My review of the Qatar Airways Business Class service on the 787 (Dreamliner) between Doha and London.
After a very good first experience with Qatar Airways last year, on a trip to the Maldives, it was clear that the experience was to be repeated, even if we were not planning to actually stopover in Doha this time around. Destination: the same, of course.
A journey from London to Male, is actually very straightforward – a 6.5h flight to Doha, Qatar and a very speedy (under 1 hour) connection to Male, which we successfully accomplished, as did our luggage (the flight time from Doha to Male is approximately 4h30). On the return journey from paradise, I picked my flights carefully so I could do one thing: try Qatar Airways‘ new Boeing 787, aka the Dreamliner and test its new business class product.
All business class passengers check in at the Premium Terminal in Doha. This terminal is an oasis of tranquility and beautifully designed. When you arrive, a hotel-style bell boy takes your luggage and escorts you to the check-in desks where you get to sit down.
We had landed from Male at around 10pm, and headed out to Doha for dinner, so when we came back at around 1am, we had no luggage with us. We were flying business class (there is no first class on the B787), but I had asked Qatar Airways if we could use the First Class lounge as an exception, as we had to ‘overnight’ at the airport (it would make no sense to sleep at a hotel for 3 hours).
Well, there was no one except us. No fast track as the whole terminal is fast track and a breeze.
From security, you head up the escalators towards the lounge area. At the reception area, you are personally welcomed and directed towards the correct lounge – the First or Business Class. They are very similar in style, but differ in size (business class is larger) – one of the main differences is the spa and wellness offering, which I was really keen to try.
Outside the lounges, and available for all premium passengers are a business centre, prayer rooms, smoking rooms (also available inside each lounge), a family room, medical facilities and a games room (pictured further down). Plenty to do while you wait for your flight! There is also a small duty free area on the main floor, close to the departure gates.
I had been to this lounge before and was truly impressed – and this time around I wasn’t disappointed either. We were able to use one of the bedrooms available for connecting passengers, and did manage to get 3 hours sleep, before having a shower, breakfast and make our way back to London.
We slept well (but were a bit cold as we were unable to control the air con) and breakfast was outstanding. When we woke up at 5am the lounge was busy and smelled delicious. I have to say that the food selection would rival any 5-star hotel in the world. There were also made-to-order options, which we didn’t try as we were keen to spend the rest of the time at the business class terminal, where we found everything to be quite similar. There was a lot of staff and everyone was very keen to help and see if we (and everybody else) needed anything.
Due to the early time of the day, we abstained from any alcohol but I did see a considerable selection and the magic cocktail making table – I was gutted not to try one of the made to order cocktails, but I shall leave something for next time. We made our way towards the boading gates where mini shuttles or cars escort passengers to the plane.
We were delighted to be surprised (again) by a private transfer – and I have to say, it was fantastic. We got to board the plane before everybody else, which was actually handy (and I could take some photos without looking a little bit silly).
We were welcomed by name by the crew, who I have to say, were very attentive throughout the whole flight. We were escorted to our seats, which you cannot actually see on the photo above as they were at the very back of the cabin. Once we realised we were still on our own, the crew obviously let us wonder around so we could see the cabin in more detail.
On our seats, we found a little white (for ladies) or black (for men) pouch by Salvatore Ferragamo. It included face cream and other beauty products, as well as perfume. We also had an eye mask, socks and ear plugs – please note that this was not an night flight (it was a 6.30am departure, and therefore no pyjamas, which we had on other flights).
– Drinks service
The surprise of this trip was the fantastic lemon and mint juice, which I had on every leg of our trip to the Maldives. Yes, I declined champagne. It was fantastic and this was how I chose to start this trip. Obviously, there was a good selection of non alcoholic and alcoholic drinks (and Rose Bollinger, yes! Interestingly, the brut option was Lanson, which isn’t quite the same. I wonder why!)
– In-flight dining
Oh, I had a lighter breakfast at the lounge, as I was really looking forward to having a meal onboard. On my Maldives leg I had missed out on the ‘Arabic breakfast’, and I was determined to try it. And I got it – and loved it. I seriously think I was middle eastern in one of my other lives as I simply adore the food.
We had 2 meal services, one after take off, and one before landing (the flight was around 6h). Qatar continues to work with various Michelin-starred chefs and you can choose if you would like Western, Middle Eastern or Indian food. I went for Middle Eastern all the way – I first had the Arabic breakfast, and before landing I had the Arabic meze and the grilled halloumi salad.
– In-flight entertainment
Oh, I went to town, I have to say. The screen was huge and the selection was almost overwhelming. And what I really liked? The incredible selection of films, not only western style, but also from Bollywood and China. I did actually spend a good 20 minutes just going through the ‘world blockbusters’, but ended up watching some of the latest Hollywood releases.
The IFE system worked very well and you could access it via the touch screen or the iPod style remote. The flight had wifi too (which is still a novelty in my part of the world), but I decided I had plenty to do and see and did not use it.
– The seat
The new business class seats are, without a doubt, a huge improvement from the previous generation. Our little capsule was very spacious and had plenty of space for personal belongings, with a shelf, a side storage area (for magazines and water, for example) and a fully controllable seat. Needless to say, this seat turns into a fully flat bed and it is comfortable.
I also felt that there was enough personal space should you not be travelling with someone you knew – this may seem a small thing, but it really matters.
Needless to say, I had (yet another) exceptional experience with Qatar Airways, who has recently joined Oneworld, and makes it even more interesting for frequent flyers partial to this alliance, like me, to try this airline on future trips. I was impressed with the new cabin, service and the food and drink. Our flights were also always on time, which is always appreciated. Will I fly again with Qatar Airways? Absolutely – the connection in Doha is not a problem at all (it is actually quite nice to have a break), and its destinations are particularly interesting for me. I shall be back!
Until the next flight…
Disclaimer: Mr. O and I were upgraded on our trip by Qatar Airways, on the basis that we purchased an economy ticket ourselves, and subject to standby on some of the legs. All the effort and attention were greatly appreciated. Opinions are, as always, my own. An economy ticket to Male, in the Maldives via Doha from London Heathrow costs from £565 return including taxes, and from £2600 in business class.