Qatar Airways A340-600 business class

CHECK-IN I took the tube to London Heathrow T4 and arrived at 1805. I headed to business class check-in (there were no queues throughout the different classes of check-in). I dropped my luggage off and was directed to gate six. A couple of minutes’ walk brought me to security, where I went through the fast-track queue (again, there were no queues at either fast-track or regular security) and I was through by 1815. Gate six was a minute or two from here, and directly opposite was Qatar Airways’ recently opened T4 lounge.

THE LOUNGE As you enter, the first things you notice are the mahogany moucharabieh frescos and the silently-flowing, meditative water feature. The lounge was extremely peaceful, and although it was dotted with people, it was almost silent, apart from the soothing music that was playing. The warm lighting, neutral colours and incredibly comfortable armchairs that you just sink into made it a relaxing space to be – most people were engrossed in a magazine or their iPad in the main area.

There were two slightly separate areas with corner sofas, one of which had a medium-sized flatscreen TV (this was the family area). I settled into one of the armchairs by the window wall, and about a minute afterwards, a member of staff greeted me and offered me a drink. There was a fridge in the main area stocked with soft drinks (water, cola and energy drinks) and a choice of magazines laid out on coffee tables (including Business Traveller).  

Leading on from this main lounge area is the martini bar. Potted baby trees sprouted through the centre of the chic white tables, which surrounded the dazzling silver circular bar. A turquoise cushioned leather wall with alcove seating forms a corner with a glass case wall stocked with wines – past the wine wall is the dining area.  High-backed wicker chairs adorned with floral patterns and a sleek mosaic floor added to the eclectic feel of the design.

The intimate dining space had black walls supporting light fixtures that hung low over white-clothed tables. There were two tables laid out with a buffet of Arabic food; one with savoury dishes and one with desserts. There was seafood, olives, hummus (smooth and chunky), tabbouleh salad, pâtés and cold meats with fruit garnishes, profiteroles, macaroons, mini cheesecakes and baklava.  There were roughly ten tables in total, and a couple of them were occupied by lone travellers.

I took a seat and was offered a drink by a friendly member of staff, who recommended a white wine to me and chatted with me about my trip to Doha. At the end of the dining space was what looked like a small private dining section, partitioned off with moucharabieh sliding doors, with seats upholstered in gold leather, and a light fixture with hanging candles.

As I left the restaurant at about 1910, cakes and savoury snacks were being laid out at the martini bar, which was beginning to fill out with people. I headed to the business centre, which leads off from the lounge area, and spent some time checking emails. The business centre had three PCs and a printer. I then left the lounge briefly to buy some batteries, and shortly after I returned, we were called to board at 1935.

BOARDING Although premium passengers have the option to board a little later, I decided to board straight away, and walked to gate six, which was a few seconds from the lounge. There was a long queue for economy passengers already, and just one person before me in the premium queue. I was greeted and shown to my seat, where I was settled by 1940.

THE SEAT Business class, with a seat configuration of 2-2-2, was divided into two sections, separated by a food preparation area and toilets. The section in front, had five rows, and the section behind, which I was seated in, had two. The seat was angle-lie flat, with a recline of 165 degree and a seat width of 20.5in/52cm. It was upholstered in red fabric with a leather headrest, with button controls in the armrest to control the recline. Sitting upright, I could stretch my legs out in front of me with room to spare.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? My seat was 17E, an aisle seat in the middle of the back row of the first section. I was occasionally disturbed by people going to the toilet ­– there were toilets at the back of the section, as well as a food preparation area – but at least the aisle felt quite wide. I would probably go for a window seat in rows 16-17 (because this section had fewer rows, and therefore more privacy) if you’d prefer to avoid this. For a seatplan of this A340-600 aircraft, click here.

THE FLIGHT Once I was in my seat, a member of cabin crew took my jacket to hang it up and asked me which newspaper I’d like and what I’d like to drink. My choices were brought to me straight away, along with a pyjama set. The grey cotton set had a purple and white-striped collared, long-sleeved top and drawstring, jogging bottom-style trousers, and there was a large eye mask with a Velcro strap. A thick blanket, a good-sized pillow and a Molton Brown amenity kit were already in my seat – the amenity kit provided body lotion, cooling spray, ”vitamin lip saver”, “moisture lock” a foldable hairbrush/comb and earplugs.

