Review: Qatar Airways Qsuite Business Class Doha to London

Review: Qatar Airways Qsuite Business Class Doha to London

The stars aligned last night.

I was scheduled to fly from Doha to Frankfurt on Qatar Airways (QR) this morning at 07.45 and connect to a British Airways (BA) flight to London Heathrow, arriving at 15.25. I received an email at about 21.00 yesterday informing me that the BA flight had been cancelled. I called the BA Executive Club Gold Card line, and the lovely Hannah told me they were pre-emptively cancelling some flights due to predicted thunderstorms in the afternoon (for the record, it’s about 20.00 and we’ve not seen a drop of rain yet today).

Hannah spoke with a supervisor and their alternative solution was for me to take the red eye 01.30/01.45 red eye to Frankfurt, layover for nearly 5 hours, then continue on with BA at 11.00. I wasn’t thrilled with this option because I didn’t want to scramble to pack and head to the airport immediately, it was an overnight (read: little to no sleep) and had too long of a layover. I politely asked her to re-route me direct to London.

Hannah said they’d cancelled their own direct flight from Doha to London the next morning, and would check again with a different supervisor to see if they could book me on a direct flight on Qatar. Fifteen minutes later, she had approval and was asking which of its morning flights I’d like to take.

I told her QR7 – the brand new 777-300ER (77W) featuring the their ‘super business class’, the Qsuites. Within a few minutes, the ticket had been re-issued. I was ecstatic – the universe had smiled upon me!

Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER Qsuites Business Class Doha to London

QR007
DOH-LHR
D: 06.35
A: 12.00
Business, 1K
Boeing 777-300ER
A7-BED

The gate opened nearly two hours ahead of departure due to the second round of security. I walked over to Gate A1 from the Al Mourjan Business Class lounge with about 45 minutes to spare. Boarding began at 05.50.

The view from door L1

I crossed the threshold and handed the crew my boarding pass. They were visibly excited and pointed me in the direction of 1K, coming by shortly after to check how I was getting settled. The Qsuite cabin on QR’s newest 77W – like the bulk of their 77Ws – features 42 seats split between 2 cabins (there are a handful of planes with just one cabin of Business). Critically, this represents a net zero loss of seats from their traditional 77Ws, which are arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration across two cabins (24+18). Thus award space and pricing should be the same once the novelty of the Qsuite wears off.

The crew were keen to show-off the new seat – the airline is marketing as “First in Business” – and give passengers a detailed break-down of all its features.

The Seat

The Qsuites were designed in partnership with Priestman Goode. In one word, they’re gorgeous.

Seat 1K

The other passengers were also excited – most had no idea it’d be such a different seat than the ones they’d just flown in on, and you can imagine their faces when they saw a First Class-level product in Business.

The crew brought food and beverage menus and BRICS amenity kits around, and offered welcome beverages.

First impression: positively game-changing. The walls of the seats are high enough to ensure privacy, and the colors and overall design are warm and welcoming.

The studio is spacious, the TV is massive, and there is plenty of storage space in the side bin underneath the right arm-rest. The table is sturdy and large enough to eat and work from, and there is lots of counter space.

Critically, the seat itself – the cushion, I mean – is really comfortable and there is plenty of space for your feet. Etihad has a similar set-up with the “Business Studio” that’s found on their 787-9s and A380s, but the cushion is not very comfortable, the vertical part of the seat feels like it’s at a 95* angle when in the takeoff and landing position, and the foot cubby is tighter. Given that the fuselage of the 787 and the A380 (upstairs) is tighter where their Business Class is, there’s also a lot less space than with the Qsuite.

Central Console

See, the amazing crew member taking care of our aisle, informed me that there were just 2 seats open in Economy and 1 in Business on today’s flight. She also handed me a Snack Platter Menu, which is a new feature unique to the Qsuite.

The window and “middle” seats in the Qsuite cabin are rear-facing, while aisle seats face forward. I love rear-facing window seats – like Club World on BA – because you can see the wing every time you look out the window. It’s an unbeatable view.

The Captain came on and advised us of a 6hr51min flight time.

We pushed back at 06.50, and all I could think about was how large the screen was. The blanket was very comfortable, as well. It’s thick, heavy and soft – it has a truly luxurious feeling.

