Famed Gulf carriers Emirates and Qatar Airways have been consistently rated some of the best airlines in the industry when it comes to service, comfort, luxury, and cuisine. Their sterling product reputations even carries through to the main economy class cabin. But over the past couple of years, a few points of difference have emerged between Emirates and Qatar. So, it’s a good time to take a fresh look at both airlines’ economy class offerings.
To begin with, it’s worth pointing out that both airlines have had their wings clipped this year. Frequencies are reduced, or in some cases, services suspended to some cities. Aircraft on some surviving routes were downsized. Health and hygiene concerns sometimes necessarily curtailed cabin services. In summary, it’s not a normal flying environment, and you have to cut the airlines some slack.
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Who’s flying where and with what planes?
But to begin with, where are Qatar and Emirates still flying? Qatar Airways is now flying to 100 destinations, down from its usual 160 odd destinations. Emirates still flies to around 100 destinations, down from the approximately 170 cities it flew to earlier this year. So neither airline has a particular advantage here.
Both airlines have temporarily grounded most of their passenger-friendly A380s, switching them out for smaller planes. Emirates has some A380s running on certain routes, but you’ll most likely find yourself on a smaller Boeing 777. You’re likely to find yourself on either an Airbus A350, Boeing 777, or 787 Dreamliner when flying Qatar.
If you are lucky enough to find yourself on one of Emirates’ nine operational A380s, they’d be the pick of the bunch for economy class travel. That, combined with the absence of the squeezy Dreamliners from the Emirates’ fleet, gives Emirates the upper hand when it comes to better planes for economy class passengers.
Qatar has the edge when it comes to checked-in bags
Unless you hold decent status with either airline, an economy class ticket will not get you lounge access at your departure airport. However, in Dubai, Emirates Skywards Blue members can pay to access certain Emirates lounges. Similarly, you can buy your way into a Qatar Airways lounge at Doha if traveling economy class on that airline.
Checked in luggage rules do vary by destination and your frequent flyer status, but generally, on Qatar Airways, you can check-in one 30kg (66lb) bag with a maximum dimension of 300 cm (118″). Emirates is slightly more complex, depending on the fare bucket you are in. Economy class free checked-in bag allowances range from 20kg if you are traveling on an economy special fare to 35kg if you are traveling on an economy flex plus fare. For simplicity purposes, I like Qatar Airways here. Their 30kg allowance is also reasonably generous.
Who has the best seating?
Next, let’s take a look at comfort—always a major concern in economy seating. Configurations will vary slightly across different aircraft types, and although a seat on an Emirates 777 may be no smaller than a seat on an A380, the cabin is smaller, and that can make you feel more confined. That takes us back to our earlier point about the absence of A380s because aircraft size does matter when flying economy class, even if only from a spatial perspective.
As a rule, a standard Emirates economy class seat has a pitch of 32 inches and a width of 17.91 inches. A standard Qatar Airways economy class seat also has a pitch of 32 inches. Qatar Airways seats have a slightly wider width of 18.17 inches.
When it comes to economy seat size, Qatar and Emirates are just about equal, with Qatar at the tiniest of advantages when it comes to seat width. Though there are frequent flyers who swear by Emirates’ legroom or Qatar’s headrest, these details vary based on where you’re seated in the aircraft and the plane’s particular age, so it’s hard to say which one comes out on top here. Perhaps that extra quarter of an inch in width gives Qatar Airways the slightest edge.
Both airlines have terrific in-flight service
It’s difficult to get a handle on exactly whose service is “better” between Qatar and Emirates economy, as it’s likely to vary based on individual experiences as well as the particular crew on hand on a given day. But based on customer reviews and Skytrax awards, Qatar’s crew was voted “Best in the Middle East” for many consecutive years.
But what constitutes good service is very subjective. Also, a lot depends on the crew you’ve drawn. We’ve all been on mediocre airlines that left a great impression because of an outstanding cabin crew. Equally, we’ve all been on a great airline and left deeply underwhelmed by a lackluster cabin crew.
