Today (April 29, 2014): Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER Business Class from Doha to Bangkok.
I recently flew Business Class with Qatar Airways from Brussels (BRU) to Bangkok (BKK) via Doha (DOH). The first leg of the trip (BRU-DOH) was flown in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the experience was simply phenomenal (read my trip report here and watch my Youtube clip here). The second leg of the overnight trip (DOH-BKK) was flown in a Boeing 777-300ER and although the experience was excellent, it was not as mind-blowing as the Dreamliner. Qatar Airways has raised the bar for itself (and its competitors) with its new Dreamliner Business Class product.
Qatar Airways features in my top 10 lists of the best airlines for longhaul Business Class, the most delicious airline food, the world’s best airline lounges, and the best Business Class amenity kits in the sky.
- Trip: DOH-BKK
- Airline: Qatar Airways
- Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
- Flight Number: 822
- On time departure: yes (9.10 pm)
- On time arrival: yes (7 pm)
- Miles: 3287
- Flight time: 5:50
- Seat: 2A
- Class: business (D)
In this review (below the slideshow):
- Doha lounge
- Business class seat
- Other inflight experiences (crew, cabin, lavatory, WiFi, entertainment)
- Comparison with other Middle Eastern carriers (Etihad Airways, Emirates)
- Our verdict
1. QATAR AIRWAYS DOHA AIRPORT LOUNGE
(*) UPDATE: Doha International Airport shut down for commercial traffic on 27 May 2014 when all airlines, including Qatar Airways, relocated to its successor, Hamad International Airport. The lounge as described below and featured in the photos does not longer exist. Click here to read my review of Qatar Airways’ spectacular new lounge in Hamad International Airport (which I visited on a trip with Cathay Pacific from Doha to Hong Kong).
A lot has been said and written about the excellent Qatar Airways lounge at Doha International Airport (*), which is located in its own Premium Terminal and is exclusive to First and Business Class customers flying Qatar Airways (privileged lounge access for One World frequent flyer is not granted here). The unique award-winning Premium Terminal is truly a memorable and breathtaking experience even for seasoned travellers: comfortable and tranquil seating areas, superbly equipped business services, and excellent fine dining from haute cuisine (first class) to a wide range of delicious snacks and buffet options (business class). Undoubtedly, this is one of the best lounges in the world.
2. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN & SEAT
Business Class in Qatar’s B777-300ER is fitted in a classic 2-2-2 configuration, with all seats facing forward (click here for a seat map). The only negative aspect of this configuration is that window seats have no direct aisle access and that privacy is lacking. There is a small “privacy screen” that can be extended between 2 adjoining seats, but that is about it. So when you are travelling alone and seated next to a stranger, it may feel a little awkward. This gives an advantage to Qatar’s Dreamliner, since each of its seats has direct aisle access (1-2-1 configuration) and a huge amount of privacy.
The seat itself is excellent with a pitch of 78 and a width of 22 inches. The seat features a massage function and has many fine controls for seat position. It is very comfortable in the full lie-flat position, assuring that even the most picky of passengers can comfortably sleep on his/her side or turn around while sleeping. Unfortunately, and contrary to Qatar’s Dreamliner overnight service, a feather duvet to enhance sleeping comfort is not provided.
Storage space in Qatar’s 777-300ER Business Class is excellent with very large overhead lockers and a further good-sized bin under the seat in front (although this is obviously not an option for those in row one). Nice touches include storage space for shoes, a spacious side pocket for magazines and the menu, and a large table which comes out of the arm.
TV screens are incorporated in the seat in front of you and measure 17 inches.
3. AMENITY KIT
Each seat comes with a decent blanket, a good-sized pillow, and an amenity kit (identical as the one offered on the Dreamliner). The latter comprises a bag with socks, eyeshade, earplugs and a comb, and a Salvatore Ferragamo kit that contains Attimo 5ml Eau de Toilette, 10ml lip balm and a 20ml hand cream or refreshing water. Pajamas are also offered on an overnight flight. Toothbrush and shaving razors are found in the bathrooms.
30 minutes after take-off, I choose a sprite with ice and lime as a drink, and was offered an appetizer of smoked salmon kelp roll (with ponzu sauce). Qatar Airways really puts a lot of effort in its food service. The menu is already at your place when boarding and is separated into three parts: one for wine, one for beverages, and one for food.
Dinner was served one hour after take-off. As a starter, I choose the individual buffet of smoked salmon, chicken and prawn, with crisp leaves, cherry tomato, aspergus, horse radish cream cheese, fennel and bell pepper salad, served with toasted brioche. It tasted excellent. As an entrée, I choose the Nobu dish: yellow tail tuna with teriyaki and truffle sauce, sweet potato, roasted cherry tomato and okra. Unfortunately, the meal did not meet my expectations as the tuna was completely dried out. As a sweet finale, I had the baked merengue with fresh berries and lime curd. Delicious!