Take-off announcements began at 2015. Hot towels were offered to passengers and a smiley member of crew introduced herself and asked what I’d like to drink after take-off. The lights were dimmed and we took off on time at 2030. Ten minutes into the flight, the drinks we’d requested were served – I was brought a glass of champagne, which was served with olives.

It took me a while to realise that the control for the IFE (in-flight-entertainment) system was located within my armrest. The remote control attached to a retractable wire was easy to use, and there was a reasonable choice of films and TV shows, although a couple of options such as news channels and games didn’t seem to be working, or perhaps hadn’t been updated.

Just under an hour into the flight, a crewmember asked what I’d like to order for dinner. There were three choices for each course. About fifteen minutes after ordering, I was served some warm bread rolls and butter before my starter arrived. I chose a classic Arabic mezze (flatbread and olives served with a few dips including hummus and baba ganoush). Other options included seafood cocktail or broad bean and zatar soup with croutons. Then for my main I chose paneer jalfrezi, dhal makhani and safed pulao – it was mild, which was to my taste, and served with white rice.

Other options were stuffed chicken breast with pesto, ricotta cheese, red pepper coulis, lentil rice and roasted Mediterranean vegetables, or pan-fried seabass with green tea and bonito flake lemon butter soba noodles, braised shitake mushrooms and asparagus. A cheese plate was served before dessert, where I opted for vanilla ice cream and rose water and pomegranate sorbet with forest berries (instead of the other options, which were warm pumpkin and sultana brioche pudding with raspberry cream or sliced fresh fruit). After eating, I was offered a tea or coffee.

There was a good selection of wine on offer. The champagne was Lanson Brut, 1998 and there were three whites, three reds and a port, (Kopke Colheita Port, 1974, winner of the Best Business Class Fortified and Sweet wine in Business Traveller’s Cellars in the Sky Awards 2011).

I watched a film as I ate my meal, after which I reclined my seat to its flattest angle and slept for a couple of hours.  I found the seat was flat enough for me to sleep well, although I did wake a couple of times as I’d slid down my seat, and also because the cabin temperature seemed to be a little hot. I did have to bend my knees a little as I slept (I’m five-foot-eight) and found I was most comfortable on my side.

I woke when the PA announced that we’d begun our descent at 0445 local time. The cabin lights gradually turned on, and flight attendants passed around hot towels again. I was asked if I’d like my coat back and was offered a hot drink. A short video was shown on the IFE system about how passengers would be transported to the terminal and what passengers should do if they have a connecting flight to catch.

ARRIVAL We landed at 0534 local time. Business class disembarked from both the front and the back – I was one of the first people off the plane. An airport staff member with a sign greeted the group I was travelling with, and we were put straight onto a carpeted, air-conditioned bus with about 12 leather and fabric armchairs.

The drive to the terminal took under ten minutes, and we were dropped off by a set of doors that led straight through to passport control. We queued for about ten minutes in the fast-track queue. I was travelling as a group of four, and we all had to secure and pay for visas, which took about fifteen minutes). Afterwards, we walked for less than a minute to baggage reclaim and waited for five minutes for our bags. We were in our taxi by 0620.

VERDICT Qatar Airways’ Heathrow lounge is luxurious and sophisticated without compromising on comfort, and the excellent service I received from check-in to the end of the flight was a credit to the airline.

FACTFILE

Rose Dykins


Share with your friends










Submit

Post a comment

3 × 3 =

Qatar Airways A340-600 Business class

CHECK-IN Qatar Airways was due to move from Heathrow Terminal 3 to Terminal 4 on November 24, but this has now been delayed until December 8, “To allow for essential developments to the baggage handling system at our new terminal, which will assist us in offering our customers a hassle-free and enjoyable travel experience”. The Qatar Airways check-in area at T4 will be in Zone A across desks 115-122.

Passengers flying with Qatar Airways can check in online from 36 hours before departure, although when I tried to do so the night before it wouldn’t allow me to, saying that my flight might have been cancelled. As I was part of a group booking I headed to the airport as planned, and arrived at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3 at 0850 for the 1050 flight to Doha. I walked to Zone E, positioned directly in front of the entrance, and after a short wait was able to talk to a member of staff at one of the check-in desks.

There was indeed no record of the flight reservation but as the trip was being hosted by the airline, we were assured that the problem would be resolved. At 0910 our passports and luggage were taken by a member of staff and we were issued with lounge passes, escorted through security, which took about ten minutes, then up to lounge A, which is actually the Cathay Pacific business class facility. We were asked to wait there while they sorted out the flight booking and checked us in. 

