They say first impressions make or break a relationship, and my first experience with Qatar Airways was fantastic.
This is the first of our 6 part series on Qatar Airways including:
- Qatar Airways Business (Sydney – Doha)
- Qatar Airways Business (Doha – London Heathrow)
- British Airways Lounge Edinburgh
- Qatar Airways Business (Edinburgh – Doha)
- Qatar Airways Business (Al Mourjan) Lounge Doha
- Qatar Airways Business (Doha – Sydney)
Carrier: Qatar Airways (QR)
Flight Number: QR909
Route: SYD – DOH
Duration: 14h 4m
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Cabin Class: Business
Seat Number: 14F
After arriving at Sydney Terminal 1, I made way to the Qatar Airways check-in area. There were 6 desks for premium passengers, 4 designated for Business Class and another 2 for First Class.
The were a few other passengers waiting in front of us but it took less than five minutes before we made it to the friendly check-in agent. She took her time, but courteously checked my bags and explained the lounge access, express path security and the flight boarding time. I enquired about boarding slightly early to take photos of the empty cabin, and she was willing to try and organize that for myself. She suggested a time to go to the gate and said if she was there, she would try her best. We left check-in at 7:25PM.
Qatar Airways gives “premium guests” access to Sydney Airport’s express path security, which is a much faster and more efficient way to get through immigration. Immigration was made using the new auto-gates, which are much faster and easier than seeing a real agent. Security wasn’t as quick as instead of being given a separate area like at immigration, the express path just feeds passengers to the front of the normal lines for security. This process did significantly reduced our time spent at security and immigration.
Being a member of the OneWorld alliance, Qatar offers Business passengers access to the Qantas Business Class Lounge, which we have reviewed before.
This was my first time in the lounge during the evening, which meant it wasn’t as busy as it normally is during the morning. There was a small buffet available with a usual offering of drinks, snacks, and ice-cream.
I spent some time working in the lounge and had a few nibbles. The woman at check-in recommended I made my way to the gate for 8:40 for a 9:50PM departure, which I did.
The gate was very busy, and when I arrived they were preparing wheelchair passengers and families to board first. The lady who checked me in was at the gate and she invited me to wait at the front. It was another 20 minutes before they began boarding the upper deck, but while I waited she interestingly told me about how they had upgraded 3 Business passengers to First just because they were QR Privilege Club Members! Talk about some good luck.
Premium boarding finally began at 9PM, and I quickly made my way down the jet bridge. One of the senior crew members was at the upper deck door U1L, denoted by her gray hat and scarf. She politely welcomed me onboard. I then rushed into the cabin to takes some photos of it completely empty apart from some pesky engineers 😠. I then took my seat. The seats are arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration with 12 rows. Qatar has installed the fantastic reverse herringbone seat on the A380 which is almost exactly the same to their seats on their A350 and 787 aircraft.
One of the fantastic South Korean crew came over to my seat placing my Giorgio Armani amenity kit on my bench space with a fantastic smile. The men’s kit contains Giorgio Armani aftershave balm and cologne.
The South Korean crew member who was looking after me during the flight came over, introducing herself and welcoming me onboard showing me seat features and letting me know any requests are welcome and I just need to use the call button. She then offered a choice of drinks and a hot or cold towel. I selected the cold towel which came presented on a small plate and a delicious lime and mint juice that I ended up having two of.
The crew member who provided my amenity kit returned to offer me a pair of pajamas, and apologized for not having my size with her and quickly returned with a pair with again her fantastic smile.
The seat features a large personal entertainment screen with a sliding tray table underneath.
On the side is a small bench space with the intuitive and easy to use seat controls.
Above the lower bench is another bench space and a literature storage area, where in-flight magazines and the safety card is found. Next to that is a reading light with two brightness settings with adjustable direction. Underneath my shoulder was the TV remote, which in this case had minimal use as my touch screen was functioning on this flight (more on this is the subsequent reviews).
Beneath the large TV and tray table us a leather footrest which is just far enough away for me to not be able to reach when in the seats take-off position, but when reclined becomes a comfortable footrest. On my seat when I arrived was a pair of slippers as well as a pillow and packaged blanket. The seat has automatic raising and lowering arm rests, and the aisle side armrest has a compartment inside holding a bottle of water and the supplied headphones.
On the opposite side further down is another storage space.
At the bottom of the seat in front is a small drawer perfect for my shoes which I replaced with the provided slippers.
The captain made his welcome announcement at 9:40 and informed us of a 14 hour 4minute flight time at a cruise altitude of 40 thousand feet. The Cabin Service Manager made a rather scripted announcement welcoming us onboard. They then played their Football themed safety video which was an obvious stab at comedy, but poorly executed. (They need a better lip-sync artist). Interestingly the crew did not stand in the aisles and complete the manual demo at the same time which was surprising but must not be standard for Qatar Airways. An Arabic prayer was then screened.
Crew then armed the doors as we pushed back at 3 minutes before 10. The runways were operating in a north to south direction meaning our gate was right next to runway 16R.
At 10:10 we had taken off, 20 minutes later than scheduled. At 10:15 the seatbelt sign flashed several times but was left on, as the crew drew curtains and began service preparations. Despite the seatbelt sign still being on, the crew didn’t seem to mind passengers moving around the cabin.
Qatar offer a “Dine on Demand” service, which wasn’t outlined for this flight by my flight attendant, assumingly this is because it’s such a late flight. She took my order from the menu, shown below. (Apologies for the rotated images, our website is having some issues).
