choices
  • Larger meal portions
  • “Retail style” meals
  • Cuisine tailored to the various regions the airline flys
  • “Retail style” tableware
  • A bottle of water for each Economy Class passenger

Appetizers will be increasing in size by 20%, the main courses will be 25% larger and the desserts will be increasing in size by 50%.

Other Enhancements On The Way

Without giving any specifics (at least no specifics that I’ve seen) Qatar Airways has said that it will be introducing “super high-speed broadband” to its fleet and, alongside that broadband, it will be adding “significantly improved” live TV to its entertainment systems.

Rollout

The first aircraft to get the new Qatar Airways Economy Class cabin will be the airline’s A321Neo aircraft scheduled for delivery later this year but the soft product (enhanced meals and service) will be rolled out from April and will be offered across the airline’s network by end of the year.

The Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker estimated that the rollout of the hard product (the seats) across the entire fleet will take between 5 – 8 years and will depend on how quickly the supplier can deliver the seats and how well the supplier maintains the standards required by the airline.

The Qatar Airways A321Neo will be the first aircraft to have the new Economy Class seats installed

Thoughts

A quick web search didn’t throw up any comparisons of the recline that other airlines offer in their Economy Class cabins but, from what I can remember seeing, the 19 degrees of recline offered by the new Qatar Airways Economy Class seat seems to be very good indeed.

The fact that the seat has a semi-fixed shell also means that passengers can recline their seats without actually reclining into the space of the passenger behind them so those of us who like to use our laptops during flights will be very grateful for this! (I speculated that this may be one of the features introduced in a post on Monday)

No specifics were given on the seat pitch or seat width that will be on offer but the fact that the seats are said to have “extra legroom” means that they should offer at least 32″ of pitch….which would be good going by modern-day standards.

I have to confess to having never flown in Qatar Airways Economy Class but most of the reports I’ve heard or read have been complimentary about the service and the food onboard, so it’s interesting to see that the airline is enhancing the food offering even further.

I have no idea what “retail style” means when used in reference to the meals that will be offered or the tableware that passengers will get because that phrase can mean absolutely anything – McDonald’s is a retailer and offers plastic knives, forks and cups to its customers and that wouldn’t be any kind of an enhancement to the passenger experience.

Still, considering the distances a lot of Qatar Airways flights cover it’s good to see the airline increasing portion sizes.

Bottom Line

It will be interesting to see the exact dimensions of the new seats when Qatar Airways actually releases them (at the time of writing the press conference ended over an hour ago and there’s still no official press released posted to the media site) and it will be interesting to hear what people at ITB Berlin have to say about them once they’ve tried them out.

From what we have been told everything sounds very positive….but then everything we’ve heard has come directly from the airline so it wasn’t ever likely to be negative!

Overall it’s nice to see that Qatar Airways is looking at improving the Economy Class experience as a whole and not just tackling small parts of what passengers will encounter onboard but it’s just a shame that the hard product roll out will take so long.

Without more pictures and more details of what exactly the seats are like it’s hard to make any  firm judgements right now but, on the face of things, I can’t see much to criticise at this point – it looks exactly like what we were told to expect, an enhanced Economy Class experience.

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