Generally, service on both Qatar Airways and Emirates is consistently good. My personal impression is that service in Emirates’ economy can sometimes come across as a little hurried and impersonal and that Qatar does a better job of personalizing service. But that’s my subjective view. Feel free to post a comment at the end if you disagree.
The best economy class food and drink?
Emirates and Qatar are both well-known for their high-quality, fresh meals. Both airlines feature a complimentary beverage selection of juices, sodas, tea, coffee, beer, and wine, including at least two red and two white wine options in economy class on Qatar Airways. On Emirates flights, cocktails are also included, and champagne and cake are available for a fee.
Qatar’s long-haul flights include two meals, including one just before landing. Qatar is notable for its focus on catering to every possible diet, including vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, raw, low-sugar, low-calorie, and religious restrictions of various stripes, among others.
Qatar also offers meals for young travelers (both kids and babies) that may include pre-packaged snacks for the junior jetsetters onboard and pancakes, chicken, pasta, and other simple dishes for older kids. Pancakes – I wonder if the grownups can order them?
Emirates’ food menu is inspired by regional flavors and spices, with meals served on each flight that reflect the local culture. A flight to Australia or New Zealand, for example, might feature minted lamb sausages with mashed potatoes and vegetables. In contrast, chicken with caramelized plums or lamb Brochette with Arabic spices might be the main course on a Middle East flight.
Emirates also serves specially made kids’ and baby meals on colorful trays and snack boxes made especially for younger flyers.
Though both Emirates and Qatar meals are widely regarded as some of the best in the airline industry, Qatar edges out Emirates just slightly here because it can cater to so many different palates and dietary needs.
Emirates has the edge when it comes to IFE
Emirates’ entertainment system, ice, has won countless Skytrax awards for its best-in-the-business features and has been voted the best around for multiple consecutive years – and for a good reason too, With 3,500 channels of movies, TV, music, and games, in addition to podcasts, radio shows, kids’ channels, and live sports and news, Emirates’ entertainment is truly top-notch. The Dubai-based airline also has easy-to-reach power outlets in most economy seats.
Qatar’s entertainment system, Oryx, is also nothing to scoff at and also includes Hollywood releases, music, games, and TV, along with kids’ options. There just isn’t quite as much variety in Qatar Airways list of choices in Emirates’ wide range.
On Emirates, WiFi is available in economy class from US$9.99 – $19.99, depending on the length of the flight. Emirates Skywards Gold members have access to free chat services (such as WhatsApp or Messenger) when traveling in economy class. If you are an Emirates Skywards Platinum passenger, you’ll have access to unlimited free internet in economy class. To access this, you must add Emirates Skywards membership number to your booking at least 24 hours before your flight
Free WiFi in economy on selected Qatar flights
Meanwhile, on Qatar economy flights, Oryx One Communications allows you to stay in touch via a mobile device. Most, though not all, Qatar flights also have onboard WiFi for a fee. It’s also worth noting Qatar Airways is offering economy class passengers on certain routes unlimited free WiFi if they book their flight direct with Qatar Airways. The Qatar Airways website lists the offer as available on flights to and from Sydney, Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, London, and Bangkok.
Qatar Airways’ free WiFi offer is attractive. However, it’s problem is it is very restricted and only available on six out of Qatar’s 100 routes. Ultimately, Emirates wins out in terms of entertainment. The airline’s consistent dedication to high-quality inflight entertainment options hasn’t been topped so far.
Should I fly with Emirates Economy or Qatar Economy?
So, I’m biased. I’m a bit of a Qatar Airways fanboy. When I’m on either airline, it’s only ever long-haul, and I pull every trick in the book to avoid economy class altogether, but I’ve done economy a few times on both airlines over the years.
I think the economy class seats on either airline are much of a muchness, although I do like the A380 cabin space, and Emirates has more A380s on more routes than Qatar. Emirates has better IFE. Personally, I like the food and service better on Qatar Airways. I also don’t mind their A350s. However, you can keep the Qatar Dreamliners when it comes to long-haul economy.