THE LOUNGE The Cathay business lounge is about five minutes’ walk from security through the duty-free shopping area and via a lift to level two. The Cathay first class lounge is adjacent. The business class lounge is decorated in a neutral palette with cream and brown furnishings. There is no natural daylight but travellers can avail themselves of the free wifi, three showers and a choice of eight PCs.

The choice of food was limited to nuts, crisps, Cup Noodles, pastries, crackers and sorry looking croissants – nothing very tempting for this time of day – so I helped myself to an orange juice (from concentrate) and a watery filter coffee. There were also mini cans of mixers in the fridge and a few bottles of spirits and, across the way, a decent selection of magazines and newspapers. It was fairly quiet so there was plenty of seating to choose from. By 1015 we were reunited with our passports and, fortunately, boarding passes for the flight.

BOARDING As boarding had already started (at 0940) there was a bit of a rush to get to the gate (35), so we were driven by airport buggy in a matter of minutes. (It probably would have taken a good ten minutes to get there on foot from the lounge.) I was one of the last people to board at 1030 – economy was about 40 per cent full, while business was about 80 per cent – and once across the airbridge and in my seat, I was offered a choice of water, orange juice or Lanson champagne by a friendly member of crew, before a delay to take-off was announced due to air traffic control issues. At 1055 hot towels were handed out and lunch orders taken.

THE SEAT The three-class A340-600 that plies this route is configured with eight first class seats configured 1-2-1 (A, E-F, K) across rows one and two, 42 business class seats across two cabins in a 2-2-2 (A-B, E-F, J-K) layout (rows ten-17), and 256 economy class seat arranged 2-4-2 (A-B, D-E-F-G, J-K) across rows 22 to 54.

I had been assigned seat 17J, an aisle seat at the back of the cabin near the galley – had this been a night flight I might have suffered some disturbance from people walking to and fro, and from noise from the food preparation area, but since it was a day flight it did not bother me. Each of the magenta fabric-upholstered angled-lie-flat business seats has an Oryx 15-inch personal touchscreen in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen, a 165-degree recline with three pre-set positions for eating, relaxing and sleeping, a 20.5-inch width, 60-61-inch pitch and EU/US in-seat power.

The product also features an in-seat vibrating massage function, lumbar support, a small drinks tray that comes out of the central armrest, a pillow, a fleece blanket, and a compartment for newspapers. Amenity kits contained an eyeshade, socks, Molton Brown moisturiser and perfume spray, plus a comb and earplugs but no toothpaste or toothbrush. Washrooms were to the front of the business class cabin.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? As all seats are forward facing, if you go for a window seat you have to be prepared to climb over your neighbour to get out, which could be quite inconvenient. Middle seats E and F both provide direct aisle access but no view through a window. Those sitting in row 16 and 17 may experience some disturbance from the galleys and washrooms. Any of the other seats are good options.

THE FLIGHT Take-off was a little late at 1125 and, about 30 minutes later, an aperitif and a “palate pleaser” were offered to those in business, and tray tables were laid with white cotton cloths and metal cutlery. As there was no vegetarian option I went straight on to the starter – a delicious spicy spinach and paneer cheese soup, worthy of a place on any restaurant menu. It also came with three different kinds of freshly baked bread roll (white, seeded and sundried tomato).

The main course (there was also a meat option) was also very tasty – a generous portion of aubergine and lentil curry with basmati rice, an onion bhaji and a stuffed pepper – and went down well with a cool glass of chardonnay. Dessert was strawberry and vanilla ice cream with berry compote, and a choice of tea and coffee followed. The crew were very amenable, bringing extra drinks when requested and efficiently clearing away dishes in between courses.

There was a good selection recently released movies on the IFE system and noise-cancelling headphones could be found in a panel in the side of the seat. I spent the afternoon reading magazines and watching films and, at 1600, tea was served. I opted for a Diet Coke and declined the offer of more food as the lunch was quite enough.

ARRIVAL The plane started its descent into the Qatari capital at 1715 and landed in the at 1745 (1945 local time). We were then promptly disembarked down steps from the plane and on to a shuttle bus. Once at the terminal, my group was taken to the arrivals area where a member of staff helped sort out our entry visas and escort us through immigration (so no queuing) into baggage reclaim where our cases were waiting. The drive into the city centre takes about 20-30 minutes depending on traffic.

