Qatar Airway's business class offering is a truly luxurious experience that some might mistake for first class in parts. Take a peek into Qatar’s business class offering on an A380 flight from Sydney to Doha and then the A350-900 flight from Doha to Edinburgh!
Mr NQN and I are a living episode of Seinfeld. I’m in business class and he is in economy. He’s managed to wangle himself a seat on the upper deck on an aisle so that he can stretch out his long legs. I’m on the other side of the curtain.
This is my first time flying Qatar of any class so I was very curious to see what it was like. As soon as I take my seat I’m offered a drink and a choice of a hot or cold towel. I spy glasses of sparkling rosé on the tables of the passengers around me so I go with one of the glasses of Laurent Perrier Rosé and take a seat surveying my surroundings.
The cabin on the A380 has a 1x2x1 configuration so everyone has aisle access. My seat 16K is at the right hand side window. It’s a busy business class cabin this evening with only a couple of seats free while the entire first class cabin is empty. The lights are tinted a rosy pink.
Business class pyjamas and slippers
I’m flying with Qatar as they have a direct Sydney to Edinburgh route. Alas my flights do no involve the much lauded Qsuites that are said to be the closest thing to first class at business class prices. Still, this is no slouch and my seat is noticeably spacious.
There’s a bottle of Evian, a Brics pouch containing amenities by Castello Monte Vibiano including a pot of lip balm, moisturiser and facial mist. There are also ear plugs, a pair of socks and a sleep mask. The facial spray is a godsend on these long flights and I mist myself up vigorously probably looking like some sort of parched lunatic.
A flight attendant comes around and introduces herself as Siri. She asks if this is my first time flying Qatar and I answer yes and she explains all the features of the seat. There is a universal adaptor and a USB charging plug. There are also a range of switches for your seat to recline in many different ways. These switches are clever and light up when you start pressing them but dim down at other times.
There’s also helpful storage compartments that hold your shoes, noise cancelling headphones and another storage compartment. And to the right of this are other compartments where you can put your handbag so that it is always within easy reach.
They offer newspapers and hand out the menus. One menu details the wine list selections while the other has the food. Shortly after they come around and take our orders. Unlike other airlines where soups and entrees are automatically included, here you have to specify if you want something. The flight attendant taking the order says that I can order food at any time and when I spy an afternoon tea on offer I order this too. I also order my drinks at this time.
More storage (I'm obsessed with storage)
The head of flight attendants comes around to introduce himself and to let me know how long I will have at Doha airport as there was a slight delay because a passenger’s luggage had to be offloaded.
While waiting for dinner service to start I wander around the cabin. The bathroom is actually very different from other business class bathrooms. The back of the toilet seat is padded leatherette and there are great amenities in there including a Ritual body mist and hand cream in a refreshing unisex mandarin and mint scent.
Also it may sound odd but I love the tap. Usually airline taps trickle out a stream of water based on a sensor. On this plane the water gushes like a waterfall spout and is quite a novelty (especially when you consider how heavy water is to carry).
I take a peek at the action in the bar. It’s the area between the upper deck economy section and business class that is roped and curtained off. The bar has fresh red roses, chandeliers and a bartender that will make you anything that you want.
There are also snacks like popcorn, chocolate bars, chips as well as glasses filled with sweet and savoury items to snack on as well as fresh fruit. I sit down and have a drink and by the time I am finished they are laying out the tablecloths ready for dinner service.
The table pulls and folds out but is still at a distance so that you can get in and out while eating if you need to. They lay out a warm bread basket, butter, a flickering (faux) candle and offer me my choice of vinegars and oil (I choose pomegranate). There’s an amuse bouche of a baguette slice topped with bocconcini and a semi dried cherry tomato. I try the non alcoholic bubbly called So Jennie but it’s a bit too sweet for me.
Signature Arabi Mezze
The entree is an Arabic mezze with hummus, tabouli and moutabel served with mini discs of Arabic bread. I enjoy the tabouli and add some salt to the hummus and moutabel.
Arabic Chicken Kofta with Oriental Rice
When they bring out the main they offer mini serves of ketchup, mustard and Tabasco sauce. I really enjoy the Arabic chicken coffee which is three fat, juicy balls of seasoned chicken mince on a bed of rice with fried onions, cashews, sultanas and cucumber yogurt. The kofta meatballs are delicious and I polish them off sort of forgetting that I have afternoon tea coming after this.
Warmed Orange Semolina Pudding
The dessert is a warmed orange semolina pudding with a thick and custardy vanilla creme anglaise and fresh raspberries. This is also very good and they set this down with a box of two Godiva truffles in milk and dark chocolate.
Then comes my favourite meal of the day: afternoon tea (although I'm eating it around midnight). They set down two rectangular plates. The first has some wax paper wrapped sandwiches, two mini scones and a petit four and lemon tart. The sandwiches are delicious, especially the ham and cheese one and the tuna and roasted capsicum sandwich and the bread is downy soft.
The scones come with clotted cream, butter and a pot of strawberry jam and I end up nibbling on these. The cakes are nice although by now I'm completely full. After all meals they bring around a scented hot towel.
