For years, Qatar Airways has set itself apart from its Gulf rivals.
Unlike the latter, who have configured their B777 economy cabins with tight ten-across seating for years, Qatar Airways has prided itself on a more comfortable nine-across 3-3-3 layout.
However times are changing and on Monday, Qatar Airways’ newest B777-300ER quietly appeared on the Doha-London route operating flight QR11. And, instead of the 9-across seating they were expecting, economy passengers found themselves sitting in a ten-across 3-4-3 configuration.
At the same time, the airline has installed the new Recaro 3710 slimline seating which made its debut with KLM last November (see news, November 14, 2014) which have already drawn negative comments from KLM passengers.
Why has Qatar Airways adopted slimline seating and this tighter layout?
It’s simply because Doha’s national airline cannot afford to see its Gulf rivals have a cost advantage. By going ten-across, the airline’s B777-300ERs can accommodate an additional 23 economy class passengers per flight. It means that on a busy service to Europe, the carrier can garner many hundreds of pounds in additional revenue.
So while business class retains the same 2-2-2 configuration with 42 seats, the economy seat count increases from 293 to 316 seats.
At this stage, with only a single B777-300ER configured with the new seating, it is unclear whether some or all the carrier’s other B777-300ERs will be retrofitted.
Qatar Airways may decide to retain the 3-3-3 configuration for those longer B777-300ER flights it operates from Doha to Latin America, US and Australia.
In other words, the tighter ten-across layout may be intended for flights to Europe and Asia.