The handheld remote is a massive improvement over the Androids on Qatar’s 787s – the graphics are crisp, it’s easy to navigate and thankfully lacks the glitches the latter feature.

The walls of the Qsuite are quite high, so you really get a sense of privacy. Note that the door will be open and locked for take-off and landing.

When you close the door and shut the window shades, the Qsuite is like being in your own movie theater – especially if you have proper noise cancelling headphones and the cabin lights are switched off.

The Meal

I wasn’t super hungry but figured I should try some of the dishes. The table was set as usual in Qatar’s Business Class – the only difference was the glass for water was larger and purple rather than being a traditional clear one. It felt heavier, which is good for turbulence (but perhaps not for the overall aircraft weight vis a vis fuel consumption). I started the meal service with their Energizer and a smoothie. See brought a bread basket and at 07.40, about an hour after takeoff, the fruit platter was served.

About 15 minutes later the cured salmon plate came out – it was a perfect amount of food and tasted very good.

After dinner I asked for the turn-down service, and See happily obliged. This is another net positive of the Qsuite: typically on flights this short, Qatar would not offer any bedsheets. I slept soundly for several hours.

At 10.31, just over an hour from arrival, I had a Glenfiddich 15 and the Snack Platter, which featured a few different savories (per the menu above) – but was missing the feta and watermelon skewers. I was advised they been finished, which I found odd because the platter is served whole. Someone must have liked them a lot.

Notably, the platter is not served on white tablecloth, and does not come with a knife.

The kofta was good and well spiced but, predictably, over cooked. The rocket and asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon was perfect through and through. The chicken satay was passable, but the wild mushroom and truffle arancini took the cake: it was amazing.

See insisted that I hadn’t eaten enough so she brought me the ravioli, which was amazing.

Qsuite drawbacks

Qatar’s Economy seats feature a two-prong headphone port that doesn’t work with your personal headphone jack without a two-prong adapter. This is obviously supremely annoying, so I make sure to take an adapter when I fly in Economy (yes, it does happen from time to time). However, with most of their Business Class seats, an adapter is fortunately not necessary.

But it is with the Qsuite.

The Qsuite headphone port requires a two-prong adapter for your personal headphones. Either that or you use the shoddy headphones that comes with the seat.

I’ve heard airlines say it’s for safety reasons that they encourage people to use company-issued headphones, but given that not all airlines follow this “rule,” its a bit hard to believe. Personally, I don’t appreciate the restriction and always carry a two-prong adapter with me just in case, so I was covered in this situation.

The left armrest, which you have to manually raise by pressing a latch, is not sturdy – put too much weight on it and it’ll start to fall back down.

Furthermore, when placed in the flat-bed sleeping position, the cushions are too hard and the bed feels like its angled at 185 Degrees – I had to push the button to move back towards recline a bit to create more of a cradle. This could very well be a side effect of the brand new nature of the seat and plane – perhaps it hasn’t been broken-in properly yet.

Generally though, I found the suite to be very comfortable, and I slept soundly.

Arrival

The Captain came on at 11.05 to advise us that it was busy at Heathrow but we were schedule to arrive on time.

At 11.25, See came to take my whisky glass but thoughtfully brought a take away coffee cup to pour the remainder into. Perfect!

Luckily, there wasn’t a hold and we were waved-in soon after reaching London airspace. We landed at 11.52, just ahead of an American Airlines 787. Terminal 4 immigration was completely empty when I reached there at about 12.10.

The Cheatline 

Seat: 10/10
Service: 10/10
Food: 9/10
Spirits: 8/10
Overall: 9.5/10

This is the best product on the market – it’s like lounging in a private room. With the door closed, enveloped in a warm, heavy blanket, champagne in hand and a classic movie on the massive screen (Hook), it is unbeatable as far as business class goes.

Qatar will win Best Business Class again next year – there’s no doubt about that. This is a game-changer, and I can’t imagine that Delta Air Lines’ upcoming A350 Delta One business class suite – which will also feature privacy doors – will be as good overall (especially where the soft product is concerned).

I can’t wait to see this product on long-haul and ultra long-haul flights!

 

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