Qatar Quietly Downgrades Business Class on Atlanta Route

Jul 25, 2019

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Almost all Qatar routes to the United States use aircraft with the TPG Award-winning Qsuite business class installed. As of the last time we dug into Qatar’s schedule, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC all have Qsuite aircraft — leaving just Atlanta and Miami without. We’ve been monitoring these last two routes closely to see when Qsuite would finally be added.

So, I was optimistic when a number of ExpertFlyer aircraft change notifications came through Thursday afternoon for the Atlanta-Doha route. Would this finally be the long-awaited addition of Qsuite to the Atlanta route?

But instead of being upgraded to Qsuite, it turns out that this route was just downgraded. Currently, Qatar is operating an Airbus A350-900 daily on this route. While this aircraft doesn’t have Qsuite, its business class has an all-aisle access 1-2-1 seating arrangement:

However, on October 27, this route is being switched to a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft daily, with a mediocre 2-2-2 business class product:

While the current A350-900 doesn’t have Qsuite, it has a very solid business class product — albeit rather open:

Image by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.
Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.

The 777-200LR has a rather outdated product that doesn’t provide aisle access to all seats.

Photo by Eric Rosen / The Points Guy

The only upside to the change is that this increases the number of available business class seats from 36 to 42. However, this doesn’t seem to have opened up any more availability, at least yet. Before the change, there are quite a few dates with award availability on the nonstop from Atlanta to Doha:

But after the change, there are very few dates available. In fact, from the aircraft change on October 27 through the end of January 2020, I’m only seeing five dates with business-class award availability:

If you have an award flight booked on Qatar post-October 27 and you don’t want to fly on the lesser biz class, note that American Airlines’ International General Rules allows the “option of cancelling without penalty, or rerouting on different flights to/from the same or different destination” if a schedule change “result in a substitution of equipment not acceptable to the passenger.”

These rules are focused on American Airlines published fares, but it’s worth seeing if the AAdvantage agent you speak with will waive the award cancellation and redeposit fees — or allow a free change — based on this rule.

If you’re looking to experience the incredible Qatar Qsuite product yourself, we have plenty of resources to help you fulfill that dream:

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