After taking delivery of seven brand new Boeing 787-9 aircraft in December 2019, Qatar Airways is finally putting the new jets to work some 18 months later, with a long-awaited brand new Business Class product by US-based Adient Aerospace.
With the inaugural service departing from Doha to Milan today (25th June 2021), the airline has now revealed the new seats, which Qatar Airways calls the Adient Ascent Business Class Suite.
With European cities the first on the list for the new aircraft, it won’t be long before our readers in South East Asia start experiencing the new seats.
Flights to Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta are both switching across to the Boeing 787-9 as early as July 2021, so there should be some opportunities to try the new product closer to home once travel resumes.
What happened to the Qsuite?
Unfortunately the airline’s pioneering and widely popular Qsuite Business Class, a bespoke design by Collins Aerospace that we reviewed back in 2018, does not fit in the narrower cabin of the Boeing 787.
It’s a tight enough squeeze for the Qsuite in the 5.61m-wide Airbus A350 cabin, so there was simply no way to install it on the Boeing 787, which is 12cm narrower, without significant modification.
The airline was therefore forced to come up with a new product on its Boeing 787-9s, which are expected to eventually replace the smaller Boeing 787-8s in the coming years (so don’t expect any retrofits to those).
Qatar’s future Airbus A350 deliveries will still come with the Qsuite, while new Airbus A321neos will have a ‘mini-Qsuite’, and an all-new Business Class and First Class product is promised on the carrier’s upcoming Boeing 777X aircraft.
The Adient Ascent Suite
Qatar Airways has become the launch customer for a modified off-the-shelf design by Adient Aerospace (a joint venture between Adient and Boeing) called the Ascent Suite, which was the expected seat as first revealed back in May by Head for Points.
Here’s Adient’s promotional video for the product.
Here is the seat with the Qatar Airways customisation, as first revealed in May 2021.
And here’s the seat in Qatar’s teaser photo provided in the press release.
The airline’s Boeing 787-9 is configured with 30 of the new Business Class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, with direct aisle access for all passengers.
Unlike the current Collins Aerospace Business Class seat on Qatar’s Boeing 787-8s (and some A350-900s), all seats face the windows in this new reverse herringbone layout, which means middle seats face the aisle while the window seats face away from the aisle.
As you can see from the photos above – window seats in row 5 (5A or 5K) are probably best avoided for those partial to a view, benefitting from only half a window at best.
Qatar 787-9 Seat Map
“In-line with our commitment to offering our passengers an unparalleled travel experience, we are pleased to introduce this much-anticipated Business Class Suite on Qatar Airways’ newest wide-body aircraft, the Boeing 787-9 which will debut onto a number of key routes within our network.
“The new Business Class Suite sets yet another industry standard with a uniquely private experience for premium passengers travelling with us, which is becoming increasingly valuable during this pandemic.”Akbar Al-Baker, CEO, Qatar Airways
Each seat has a closing privacy door, though this is notably lower than that fitted to the Qsuite (which can feel quite claustrophobic with its tall door, though does have better privacy as a result).
For those in the middle seat pairs (E and F seats in rows 1 to 7), there is a full-height privacy divider between the seats, in case you’re sitting next to a stranger, though you can of course leave it retracted when flying with a partner or friend.
Sadly one of the Qsuite’s big selling points – the double bed option in selected middle pairs – is not possible with the Adient Suite.
“Passengers seated in adjoining centre suites can slide the privacy panels away at the touch of a button to create their very own enclosed private space.”Qatar Airways
Window seats provide the most privacy, and you’re facing the window throughout – a rare benefit in herringbone designs which tend to feature the opposite orientation.
A nifty new feature is the inclusion of wireless charging in the dedicated mobile device holder, compatible with your iOS and Android kit. That’s also one of the features at most seats in the airline’s latest lounge in Singapore.
Seat width is not quoted, however it does convert into a 79″-long bed, slightly longer than those on the airline’s Boeing 787-8 Business Class seats (78″), but a little shorter than those on the A350-900 (80″) with Collins herringbone seats.