Ninety minutes prior to landing, after a decent 3 hour rest, I was awakened by the flight attendants for breakfast. I had a raspberry and mango smoothie, followed by a selection of seasonal fresh fruits with vannilla pannacotta. Exactly what I needed: a fresh start to recover from the short night.
5. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
# CREW: as usual with Qatar Airways, the customer service was above and beyond as they try to know your name, remember how many times you have traveled with them before (they have record of that), and they constantly pass by to check if you need anything to eat to drink.
# ENTERTAINMENT: the 777-300ER has Audio Video on Demand (AVOD) at every seat. The in-flight entertainment system itself, dubbed Oryx Entertainment, is a rubust system (Panasonic eX2) that holds a massive library of movies, television shows, and audio options. Although the 777-300ER AVOD was not by any means horrid, it felt slower and lead to some frustration by the user (ie me) as compared to the 787 AVOD android based system.
#WIFI: internet is not available on the Boeing 777-300ER (contrary to the Dreamliner).
#LAVATORIES: the 2 lavatories for Business Class passengers were small, and kept clean throughout the flight.
6. COMPARISON WITH OTHER MIDDLE EASTERN CARRIERS
The 3 major Middle Eastern carriers (Etihad airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways) are known for their excellent Business Class. However, there are some differences that distinguish one from another (click here for more info):
- Chauffeur service: both Etihad and Emirates offer complimentary chauffeur-driven airport transfers, while this is not the case with Qatar Airways. A huge plus for Emirates and Etihad!
- Pyjamas: Qatar Airways offers pyjamas on overnight medium- and long-haul flights, while Etihad and Emirates only offer them in First Class.
- Duvets: Qatar Airways and Emirates offer duvets on medium-haul flights (to increase sleeping comfort), while Etihad only offers them on longhaul flights.
- Fleet-wide consistency: Etihad offers a consistent Business Class product across it wide-body fleet (with the exception of its superior Dreamliner B787 & Airbus A380 products, which were recently introduced), while Emirates and Qatar offer a more variable Business Class product across their wide-body fleets.
- Cabin interior & design: Etihad’s Airbus A380s & Dreamliner B787s feature an extremely elegant decor in their Business Class cabins (it doesn’t get any better at 30.000 feet), while Qatar’s A380, B787 and A350 cabins are very sexy with a red/white theme. Emirates features rather bombastic interiors, with lots of walnut veneer, gold trim and pearlised plastic, which is not to my liking.
- Cabin layout & seats: the best wide-body Business Class layout & seats are (in order from excellent to mediocre): (1) Etihad B787/A380; (2) Qatar B787/A350/A380; (3) Emirates A380; (4) Etihad A330/B777; (5) Qatar B777; (6) Emirates B777; (7) Qatar A330. So bottom line is to take the aircraft type into account when booking a flight on one of the 3 Middle Eastern carriers.
- Flat beds: Etihad Airways is the only carrier to offer flat beds (with 180 degree recline) across its wide body fleet. Contrary to their A380s, Emirates’ B777s have angled lie flat-beds (although they are still comfortable). Qatar Airways is currently replacing the (very uncomfortable) angled lie flat-beds on its Airbus A330 fleet by true lie-flat seats (after which the whole Qatar fleet will offer flat beds).
- Food: meals are delicious on all 3 carriers, but my best gastronomic experiences (so far) were always on Qatar Airways, followed by Etihad, and then Emirates.
- Number of meal services: on longhaul flights, all 3 carriers offer 2 meal services (one after takeoff, and one 90 minutes before landing). On medium-haul flights though, Etihad and Emirates only offer one meal; Qatar Airways used to offer a second light meal before landing but now seems to have skipped that as well. So there’s no difference here.
- Inflight entertainment: Emirates is the winner when it comes to the inflight entertainment product, with large screens and an extensive range of films, television shows, and audio options (but Etihad and Qatar offer plenty of choices as well).
- WiFi: onboard WiFi is offered by all 3 Middle Eastern carriers, but with a different price tag: Emirates offers the cheapest WiFi, while Qatar’s WiFi is just way too expensive, with Etihad somewhere in between.
- Amenity kit: Emirates has by the far the best amenity kit of the 3 airlines, with Etihad offering the least impressive Business Class amenity kit. Unfortunately, Emirates only offers them on longhaul flights, while Etihad and Qatar Airways offer amenity kits on both medium- and longhaul flights.
- Onboard bar: an onboard bar, exclusively accessible for passengers flying the premium cabins, is only present on the Airbus A380 aircrafts, which are now operated by all 3 carriers. But your chances of flying an Airbus A380, and thus socializing with other passengers in a fantastic onboard bar, are highest with Emirates, which has no less than 60 of these megaplanes in its fleet (Qatar Airways and Etihad own only 4 and 2 Airbus A380s respectively).
Read here my review of Emirates’ Business Class in a Boeing 777-300ER.
Read here my review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
Read here my review of Etihad Airways’ Business Class in an Airbus A330.
7. MY VERDICT
- Seat : 8/10
- Food: 7/10
- Service: 9/10
- Inflight entertainment : 8/10
- Cabin: 8/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8/10