As part of a trip to New Zealand, I had the opportunity to travel on Qatar Airways Business Class on three flights. This trip report is about my flight from Doha to Hong Kong, which was schedule for about seven hours. Unfortunately, many of Qatar's flights leave in the very early morning to accommodate passengers arriving from European connectors. My flight to Hong Kong was scheduled to depart at 2:25 am - and needless to say, I was somewhat tired before even boarding the flight.
After checking-out Qatar's Al Mourjan Business Class lounge, which did not really impress me (super crowded and average food), I headed to my gate, where I waited for another 10 minutes before boarding commenced. I had selected 2A for this flight, which is a single seat on the left side of the aircraft. Qatar has a 1-2-1 configuration on its B787, so all business class travelers have unobstructed aisle access.
Qatar's seats is the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond, which is the same seat that American has installed on its B787-9 aircraft. Having traveled on both airlines, I can honestly say that Qatar's finishes on the seat are far superior compared to American's version - Qatar's seat just feels very elegant and the materials of the surface areas are of high quality. The seat had all the bells and whistles you would expect from a state-of-the-art business class seat. The seat functions are controlled via a panel.
A power outlet and an USB outlet was available too.
In addition to a reading light in the overhead area, an additional reading light was available right next to the magazine rack.
Qatar certainly put some thought into the seat design: A small compartment on the right side of the seat contains the headset and a bottle of water - it's just a great idea to put these two items in a dedicated compartment, leaving other stowage space in the seat area for things you bring along.
I also liked the fact that there was a nicely-sized storage compartment available - so many business class seats these days have no space at all to put your personal belongings, which is just annoying.
And finally a compartment to put you shoes in.
Each seat had a somewhat restricted area to put one's feet - I personally found the space sufficient for myself, but I could see how some people could find this small space confining. I like the fact that Qatar added some mood light- also useful to find lost items when the cabin lights are dimmed.
While boarding was still in full swing, the cabin service director came by and asked if I cared for a pre-departure beverage. As far as I could tell, the crew offered a full choice of drinks, and not the usual OJ, water and sparkling wine. I am a sucker for the lime-mint lemonade that many Middle Eastern carriers offer and I wasn't disappointed. I was also asked if I cared for a hot or cold towel - certainly a nice touch that passengers have both options. Since the cabin was quite warm, I went with a cold towel, which was nicely presented on a small black plate.
The cabin service director also presented me with tonight's menu - since it was an early morning flight, the menu contained a full breakfast as well as a couple of light bites. Qatar Airways has a dine-on-demand concept in all of its premium cabins - passengers can order anything from the menu at anytime during the flight. While this is a nice perk for passengers, it certainly increases the workload for flight attendants.
We were soon ready for push-back and were on our way to Hong Kong. Upon departure, I was lucky enough to sit on the left side of the aircraft and I was able to snap this pic of downtown Doha - the buildings looked stunning and maybe I will have an opportunity to spend some time in the city at some point in the future.
About five minutes after departure, the seat belt sign was turned off - which is really the norm for non-U.S. based carriers. The flight attendants distributed some amenities. I was impressed to received a pair of very sleek looking gray PJs, considering that the flight was only scheduled to last for about seven hours.
In addition to the PJs, I received a Giorgio Armani-branded amenity kit.
The kit had all the essentials you would expect and even a 75ml After-Shave lotion and a small bottle of Aqua di Gio. The quality was pretty nice and I did take the kit with me after the flight.
I did not fill up with food in the business class lounge, so I ordered a couple of items from the snack menu. I was impressed with the table set-up, since I expected a somewhat slimmed down presentation, but the table was pretty much identical to my earlier full dinner flight - I received a bread basked and a nice side plate for my bread, as well as some butter. I have to say that this set-up feels more first class than business class - very nice indeed.
I started with the lemon grass cream soup, which was delicious. I generally find that soups are usually a good choice on airplanes - they usually re-heat quite well and the flavor-profile stays mostly in tact.
I continued with the stir-fried beef filet with cracked pepper, served on top of egg fried rice. While the pepper was a welcome addition, the "beef filet" was quite chewy, definitely not as good as the lemon grass soup I had before.
For dessert, I had the Dacquoise biscuit with chocolate ganache - divine and I couldn't find a fault with it. The raspberry florentine and the whipped cream were a perfect complement.
I reclined my seat and unpacked the blanket. I also changed into my PJs and fired up the IFE system. If you expected to receive an Emirates-type of system, you will be sorely disappointed on Qatar Airways. While the entertainment system had most recent Hollywood movies, the overall choice was quite limited. There were maybe a dozen movies and series available. I also found the interface to be not very intuitive and I struggled at times. There is one more thing I noticed about the IFE, Qatar Airways heavily censors the movies and TV shows available on board. There was an advisory about "inappropriate content for small children" for basically every show, even Modern Family, probably because they show a gay couple, the show is rated TV-PG in the US.
After watching a movie or two, it was already time for breakfast. I couldn't believe how short this flight was - I definitely prefer longer flights, where you have enough time to have dinner, rest a bit and then be hungry again for breakfast. I was still stuffed from dinner, but decided to have a full breakfast nevertheless.
The table setup was pretty fancy again. The major difference between dinner and breakfast was that the bread basket now contained breakfast pastries. I was served some fresh fruit along with some yogurt and granola.
The yogurt was delicious and creamy.
I also ordered the omelette with a beef patty and potatoes - the omelette was alright, a bit dry maybe, and the Tabasco sauce certainly helped to spice the dish up a bit. One of the things I do miss with breakfast on Middle Eastern carriers is bacon - I guess we should be lucky that they do serve alcohol.
Soon after breakfast, the crew prepared the cabin for landing and I was finally able to take some pictures in daylight.
Qatar is one of the very few airlines to keep the Dreamliner entryway unobstructed, accentuating the beautiful illuminated arch when you enter the aircraft.
We soon touched down in Hong Kong, where there was a lot of action on the tarmac, like this Cathay Pacific A330.
I also got a glimpse of an American B777-300ER, waiting for its departure back to the US.
And finally, after disembarking, I was able to snap a decent picture of my ride to Hong Kong, a Qatar Airways B787-8.
Qatar Airways has an impressive soft and hard product on its Dreamliner fleet - the service definitely feels more first class than most other business class products I have ever flown on. Qatar's dine-on-demand concept is amazing for customers and enables passengers to really tailor any trip to their personal preferences. It's no problem to take a nap first and have dinner later on Qatar. The seat on Qatar's B787-8 is excellent as well, going fully flat with unobstructed aisle access from all seats. My one crticism would be that the seat feels somewhat open or exposed, which is something some people may mind.
I also noticed that the quality of the service provided by the crew varies widely, depending on individual crew members. While service on this flight from Doha to Hong Kong was extremely attentive and polished, service on my incoming flight from Vienna was just OK - I do feel like Qatar Airways employs crew from countries where English proficiency might be an issue as I did notice some language barriers in interactions with the cabin crew.
Overall, I can definitely recommend Qatar Airways' business class product on planes with a 1-2-1 configuration, but I would still avoid the B777 fleet, as I don't like stepping over somebody when seated at a window seat. Many components of Qatar's soft product feel like traveling in first class and Qatar Airways Business Class is certainly a very nice way to get to your destination.