This was the delivery flight for Qatar Airways’ first A380 aircraft from the Airbus factory in Hamburg to Hamad International airport.
Scheduled flights on the superjumbo between Doha and London Heathrow started on October 10.
Qatar’s 517-seat A380 has eight first class suites and 48 business class seats (row ten to 22; 13 is missing), all on the upper deck and configured 1-2-1. Economy is split across the main (3-4-3) and upper decks (2-4-2).
Each business class seat has direct aisle access and converts to an 80-inch fully-flat bed (with an effective pitch of 52 inches).
The immediate impression of the business cabin is one of spaciousness – the aisle seems wide, and the configuration means each passenger has ample room. The angle of the seat allows you to avoid making eye contact with anyone, although you can easily chat across the aisle.
The overhead compartments are smaller than on the main deck, so above the centre seats a standard wheel-on bag has to be placed sideways. The lockers above the window seats are smaller still.
That said, there’s plenty of space around the seats – each one has a large side-table area, a bin for shoes, space under the armrest for a water bottle and headphones, and you can put items under the footstool during the flight. The upholstery is in Qatar colours, which, with the mood lighting, sets a pleasant and relaxing tone.
The seat is comfortable to work at, and the table solid, easily large enough for a laptop.
The aircraft is wifi-equipped with various pricing schemes, from three hours to the whole flight (US$22). It was efficient, even with many passengers making heavy use of it. You can also make phone calls and send text messages. The 17-inch HD in-flight entertainment touchscreen also worked well.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE?
Go for a window seat closer to the front of the cabin. There, you will have the clearest view away from the giant wings (you may like looking at the wings, however, as they are incredible).
Avoid the back row (22) as the lounge is directly behind, and the front row (ten) as it’s close to the galley.
The middle seats will be preferable if you are travelling with a companion. If not, there is a central divider that can be raised and lowered manually.
Since this was a delivery flight with media on board, it was a showcase for the breakfast and lunch dishes available in business and first class rather than a typical service.
I tried the Vineet Bhatia chicken and potato tikki, which was very nice. Wines included Krug Grand Cuvée Brut; Albert Bichot Chassagne-Montrachet, 2013, Burgundy; and Wolf Blass Grey Label Shiraz, 2012, McLaren Vale, Australia. Service was excellent.
As I was working and this was a day flight, I didn’t sleep, but I did recline the seat fully flat. There was a lot of room, particularly with the wide armrest down.
I also returned to the lounge several times, which is big enough to comfortably hold more than a dozen people.
A lovely aircraft. The fully-flat bed is superb, the cabin spacious, and the large lounge a pleasure to visit every few hours and stretch your legs.
This is among the best business class cabins and seats in the world, on one of the best aircraft.
- AIRCRAFT TYPE A380
- CONFIGURATION 1-2-1
- SEAT WIDTH 22in/55.9cm
- SEAT LENGTH 80in/203.2cm
- SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
- PRICE Internet rates for a midweek return A380 business class flight from London to Doha in December started from £3,544 (non-flexible) and £4,961 (flexible).
- CONTACT qatarairways.com