VERDICT Top-class food and service from the Qatari carrier, as usual. The seat might not be fully flat but it is more than adequate for the six- to seven-hour flight between London and Doha.

PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight in January started from £2,000.

CONTACT qatarairways.com

Jenny Southan


Share with your friends










Submit

Post a comment

4 × one =

Qatar Airways A340-600 business class

CHECK-IN Flight QR11 from Doha to London Heathrow was departing at 0735 on this Monday morning, so I checked in online the night before, and chose window seat 11A. As I was in my hotel room and had no direct access to a printer, I thought I would try getting my boarding pass sent to my mobile. However, it didn’t work as the website automatically prefixed my mobile number with the Qatari dial code.

The next morning I was driven to the Premium terminal for first and business class passengers, which is located about fives minutes away from the Sharq Village and Spa, where I was staying. When I arrived at 0540 the terminal was empty, so I went straight to the business class check-in desk where I dropped my suitcase off and was issued with a boarding pass.

I then went through security, which was a mere formality and nothing like the chaotic procedure I encountered at Heathrow on the way out. It was a single gate with two friendly staff on the other side – I simply put my laptop (still in the bag) and coat on the conveyor belt and stepped through the metal detector. The whole process took less than ten seconds.

Once airside, I made a couple of purchases in duty-free, and then took the escalators up to the business class lounge – a member of staff greeted me at the top, checked my boarding pass and directed me left towards the facility. (First class passengers turn right to gain access to their lounge.)

THE LOUNGE There was no reception desk in the lounge, so I went straight in and had a wander around. It is a large venue with plenty of seating, several fridges stocked with soft drinks (no alcohol is available) and two self-service dining areas, one on each side.

When I arrived, breakfast was being served and there was a range of hot dishes including scrambled eggs, omelettes, baked beans, fried tomatoes, mushrooms and sausages, plus toast, rolls, cheese, cold meats and cereals. Once seated, a waiter asked if I wanted anything to drink – I ordered a cappuccino and a fresh orange juice, and then went up to help myself to some food. Unfortunately, when it came to eating it, I discovered that it was almost cold so can’t have been very hot in the first place.

The lounge is well staffed, with plenty of people clearing tables and walking about informing people of flight departures. However, I thought this was a bit unnecessary as overhead announcements would have been a better use of manpower – plus it was not very relaxing, and there were enough display screens dotted around to keep your eye on. Saying that, it was nice to know you could talk to them if you had any questions about your flight.

Wifi is free throughout, although when I tried to get online it was so slow I could barely get a connection. Other features included two smoking rooms, newspapers, a Playstation room, three PC workstations, showers and floor-to-ceiling windows.

BOARDING The departure screens in the lounge didn’t show gate numbers, just the flight status, so when I noticed mine had started boarding at 0720 (a little late, as I had been warned at check-in), I just headed back downstairs to where the I knew the gates were. From here, I was ushered through passport control and on to a shuttle bus that took first and business passengers to the aircraft.

The plane was accessed via steps up from the tarmac, and once on board at 0745, I was greeted by a member of the crew who seemed genuinely pleased and surprised to see me – she said she remembered me from the outbound flight a couple of days previously (click here to read the review). Coats were then taken, and water, orange juice and lemon juice with mint were offered.

As with the outbound flight, amenity kits (containing an eye mask, socks, hairbrush, earplugs, two types of Molton Brown moisturizer, eau de toilette and lip salve) were placed on the seats, but as this was a daytime flight, pyjamas were not given out. Newpapers including The New York Times were available.

The captain came on at 0800 to inform us that the flight would be six hours, 45 minutes, and apologised for the late departure. The man next to me then moved to another seat as there were quite a few free, which meant I had plenty of space to spread out in. Breakfast orders were taken at 0820 (I had pre-ordered the vegetarian option) and hot towels handed out. We finally pushed back at 0845, taking off at 0900, about one and a half hours late.

THE SEAT The twin-aisle A340-600 on this route is in a three-class layout with rows one to four assigned to first class (1-2-1), ten to 17 for business class (there is no row 13), and economy in rows 22 to 49 (2-4-2).

