Today (April 12, 2019): Tips & tricks for booking Qatar Airways’ amazing Qsuite seat.
In 2017, Qatar Airways took its Business Class product to an unprecedented level of luxury and style. The so-called ‘Qsuite’ features not only Business Class suites with sliding doors for total privacy but also double beds, allowing passengers in adjoining seats to create their own private room. Adjustable panels and movable TV monitors on the center four seats also allow colleagues, friends or families traveling together to transform their space into a four person suite, so they can work, dine and socialize together. “First in Business” is how Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker described the Qsuite at its launch in 2017, and after experiencing the product myself, I have to agree (you can read my review here or watch my clip below). To help you plan your own Qsuite journey, I share everything you need to know, from where it flies to how you can book it using miles and much more:
- Which aircraft feature the Qsuite?
- On which routes is the Qsuite offered?
- Which Qsuite seat is the best (or worst)?
- How to book the Qsuites with the double bed & quad layout?
- How to fly the Qsuite for free?
Which aircraft feature the Qsuite?
The following Qatar Airways aircraft are equipped with Qsuites:
- All Airbus A350-1000 planes
- Retrofitted Airbus A350-900 planes
- Retrofitted Boeing B777 planes
Flying the A350-1000 gives you absolute certainty that you will get the Qsuite. It’s a different scenario though on the A350-900 and B777, since not all of these planes have been refurbished yet with Qsuites. If you fly the A350-900 or B777 and you want to know whether you will get the Qsuite, you need to look at the plane’s seat map. Planes equipped with the Qsuite feature a staggered 1-2-1 layout with alternating rows of forward- and rear-facing seats. A350-900 aircraft with the old Business Class product feature a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 layout, while B777s with the old product have a traditional 2-2-2 layout. The following seat maps indicate that your plane will feature Qsuites:
The A350-1000 has 46 QSuites in two cabins: the larger forward cabin contains the bulk of the Qsuites (38 seats spread over 10 rows), while the rear mini-cabin features only two rows of eight Qsuites (and thus feels more private).
The A350-900s equipped with Qsuites have 36 of them in a single cabin of nine rows.
Both the B777-200LR and B777-300ER have 42 QSuites spread across two cabins. The forward cabin has six rows for a total of 24 Qsuites (spread over six rows) while the rear cabin has five rows with a total of 18 Qsuites.
On which routes is the Qsuite offered?
Qatar Airways deploys its planes equipped with Qsuites on specific routes. However, it has to be noted that Qatar Airways is notorious for swapping planes (and thus the onboard Business Class product) on most of its routes. To give you an example, I had initially booked a Qsuite B777 flight departing from Paris, but a few weeks before departure – without any notice from Qatar Airways – I found out (by checking my reservation online) that the aircraft had swapped to an A380 which doesn’t feature the Qsuite. Since I had booked the flight with miles, I was able to change my reservation for a minimal fee to a Qsuite A350-1000 flight leaving from Frankfurt on the same day. A few weeks after my flight, Qatar Airways ‘downgraded’ the Frankfurt-Doha flight to an A380 with an inferior (but still excellent) Business Class product. I am sure that these aircraft swaps cause a lot of frustration and disappointment among many travelers.
That said, at time of writing, Qsuites are offered on the following flights to/from Doha. You can find an updated list of the Qsuite routes on the Qatar Airways website.
- Asia Pacific: Bangkok, Bengaluru, Colombo, Canberra, Hong Kong, Maldives, Mumbai, Shanghai, Sydney, Singapore, Beijing, and Tokyo
- Europe: Amsterdam, Berlin, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Stockholm, Zürich, and Munich
- Middle East: Kuwait, Muscat, and Beirut
- Americas: Chicago, Houston, New York, Washington DC, Los Angeles, Dallas, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires
Which Qsuite seat is the best (or worst)?
