Review: Qatar Airways 787-8 Business Class Doha to Hong Kong (Return)

Review: Qatar Airways 787-8 Business Class Doha to Hong Kong (Return)

In late June I flew from Doha to Hong Kong and back on Qatar Airways-operated Cathay Pacific codeshare flights.

The outbound sector

QR818
DOH-HKG
D: 02.40 (03.30)
A: 16.05 (17.05)
Business, 2K
Boeing 787-8
A7-BCR

Boarding began at 0200 from Hamad International’s Gate E4, which is, thankfully, a contact gate.

I was welcomed on board by the charming Martildah, who let me know that she is from Nairobi. I appreciated that. Champagne and drinks brought out immediately and were promptly refilled when necessary. She was really on top of her game, making sure to check on everyone in her aisle as often as possible.

As usual, menus, PJs, amenity kits were all handed out. As this flight is technically a medium-haul, the slippers were not available (QR policy is that they’re given on flights of more than 10 hours).

Captain came on at 02.44 to inform us that we were waiting for some late connecting customers. I don’t mind a 10-15 minute wait – if it were me connecting, I’d appreciate everyone’s patience. It can also be a nightmare to rebook passengers in these scenarios, so where possible, I think it is best that the airlines hold the departing aircraft.

That being said, because this is a codeshare with Cathay there were definitely customers on board who were connecting in Hong Kong, so waiting too long can also cause other issues elsewhere.

The Cabin Services Director, Dai, came to welcome me on board and take my meal order. By 02.55 all customers were on board, but the doors were not closed. Apparently we were waiting for connecting bags and cargo, and it became clear that we’d be late into HKG.

For the record, this marked the first time I’ve experienced this on QR. This’d never happened in my years of travel spanning thousands of miles across their global network (to every continent except South America).

Meanwhile, more champagne was poured for passengers and HK landing cards were issued, along with solid, good pens – the best I’ve seen on an airline.

We finally pushed-back at 03.30 and took-off about ten minutes later, on 34R, after a 55 second roll. The Qatar Dreamliner seat is great except for ONE thing: the in-flight entertainment’s user experience. The touch function on the main screen only works when you’ve browsed and started a show or movie using the truly horrendous Android handset. Luckily, Qatar fixed this issue with its A350 and A380s.

I opened the shoe drawer and found that for the second time this year on a QR flight, there were dirty socks left there – clearly, the cleaning crew had not bothered to check. I alerted Dai so she could write a report – of course it’s not her fault – and it’s important that the cleaning crews don’t miss these things.

At this point it was past 04.00 and so early in the morning that it was getting light out. Because I typically wake up at 05.30/06.00, I wasn’t very tired anymore.

I had a fruit platter and tried to sleep – note that QR do not provide a bed sheet on a flight this short.

I woke up a few hours later and started a movie. QR’s system is a bit annoying in that it will ask if you want subtitles, and even if you select ‘none’, it’ll have them anyway. For instance, Solaris had Cantonese subtitles and the Oscar-winning, Persian-language film The Salesman had English.

The lady in Seat 2F had ordered the French toast and I have to say it looked divine. I had my usual bevy of drinks – two orders of the Energizer, a black coffee and enough sparkling water to drown a hippo.

I signed-up for the free 10MB of wifi but it didn’t actually work (despite us not being in Chinese airspace) and was asking me for payment fifteen minutes later. Yes, I’ll definitely pay for a service I’ll never receive.

I ordered the strawberry parfait – the consistency of the ‘jam’ (for lack of a better word) was not right so I tried to avoid it. The yoghurt and granola, however, were quite good. The smoothie on the flight was a bit odd, as well – it was like drinking liquid oats, but had  cinnamon flavor which worked well.

 

The Arabic breakfast was good, as usual (its hard not to get sliced feta, tomatoes and cucumbers right!). It’s precisely the reliability and lightness that I like about it.

At 16.10, the Captain announced we’d be landing at 16.45. He made no apologies for the delayed arrival. CSD Dai came to apologize for the leftover socks and brought me a glass of Glenfiddich 15, but she didn’t mention the delay nor apologize for it either. I wonder if its policy not to address it!

Due to the afternoon traffic into HKG, we had a few loops over the South China Sea, and landed 17.05. Thanks to my APEC card, I was through the otherwise busy immigration queue in a matter of minutes and flagged a taxi for Cathay Pacific City shortly thereafter.

The Cheatline

Seat: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Food: 7.5/10
Spirits: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

The inbound sector

QR817
HKG-DOH
D: 19.10
A: 22.15
Business, 1K
Boeing 787-8
A7-BDC

Boarding began at 16.25. I was welcomed, escorted to my seat and given a sleeper suit, menus for food and drinks, champagne and sparkling water – a routine start to a Qatar Airways flight (although the escort-to-your-seat feature is inconsistent).

The Captain advised a flying time of just over 8 hours, and orders were taken for dinner. The Cabin Services Director, Prerana, swung by to have the chats – she is from Calcutta, and said her favorite restaurant at home there is a biryani joint called “Arslan.” I suppose this is because the origins of biryani can be traced back to ancient Persia.

We took-off at 19.45 and the crew brought a glass of Shiraz with warm nuts and water about half an hour later. The turbulence was pretty bad from the outset, and continued for the first couple hours, leading to slower service.

An hour after take-off Prerana set the table and served a bread basket and a crispy shrimp amuse bouche. The shrimp comes with a sweet and sour sauce and is indeed palate-pleasing.

Shortly thereafter I was served the duck (left). The meat wasn’t bad but it was perhaps slightly overlooked, and the dish featured too much strawberry glaze. The slices of fruit that accompanied it didn’t quite match.

The crew consistently topped-up my wine glass. At this stage it was 17.00 and we had about 6 hours to go – out ETA kept being pushed back I think because of various thunder storms around us.

I had ordered the fried Chinese cereal prawn for the main course. The amount of sauce was just right, but the vegetables were a little too damp. There was too much rice – it seemed a waste of food. The shrimp were cooked perfectly, for what its worth.

I slept for a solid four hours and began preparing for landing. The crew came by with green tea and water, and asked if I’d like to eat anything before landing. Because I had no food at home and wouldn’t be eating until dinner-time the next day, I ordered the savory pastries from the light options menu, which consisted of a Shrimp dumpling, a mushroom tart and a risotto-type ball.

 We landed at 22.44 and arrived 7 minutes later at Gate A1, which is about as convenient as you’ll get to arrivals & transfers at Hamad International.

The Cheatline

Seat: 8/10
Service: 9/10
Food: 7/10
Spirits: 8/10
Overall: 8/10

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