The light grey, fixed-shell business class seats, upholstered in burgundy fabric, are configured 2-2-2 (A-B, E-F, J-K). Only Qatar’s fleet of B777s have the new fully flat business product, so on this flight I had experienced its older angled-lie flat version, which has a pitch of 60-61 inches, a width of 20 inches and a recline of 65 degrees.

The in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen is 15 inches across, so a pretty decent size, and offers Oryx audio-video on-demand (AVOD). There was a good selection of films and TV shows including shorts and world cinema, eight newer “premier” films, about 30 “did you miss?” movies and eight “classics”. (Visit qatarairways.com for a list of films showing on your flight.)

There is EU and US in-seat power, lumbar support, an ineffective massage function, individual reading lights, and a slot under the screen for magazines and menus (in Arabic and English), plus a set of noise-cancelling headphones, and an IFE remote/telephone in the arm of the seat.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? I was in 11A, which was a standard forward-facing business class seat by a window. The only disadvantage of choosing a window seat is that if the person next to you has fully reclined their seat, you have to climb over them to get access to the aisle.

Seats B, E-F and J all offer direct aisle access, while seats in row ten have a little extra legroom as are behind the bulkhead. There are wall-mounted IFE screens here, as well as monitors that come out of the arms of the seats.

Row 17 is directly in front of economy so may suffer from some disturbance, and row 16 and 15 are closest to the galley and washrooms, so may also be a bit noisy if you are trying to sleep. However, some people like the more private feel rows 16 and 17 have in the “mini cabin”.

THE FLIGHT Breakfast was served at 0945, and as with the outbound flight, a member of the crew came and laid my table, which slid easily out of a panel in the side of the middle armrest, with a white cotton cloth, metal cutlery and a china bowl of assorted breads and pastries (a warm croissant, banana muffin and toast soldiers).

To start, I had a strawberry and avocado smoothie, followed by a fruit platter, and then a classic Arabic breakfast of spicy potato curry, feta and tomato curry, flatbread and falafel. Although this was not something I would normally opt for early in the morning, it was very tasty.

Other options for the starter were toasted muesli or a salad plate of gravlax and branade of salted code. Mains were ricotta hotcakes with raspberries, crème fraiche and maple syrup or Japanese crab omelette with ponzu sauce, field mushrooms and asparagus. A good selection of coffees (cappuccino, espresso, café latte, macchiato, American) and teas (Earl Grey, English breakfast, green, mint, camomile) were also available.

During breakfast I started watching a film, but just as it was getting towards the end, the IFE system went down. I noticed that this had affected most of the screens in business class but not all, and those passengers who particularly wanted the entertainment were offered the chance to move to one of the free seats that still had a functioning system. I wasn’t particularly bothered so took the opportunity to catch up on some work.

About four hours into the flight I was offered a snack from the “indulgence” menu. I decided to try the Arabic mezze, which was a small portion of hummous, salad and pitta (although this was a bit crunchy). Other options were cream of roasted zucchini soup, tandoori chicken kofta, a warm sandwich of pesto chicken and tomato and herb salsa, or a cheese plate.

ARRIVAL We began our descent into London Heathrow at 1515 and landed at 1250 local time, 25 minutes late, which meant we had made up some of the time en route. We disembarked quickly and exited from the front of the plane via an airbridge. Once through fast-track immigration (passes were handed out on the flight) I went to baggage reclaim, where I had to wait 30 minutes for my suitcase to appear, despite it being priority tagged.

VERDICT Although there were a few problems with the journey – the plane was late taking off, the IFE system breaking and my suitcase taking a long time to appear – the Premium terminal and lounge made for a pleasant start, the angled lie-flat seat was comfortable for a day flight such as this and the food tasty. The crew were also very friendly and helpful.

PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight from London to Doha started from £2,494 in February.

CONTACT qatarairways.com

Jenny Southan


Share with your friends










Submit

Post a comment

five × two =

Qatar Airways A340-600 business class

CHECK-IN I checked in online the morning of my day of departure for flight QR0002 at 2030 from London Heathrow to Doha with Qatar Airways. About two thirds of the business class cabin was full when it came to choosing my seat and, as I wanted a window, I opted for 11K. I then printed my boarding pass.

I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 at 1800, which was very crowded on this Friday evening, and headed straight for the business class desk (E7) almost directly in front of the entrance in Zone E. (There were four economy class desks around the corner – E20-25 – two of which were for passengers who had checked in online and wanted to drop their bags off.)

