I’m a huge fan of Qatar Airways’ business class product. Not all premium airline cabins are created equal, and Qatar is head and shoulders above most. But don’t just take my word for it. Check out the awards that it has garnered. For example, in 2018 it was awarded World’s Best Business Class by both Skytrax and Trip Advisor.
Since its launch in 2017, Qatar’s new business class seat, the QSuite, has attracted rave reviews and has been named as Best Business Class Seat by Skytrax. A combination of Qatar Airways’ impeccable customer service and a seat that more closely resembles that offered in first class, was an intoxicating proposition which I was keen to test out.
The flaw in the master plan was that bargain fares are hard to come by on Qatar, especially ex-UK. However, opportunity knocked when I spotted a keenly price flight from London to Bangkok. A return visit to Thailand was in order.
So what is it like to fly in the QSuite and does the product live up to the hype? Here’s my review of a Qatar Airways Business Class flight I took from Bangkok to Doha in January 2019.
Check-in at Bangkok Airport
Not the best of starts. Far from a cheery ‘Good Morning’, the check-in assistant merely barked a question about whether I had power banks etc. in my checked luggage, stabbing her finger at images of the offending items on the counter.
There then followed a garbled explanation about Fast Track Immigration and Security and she scribbled the location of the lounge on my boarding pass. Not once did a smile cross her tightly pursed lips.
Qatar Airways Lounge & Boarding: Bangkok Airport
In contrast, there was a warm and professional welcome at the lounge. I prefer to eat in the lounge, rather than early in the flight. Therefore, I took advantage of the small buffet breakfast with hot and cold items, including Arabic and western items. Orange juice was pleasingly freshly squeezed and they will cook eggs fresh for you if requested. There was table service for their excellent coffee and other drinks.
Adjacent to the dining room there was a comfortable seating area with dark grey and taupe soft chairs. Power charging points, including USB sockets, were plentiful. There was a small self-service fridge with soft drinks and a limited range of newspapers. An air of calm prevailed, no doubt helped by the fact there was only around half a dozen of us in the lounge. The central water feature was a nice touch.
The lounge staff came to tell me when my flight was boarding. This was calm and organised. There was a separate seating area for priority passengers who were boarded through a separate entrance.
On board, Isabelle, my charming Flight Attendant (FA) introduced herself and also carefully explained the features of the QSuite. I was offered the customary hot or cold towel and welcome drink. As it was not quite fizz o’clock for me, I opted for Qatar Airways’ delicious signature mint and lime drink.
No sooner was I settling into my seat when the Customer Service Manager came and introduced herself to me. This level of personal service on Qatar has impressed me in the past and I was pleased to see that standards had not slipped.
The business cabin
It was clear that a lot of money and research had been invested in this business cabin to provide the best possible premium flying experience. It had a very pleasing rose gold and burgundy colour palette. Purple mood lighting meant that the space felt more akin to an upmarket, trendy bar than an aircraft.
The seat: QSuite
The stars of this show are the QSuites themselves, which I felt provided the ultimate in privacy and comfort. The FA on my Doha to LHR leg told me that some passengers find them claustrophobic, a view that I do not share. I found the QSuite surprisingly spacious and did not feel hemmed in once during my 7 hours+ flight.
The seats are arranged in a 1:2:2 configuration, meaning that all passengers have direct aisle access. I was in seat 3A, a rear-facing window seat, which is the best choice for a solo traveller (the window seats are arranged in alternate directions). As a general rule, I would avoid rows that are near the galley or the toilet.
The middle seats convert into a double bed of sorts. For groups of three or four, these seats are further adjustable to create a shared space, be it a family room or a mini-conference room. But even if you are travelling alone and are unable to bag a window seat, a privacy divider will separate you from the adjacent seat.
Inside the QSuite, there was an ottoman on my left-hand side, which housed a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, a bottle of water and the in-flight magazines. There was also space here to store my shoes during the flight.
A feature that I particularly liked was the large side table with a marbled effect to my left. Underneath this was a shelf which was perfect to store small items such as glasses.
No expense has been spared on the seat with its premium grey fabric and leather headrest. I also loved the personal adjustable lighting options, with mood lighting beneath the seat, an overhead light and adjustable reading light at shoulder height. It’s these little details that can make all the difference.
The seat controls are easily accessible, clear and backlit. No more fumbling around, figuring out how to use them once the cabin lights are dimmed. The gentle massage function was terrific.
Whilst there is no footrest, my short legs could make it to the well-padded footstool which was very comfortable when sitting or lounging around. A silky pillow, smaller cushion and fleecy blanket are also available.
When fully flat, the seat was firmer than I would like. Although roomy in both width and length, I struggled to get comfortable. A mattress topper would have been helpful but these were not offered. However, this may have been because this was a day flight. Having said that, I did manage to grab a few hours’ sleep.
