Business class passengers flying Qatar Airways A320 or A330 planes will soon be in for a treat.
Instead of recliner or angled lie-flat seating, Qatar is now upgrading the accommodation on these two aircraft types to fully-flat beds.
The narrow-bodied A320s tend to operate less busy services, while the A330s are deployed on more popular routes. Both planes can be found flying within the immediate region as well as on longer stretches such as to Europe.
The plan is to fit the new seating on seven A330-200s, reports Flight Global. The work is being carried out by SR Technics in Zurich, Switzerland.
It is understood that at least one A330 aircraft has been converted and is now in service. Refurbishment of the remaining aircraft should be complete by the summer.
Secrecy surrounds the upgrading taking place with the A320s. Way back in December 2012, we trailed the fact that Qatar Airways planned to install flat-bed seats on its A320s.
But late last year the airline refused to commit to a timescale for fitting lie-flat seats to the A320s when I asked a question on behalf of reader Husein Gulamhusein of London (see Ask Alex, November 2013).
However, reliable sources indicate that seat installation is now underway.
This is noteworthy because, until now, few airlines have gone to the trouble of installing fully-flat beds on their A320s because not only do they take up more room, but they are heavier too.
One exception is British Airways (see news, July 2012).
It is understood that two of Qatar's A320s have already been fitted with the new seats which are configured 2-2. There are a total of 12 business seats — the same as before — but because they take up more room the economy class capacity is reduced from 132 to 120 seats.
It is unclear whether all or some of Qatar's A320s (the carrier has a large fleet of over 30 aircraft) will be equipped with the new seating.
One reason is because Qatar is a launch customer for the more advanced A320neo. According to the fleet entry on the airline's website, it has ordered no fewer than 80.
Although the A320neos are not scheduled to enter service for a few more years, it's an odds-on certainty that they too will be factory-fitted with lie-flat beds.
Details of the A330's layout have not yet been published.