First class seats
It’s time to get changed into my pyjamas made by The White Company in London. They have two sizes, small and medium although they’re quite oversized. They come with black slippers and I get changed and brush my teeth and try to watch Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. I spritz the face mist, moisturise, put in the ear plugs, don the sleep mask and fall into a medically aided coma sleep.
First class bathroom
Nine restful hours later I hear the clink of the cutlery and that signals time for something to eat. There are just under 3 hours left of the flight and there’s just enough time (and stomach space) to fit in one of the warm snacks before breakfast.
Beef Brisket Panini
It’s a beef brisket panini with a very lightly smoked Swiss cheese along with a cup of the karak chai. Long time readers will know that chai lattes are my choice of drink and very few if any other airlines serve them. On Qatar Airways there are actually two types of chais: saffron and cardamom. I start with the saffron one and it’s delicious with just the right amount of sweetness. Also the mugs have rubber edges on the base which are helpful on flights in case of turbulence but there was hardly any on this flight. The panini is soft and delicious, the beef melting in the mouth and the cheese appealingly gooey.
Then comes breakfast! I ordered mine with a non alcoholic pineapple margarita made with pineapple juice, orange juice and ginger ale and it’s thirst quenching. The Arabic mezze is a platter with a pot of delicious ful medames with plenty of flavour and topped with finely diced tomato and lots of parsley. This comes with a plate of feta cheese, tomato, cucumber and baby cos leaves and three rounds of warm Arabic bread.
There is also a basket of pastries and bread with a croissant, pain au chocolat and a white roll with butter and a choice of strawberry or marmalade preserves. I stumble upon the latest season of one of my favourite shows Line of Duty which I hadn’t been able to find in Australia and while out the rest of the flight sipping my cardamom karak chai (also delicious) and wishing that this flight wouldn’t end.
The next leg from Doha to Edinburgh leaves in just under 2 hours which gives me just enough time to find the lounge, have a quick shower and rehydrate (given the onslaught of food I consumed in flight, my stomach is begging me for a reprieve and just wants soda water).
The Qatar Airways lounge is located on the third floor. It’s called the Al Mourjan lounge although the Qatar Airways brand isn’t mentioned so you do have to know that or ask someone as I did. It’s enormous at 10,000 square metres, sleek and modern a large water feature pool for an extravagant decoration.
My first priority is a shower so I head to the corner towards the quiet area, through the restaurant. There’s a queue for showers although I’m lucky enough to be put on the next on the list and wait less than 10 minutes. During busy times you can wait for a while depending on how long the list is so it is best to put your name down as soon as you get to the lounge.
The shower is clean and tidy and has basic toiletries of shower gel, conditioner and shampoo. Other amenities are by request. I take a quick shower mindful of the queue of people outside. Afterwards I grab a comfortable pod chair, and drink some soda water and use the internet and before I know it, I am making my way towards Gate E1 for my final flight.
Overhead compartment storage space
The plane for the Doha to Edinburgh leg is an A350-900. The main fleet for the Qsuites are the A350s but unfortunately not this A350. It's much smaller in size than the A380 and I’m in seat 6A.
The seat is slightly different-there isn't space on the side to stow baggage but there are the same two side compartments as well multiple charging points, seat adjustments and storage compartment for shoes. The overhead locker space is roomier than that of the A380.
The flight attendant Rosalind introduces herself as does the head of flight attendants. They offer me a drink and I go for a Virgin Mary and a soda water. On the side is the business class amenity kit by Brics which is the same as the previous one with Castello Monte Vibiano lip balm, mist spray, moisturiser cream as well as eye mask and socks. Toothbrushes and razors sit in a tray in the bathroom.
As this flight is shorter there are no pyjamas or slippers provided. I have the ones from the other leg so I change into those before roaming around to check out the cabin. The bathrooms are bit more like regular bathrooms in layout although the Ritual products are still there.
They take my order for breakfast. I go for the plate of fruit that is perfectly refreshing and the assiette of cold cuts.
Assiette of Cold Cuts
This differs from the menu description and today it is smoked turkey, bresaola, walnut cream cheese, Cheddar cheese and blanched kale. I eat this with the rolls and pastries. There’s a croissant, walnut Danish and a white roll with strawberry preserves and butter. I sip a cup of saffron karak chai with my breakfast.
I also try a couple of the hot snacks. The cottage pie is delicious with a hearty, seasoned mince beef under creamy mashed potatoes. The buttered brioche is a little dry so I leave this.
The mini sliders are very cute. There are two types of patties: a beef and a chicken one with tomato and melted cheese and cos lettuce leaves on the side. I take the top off as it is quite bready and eat the base with the tomato sauce and mustard added. There are also some chunky chips on the side which aren’t bad. Chips are one of the most difficult things to serve in the air.
For the rest of the time as I try to stay awake to get used to the destination time, I watch the rest of Line of Duty and make use of the free hour of wifi. I also try to resist the urge to order another afternoon tea which is harder than one might think!
So tell me Dear Reader, have you ever flown Qatar Airways? How do you deal with long flights? Do you try to stay awake to watch tv or movies or do you prefer to sleep?
NQN was a guest of Qatar Airways but all opinions remain her own.