The seat is super comfy and very customizable, as the back, leg rest, armrests and seat firmness can be controlled by the module below the lower bench. There are several buttons for preset seat positions for sleeping, lounging and eating.
The beautiful mood lighting was then switched on and just before 11, warm nuts were brought around and I had a glass of water.
My table was then set and quarter past 11.
The meals were brought around at around 20-minute intervals. The Arabic mezze plate was something I had looked forward to after hearing raving reviews about it, however, I wasn’t super impressed with it. The hummus wasn’t as I expected and very bitter. The tabouleh also had a bitter flavor. I think it’s more tailored to an Arabic taste rather than an Australian one (it’s in the name). Generally though, it was good.
My main of Chicken Kapsa was fantastic. The rice and sauce was flavourome but the chicken was a little dry.
The cheesecake was delicious and having a bit of a sweet tooth it was the highlight of the meal.
Overall the meal was delicious. After having my tray table cleared, the crew came around handing out Qatar Branded chocolates.
After the service, I changed into the provided pajamas, and briefly chatted to the flight attendant who gave me the pajamas earlier who said she was in charge of the bar for the flight. She was very funny and said that the pajamas really suited me. The lavatories were mostly fresh and clean throughout the flight. The taps were rather modern with a waterfall-like effect. They had a pull-down leather seat and various amenities.
I then walked up to the galley to ask for my bed to be made, and one of the crew said they would come past and do it soon, but they never came. I asked my flight attendant when I spotted her if she could do it and she immediately returned, putting the bed into fully flat mode, and then put a mattress topper on and the provided blanket on top. The seat also came with a huge pillow. The bed was very comfy and long, and I found it quite easy to sleep, however, the seat did move slightly every time someone walked past. I managed 5 hours of solid sleep which is pretty decent for me. I was woken up by an announcement made asking for a medical professional for some issue onboard.
This time, a different crew member was there, while the other lady was on her break. I enjoyed some of the small canapés that were on offer and a drink from the mocktail menu.
I spent quite a while chatting to a friendly man who was also from Sydney on his way to London, while he told me about his time at jury duty! He was quite interesting.
I spent the next few hours dozing and enjoying the Qatar in-flight entertainment. The system on this flight was quite easy to use but slightly unintuitive. To navigate between the menus you can use either the main touch screen or the small touch screen remote. Unfortunately, I didn’t take many photos of the IFE on this flight however the following reviews should have more. The selection was slightly limited and there were only a few of each variety of film. I still managed to find entertainment to keep me busy. There was a variety of premiere, Hollywood, Bollywood, Arabic and international films and many genres of TV shows to choose from. Before each film/show, there were around 3 minutes of advertisement which were skippable but disappointing for business class. I tried out the supplied noise canceling headphones and while the sound and noise cancelling ability was good I did find them rather uncomfortable, so I used my Bose QC35s instead.
I also took advantage of the free 15 minutes of wifi offered to all passengers on board. The connection was good for onboard a plane and the signup process was quite simple. There were options to purchase more wifi for $5 for an extra hour, $10 for 3 and $20 for the full flight (in USD).
Over the next few hours, some passengers started having their breakfasts. My flight attendant asked when I wanted to eat, and I opted to eat 2 hours before landing. My table was set and I started with weet-bix with milk and the energizer juice before having the cheese omelette and salt beef potato cake. Both were great and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal.
The service was very well polished, with the crew each taking care with presentation. I did feel that the service was very formulaic as if the crew was following a set script. This did remove the personal element from the service, as there was little social interaction with the crew. This wasn’t so when I went back to the bar…
I then went to change out of my pajamas. The awesome South Korean crew member who was at the bar was there with my flight attendant. I spent some time chatting with them and two others at the bar. They were heaps of fun and told me lots about living in Qatar and working for the airline. They then offered to take some photos of me at the bar! They were hilarious and went on to say I looked like a cross between Harry Styles and Justin Beiber?!? It was quite fun.
A landing announcement was made an hour and a half later and a cheesy Doha Airport video was played. My flight attendant then came around thanking me for flying with Qatar and wishing me a pleasant onward flight and then bid me farewell.
We began our descent at 11:57. Our landing gear came down at 12:15 for a landing at 12:20. I enjoyed the onboard camera during the descent.
The crew then made another scripted announcement to welcome us to Doha and we arrived at our gate A3 for 12:32.
The crew closed the curtains to let First passengers to disembark before letting the Business passengers off the aircraft.
A friendly goodbye ended our flight.
It took a short walk to the transfers area where we had to re-clear security. The lines were huge even for the priority premium line, due to two A380s arriving at the same time. It was a very slow process with little signage or instruction. There was a huge communication barrier which made the experience quite painful. Once security was completed, it was a very short walk to the lounge. Our review of the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Lounge will be uploaded soon.
In all, the flight was fantastic. The crew were friendly and obviously enjoyed their jobs. It was great to meet some of the crew and enjoy a social interaction with them at the bar, however, I did feel that the service in general, was very systematic, which was expected of Qatar Airways. I enjoyed the food options which were quite extensive and suited a variety of tastes, and on most parts the food execution was great. The seat is very comfortable and extremely customizable, making it easy to find a position of comfort. I managed to get some good sleep, and it was unfortunate that I was woken by the in-flight announcement. The bar on the aircraft is incredible and a wonderful space to relax and socialize. I was very happy with the flight and was impressed by the standard set for the first of my four Qatar Airways flights.
Look out for our review of the next leg of our journey from Doha to London as well as our review of the Qatar Airways Business lounge in Doha Hamad Airport.