Qatar Airways Scraps First Class On Future Long-Haul Flights

Flag carrier Qatar Airways has announced plans to scrap first-class seats on its next-generation long-haul aircraft. Such services will remain in place on current aircraft such as the Airbus SE A380 before the planes are eventually phased out as the company shifts its focus to its business class offerings.

Qatar Planes on Tarmac © Qatar Airways
Qatar has stated that its first-class services are no longer feasible © Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways Scraps First Class – A Change Of Direction

Qatar Airways will no longer feature first-class berths on its future long-haul aircraft, including the Boeing 777X due to be delivered over the coming years. The new aircraft are set to replace all 10 of the Airbus SE A380s in the airline’s fleet, making them the last generation of aircraft to feature first-class seating.

Qatar Airways’ chief executive officer, Akbar Al Baker, stated that the investment made in the luxury seats is no longer justified in the returns gained, citing that the airline’s business-class options provide passengers with practically the same perks as those offered by first class.

On the airline’s announcement, Mr. Al Baker posed the following question and said:

“Why should you invest in a subclass of an aeroplane that already gives you all the amenities that first class gives you? I don’t see the necessity”.

Qatar Airways' Qsuite
Qatar will now focus primarily on its QSuite services © Alex Miller

A Strategic Risk Or A Calculated Gamble?

Although Qatar Airways is not the first airline to make changes to the range of cabin classes it offers, with American Airlines announcing in October last year that it would be removing first-class services from its long-haul routes, the former’s decision to remove first-class seating from its aircraft appears to be, on the face of it, a risky business strategy. Looking more closely, however, the airline’s move could be seen as a calculated gamble for two major reasons.

First, first-class seating is presently only offered on a limited number of the airline’s routes. Given that Qatar Airways is a major Gulf carrier used by millions of travellers making connecting flights, passengers may instead see more appeal in booking the same class for their entire journey rather than for just one leg.

Second, whilst first-class seating will eventually be removed from all flights, the airline plans to focus on its business class offerings including its “QSuite” service, which arguably offers passengers better perks than first class at a lower price.

Among the seating or “suites” available to passengers are the single QSuite, the twin QSuite, the double QSuite and the Quad. The service provided in these suites includes seating made of the finest fabrics, a media panel with entertainment and charging capabilities and even branded amenity kits comprising face and body care products. In addition, all suites come with doors that can be closed, offering passengers enhanced privacy, something which is not offered in first class.

Whether Qatar’s gamble will pay off in the long run will presumably become clear over the next few years.

What are your thoughts on Qatar’s plans to scrap first-class seats? Have you ever flown first class with the airline? Let us know in the comments!

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Rachel Dunster
Rachel Dunster
Aviation Reporter