[Click above for the video review.]
- Flight: QR701
- Route: DOH-JFK
- Equipment: Airbus A350-1000
- Registration: A7-ANB
- Cabin: Business Class (QSuite)
- Seat: 5K (Rear Facing)
Starting October 28, 2018, Qatar Airways replaced the operating aircraft on 1 of their 2 Doha to New York flights from a Boeing 777-300ER to an Airbus A350-1000 outfitted with the new QSuite Business Class product and we were fortunate enough to try it out for the first time. Although this wasn’t our first QSuite flight, we were very excited as this was our first long haul flight with the product, and we totally loved it!
This trip started at the Al Mourjan business class lounge at Doha’s Hamad International airport. This lounge is regarded as one of the best lounges in the Oneworld alliance. The lounge is beautiful and elegantly furnished with high ceilings, drink stations and plenty of capacity for seating. There are 2 restaurants in the lounge. The main restaurant upstairs is a sit-down restaurant and offers a rather extensive buffet spread and a bar. For this stay, we opted to eat at the other restaurant on the main level, which is the more casual deli-type. We ordered some hot paninis, which did the trick for our short layover.
There is also a business center, game room for the kids, and shower facilities.
Quick tip: If you want to shower during your stay at the lounge, make sure you have account for the wait time. Depending on the time, the shower queue could be 6-8 people deep and that could take a while.
About an hour before departure, we made our way to the gate area. Since this was a US-bound flight, we were subjected to an additional security screening before boarding. As we approached the gate, there’s a security podium in which a security agent will ask you some security questions (eg. who packed your bags, where do you live/work, did anyone ask you to carry anything for them?) before your bags are rescanned and you’ll need to pass through another metal detector. All electronics bigger than a smartphone need to come out of bags.
After the additional security screening, our boarding passes were scanned and we were allowed into the boarding area with the rest of the passengers on our flight. About 40 minutes before departure, boarding commenced for business class passengers and those requiring special assistance. I took a quick snap of the Qatar A350-1000, which will flying us to New York.
The Upon arriving at the door, we were greeted by the Cabin Service Manager, and were escorted to our seat by Fernanda, the flight attendant working our aisle.
The business class cabin on Qatar’s new Airbus A350-1000 is laid out in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration. Some seats face forward, while others are rear facing.
Four of the center seats or “Quad” can be opened-up so that a family or colleagues/friends of 4, can sit together and carry a conversation during the flight.
It’s worth noting:
- The odd-numbered seats on the left (port) side of the plane are all forward facing, while the odd numbered seats on the right (starboard) side are all rear facing.
- The “A” and K” seats are closer to the window, while the “B” and “J” seats are closer to the aisle.
- The odd number center seats are all rear facing “honeymoon” seats that sit close together, while the even number center seats are forward facing and 2 side tables that separate the seats.
I was seated in 5K, a rear facing window seat on the starboard side of the plane. I was in complete awe upon arriving at my seat. The QSuite is beautiful and tastefully decorated with Qatar’s signature burgundy and gray colors accented with a leather headrest, and side panel with beautiful stitching. My QSuite was very spacious and luxurious, and in my opinion rivals some of the best First Class products I’ve tried in the past. The seat also converts into a full flat-bed with a touch of a button.
One of the biggest features and selling point of the QSuite is its privacy door. It’s worth mentioning that the suite door is locked and remains open while on the ground, but the crew unlocks it right after takeoff. I was initially concerned that the seat might feel tight and claustrophobic because of the sliding door, thankfully this was not the case.
The seat offers ample legroom.
The tray table pulls out under the IFE monitor and folds out to reveal a large table and workspace.
Right next to the seat, the arm rest opens-up to a large and deep storage space.
In front of the seat towards the right side, there’s a side table and right below is an easy to reach control panel with seat controls, AC & USB power outlets, and a wired IFE touchscreen remote.
The QSuite features a 22″ touchscreen IFE monitor and Qatar uses their own Oryx One entertainment system, which features hundreds of new and classic Western, Arabic, and other foreign films, TV and audio programs. There were also a handful of games available.
The IFE also features a 3D moving map app.
One of my favorite features of the Airbus A350 is the multiple outside cameras, which you can view from your suite.
This A350-1000 is fitted with their new ‘Super Wi-Fi’ high-speed broadband connectivity using Inmarsat’s GX Aviation technology. They offer a complimentary one hour connectivity for all passengers. Sadly, internet connectivity was mostly unavailable for most of the flight. This is a new product, so I guess they are still trying to work out the kinks.
Upon settling down, Fernanda introduced herself and offered a pre-departure beverage and hot or cold towels. I opted for a glass of rosé champagne and a cold towel.
Waiting at my seat were The pillow and duvet, amenity kit, noise canceling headphones, and a bottle of Evian water.
The amenity kit is a hard case by Bric’s. it contained a good size Castello Monte Vibiano lotion, facial mist, and lip balm. The kit also contained earplugs, socks, eye shades.