Again, as a day flight, Qatar’s complimentary White Company pyjamas are not provided. But here’s a pair from an earlier flight:
What I did like was the privacy of the QSuite. A smoothly closing door elegantly designed with a ripple effect creates a private cocoon. Apart from when the FA opened the door to bring me food and drink during the flight, I kept the door closed throughout. In effect, this gave me my private, albeit small, cabin. Similar to a hotel room, a Do Not Disturb button is available in the control panel.
Food and drink
The food I chose on-board was exceptional and I would argue that it approached restaurant quality.
Not hungry after take-off? No problem. Qatar Airways has a dine-on-demand system that allows you to eat at a time that suits you. The FA encouraged me to pre-book my choice but this is not essential.
As a pre-dinner drink, I opted for a glass of Lallier Champagne – decent but not exceptional – served with a ceramic bowl of warmed cashew nuts and almonds. The menu offered lunch options and a ‘snack platter’ menu, lighter bites that are more like canapes.
The artificial candle gracing the linen tablecloth was a particularly nice touch, as were the mini salt and pepper grinders. An amuse-bouche of smoked salmon and cream cheese was served along with a basket of warm bread, butter and a choice of dipping oils.
The main course of Pad Thai, washed down with a South African Spier Chardonnay, was excellent. On the recommendation of the FA, the subsequent cheese board was served with a glass of 20-year-old tawny port.
As a final touch, my saffron chai came with a small box of Godiva chocolates. Superb.
QSuite Entertainment System & Connectivity
I was very impressed with the in-flight entertainment. Qatar Airway’s Oryx system boasts a huge selection of airborne entertainment viewed on a 17-inch high definition screen. Navigation was via the touchscreen or a handset and was very responsive and easy to use.
The QSuite is well-equipped for connectivity boasting two USB ports, a power socket and an HDMI port. I confess that I am not quite sure how I would use an HDMI port but it’s there if you need it.
Qatar also provides one hour of free wifi access, with access for the entire flight yours for 10 USD. Although I wasn’t bothered about being connected, I tried it out in the interests of research. It worked fine albeit a little slow.
Qatar Airways Business Class amenity kit
I loved the Qatar business class amenity kit. The kit comes in an elegant Nappa Dori travel pouch. In addition to the usual earplugs, eye mask and socks you get decent-sized miniatures from the high-end cosmetic brand Castello Monte Vibiano. I particularly liked their moisturiser which has a great texture, but the fragrant refreshing facial spray and lip balm are also superb. Dental and shaving kits are provided in the bathrooms, which were kept spotless throughout the flight.
Al Mourjan Lounge, Doha Airport
I felt that I couldn’t complete a review of Qatar Airways’ Business Class product without mentioning their lounge at Doha Airport. Al Mourjan lounge remains my favourite business lounge. What other lounges can boast an indoor lagoon?
More 5-star hotel lobby than a utilitarian lounge, this is an enormous space spread over two levels. Upstairs is the restaurant and bar; downstairs comfortable seating areas with ample charging points and coffee / soft drinks stations. Touch screen adjacent to the seats allows you to access flight information.
Qatar Airways QSuite Review: Conclusion
As a luxurious business class experience, Qatar Airways’ QSuite is a game-changer and something, I hope, other carriers will aspire to. It’s firm seat notwithstanding, it is difficult to find fault with the product.
Qatar Airway’s customer service onboard was exemplary. The dining experience is first-class, with the candle on the table a small but perfect touch. Qatar’s in-flight entertainment system is the best that I have come across. But it’s the privacy of the spacious seats with their easy to use controls that set the QSuite apart.
Although bargain fares from the UK are hard to come by, competitive ex-EU fares can be found. And the cherry on the cake is that for those of us enrolled in n British Airway’s frequent flyer programme, you earn Avios and a large number of Tier points. This return flight from LHR to Bangkok earnt me 560 tier points, just 40 points shy of the 600 needed for silver status.
Which Qatar flights operate the QSuite?
Are you now eager to try out the QSuite? If so, make sure that you will be flying on a plane with QSuites as not all of the airline’s fleet have been fitted with them. They are predominantly on their 777s.
My first step would be put your dates into Qatar Airways booking engine. The results will include the aircraft operated on individual departures. Entering a random date in March 2019, of the seven non-stop departures operated by Qatar from London Heathrow to Doha, just two of these are on the 777
Then go to ExpertFlyer.com (you will need to create an account but the free one will suffice for this purpose). Enter the flight details of the departures you would like to check and take a look at the seat map. If the cabin configuration is 2:2:2 this is the old configuration and not QSuites. However, if it is a staggered 1:2:1 configuration you’ve hit the QSuite jackpot! Hovering your mouse over individual seats will confirm that this is QSuite flight.
Have you experienced the QSuite? I’d love it if you could share your views in the comments section. And if you have found this review useful, please pin to your board or share via social media.
PIN THE FLASHPACKER!