Cabin Class: Business
Airline: Qatar Airways (QR)
Aircraft: Airbus 330-200
Route: Arlanda to Doha
Flight Number: QR 92
Date: December 22, 2012
Upgraded from Economy to Business Class with Gold Status on QR
*Business class flight #5
Text and Photos by Arthur Jeciel
Qatar Airways has been voted Airline of the Year for 2011 and 2012 at the Skytrax World Airline Awards, and to give you an idea on what to expect from this middle-eastern airline, I decided to write a report during my recent trip to Doha. And you bet I'm really excited about it.
I arrived at Arlanda Airport Terminal 5 about two and a half hours before the flight, and the check in counters were already opened. There were about five counters for passengers in economy class and one for those travelling in business class as well as those with Silver and Gold status. I have already checked in on line the day before so I just needed to leave my luggage. The check in agent was very helpful (she was probably a trainee since another agent was behind her and sort of guiding her) and after a few minutes, I had my luggage priority tagged, got my boarding cards, as well as the invitation card to the Menzies Executive Lounge Qatar Airways is using. The security control was not busy yet, considering the time of the day, and after a couple of minutes, I was already on my way to the lounge.
Qatar Airways uses an Airbus 330-200 for their flights between Arlanda and Doha. I would say that the one I flew with was not the newest aircraft in their fleet, as one of the passengers couldn't recline his seat into bedmode and had to sleep in seat mode after the meal service.
About an hour before the flight, boarding was announced and I slowly made my way to Gate F66, which was a few minutes walk from the Menzies Executive Lounge, after the Passport Control. The business class queue was empty when I came, although there was a long queue for economy.
Unfortunately, our flight was delayed for about 40 minutes. Departure time was supposed to be at 10:20 but it wasn't until 11:03 that the plane took off, probably due to bad weather. I never got to know the real reason for the delay though since no announcement was made. It was actually strange since I've been to a few Qatar Airways delayed flights before and announcements were always made informing the passengers of the reason of the delay.
My seat, 3J, was an aisle on the right hand side of the plane in the only business class cabin, laid in a 2-2-2 configuration.
The aisle seat was ideal since I could easily go to the lavatory without troubling anybody, specially when the seat is in bed position. The Airbus 330-200 Qatar Airways uses has 30 business class seats.
Qatar Airways' amenity kit is very nice, probably above business class standards. You get a bag with socks, eyeshade, earplugs and a comb, and of course the Salvatore Ferragamo kit that contains Attimo 5ml Eau de Toilette, 10ml lip balm and a 20ml hand cream or refreshing water. The pajamas where the only ones missing but since it was a dayflight, I didn't really expect for it.
As you can see on the picture above, there is a lot you can do with your seat. And don't forget the massage function. I totally forgot the massage function, perhaps because I was always busy taking pictures.
In front you have the Oryx entertainment screen.
Underneath, you have lots of legroom (really big space as you can see on the picture) for your shoes or for the seat when its deeply reclined. In seat mode, you can recline a pretty good way back; and the tray table is big enough for my 15.6" laptop.
The seat reclines into bed mode but unlike Boeings full flat beds that features 180 degrees recline (I was actually able to test it on the Bangkok to Doha flight two years ago) Airbus has lie-flat seats and features 165 degrees recline. For a flight under six hours, this could be quite acceptable.
I'm 171 cm (5'7") so it was okay for me to stretch out all the way but I'm sure those who are much taller than me would have a hard time lying comfortably. Meanwhile, the cushioning is very good, and I was able to sleep for a couple of hours of the actual five and half hour flight.
I thought the cabin was spacious and looked very fresh despite the fact that the aircraft itself is not that new.
While waiting for take-off, the service started with a warm towel, an amenity kit and a drink. I ordered a glass of water.
Once we took-off and the seat belt sign was switched off, the flight attendant, probably of Asian background, came around to take orders for lunch.
I love the fact that Qatar Airways presents the menus in a nice brown leather folder since it is quite rare in business class. Here's the menu:
tempting your palate smoked salmon rosti
to commence leek and potato soup
crispy leeks and bread sticks
an individual selection of smoked trout, salmon tartar and halibut artichoke salad
classic arabic mezze
hummus, tabouleh and makdous served with arabic bread
to follow grilled sumac chicken with tomato and coriander salsa, onion, courgettes and grilled
peppers with fennel side salad
dill marinated cray fish
steamed potatoes, butter beans and grilled carrots with potato and artichoke salad
aloo gobi with bhindi masala, onion rice, dal and raita
on the side main dishes are accompanied by your choice of condiments
cheese plate a selection of local and international varieties, dried prunes, apricots and hazelnuts
sweet finale plum cake with mascarpone, vanilla cream sauce
chocolate, mint and vanilla ice cream with seasonal berries
selection of seasonal fresh fruits
bakery basket rye bread with pumpkin seeds, brown roll with toasted sesame seeds,
crusty white and claystone roll
relax and unwind cappuccino, espresso, café latte, macchiato, american, decaffeinated, earl grey,
english breakfast, green, roasted japanese, moroccan mint, camomile,
sencha grren, green jasmine
There is also a wide selection of wine that includes a French Chardonnay from Meursault (2007) and a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough (2011) among the white wines. For the red wines, they have a Bordeaux wine (2007), a Shiraz from Australia (2008) and an Italian wine from Tuscany (2006). Plus the Bollinger Rose Champagne and the Billecart Salmon Brut, which are both French.