What do you think? If you had to sit down the back of the plane for a long-haul overnight flight, who would you prefer? Qatar Airways or Emirates? Post a comment and let us know.
Valuechain’s MES solution now integrates PrintSyst’s AI Engine
Today marks an important milestone in the strategic partnership between Valuechain Enterprise Systems and PrintSyst, upon completing the integration of PrintSyst’s cutting edge AI engine, the 3DP AI-Perfecter, into Valuechain’s industrial-grade MES, DNA.am.
The two companies have partnered to develop an integrated MES that will leverage PrintSyst’s world class AI engine, which enables an automated pre-printing workflow and thus assists customers in industries such as Aerospace, Automotive and Defence, to significantly improve their productivity and scale up their 3D printing production.
The integrated Valuechain-PrintSyst solution provides a state-of-the-art smart automation that learns from previous Additive Manufacturing builds and analyses the exact intent for which a specific part is going to be used to comply with industry specifications. It then accordingly suggests printing parameters that will have the highest probability of right-first-time Additive Manufacturing builds, accurately estimates 3D parts costs, recommends on the most suitable materials to be used based on 3D parts’ functional needs and eliminates the need for trial and error. Bottom line, this paves the way for transforming 3D Printing productivity through improved quality, cost and delivery responsiveness.
Tom Dawes, CEO of Valuechain, (pictured above on the right) commented: “Industrial 3D printing has continued to grow over recent months, as companies that initially trialled the technology are looking to scale up. Covid-19 has illustrated the importance of a robust supply chain structure, underpinned by secure collaboration and intelligence. However, many of these companies lack the digital solutions that drive 3D printing productivity while providing a path for an automated, standardized and certifiable digital workflow. Based on our customers’ feedback so far, I am confident that our collaboration with PrintSyst will be pivotal in addressing this critical need.”
Itamar Yona, PrintSyst’s CEO and co-founder, added that “combining our world class AI engine and hands on industry experience, with DNA.am’s leading industrial-grade MES, will step change the manual, costly and unscalable 3D printing workflow. We are now able to take into account multiple additional parameters that exist in DNA.am MES and automatically train our engine so we can provide instant, highly personalised and optimized printing recommendations to our joint customers.”
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Paragraf drives electric transport revolution with graphene sensors
Paragraf, a leader in graphene-based transformative electronic sensors and devices, is helping to realise an industry first by implementing a supply chain for graphene Hall-Effect sensors used in high-temperature Power Electronics, Electric Machines and Drives (PEMD) within the aerospace sector.
Named High-T Hall, the project stems from the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) ‘Driving the Electric Revolution’ challenge and brings together Paragraf, Rolls-Royce, TT Electronics (Aero Stanrew) and the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult (CSA Catapult). It is set to demonstrate how graphene-based Hall Effect sensors can operate reliably at high temperatures, paving the way for more efficient electric engines in aerospace and beyond.
Hall Effect sensors play a major role in monitoring current levels and magnetic fields in PEMD applications, which is critical to monitoring drive power consumption and machine speed and position. The deployment of conventional silicon Hall sensors is, however, restricted to environments with temperatures below 150°C and frequencies below 100kHz, which can constrain system level design. Project High-T Hall aims to demonstrate that graphene-based Hall Effect sensors will operate reliably up to 180°C, and potentially even at temperatures of up to 230°C allowing them to be mounted within the machine or power module enclosure thus enabling much greater flexibility in the design of new PEMD equipment aligned to Silicon Carbide power devices and higher performance more compact electrical machines. The ability to monitor current levels more accurately and reliably will enable better overall system control, which will in turn reduce size and weight and help design more efficient electric engine systems.
