Qatar Airways business class review: Top marks apart from seating arrangement

My maiden flight to Miami two years ago was one of utter discomfort. Sandwiched in the middle of four-aisle seats and with nothing worth watching, I resorted to listening to the person next to me drone on about his cruise business for hours.

This time I flew Qatar Airways’ business class from Abu Dhabi to Miami, changing at Doha, making for a far superior experience.

While the hour-long journey from Abu Dhabi to Qatar was on the smaller Airbus A320, the 14-hour flight to Miami was on the Boeing 777-300ER. This cabin is configured in a 2-2-2 formation with all the seats facing forward. For those in the window seat, like myself, it means no direct access to the aisle. As the flight went on, it became harder to leave my seat as my neighbour had stretched into a full-bed position. The configuration also places the twin seats very close together – fine if your neighbour is a work colleague you like, not so good if it’s a complete stranger.


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Flying Qatar Airways business class

Step on board Qatar Airways’ A380 first class cabin

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Nevertheless, the seat was very comfortable with a massage button and leg and back reclines. The fully flat position was the best and teamed with a duvet and wide pillow, I slept for a full six hours.

A storage bin in the seat in front easily holds a laptop or handbag, and there is separate space for your shoes. To the side, a roomy pocket stores the menu and magazines and when you want to eat, a large table pops out from the side of the seat at the touch of a button.

Top marks go to the in-flight entertainment system. Movie options varied from the latest blockbusters to classics such as Marilyn Monroe’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. There was also a good range of documentaries; I was thrilled to find Searching for Sugarman, a music documentary about the American folk musician Sixto Rodriguez.

One notable plus was that shortly after take-off, the flight attendant asked for my size and handed me a set of pyjamas. Later, as the cabin lights dimmed, business travellers headed to the bathroom to change into the complimentary bedwear. One washroom was bigger than the other and had a full-length mirror so changing was possible without banging elbows.

After all, no one wants to arrive in Miami in wrinkled clothes.

q&a luxury in the skies

Is there a lounge to relax in during the transit in Doha’s Hamad International Airport?

I dashed into the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge long enough to get a sense of its luxurious feel. The ultra spacious, two-storey lounge is so large there’s no problem finding a private corner for yourself. I particularly liked its relaxing modern design, spiral staircase, and the “pond”, which reflects the ceiling above. There is also a business centre with plenty of power sockets and touch screen monitors. The Wi-Fi was not optimal though.

How was the food?

During the flight to Miami, food was served on demand. The menu offered an all-day breakfast that varied from a traditional Arabic breakfast to Greek yogurt with orange compote and toasted granola. My favourite drinks were the healthy energisers. I ordered a peach and honey smoothie, which was very rich and full of flavour. Later on, I chose the lighter option of cucumber and apple juice.

What is inside the amenity kit?

The Giorgio Armani female kit has a little bottle of the designer’s Si fragrance, body lotion, a pair of socks, a small hairbrush, lip balm, ear plugs and a sleep mask.

Any complaints?

The cabin crew could have been friendlier. I didn’t find them particularly helpful when I asked about recommendations for dinner.

How much for a return from Abu Dhabi to Miami?

The business class fare is about Dh23,700.

selgazzar@thenational.ae

* The writer was a guest of Qatar Airways.

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