The man ahead of me was taking a long time to be processed, and it was rather chaotic as baggage handlers were loading bags on to a conveyor belt behind the desk. After a ten-minute wait, I dropped my bag off at the first class desk (E6), and was issued with a new boarding pass and an invitation to the Cathay Pacific business class lounge (A).

Upstairs, I joined the queue for fast-track security, where I waited for about 15 minutes to get through. (Laptops out, belts off, boots but not shoes off.) Once through passport control by duty-free, I changed some money at Travelex and stopped off at Boots on my way to the lounge.

THE LOUNGE Qatar Airways is currently using the Cathay Pacific Oneworld lounge, which is accessed via a series of narrow corridors and then up in a small lift to level two, making it quite hidden away. I was told that a new Cathay Pacific Oneworld lounge would be opening in spring. (Cathay Pacific’s first class facility is to the right and business class is to the left. The facilities are open 0830-2200.)

The business lounge, which was pretty busy when I was there, has three separate seating areas with chunky armchairs and square coffee tables, a room with eight PC workstations, a couple of phone booths, a shelf with international newspapers, free wifi (password is “X8X”) and three showers. There is no natural daylight. Flatscreen TVs showed BBC News 24 and departure boards were on view in the main seating area.

A refreshment area was stocked with a few bottles of spirits, tea and coffee, cans of juice, Coke, beer and wine. Ice came from a dispenser but it was in little chunks, which meant it was difficult to drink your drink without getting a mouth full of it at the same time (there were no straws). The food was as disappointing as the last time I was there – in addition to cup noodles, small bowls of nuts, crackers and plastic packets of cheese, there were a few trays of very stale and old-looking sandwiches on cheap sliced bread.

I helped myself to a packet of Kettle chips and a gin and tonic, and sat down to read the paper. At 1915 I noticed that my flight was boarding from Gate 20. When I next checked the screens at 1930, the flight was on its final call, so I quickly grabbed my bags and headed down into the terminal area and briskly walked to the gate ten minutes away.

BOARDING Once I arrived, I found there was a queue of about 15 people at the desks where passports and boarding passes were being checked before entering a large, crowded, waiting area. No one had started boarding. Boarding actually began at 1950, with business and first class passengers given priority. I fought my way through the queue of economy class passengers and entered the plane via and airbridge where, again, there was a bit of a wait.

Once on board, I was shown to my seat by a very polite and welcoming member of the crew who put my luggage and coat in an overhead bin and offered me a choice of water, orange juice or champagne. I accepted a glass of water and one of the bubbly, but this took about 15 minutes to get to me, and when it did, it was close to room temperature, so not as chilled as I would have liked. Newspapers were given to those who asked.

THE SEAT The twin-aisle A340-600 on this route is in a three-class layout with rows one to four assigned to first class (1-2-1), ten to 17 for business class (there is no row 13), and economy in rows 22 to 49 (2-4-2).

The light grey, fixed-shell business class seats, upholstered in burgundy fabric, are configured 2-2-2 (A-B, E-F, J-K). Only Qatar’s fleet of B777s have the new fully flat business product, so on this flight I had experienced its older angled-lie flat version, which has a pitch of 60-61 inches, a width of 20 inches and a recline of 65 degrees.

The in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen is 15 inches across, so a pretty decent size, and offers audio-video on-demand (AVOD). There was a good selection of films and TV shows including shorts and world cinema, eight newer “premier” films, about 30 “did you miss?” movies and eight “classics”. (Visit qatarairways.com for a list of films showing on your flight.)

There is EU and US in-seat power, lumbar support, an ineffective massage function, individual reading lights, and a slot under the screen for magazines and menus (in Arabic and English), plus a set of noise-cancelling headphones, and an IFE remote/telephone in the arm of the seat.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? I was in 11K, which was a standard forward-facing business class seat by a window. The only disadvantage of choosing a window seat is that if the person next to you has fully reclined their seat, you have to climb over them to get access to the aisle.

Seats B, E-F and J all offer direct aisle access, while seats in row ten have a little extra legroom as are behind the bulkhead. There are wall-mounted IFE screens here, as well as monitors that come out of the arms of the seats.

Row 17 is directly in front of economy so may suffer from some disturbance, and row 16 and 15 are closest to the galley and washrooms, so may also be a bit noisy if you are trying to sleep. However, some people like the more private feel rows 16 and 17 have in the “mini cabin”.