Ivor Guiney, co-founder of Paragraf, commented: “We are extremely proud to be part of this pioneering project that will hopefully lead to better efficiency in all-electric engines and help accelerate the adoption of e-planes and, more generally, electric vehicles. Our graphene Hall Effect sensors have already proven to possess unique cryogenic properties, so their resistance to high temperatures will help demonstrate how uniquely versatile graphene devices are from a thermal standpoint.”
As the lead partner in High-T Hall, Paragraf will design and manufacture custom Hall Effect sensors for integration into the systems of Rolls-Royce and TT Electronics. The CSA Catapult will provide their packaging expertise to develop innovative packaging solutions and advanced assembly process for realising the prototypes. The role of Rolls-Royce and TT Electronics will be to test the Paragraf’s graphene Hall Effect sensors in state-of-the-art, aerospace PEMD applications, with the former pioneering the use of this technology in their upcoming gas turbine product portfolio. TT Electronics will use it to develop a range of modular current sensors for use in rugged aerospace electrical systems to reduce Hall Effect sensor temperature-related errors.
Head of Electronics, Stephen Dennison at Rolls-Royce stated: “Rolls-Royce is committed to playing a leading role in reaching net zero carbon by 2050 and this includes championing sustainable power. This project with Paragraf and the other partners will help develop a resilient supply chain that enables companies to source made-to-measure, innovative electronic components to enhance the efficiency and performance of power, electronics, machines and drives.”
Owen Rolfe, Business Development Director at TT Electronics stated: “Now more than ever it’s important we make a proactive effort to accelerate innovation within the Aerospace supply chain. In this case, higher temperature operation of these sensing solutions has the capability to deliver significant efficiency benefits to power electronics systems and that’s something we’re extremely proud and well placed to support.”
Martin McHugh, CTO and Acting CEO at the CSA Catapult stated: “The aim of project High-T Hall is to demonstrate an integrated UK supply chain solution for advanced Hall sensing within PEMD. This will address the issues PEMDs experience when switching frequencies across a broad range of temperature conditions. We are very pleased to be involved in the sensor test platform and reliability testing on this project.”
The use of a graphene-based Hall Effect sensors in high-temperature aerospace environments could not only be replicated in other industries such as automotive. It may also open new opportunities for other graphene-based electronics, beyond sensors, which can help improve efficiency and performance even further in applications such as the engines of EVs.
Project High-T Hall started in July 2020 and is now due to run for one year. It is funded by UK Research and Innovation.
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Major US Airlines Pause Nonstop Flights To Shanghai
American Airlines and United are putting their nonstop Shanghai plans on hold, the carriers confirmed Tuesday. Reports on long waits to enter the country and restricted accommodations have given rise to concerns regarding crew rest requirements. Services, including cargo-only, will continue to operate via Seoul Incheon. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines is reportedly going ahead with nonstop flights to China.
Both American Airlines and United have halted their plans to fly nonstop to Shanghai in China. Concerns have been raised from unions about reports on lengthy waits for tests upon arrival.
There is also apprehension regarding the government-mandated hotel for crew at Pudong airport, where movement is reported to be severely restricted. These cumbersome procedures take a large chunk out of the federally regulated rest requirements for airline crew.
Crew continues to change in Seoul
American had planned to initiate non-stop cargo-only flights from Los Angeles to Shanghai in December. However, it will now continue to operate the service with a stop in Seoul, South Korea, for a crew change, CNBC reported Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the return journey will go straight from Shanghai to LA. Sources told the publication that American would continue to include stops in Seoul for its flights from Dallas-Fort Worth to Shanghai and from LAX to Beijing.
“We started operating passenger service from DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth) to PVG (Shanghai Pudong) on Nov. 11 through Seoul (ICN) due to testing requirements for crews,” a spokesperson for American Airlines told Reuters. They also added that cargo flights are continuing to operate through Seoul for the same reason.
United adding the stop back in
United Airlines previously flew to Shanghai via Seoul on the way there. However, on October 21st, the airline removed the stop on its San Fransisco to Shanghai Pudong route. Now, due to the same concerns over crew rest time and limited local accommodations, the carrier is adding Seoul back to the itinerary.
