a row of seats in an airplane

Even in the pointy end with the beds instead of seats, there’s a bit of a “meh” feeling hopping on board a plane these days. Who was there before me? What’d they touch, and do I even want to know? Qatar Airways is making those pressing questions far less significant, with new touchless tech, for just about everything on board.

People were peripherally aware of these germaphobe thoughts pre global pandemic, but smack in the middle of one, senses are on high for all.

That’s why news today that Qatar Airways will become among the first global airlines to offer truly ‘touch free’ flying is extremely exciting. From bluetooth audio connectivity for your headphones to phone pairing controlling your screen, flying is on the way to something so much better.

a row of seats in an airplane

Qatar A350’s And 787’s Going Touch-Free

Qatar Airways is in the midst of a major tech breakthrough which will shape the future of airlines, and one which GSTP predicted long ago.

Touchless tech is the new altitude airlines are striving for, putting passengers in greater control of their surroundings. The concept is rather simple: anything you presently need to touch on board could become wirelessly, digitally controlled via things you brings on board, like bluetooth headphones, or your mobile phone.

787-9 And Airbus A350

Qatar Airways is upgrading to a new Thales Avant system for in flight IFE on board Airbus A350-900, and A350-1000 aircraft, which puts passengers in control of screens and audio, all using their own personal devices. The new experience will be available in all cabins.

a person holding a phone and scanning a qr code

According to the airline, this makes Qatar Airways the first global airline to “offer passengers 100 percent Zero-Touch technology”. Though the airline says “soon” a specific launch date was not specified. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker proclaimed…

“The introduction of the state-of-the-art Zero-Touch technology, and enabling passengers to use their personal Bluetooth headset on board is an important step in taking our already rigorous and stringent COVID-19 precautions to another level, limiting passenger surface contact and preventing any possible spread of infection on board.

We hope it provides yet further assurance of the safety of air travel, as well as offering passengers on board increased confidence that they are enjoying the most consistently advanced customer experience available in the sky.”Akbar Al Baker, CEO Qatar Airways

On the Qatar Airways A350, all content will be able to stream onto your personal devices by scanning a QR code and using the complimentary wifi streaming system on board. All the movies, podcasts, boxsets and audio will be available using your devices or on screen.

a close up of a sign

For Qatar Airways relatively new Boeing 787-9 fleet, bluetooth headphone connectivity will allow passengers to use their own earbuds or headphones to listen to video and audio content on Qatar Airway Oryx One in-flight entertainment system. No need to unpack the ones in the plastic, or plug in and touch surfaces.

A QR code on the back of each seat will help travelers pair their phone to control the screen, so they can pause, play and browse without ever touching anything they didn’t personally bring on board.

Yes, your iPhone or Google Pixel will be your remote, and the buds you were jamming to on the way to the airport will see you through the flight. With hope, this move from Qatar Airways, and other airlines in the near future will also reduce plastic waste, and the number of single use headphones.

Fortunately, all Qatar seats are equipped with USB power ports, because there’s going to be a whole lot of streaming or remote controlling going on, and that tends to bring battery drain.

From new all ‘anti-microbial’ cabin surface designs to the emergence of streaming and bluetooth connectivity, it’s safe to expect major health and hygiene improvements on airlines all around the world, as air travel looks to rebound.

Whenever you next hop on a plane, the experience may be far more tech forward and modern than you remember. That’s definitely not a bad thing. Bravo, Qatar Airways.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. That’s great but my 2 upcoming September flights in and out of DOH have been switched from A350 to 777 and schedule changed to the middle of the night. So much for Q Suite luxury!

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