Qatar Airways Business Class (Qsuites) - DOH-ZRH
I finally had the chance to try the (still relatively) new Qsuite of Qatar Airways in their Airbus A350-900. This Business Class product promises to be close to other First Class offerings and I have been eager to compare it to my Emirates or Swiss Business experiences.
I was on a short layover in Doha (where I stayed close to the airport in the Sharq Village & Spa, review will follow) and had an early morning flight at 08:00 am to Zurich the next day. This meant I could try out the breakfast and catch up on sleep for about 6 hours of flight time. Let’s find out whether the upgrade price of about 600 USD for this leg was worth it!
This is how you were greeted when your driver dropped you off for the Business (and First) Class check-in at Doha airport. Actually pretty nice.
Since I upgraded online a day before my flight I wasn’t allowed to visit the lounge in DOH airport. I will definitely do a review of that on another occasion. The upgrade still improved the security check experience, though, since with my business boarding pass I could go through the separate emigration area. This would have gone very quick, if it wasn’t for the Qatari officers who didn’t show up to work on time or at all (same on immigration, btw). If Doha wants to host the FIFA world cup in 2022 with masses of football fans coming in, they need to improve badly on this. This just as a side note, since it has nothing to do with Qatar Airways per se.
The next step of my customer journey, though, was definitely under their responsibility and it was quite an awkward experience at that. The boarding gate was a bus gate, where you enter a bus that takes you to the plane. I arrived on time for boarding and saw the queue for economy passengers. I thought to myself: Alright, I can just walk past that to the sign saying Business Class. I wish it was that simple…
They already commenced boarding for Economy class, but told me to wait here, since there was no Business Class bus available yet. So me and other premium class passengers waited patiently. It took a very long time, and it was a back and forth with some losing their patience and just boarding the Eco bus with everyone else, while I kept on waiting, when finally someone was screaming from the front: Business Class. I was holding up my hand and awkwardly had to shuffle through the other passengers.
It didn’t stop there: this bus was just a normal bus, nothing special for Business Class, and worst of all, it was cooled down to about 50 °F (10 °C). And the drive took about 15 Minutes, our plane was literally on the other end of the airport. The least premium experience I can imagine. At that time I was dreaming about Emirates’ boarding from the lounge via a separate entrance - that is really worlds apart. But to be fair, also Emirates do have bus gates and the normal gate boarding at DOH is probably much better.
After I got up the stairs and could finally enter my QSuite everything got much better from here on out. I was greeted by my flight attendant and immediately offered a welcome drink. I did not choose the Champagne just yet and opted for the healthier non-alcoholic option (I can’t remember the name, but it was something with mint). She also handed me the nicely designed Business Class menus for food and beverages (see under dining below) and a wet towel of my choosing (hot or cold). I like it.
What I also liked was the comfortable seat, cushions and quilt. To complete my nest building, the offered storage space had room for all my personal items (except the shoes, I just put them next to the seat). My seat was 9A and it was rear-facing, which was a new experience for me. I deliberately chose this seat to see how I feel flying like this. Turns out: no difference for me - your mileage may vary, of course, so make sure you check the direction of your seat upon selection.
Let’s take a look inside the amenity kit. The products from Castello Monte Vibiano are of good quality and I happily used them after the flight.
I browsed the offerings on the entertainment system as the pilot announced that our flight would be delayed by about half an hour - and guess what: I didn’t care at all, because I was so comfortable and well taken care of that I actually wished for an even longer delay!
The cabin was quite empty, so the closed door could not add to my privacy that much, but I can imagine how it would on a full plane. Here is a photo of 9E opposite to my seat. The middle seats are great for couples or even families of four: not only can you lower the little wall (even create a double bed for the rear-facing ones), but also turn the seats around to face the seats behind.
So, how is the seat in lie-flat mode? Pretty good, as you have a lot of space on the sides - enough for me to lie on the side. One minor point though: my right arm rest didn’t budge! Seeing it, you expect it to be lowered to the ground so you can use the whole width as a bed. I am not sure, whether mine was broken or it’s meant to be like that.
The design of the cabin was more to my liking than Emirates, but I am still not to thrilled about the Burgundy everywhere.
The service was friendly and efficient, but not overly warm or genuine (this is rare anyway, but possible).
I opted for a mixture of Western and Arabian breakfast on my morning flight. First course was the cold cuts plus jam and bread. Second course was traditional Arabic with feta cheese, cucumbers, olives and foul medames. Both courses did not disappoint.
A real espresso ended the delicious meal on a high note.
From then on I tried other drinks throughout the flight, like the Ataïr Rosé Champagne.
On this medium-long flight I was also able to order a light lunch. So I chose the chicken tikka masala.
… to which the awesome Matanzas Creek Chardonnay from 2016 fitted perfectly.
The Oryx One entertainment system contains a large collection of current movies, tv shows, music and games. Without knowing it exactly, I would say that the library is similarly sized as that of Emirates.
A handset allows you to control what goes on on the big screen as well as some seat functions. You can also connect your device via USB or HDMI to view on the screen and there should have been WiFi, but it didn’t work for me on this flight.
|Class||Business Class (Upgrade offer after purchase)|
|Route||DOH - ZRH (6:30 hours)|
|Price||Upgrade price for this leg: CHF 650 (~ 650 USD)|
When you are considering one of the ME3 airlines, Qatar Airways might come out on top: the private feeling of the Qsuite, good food and drinks, similar entertainment variety as Emirates and not too much bling-bling in the decor.
Unfortunately, the whole experience at the airport in DOH left a lot to be desired (although I couldn’t review the lounge this time) and also Emirates’ door-to-door experience with chauffeur service was dearly missed.
All things considered, I would put Emirates and Qatar on the same level and I will definitely be a customer of the Qatar Business Class again - next time for a longer flight and a lounge review.