The best Qsuite seat depends on your preference (solo vs traveling in company). The Qsuites in both the B777 and A350 are arranged in a staggered 1-2-1 layout, offering each passenger direct aisle access. There are different types of seating configurations, with odd-numbered rows featuring rear-facing seats and even-numbered rows having forward facing ones. This may sound similar to British Airways’ odd Ying/Yang seat plan, but the Qsuites layout is in a different league
- The window seats – which are the best choice for solo travelers – alternate between forward- and rear-facing seats. The rear-facing Qsuites are closer to the window (since they have their console with control panel on the aisle side); these seats feel more private and make it easier to look out of the window during the flight, and are thus my first pick if flying alone in a Qsuite. The forward-facing Qsuites are closer to the aisle, since their console is located on the window side; these are still excellent suites but may feel more claustrophobic because you are seated right next to the suite wall.
- The center seats also alternate between forward- and rear-facing seats. The rear-facing seats have their consoles on the aisle side and are thus located close together, while the forward-facing seats have their consoles in the middle and thus farther apart. These center Qsuites are fully private spaces, but they feature movable panels and TV screens, allowing to transform some of these Qsuites in unique multi-person spaces:
- Rear-facing center seats in the odd-numbered rows are set close together and can be converted into a shared suite with a double bed for couples or friends traveling together.
- Lowering the sliding panels can transform two pairs of middle Qsuites into a four person suite, perfect for families or groups traveling together.
How to book the Qsuites with the double bed & quad layout?
To make things complicated (but in the end more suitable for its passengers), Qatar Airways doesn’t’ make all of its Qsuites available to all Business Class passengers: the carrier opens up its Qsuite seats for advance allocation based on the number of people traveling on the same booking:
- Solo passengers can choose the forward- and rear facing window seats (A/B or J/K in each row).
- Couples traveling together are preferably allocated rear-facing middle seats which can convert into a double bed (odd-numbered E/F pairs).
- Duos of friends or colleagues are seated in the forward-facing middle seats alongside one another so they can socialize and interact inflight, but without the possibility of conversion into a double bed (even-numbered D/G pairs).
- Groups of 3 or 4 passengers traveling together are allocated the ‘Quad’ seats (odd-numbered E/F pairs followed by even-numbered D/G pairs in the row directly behind. For example 1E/F+2D/G; 3E/F+4D/G; 5E/F+6D/G; 7E/F+8D/G, and 9E/F+10D/G.
Seats 1A and 2B – the first two window-aligned solo suites at the front left of the cabin – are excluded from the pre-seat selection process to support airport check-in staff to handle any last-minute requests.
Couples and larger groups on the same booking can also choose the A/B or J/K window seats. If you are a party of two or more traveling together but on two separate bookings (for example one redemption booking and one paid booking), you can call Qatar Airways if you wish to be seated in one of the couple or quad suites and they will override the seating allocation rules as you’ll be unable to do this online.
Interestingly, Qatar Airways also makes the following two recommendations to its booking centers:
- “When a seat within the Quad must be allocated to a customer who is not a part of family or group, all attempts should be made to allocate forward facing seats within the Quad to (the) customer travelling alone.”
- “When assigning seats to VIPs, CIPs (Commercially Importantly Passengers) and Platinum members of Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club frequent flyer program, these passengers must be advised when they are allocated rear facing seats, especially when they are allocated seats on the front row as all front row seats are rear facing.”
How to fly the Qsuite for free?
Qatar Airways is a member of the Oneworld airline alliance, which means that you can use your miles (collected with one of the Oneworld carrier’s frequent flyer programs) to book free award seats on Qatar Airways (although you’ll still have to pay some taxes, fees and carrier charges). Some of the best redemption options are to use American Airlines’ AAdvantage miles or British Airways’ Avios points, but any miles parked with the following airlines can get you an award ticket on the Qsuite:
- American Airlines (read my review of AAdvantage here)
- British Airways
- Cathay Pacific Airways,
- Japan Airlines
- LATAM Airlines
- Malaysia Airlines
- Qatar Airways
- Royal Jordanian
- S7 Airlines
- SriLankan Airlines.
In general, Qatar Airways makes plenty of award seats available to its Oneworld partner, albeit only either far in advance (11 months before departure) or last-minute (a few days before departure). Award availability is generally not so good in the months prior to departure. So my advise I that once you have a particular Qsuite route in mind, to regularly check award availability until – hopefully – an award seat is released. The best online search tool to check for Qsuite award availability is via British Airways’ loyalty program Executive Club, which you can acces here (you need to be a member though of the program to make use of the tool; subscription is free).