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Qatar Airways’ New Economy Class Looks A Bit Familiar…

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As you’d expect for a 17-year-old traveller critiquing premium travel, pretentiousness and I go hand in hand. As a result of that, one airline I really love is Qatar Airways. They’re pretentious as hell, but they are perfectionists. They’ve had a couple slip-ups here and there over the past few years, though even when doing so they end up somewhere around the top 10 premium products out there.

a seat in a planeQatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class

Qatar Airways touted a brand new business class product up until 2017, the year they revealed their QSuite. I’d say the hype was well-deserved, since the product has almost received unanimous praise from everyone I’ve heard from so far. I’m slated to try the product out later this year (assuming there aren’t any equipment swaps), so I’m excited about that.

That being said, Qatar Airways has always said that their economy class has been “like other airlines’ premium economy”. I’m not sure how credible that is given they have a 3-4-3 configuration on their 777s and a 3-3-3 configuration on their 787s, making their seats one of the narrowest economy seats out there. But I haven’t actually taken their economy product before, so I’ll take Akbar Al Baker’s word for it. 😉

a row of seats on an airplaneQatar Airways Boeing 787 Economy Class Seats

Qatar Airways has always said that they had a new economy class seat in the making, one that would revolutionise economy travel. And it was finally revealed at ITB Berlin last Wednesday.

Frederic at Frankfurtflyer was nice enough to let me nip some photos from his site – thanks, Frederic. Here is the Qatar Airways seat that was revealed at ITB Berlin on Wednesday:

a row of seats in an airplane a seat in an airplane a seat with two monitors and a window in the back a close up of a seatQatar Airways New Economy Class Seat

And here’s a picture Frederic shared of the new recline function that the seats have:

[wpvideo 3xYo1xTn]

Wait a minute, this looks a little familiar…

In early 2018, Hong Kong Airlines leased five A330s from Emirates. They weren’t allowed to customise the hard product, so they were stuck with yet another business class product, which I wrote about here. The plane also came with a new economy product, as per the leasing company’s instructions.

So what does their new economy class seat look like? Here’s a photo by k_photraveler on Instagram…

And here’s a video by Uncle Deng and Aunt Kai (in Thai):

What Qatar Airways did

Qatar Airways’ new seat, with the “new state-of-the-art” recline and all, is a modified version of the Optimares Quadra economy class seat. I’m glad that they modified the seat to add a storage compartment and all, and I think passengers will enjoy the extra tablet holder which also serves as some extra storage. So I think Qatar Airways went from a decent economy seat to an industry-leading one.

But they didn’t do anything “revolutionary”. I find it quite funny that a leased aircraft by Hong Kong Airlines has beaten them to the Quadra economy seat. Sure, the recline may be cool and all, and Qatar Airways is also outfitting the new seat with a USB-C port, and their planes with faster WiFi – while all welcome changes, they’re anything but special.

This economy seat will debut on Qatar Airways’ new A321neo, and appear on their future 777X aircraft. The airline has no plans to upgrade their existing fleet with the new seat.

Bottom Line

Economy class travel is cheap and accessible, though it’s markedly different from premium cabins – most notably, rest doesn’t come nearly as easily. I think when Qatar Airways touted a new, revolutionary economy seat “as good as premium economy”, we were all expecting the airline to change that. Ultimately, the airline did make some improvements to their seat – I’m not sure about the padding, but with the thought put into the recline function, connectivity, and improved storage, Qatar Airways now has moved from a middle-of-the-pack seat to an industry leading economy class seat.

But taking a seat that’s already been flying on another airline for a year, modifying it and touting it as aggressively as they did is a bit preposterous, in my opinion.

What do you think about Qatar Airways’ new economy class seat?


  1. Not a huge fan of the seat because it uses Zodiac RAVE (which is the cheapest and low-quality entertainment system) as well as a laughable amount of padding. This makes Cathay’s 777-300ER 3-4-3 seat look like a king’s throne.

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