The alcoholic beverage list (pretty long list) include Martini Rosso, Martini Dry, Campari, Bombay Sapphire, Bacardi, Smirnoff Red, JW Black, Glenfiddich Single Malt Solera 15 yrs old, Chivas Regal 12 yrs old, Jack Daniels, Bailey's, Tia Maria, Cointreau, Drambuie and Camus XO Superieur.
Softdrinks on the menu include Pepsi, Pepsi diet, 7UP, 7UP Free, Mirinda, Ginger Ale, Soda, Tonic while juices include Orange, Apple, Pineapple and Tomato Juices. Lastly, they have both sparkling mineral water and still mineral water plus for the beer-lovers, there's Crown Lager.
After a few minutes, the flight attendant came with a trolley and started serving the smoked salmon rosti with gribiche sauce. I guess everybody was having the same thing since there was only one choice. It actually tasted very good. I was also offered something to drink and I ordered a glass of apple juice.
After clearing my plate, the flight attendant started preparing my table. A white table cloth was placed on the tray table, followed by the bakery basket, butter, salt and pepper, bread plate and knife. Another crew came with a bottle of mineral water and filled my glass. During the entire service, no trays were used, everything was served individually which is extremely rare in business class. Normally you can find this kind of service only in first class.
Among the three starters on the menu, I chose the selection of smoked trout, salmon tartar and halibut artichoke salad. I was glad I chose this instead of the Arabic one. Everything was just so tasty, not to mention that I am actually a seafood lover.
Then it was time for my main course. As you probably have guessed, I chose the dill marinated crayfish with steamed potatos, buttered beans and grilled carrots. It was perfect!
My main course: dill marinated crayfish.... a very good choice!!
Since I was already full after the main course, I decided to skip the plate of cheese and went straight for the dessert. And you bet, I enjoyed my chocolate, mint and vanilla ice cream with seasonal berries.
The lunch service ended with a box of Godiva chocolates and a warm towel. I saved the cup of tea for my later meal. I was feeling sleepy after having a very satisfying meal and decided to take a snooze.
One very good thing about Qatar Airways' business class is that they give the passengers the option to eat whenever they want to. This means that you will never miss your meal. Seated on the other aisle opposite me was a teenage boy and he actually slept the first hour or so of the flight. By the time he woke up, most of the passengers were already having their tea and coffee. Nevertheless, the flight attendant was quick enough to notice him and after a few minutes, she was taking his orders and preparing his lunch.
About less than two hours before landing, I was woken by a bit of noise from the crew coming around to ask those who were awake if they wanted afternoon tea. Here's the menu:
a sweet trio chocolate florentines, passion fruit mousse, chocolate cake
relax and unwind cappuccino, espresso, café latte, macchiato, american, decaffeinated,etc.
A perfect afternoon tea...some sweets and a cup of green tea.
Lavatory and toilet
The lavatory looked clean and fresh. Hand cream and Eau de Toilette from Molton Brown are available, as well as toothbrush, toothpaste and shaving cream for personal use.
Entertainment and Service
Qatar Airways' entertainment system is called Oryx. The screen is big enough to compete with other airlines and the film selection was quite good. Among the films available were The Bourne Legacy, The Campaign, The Expandables 2 and Lawless.
The remote control is pretty basic, as you can see on the picture.
Headphones come with noise reduction feature....to reduce the engine noise.
Overall, the service on board was good. The flight attendant serving the right side of the cabin (where I was seated) was a bit too serious though as I seldom saw her smile in the whole duration of the flight. I must say that I am used to the friendly and always smiling staff of Qatar Airways so it was quite strange that "she" seldom smiled.
Qatar Airways is probably one of the best airlines offering business class: very good food and service. I would have hoped for a Boeing though since the Airbus they are using between Stockholm and Doha do not have fully flat beds. The announcement informing the passengers the cause of the delay, and making sure that the seats are well maintained and functioning would have made the whole experience almost perfect.
I yet have to test other airlines' business class to see how they compare with Qatar Airways. I actually have a pretty good chance of testing two more airlines this spring so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.
Because the crew were actually serving meals individually without using trays nor trolleys; and the menus were presented on a nice leather folder; both of which are rare in business class, I probably would give Qatar Airways a 9 out of 10 points.