Soon Fernanda came back and offered us some sleepwear, which is made by The White Company London.
She also handed us the food and beverage menus for the flight.
10 minutes before our departure time, the crew announced that boarding was complete and asked all passengers to be seated buckled-up. The Captain also made his pre-flight announcements and mentioned our flight time of 13 hours and 20 minutes to New York.
We soon pushed back from the gate as the safety video was playing. During taxi, Fernanda came by and took my meal orders for the flight.
It was a pretty busy morning in DOH, and we had a good 15 minute taxi to the end of the runway before the Rolls Royce engines revved-up for a powerful takeoff roll.
The climb was smooth and we got some really nice views of the Qatar Pearl below.
The Food and Service
Qatar Airways offers a dine-on-demand concept in business class, where you can order anything from the menu at any time during the flight. Since this was a morning flight, I opted for breakfast for the first meal service. I ordered a glass of orange juice right after takeoff.
Soon my table was set with white linen, bread basket with warm breakfast pastries/breads, salt and pepper shakers, and a choice of fruit jams. I was also asked if I wanted still or sparkling water for the table. A fake candle was also placed on the table for the added ambiance.
It’s worth mentioning that unlike other business class products, Qatar does not use meal trays. Instead, the meal plates are placed directly on the white linen, which is a very nice touch.
For my first course, I ordered some fresh fruits, which was fresh and nicely presented.
Then I ordered the emmental cheese omelet with grilled chicken, which was delicious!
Then I asked for a cup of cappuccino to end the meal.
My table was promptly cleared after the service, which I always appreciate. Hot towels were offered soon after the service.
After a few minutes, Fernanda came back and asked if I wanted my bed made for sleeping. I mentioned that I was going to try to watch a movie first, but she still insisted of putting on the mattress pad so that I could be more comfortable so I agreed.
I visited the lavatory to freshen up while she prepared my seat. The lavatories were stocked with toothbrushes, shaving kits, and a bottle of moisturizer and facial mist. They were also regularly cleaned by the crew. Two of the business class lavatories even had a “loo with a view”.
When I came back, my seat was nicely prepped for lounging and sleeping.
When I was ready to sleep, I reclined my seat into a bed and closed my suite door.
My bed was so comfortable and private, and I slept for a solid 6 hours.
After waking up, I was feeling a little peckish and I wanted a snack. I pressed the flight attendant call button and a friendly flight attendant soon appeared and asked if I needed anything. I asked if I could order a snack from the anytime menu, and she happily obliged. I ordered the chicken shawarma with tahina sauce and a diet coke for my drink. She placed white linen on my table, and came back with my snack soon after. The serving was a bit small, but it was very good and it hit the spot.
After the snack, I dozed off for a another couple of hours.
About 2 hours before landing, I woke up and Fernanda soon came by with hot towels and asked if I was ready for my pre-landing meal. I nodded yes, please.
My table was then again set with the usual accoutrements. For the first course, I was offered a small amuse bouche. It was cold tofu with bean sprouts, and edamame paste. It was light and refreshing.
Then I ordered the cream of asparagus soup with crème fraîche, which was served piping hot to my liking. I also ordered a diet coke and still water for my beverage.
Since we were arriving New York in the afternoon, I opted for the Afternoon Tea set for my main meal. The set came with some mini scones, finger sandwiches, and sweet pastries, complete with clotted cream, jam, and butter. I’m a sucker for afternoon tea and this one did not disappoint. Carbo-load anyone?
I also asked for another round cup of cappuccino to end the meal, which was served with a box of Godiva chocolates.
I visited the lavatory once more after the meal service to freshen up before landing. Soon after I got back to my seat, the captain announced that we will soon be making our initial descent into the New York area shortly, and asked the flight attendants to begin their pre-landing preparations.
Fernanda came by with some hot towels and mints and thanked me for flying Qatar Airways.
It was a clear day in the New York area, which made our descent fairly smooth.
We had a firm touchdown at New York’s JFK about 25 minutes early. We disembarked soon after and cleared immigration quickly after thanks to our Global Entry membership.
Qatar Airways has really revolutionized business class with the introduction of the QSuite. The seats, onboard service, amenities, and food rivals even some of the best First Class products available right now. The flight was literally flawless overall.
The only things I didn’t like (and I’m really nitpicking here):
- The wait for the shower rooms at the Al Mourjan lounge could take up to over an hour during peak hours.
- How Qatar handles the required secondary security screening for US-bound flights. The process is fairly chaotic. Carry-ons have to be re-screened, and electronics larger than a smartphone have to come out, and passengers have to go through another metal detector before reaching the boarding area.
- The boarding process could also be improved, as everyone just bombards the gate when boarding is called.
These are of course minute issues, but I thought they are worth mentioning.
I would give this flight an almost perfect 9.8 out of 10. The QSuite product really is #firstinbusiness