THE FLIGHT On this night flight, Qatar provided a soft, cotton-backed, acrylic blanket, grey tracksuit-style pyjamas (not particularly flattering), an eye mask and socks, and small Molton Brown amenity kit containing a hairbrush, earplugs, two types of moisturizer, eau de toilette, and lip salve. It was a shame there was no toothbrush and paste, however.

At 2040 the captain informed passengers that there would be a slight delay as the plane needed to be de-iced, and because of this they would need to turn the air conditioning off for 15 minutes. During this time, the crew came around to take dinner orders, handed out hot towels and collected empty glasses. Take-off was at 2115, 45 minutes late. 

At 1015, an appetiser of dates stuffed with cream cheese (delicious) was presented – the gentleman next to me also requested some mixed nuts to go alongside his aperitif, which they were happy to supply. At 1030, the tables – which slid out easily from a panel in the side of the middle armrest – were laid with a white cotton cloth, salt and pepper in china shakers, metal cutlery and a china bowl with a selection of soft, freshly baked breads including sun-dried tomato and seeded. (A very nice touch, I thought.)

Dinner was served at 1100. I had pre-ordered a vegetarian meal, and there were two meat-free starters and a main on the menu to choose from. I went for the classic Arabic mezze to start – hummous, salad, pitta, olives – and the Indian-style onion and cashew fritters with yellow dhal, pilaf of carrot and greens peas with baby okra for the main. Both these dishes were excellent, and presented attractively on white china dishes.

Other options on the menu included aubergine cream soup with aged Parmesan crusties or seafood cocktail to start, followed by seafood medley in rich saffron broth with steamed rice and vegetables or char-grilled chicken breast with lemon and thyme glaze, polenta ratatouille, and roasted baby vegetables.

The wine list consisted of one champagne – Lanson Brut Millésimé 1998, three whites – a 2006 Meursault chardonnay, Charton et Trébuchet from Burgundy, France, a 2008 Saint Clair Pioneer Block 18 sauvignon blanc from Marlborough New Zealand (a deliciously zesty number with a hint of pink grapefruit), and a 2008 riesling Kabinett Dr Loosen, Urziger Wurzgarten from Mosel, Germany.

The reds were – a 2003 Poggio Antico DOCG Altero Brunello di Montalcino from Tuscany, Italy, and a 2006 Knappstein shiraz from Clare Valley, Australia. The port was Taylor’s 20-Year-Old Tawny.

For dessert, there was a cheese plate, warm cherry frangipani with honey cream, forest berries with vanilla and strawberry ice cream, and sliced fresh fruit. A good selection of coffees (cappuccino, espresso, café latte, macchiato, American) and teas (Earl Grey, English breakfast, green, mint, camomile) were also available.

After watching a movie, I slept for a couple of hours before being woken by the lights coming on and being informed that we were making our descent into Doha at 0245. A light continental breakfast was provided on-request before landing, although I wasn’t hungry so didn’t ask for it. However, I was extremely thirsty when I woke up, so asked a member of the crew for some water. There were no small bottles left but, after a 15-minute wait, I was provided with a litre-bottle of Evian.

During the descent, my right ear seemed to be suffering from the change in pressure – the first time this has ever happened. And for the remaining 30 minutes before landing, I was in quite some pain. Fortunately this subsided once we landed.

ARRIVAL The flight touched down at 0630 local time and we were promptly dismembarked via steps to the tarmac where a shuttle bus was waiting. This drove a short distance to the Premium terminal where I was met by a representative of Al Maha Meet and Greet service who took me to the front of the immigration queue, assisted with the purchase of my visa (QR 100/£17), waited with me while I waited for my luggage to arrive (this took about ten minutes), and then ushered me to the arrivals area where my driver met me.

VERDICT A decent business class flight with excellent food and drink, friendly crew and very helpful meet and greet service on arrival at Doha International airport. (Visit dohaairport.com to book this service.)

PRICE Internet rates for a return business class flight from London to Doha started from £2,494 in February.

CONTACT qatarairways.com

Jenny Southan


Share with your friends










Submit

Share your thoughts

  • There were no immigration facilities for arrival passengers in the premium terminal. It was the main terminal where you were welcomed by Al Maha and passed through immigration.

  • could you please advise which airport lounge can we use in Singapore also Athens if possible we are business class with Qatar

Post a comment

twenty − two =