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It’s the ITB Berlin show this week (6 -10 March) and this is a show where airlines like to showcase their new products and where, occasionally, we get a big reveal.
In 2017 Qatar Airways used ITB Berlin to introduce the world to its revolutionary QSuite Business Class product so when the airline says that it will unveil an “enhanced Economy Class product” at this year’s even it’s worth taking notice.
Here’s the official announcement from the airline:
Qatar Airways is pleased to announce that it will unveil its enhanced Economy Class product at ITB Berlin 2019, the world’s largest travel and tourism trade show, on Wednesday 6 March. The reveal, to take place at Qatar Airways’ exhibition stand on the first day of the show, will be followed by a press conference at 12:00 pm, at which further details on the airline’s exciting plans for 2019 will be shared with global media.
Just as we had very few details to work with before the QSuites were unveiled we know next to nothing about what Qatar Airways has planned for its enhanced Economy Class so the airline has done a good job of keeping a lid on its plans.
Interestingly, when Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker first suggested that his airline would be looking to make changes to its Economy Class cabin he used the world “revolutionize” to describe the effect the changes would have on the rearmost cabin….but that now seems to have been dialled back to “enhance”.
The problem Qatar Airways has undoubtably faced is that it’s remarkably hard to revolutionize a cabin in which there isn’t much space to work with and, if you want to make more space, you almost certainly have to sacrifice some seats…..and that’s not great for profitability.
I’ve seen a number of suggestions posted around the internet suggesting a few radically new seat layouts that Qatar Airways may be introducing into Economy Class, but none have really made much sense to me.
The Thompson Aero ‘cozy suite’ is one suggestion that seems to appear most often when discussions move round to what Qatar Airways may introduce…
…but I can’t see how the layout allows the passenger in the innermost seat to get to the aisle without a great deal of difficulty – the seats in the row ahead would get in the way.
This view of a proposed seat map shows what I mean:
Perhaps I’m missing something but I can’t see how this seat would work in a real world environment…and the fact that it has been around for at least 5 years without any airline introducing it suggests that I may not be alone in thinking that.
I think the fact that Qatar Airways is using a word like ‘enhanced’ rather than ‘revolutionary’ to describe its new Economy Class seat suggest that we shouldn’t expect anything too radical.
I wouldn’t be too surprised if the new Qatar Airways Economy Class seat just turns out to have better padding, a better inflight entertainment system and a hard shell (so that it doesn’t recline into the space of the seat behind).
A seat offering all that could justifiably be called an enhanced Economy Class seat despite not being particularly revolutionary.
What do you think Qatar Airways will unveil on Wednesday?