Qatar Airways launched its Business One service earlier this year (see news, February 18). The A319 aircraft contains 40 business class seats only.
This outward flight takes off from London Heathrow at 2155 and arrives into Doha at 0640 local time the next morning.
Arriving at London Heathrow Terminal 4 via the Piccadilly Line, I made my way to Zone A to check-in.
There were three business class check-in desks open when I arrived, with two of them free. It took a couple of minutes to receive my boarding pass and then I was on my way.
The economy security queue looked horrendously long, as long as I’ve ever seen it. Fortunately, fast-track security was, as you’d expect, much quicker. However, it still took about ten minutes to clear.
Turn left out of security and 90 seconds later you arrive at the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge for business and first class passengers.
On arriving, I was asked if I wanted my carry-on baggage looked after. The two people I was travelling with accepted the offer; I declined, as I wanted to access my stuff.
This facility is extremely smart with a cream and chocolate-coloured design. It contains all the usual luxuries — showers, a business centre, bar, restaurant etc — and only had a handful of guests in it.
I used the time to make a phone call, visit the (very plush) toilet, and eat some canapes and fruit and drink some orange juice.
Boarding was scheduled to take place at 2125, but was delayed due to “late inbound” aircraft. I eventually was told at 2140 that boarding had begun and so exited the lounge and walked directly next door to the gate next-door and boarded Business One.
I wasn’t wearing a jacket, but others travelling with me were and cabin crew offered to hang these up. They then took our food orders, prior to pushback, and asked what we’d like to drink. I opted for a still mineral water.
I was also handed a bag containing sleeping pyjamas.
I was sat in the penultimate row in seat 9C.
As the aircraft is configured 2-2 in one cabin, there are ten rows of seating (AC-DF). However, due to the over-wing exits, the cabin is naturally split in two with rows one to four in the front section and five to ten in the second.
Each seat can be transformed into a fully-flat bed and has an ottoman stool underneath a high-definition IFE screen. Below the screen is a narrow shelf to place a book, magazine, phone or something similar.
Also present are noise-cancelling headphones; a Salvatore Ferragamo amenity bag containing lip balm, eau de toilette and hand cream; a pouch with sleeping socks, ear plugs and a blindfold; a blanket; and a bottle of Vittel water.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?
There’s no such thing as a bad seat on this aircraft. There are, however, personal preferences so the following may/may not prove of interest.
There is only one (smaller) toilet in the front half of the cabin, whereas there are two in the back. The front may be marginally quieter but I couldn’t make out too much of a difference between the two.
The back row is nearest to the galley, so there could possibly be some noise overheard from cabin crew in there. Having written that, I was sat in the penultimate row and wasn’t disturbed once, so this isn’t really an issue.
We sat at the gate for a while before finally pushing back at 2217 and then sat still for some time longer. After a period of taxiing, we took-off at 2238, somewhat behind schedule.
Food was served shortly after take-off (I’d ordered from the menu while the aircraft was still at the gate). The food on offer was as follows:
- Indian spiced lobster
- Classic Arabic mezze
- Smoked chicken terrine with pear chutney
- Asparagus soup with goats curd
- Caramelized red onion and feta cheese tart
- Arabic spiced monkfish with sayadiah rice
- Pesto marinated chicken breast wish salsa verde
- Cheese selection served with crackers, grapes and chutney
- Selection of seasonal fresh fruits
- Cardamom panna cotta with rhubarb compote
- Gourmet ice cream
I opted for the chicken starter and fruit plate, not being particularly hungry at 2300 UK time, and a gin and tonic to take the edge off.
I didn’t drink any wine, but the wine list was as follows:
- Lanson Gold Brut, 1999 (Champagne)
- Taittinger Presige Rose
- Albert Bichot Meursault, 2011 (white)
- Saint Clair Family Estate Pioneer Block, 2012 (white)
- Fritz Haag Brauneberger Juffer, Spatlese, 2010 (white)
- Chateau Phelan Segur Saint-Estephe, 2006 (red)
- St Hallett Faith, 2011 (red)
- Errazuriz, Don Maximiano Founder Reserve, 2009 (red)
The IFE remote control takes a little getting used to and, despite being technically proficient, I didn’t quite master it. Temperamental is a fair description — scrolling down the full list of films, for instance, I couldn’t budge past the As.
Fortunately, I wasn’t that fussed as this was a night flight and I needed to catch at least a couple of hours’ sleep. I’m sure cabin crew would have helped me out if I’d asked though.
Instead, I listened to a couple of albums from the well-stocked selection of pre-loaded music while I worked. The noise-cancelling headphones were of a high standard and so the music sounded much better than it should in a cabin at 40,000ft.
During this time, the lights had been turned off and most of my fellow passengers were getting some sleep. Cabin crew made everyone’s bed for them while they went to brush their teeth and/or get changed into their sleeping pyjamas. I was working and was offered a fresh drink on two occasions.
Eventually, I decided to go to sleep, and a cabin crew member volunteered to make my fully-flat bed. When I returned from brushing my teeth, it was ready.
The bed was comfortable, although my toes were touching the space under the IFE screen. I did manage to get around two-and-a-half to three hours sleep though.
I was awoken at 0425 (UK time) when the captain announced we would be landing in 35 minutes, and was immediately offered a coffee and a hot towel (I had earlier asked not to be woken up for breakfast).
We landed at 0658 local time and arrived at the gate five minutes later — 25 minutes behind schedule.
A lovely way to travel. Cabin crew were extremely attentive, while the food was delicious. This business-only service comes recommended for those with the budget.
- PLANE TYPE A319
- CONFIGURATION 2-2
- SEAT WIDTH 19in/48.3cm as bed, 21in/53.3cm as seat
- SEAT LENGTH 79in/200.7cm
- SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
- CONTACT qatarairways.com