BACKGROUND Qatar Airways’ B777-300ER flies daily between Doha and Mumbai. Flight QR 556 departs from Hamad International Airport at 2020 and arrives in Mumbai at 0200.
CHECK-IN Check-in took place at the dedicated area for Qatar Airways’ business and first class passengers at about 0600. Dates and other refreshments are provided beside couches. A special pathway for immigration and security led me to the rest of the airport. Al Mourjan Business Lounge, the airline’s business and first class lounge, is situated on level 3.
BOARDING Pre-boarding at Gate C10 took us to a separate enclosed section where passengers were divided into zones. Boarding for business class passengers began soon after. Upon entering the aircraft, my luggage was politely taken care off and I was offered refreshments (including orange juice, water and champagne) soon after. I picked sparkling water alongside a hot towel and put my phone on charge at the USB port on the right side of my aisle seat, 6J, which was in the second cabin. I was given the menu for dinner, an amenity kit and a wine list.
THE SEAT Business class seats are arranged in the 2-2-2 configuration. The cabin is fairly large with three windows’ space provided for each window seat. This means more leg space and overhead luggage room along with a compartment ahead where I stored my purse. A separate section for print media and an additional partition for shoes are provided. “Qatar Red”, the signature colour of the airline, is splashed elegantly across the cabin, embodying Arabian opulence with leather headrests and metallic colours. The decor is blended with a modern and minimal aesthetic that is designed to ensure utility. Space is used smartly with a sliding storage for water bottles (Evian). The Oryx One in-flight entertainment control is inside a foldable compartment and headphones are tucked in to the right. The foldable dining tray slides out from the right for aisle seats, where I placed my laptop. Seat controls are a delight with a number of permutations and combinations. There are massage controls with varying intensities, buttons to flatten the bed entirely and to prepare the seat for take off and landing. Leather armrests add further glamour to this sophisticated cabin that was lit in subtle blue before take off.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? I always prefer window seats that allow me to enjoy views and rest my head against the window in economy. However, in business, my aisle seat allowed complete access to the window with enough space to rest. The first row of the second cabin is a good idea if you want to leave the plane soon after arrival.
THE FLIGHT Being a short flight of three hours and 45 minutes, orders for dinner were taken as soon as the seat belt signs were switched off. I skipped the soup of the day and began with the Arabic mezze platter that came with hummus, tabouleh and muhaddara alongside pita bread. The second option of the appetiser was pine nut chicken cheese tikka with mint chutney. Instead of picking a main between saffron chicken korma, herb crusted lamb loin with rosemary jus, and tandoori cottage cheese with butter sauce, I decided to go for the second appetiser with Indian bread to keep it light. Chocolate florentine gateaux with nuts served for dessert was rich and simply delicious. The Qatar Airways’ beverage menu includes So Jennie, a non-alcoholic sparkling drink, masala chai and hot chocolate, as well as an expansive wine list featuring fine Champagnes, iconic Burgundy and Bordeaux wines. I enjoyed the delicate Lanson Brut Rose Champagne along with my appetisers. After dinner I watched a movie with some hot chocolate and snoozed until landing. The duvet and pillow provided were quite fluffy and comforting to ensure a peaceful nap on its fully flat bed.
ARRIVAL The flight landed within three hours and 45 minutes at Mumbai Airport. Immigration was quick and smooth after a hassle-free disembarkation.
VERDICT Arabian luxury with modern hospitality. A stylish experience in the Gulf skies with an excellent dining menu and a fairly spacious seat in business class.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek return business class flight from Doha to Mumbai in May start from QAR 3,195 (₹58,504).