“Due to changes in operating conditions, we adjusted service between San Francisco and Shanghai to now include a stop in Seoul, South Korea for a crew change as we did earlier this year,” a United spokesperson said to CNBC.
Union making sure Delta’s decision is airtight
Delta Air Lines, however, is, thus far, still going ahead with the reintroduction of direct flights to China’s largest city. The carrier is set to offer nonstop services from both Seattle and Detroit starting this week. As the first US airline to reconnect the US and China since the flight suspension in February, Delta resumed a twice-weekly service to Shanghai in June. Since then, flights have also operated with a stop at Seoul Incheon.
“Delta has shared with us their plan and the logistics surrounding the initiation of nonstop service to Shanghai. Right now, we are studying it to make sure that it is airtight,” the ALPA told CNBC in a statement.
Simple Flying has reached out to the above-mentioned airlines with a request for further comments but was yet to receive a reply at the time of publication.
HOP’s Embraer Fleet To Be Rebranded As Air France
CEO of Air France-KLM Ben Smith has confirmed plans to fully integrate the Hop! brand into Air France. The airline will become a regional feeder for Air France, rebranded in line with the main airline. Smith is targeting a shrink of around 50% for Hop!, which will see it emerge as an all-Embraer airline.
An all-Embraer Air France brand
Air France-owned regional airline Hop! has had mixed success as a standalone operator. It’s distinct branding and separate marketing and operations led to inefficiency in the Air France Portfolio, something that the new boss at the group is keen to iron out.
Speaking at this week’s Routes Reconnected, CEO of Air France-KLM Ben Smith explained the position with Hop!. He said,
“For Hop!, we’ve shrunk it by 50%. It’s going to be at Roissy, CDG, and it’s got a sort of mini-hub at Lyon.
“Hop will become an all-Embraer fleet around those two cities or those two airports. We’re removing the brand, so it’s basically like most regional operators’ airlines; it will be Air France operated by Hop!”
While the rebrand is no big surprise, the news that it will become an all-Embraer fleet is new. Right now, the airline operates a mix of Bombardier and Embraer aircraft, with 25 CRJs and 45 ERJs. The CRJ-700s are aging, averaging 16.5 years across the fleet. However, many of the CRJ-1000s are still quite young, most under 10 years of age.
Also aging is its fleet of ERJ-145s. These 13 aircraft are all over 15 years old, with some as old as 23. Since being grounded earlier this year, none has flown for Hop!. With Smith talking about a 50% shrink, he’s got to be targeting 35 or so aircraft for Hop!. This may well mean only the E-170 and E-190 will stay; perhaps we could even see an order for the reimagined E2 jets in future as well.
Simplifying and boosting efficiency
Smith talked at length about his plans for the main Air France brand, as well as for Transavia and Hop! during the interview. Since his arrival at Air France-KLM in 2018, Smith has been on a mission to drive down the inefficiencies at both airlines, and to streamline every element of its operation.
We’ve already seen the impact of this in a number of moves. Closing down Joon made sense to Smith, because it was really just replicating the work of Air France to no benefit of the business. The downturn in demand gave him his window of opportunity to get shot of the A380s, leaving future large-capacity widebody operations focused on the more efficient A350 and Boeing 777.
Bringing Hop! into the Air France family more closely is simply an extension of everything else he’s been doing. It’s not driven by the pandemic, but has certainly become more urgent. He talked about the inefficiencies of running Hop as a separate entity, saying,
“Hop! was actually marketed separately. It had its own revenue management system, it had its own scheduling depot, and then it would codeshare with Air France. So it’s really going to be a regional feeder carrier.”
In the US, having regional feeders for big airlines at their hubs is normal. Look at American Eagle or Delta Connect, operated by other airlines but with a greater alignment of operations and branding. For Air France, it’s about time – KLM has had Cityhopper for many years, and now both Air France and Hop! will benefit from a similar degree of integration.
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