CHECK-IN

I arrived at Singapore Changi Terminal 3 at 0005 for my 0230 departure on QR945 to Doha, a flight of seven hours.

Check-in was in area 8, and there was no queue. I checked-in one bag, and was given an invitation card to the Dnata Lounge.

I then made the short walk to security, where I was chosen to have my hand luggage scanned (most did not have their luggage scanned), and then on to immigration. where there was no queue.

THE LOUNGE

Honestly, the less said about the Dnata Lounge in T3 the better.

Dnata Changi lounge

Dnata Lounge

It isn’t awful, but the lime green colour scheme set against brown chairs only works with pistachio and chocolate ice cream, while the uninspired food offering was a disappointment after the vibrant duty free area.

And as a preparation for Qatar Airways’ superb business class product, it is inadequate.

I’d arrived far too early for my flight, so had the advantage of having no problem finding somewhere to sit. Still, the free wifi was extremely slow even then, and so time dragged.

The lounge became busier as boarding time approached, but I imagine that anyone who had previously experienced this facility would have either chosen to go elsewhere or stayed shopping.

BOARDING

The flight was called at 0140 and there was then a seven-minute walk to Gate A15, although I could have waited for the Skytrain.

A security-check at the gate meant all electrical items had to be removed from bags. I then walked straight on board.

Boarding was by two separate doors. Note, however, that there are two sections in the business class cabin. Therefore, if you sit in the second cabin (rows 7-9) you will find that the economy passengers are boarded by the main door between the sections and you will have footfall coming past you. This is not the case if you sit in the first section (rows 1-6).

This return journey follows up the review of the outbound day flight taken on the same aircraft a few days beforehand. As such, I won’t repeat everything I from that write-up. Instead, this review will focus on the differences when taking a night flight on the A350.

THE SEAT

From the moment I was on board, the service was friendly. I was greeted by name, the flight attendant introduced herself, I was shown to my seat, and when I asked for a sleep suit I was given a choice of sizes.

Qatar Airways A350 business class

Business class

Qatar Airways A350 business class

I changed into this and then was given a hanger for my trousers and shirt. I was offered a choice of newspapers and drinks, and chose the signature, non-alcoholic mint drink.

An amenity bag containing flight socks, an eye mask, Giorgio Armani aftershave balm, aftershave, lip balm, ear plugs and flight socks was already on the seat, as were the menus.

Business class contains 36 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration (A-EF-K) and is split into two sections of six rows (1-6) and three rows (7, 8 and 9). To view a seat map, click here.

On the flight out I had been in 7K, on this return leg I chose 8K since there were a few small differences between the storage areas, as detailed in the previous flight review.

The seats are very spacious. They have a side-table area large enough for storing books, papers, an iPad and a laptop computer when the fold-out table is in use for dining. The table is large enough to continue working while still having drinks and food on it.

I had found this useful when working, but it is also welcome when sleeping, since you can recline and go to sleep without having your books/water in the bed with you.

The seat reclines into an 80-inch fully-flat bed with a width of 30 inches. In design, it is similar to the seating found on Qatar Airways’ B787 and A380, and is superb.

I found the seat comfortable for working as well as sleeping, although some colleagues said the foot well was a little constricting when sleeping on their sides. Maybe they have larger feet than I do, but certainly if you take your shoes off to sleep then there is no problem.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?

As mentioned, there are two sections, one to the front and the second behind it. I again chose the second section because I’d had a good flight on the way over.

Qatar Airways A350 business seat

The row behind me (row 9) is the final one before economy, so perhaps should be avoided. Service comes from the front galley, so I would also avoid rows 1 and 2 and also the last row, which has a washroom immediately behind it.

The service is good, so although you might have to wait a little longer for drinks or food in row 8, I didn’t notice any delay on this flight, although a lot of people were asleep.

THE FLIGHT

The doors closed closed and we were away slightly before our 0230 departure time. The taxi out to the runway was quick and we had taken-off by 0245.

I watched this from the tail fin camera – one of the options on the Thales Avant inflight entertainment system. In business class, the IFE screen is 17 inches in size, compared to the 10.6-inch screen in economy.

