A couple of days ago at ITB in Berlin, Qatar Airways announced that they were finally going to do something about their aircraft not configured with the B/E Super Diamond or even the humble B/E Diamond (AKA their 777 fleet). Instead, they announced that they were also going to replace the amazing B/E Super Diamonds on their 787, A350, and A380 as well. Whatever they were going to do was described as a product rivaling first class. Thanks to Alan Joyce at Qantas, who describes the Thompson Vantage XL as a “mini-first class” my hopes were damped. A few days before ITB, I discovered some curious images on Zodiac’s website (above).
Now, I know some people have said that B/E Aerospace is the supplier of what Qatar is installing. They might be right, and Qatar hasn’t said. It did give me a starting point to imagine what Qatar was actually doing.
Well, that’s impressive!
Is it a true first class replacement? No. Is it close? Yes.
It also has quite a fascinating gimmick. As you can see above, families and groups of corporate travelers can push their screens aside and create a communal area.
To add even more incentives to couples and families traveling together; the closer of the pairs of middle seats can combine to create a double bed.
So, what do I think?
- That enhanced seating cut out next to the main chair
- The fact it seems to be quite a big bed
- The color story of the design
- Those middle seats that turn into a double bed whilst traveling solo. I know there are two privacy screens, but it still seems like a lesser experience compared to the window seats, or even the other middle seat pairs.
- Potential for wear and tear on the movable screen sections. Can you imagine flying in a middle seat, but having the screen stuck away and having to look at a complete stranger? No thanks.
- Are those screens 4k?
- Can they keep the catering quality up to this photo from ITB?
So, there you go. I really, really, want to give this thing a try. The first flights with it will commence in June. The first route will, of course, be Doha to London Heathrow. Other routes will soon follow as they plan to have every aircraft reconfigured within one year from that day.