While it’s no Qsuite, the product does look to be a significant improvement on the airline’s Boeing 787-8 Business Class, which we reviewed in 2019 (on the A350-900, which has a near-identical product on selected aircraft).
Behind the Business Class cabin, Qatar’s Boeing 787-9s have 281 Economy Class seats in a 3-3-3 layout, for a total seat count of 311, 57 more than on its Boeing 787-8s.
Qatar’s Boeing 787-9s
Qatar Airways took delivery of seven brand new Boeing 787-9 aircraft in December 2019, flying them all to its Doha hub, before almost immediately sending them straight into storage at Victorville in the California desert.
They remained there until March 2020 before being returned to Doha, but it’s taken over a year for the new Adient Business Class seats to be installed – a process no doubt decelerated in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Adient Ascent only won certification approval from authorities in January 2021, which may also explain the delay.
Qatar Airways will take delivery of a further 23 Boeing 787-9s over the coming years, for a total of 30 aircraft, so regular Business Class customers will sooner or later inevitably experience these new seats for at least part of their journey.
Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta will get the new seats
In addition to Milan, initial routes for the Qatar’s Boeing 787-9s include Athens, Barcelona, Dammam, Karachi and Madrid.
Asia is not far behind, however, with Kuala Lumpur joining the network for the latest jets from 6th July 2021:
- QR848 DOH-KUL
- QR853 KUL-DOH
From 20th July 2021, the Kuala Lumpur route becomes all-Boeing 787-9, meaning all seven weekly flights on the route will feature the Adient Suite in Business Class.
- QR848 DOH-KUL
- QR844 DOH-KUL
- QR853 KUL-DOH
- QR849 KUL-DOH
The aircraft type then operates all flights on the Kuala Lumpur route through to the end of the northern summer schedule at the end of October 2021, so this is probably the one to pick if you want to try out the new seats, assuming you’re flying to or from Malaysia given the current restrictions.
For our readers in Indonesia, Jakarta will also see the new product in the coming months, with daily Boeing 787-9 service commencing on 11th August 2021.
- QR954 DOH-CGK
- QR955 CGK-DOH
Like with the Kuala Lumpur service, this schedule is valid until late October 2021 at this stage.
For the Jakarta route, however, note that the Boeing 787-9 service will operate alongside a daily Boeing 787-8 (QR956/957), so do try to pick the flight numbers listed above for a much better experience in the Adient Suite.
Will the seat come to Singapore?
Qatar loves to showcase its latest products on the Singapore route (which just might be a policy designed to wind up a certain local carrier!), but if you’re worrying about whether this new cabin might replace the excellent Qsuite on the route – fear not.
The Adient Suite would not only be seen as a downgrade from the Qsuite by most passengers, Qatar’s Boeing 787-9 is configured for routes with more leisure and less premium demand – for which Singapore with 138 Qsuites per day in pre-COVID times and an excellent lounge to boot, certainly doesn’t fit the bill.
Qatar Airways Aircraft Seat Capacity
As you can see the Boeing 787-9 matches the A350-1000s Economy Class seating capacity in Qatar Airways’ fit, but has 16 fewer Business Class seats. That suits markets like Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, but the balance is way off for a premium route like Singapore.
Similarly it’s very unlikely we’ll see the 787-9s heading to cities like London and Paris, which attract high demand in premium cabins.
Qatar’s new Adient Ascent Business Class Suite looks like a great product to us.
Sure, it’s not revolutionary, but that’s not always a bad thing. Taking tried and tested design concepts like the reverse herringbone Business Class seat to the next level almost always means thoughtful enhancements for the passenger experience.
With this brand new product from Adient we see some great advantages, including wireless device charging, aisle seats that face the window, and of course the closing privacy door for an enclosed ‘suite’ feel, none of which feature on the airline’s 787-8s.
Ultimately, it’s no Qsuite, but compared to Qatar’s existing non-Qsuite Business Class, it’s a great step up.
What do you think of Qatar’s Ascent Business Class Suite? Let us know in the comments section below.
(Cover Photo: Qatar Airways)