Wifi and GSM connectivity is offered through the OnAir system. I had used this on the way out for the full flight during the day, but did not do so on this leg. The price varies, costing $22 for the entire flight $22.

However, this Singapore-Doha route takes you over India and Pakistan where the service is unavailable.

This was a late night/early morning departure from Singapore and the menu choice reflected that.

Qatar Airways A350 business class cabin

Dining is á la carte but I wanted to have something to eat to ensure I would sleep and so asked how long it would be before food was served and was told “about” 20 minutes.

The menu was as follows:

Palate Pleaser

  • Sesame seed-coated prawn, mango and cucumber salsa
  • Chicken and coconut soup, rice and spring onion

Appetizers

  • Classic Arabic mezze; hummus, tabbouleh and moutabel served with Arabic bread
  • Thai style beef salad, kerabu dressing

Mains

  • Pasta in a mushroom cream sauce, sautéed mushrooms, caramelized red onions and grilled cherry tomatoes
  • Lemon and garlic marinated chicken breast with herb jus, chive mashed potato, slow cooked cherry tomatoes and balsamic glazed onions
  • Thai beef curry with jasmine rice, egg plant food

Desserts

  • Chocolate truffle dessert, mango coulis
  • Gourmet ice cream
  • Cheese plate (selection served with crackers, grapes and chutney
  • Fruit plate: seasonal fresh fruits

The wine choice was substantially different from the flight out.

Wines

  • Champagnes: Billecart-Salmon, Brut and Taittinger, Prestie Rose (Champagnes)
  • Chardonnay, Bouchard Pere et Fils, Beaune du Chateau, 1er Cru, 2011, Burgundy, France (white)
  • Sauvignon Blanc, Yealands Estate, Single Vineyard, Awatere Valley, 2013, Marlborough, New Zealand (white)
  • Riesling: Dr Loosen, Erdener, Treppchen, Spatlese, 2012, Mosel Valley, Germany (white)
  • Chateau Monbousquet, St-Emilion Grand Cru Classe, 2008, Bordeaux, France (red)
  • Shiraz: Fox Creek, 2013, McLaren Vale, Australia (red)
  • Corvina & Rondinella, Borelli, Amarone Della Valpolicella, 2011, Veneto, Italy (red)
  • Gewurtztraminer: Pfaffenheim, Cuvee Ste Catherine, Vendages Tardives, 2009, Alsace, France (red)
  • Tawny Port: Kopke, Colheita, 1974, Douro Valley, Portugal.

My flight attendant was superb. She brought my meal choices quickly, and when she saw I had finished eating offered to make my bed for me, which she did within a minute.

This sounds simple, but the flight was practically full in business, and when offering á la carte service it requires a lot of training and willingness on the part of the flight attendants to respond to, and in many cases anticipate, passenger requests. The training means you believe that cabin crew is looking after you individually, rather than the seat number.

I have been impressed on previous Qatar Airways flights by this – not just on this trip, but also on a previous four-sector trip I took to visit our Indian office in Mumbai a few months previously.

After eating, I slept well for around four hours and could have slept for longer but wanted to wake and try the breakfast before landing in Doha.

Breakfast

  • Freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Raspberry smoothie
  • Energizer: spicy tomato and celery juice

All-day breakfast

  • Bircher muesli, rolled oats bound with yoghurt, fruit and cinnamon
  • Yoghurt with orange compote and granola
  • Scrambled eggs with grilled chicken sausage, rosti potato, cherry tomatoes and grilled mushrooms
  • Traditional chicken masi lemak, boiled egg, peanuts, fried anchovies and sambal.

ARRIVAL

We arrived on time and had no difficulty going through an extra layer of security and then into the terminal and the business class lounge.

Once there, I had a cup of coffee, a shower (well worth the short wait) and then continued on to London on the A380.

VERDICT

A superb flight – the aircraft was comfortable, quiet and I felt very refreshed after my short sleep. It was the staff that really made the difference, however.


Tom Otley