Tried & Tested

Flight review: Qatar Airways A380-800 business class

7 Dec 2022 by Tom Otley
Qatar Airways’ Airbus A380-800

Background

Qatar Airways had announced the retirement of its 10-strong A380 fleet in 2020, but as a result of the dispute with Airbus over the fuselage / paint on its A350s and general demand, exacerbated by the FIFA World Cup in Doha, several have been brought back into service.

I’ve flown this several times before, perhaps most notably on the delivery flight of the first one to come to Qatar Airways in 2014.

I was flying back from Doha on the early morning 0740 departure on QR3, a flight time of six hours and 50 minutes. I arrived at the airport at 0600 at the premium check-in.

Hamd International Premium-check-in

First impressions

It’s a while since I flew from Doha as opposed to transiting through it, and I have to say I don’t remember this area from the last time I flew. There have been other changes to the airport, most notably an expansion, and so, once through security, I took the shuttle train to the far end of the airport is to look at the new garden area which opened a couple of weeks ago.

This is very impressive, and though it will immediately remind people of the Singapore Changi Jewel, this one is airside, and a good place to relax for those without access to a lounge. The whole area is surrounded by shops and restaurants, and this is where there are several new lounges, including silver, gold and platinum lounges, which were closed when I went through, and also the Al Mourjan North Lounge, which I went into.

The Lounge

Lounge review: Al Mourjan Business Lounge – North, Doha International

The-A380-viewed-through-a-mesh-window

Boarding

Boarding was at Gate 13c and this was from two different areas, depending on whether you were on the upper deck, where business class is located, or the lower deck. I was subjected to a random security check on my carry-on bags here, but I wasn’t smuggling anything and so had no issues and then took the escalator up to the upper deck.

The seat

I was in 18F, a centre seat.

The configuration is 1-2-1 with the two centre seats facing one another meaning if you are in a couple you can chat, but if not you can raise the central divider.

This is the original Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seat, so is comfortable and reclines into a full flat bed, as well as having several intermediate positions which can be controlled by a control by the side of the seat.

At the seat was a World Cup-branded cardboard amenity kit with the usual items in, and also a white pillow for sleeping, and a larger burgundy one for general comfort.

Qatar Airways A380 The-seat-18F

Best seat

All the seats are good, with plenty of space and reclining fully flat.

I would avoid the front row since service comes from that galley, and I’d also avoid the back couple of rows, partly because this is where the washrooms are and partly because the bar is there and though it was quiet on this flight, that is not always the case. Sometimes it’s been me making the noise.

Unlike many aircraft which have smaller overhead compartments for the centre seats and larger for the window seats, on the upper deck of this aircraft it was the other way round, with the centre seats having more storage. Of course that’s not a problem since you can just put your bags across the aisle if you are in a window seat, but if it’s busy you might find yourselves with your bags a little distance from you, which I know can worry some travellers.

Seat-controls

The flight

The A380 was totally full, at least in the business class section, and I was told was busy downstairs as well. I got the sense most people wanted to sleep and certainly after take-off it was quiet, there was no noise in the cabin and the couple of times I went back to the bar at the rear of business class it was empty or just with a single passenger stretching their legs.

The-bar on the A380

I was very tired, having gone to sleep at 0300 and then woken at 0500, so I had eaten in the lounge, and just wanted to sleep. To that end I asked that I not be disturbed for breakfast but said I would have lunch before landing. Once we had taken off I read for 15 minutes and then slept for around four hours.

To speak about the comfort of the seat, it has plenty of room for both working and sleeping.

The thick blanket kept me warm while I had cooler air blowing on my face from the overhead vents (my choice). The pillows were comfortable, though note that there is no under blanket on the flight, which I prefer for both hygienic reasons and also because it cane soften any of the differences between the seat cushions when you are lying down.

The service was as excellent as on the outbound flight from Heathrow on the A350-900.

When I woke I had the lunch, though I was also offered the opportunity to eat the breakfast instead.

The breakfast on offer was a choice of breakfast cereals, a traditional Arabic breakfast with Arabic bread, foul medames, feta cheese, tomato, cucumber and olives.

There was also the choice of a California-style omelette, ricotta, avocado and roasted tomato accompanied with fruits and home-made mango syrup.

Other options were a brunch platter with tropical fruits, salmon brioche, tuna tonnato, beef pie, hot tomago egg and berry vanilla tartlet.

I didn’t have any of that, instead opting for a single course of lunch.

The lunch menu was Artisan bread, a broccoli miso soup and appetisers of either Classic Arabic mezze with hummus, bab ghanoush and tabouleh or burrata tomato carpaccio with rosemary friend black olives, olive oil and balsamic dressing.

Mains were

  • Chargrilled kofta and lamb chop with tomato focaccia, white aubergine and harissa oil
  • Grilled fillet of salmon, Dijon mustard potato sotto and Mediterranean vegetables
  • Qatari-style chicken mashkool with daqoos sauce, almonds, sultanas and crispy onions
  • Vegan vegetable laksa, sweet potatoes, fried tofu and glass noodles.

(I had this – see below.)

Lunch on Qatar Airways A380 business class

Cheese plate

Desserts

  • FIFA World Cup Chocolate football
  • Fresh berries and sour cream
  • Gourmet ice cream selection
  • Light snacks, popcorn, chocolates and biscuits.

Gift of Laderach chocolate.

We landed 15 minutes early but then had a five minute wait before reaching the gate. There was no queue at immigration, and since I had no luggage to pick up, I made my way to the underground station for my journey back into Central London.

Verdict

An excellent flight. The seat isn’t showing its age, and presumably the whole interior of the aircraft was given a soft refurbishment to the fixtures and fittings before being brought back into service. It’s a very different look and feel to the QSuite, more open, but once you seat is reclined it is very comfortable and very easy to sleep. I still enjoy the lounge and bar at the back, and if it had been a later flight, would happily have had a drink at that bar instead of an orange juice.

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