Last November, I had the privilege of flying with Qatar Airways from Helsinki to Canberra, Australia, as part of a broader trip to Australia and beyond. The second leg of this trip, from Doha to Canberra – via Sydney – was made using Qatar’s flagship product, their A350-1000 Q-Suite business class.
I filmed the experience for my YouTube channel, too:
My day began very early at Hamad Airport, where I was able to use the dedicated business class check-in counters. Hamad Airport is airy and spacious, and the check-in area was one of the largest and sparsest I can recall using.
Everyone knows about the fun – and slightly terrifying – Lamp Bear at Hamad. He’s still there, albeit with a few cracks on show now!
The Al-Mourjan lounge at Hamad Airport is enormous and impressive. It’s over one and a half floors and features a reflective pool as a centerpiece:
The lounge is superbly appointed, although it is enormous, and I couldn’t help but feel how impersonal the room felt.
My favorite area was the refectory, which serves a decent breakfast and good coffee, which was very welcome as I was here at 5 am!
Be warned that some gates at Hamad are set up for an additional security check; destinations to the US, Australia, UK, and some others will attract enhanced screening for all passengers, so be there punctually!
Our gorgeous A350-1000 was hiding behind the airbridge, so just the nose was visible as we boarded. Qatar uses this aircraft on its longest route. Incidentally, the rationale behind the somewhat quirky Canberra route can be found here.
The Q-Suite is impressive – it’s one of the most reviewed business classes worldwide and justifiably so. It’s a masterpiece of great design and use of space. I was in 4B, a forward-facing seat. Rear-facing seats have the position closer to the window, but at the expense of a little seat-side storage.
Qatar’s Q-suite is very versatile. These “honeymoon seats” face another pair of seats, and, thanks to the magic of lowering partitions, a conference table of four people can be made – ideal for families or business groups.
The choice and quality of finishes on these seats, which were designed by London-based company PriestmanGoode, are world-class.
I tried the Qatar signature drink – a lemon/lime and mint non-alcoholic cocktail, before departure. It’s not really my sort of thing, I’m afraid, but if you like minty drinks I’m sure you’ll find it excellent!
Departure was punctual, just before 8 am local time.
This flight traverses multiple timezones very quickly indeed, so the meal service was breakfast – dinner – breakfast all before arriving in Sydney. There is no meal on the very short Canberra leg. Qatar offers dine on-demand, so you can – if you prefer – skip the service flow and eat whatever you like whenever you like.
This was my first time heading to Australia, believe it or not, so I had a glass of champagne to celebrate!
Qatar’s catering is splendid, and the breakfast was delicious. I opted for the muesli and waffles with creme Anglaise shortly after departure.
The amenity kit was by Bric’s, and the contents were identical to the previous leg, which I also reviewed.
The seat design onboard the A350-1000 is, as I’ve said, world-class. There are individual air vents:
…a do not disturb button:
…HD quality remote control for the IFE:
…copious storage options including this large chest-type area by the seat which I could store all my cameras inside:
…more discreet storage for newspapers etc.:
…and of course a closing door, the big selling point of the suite. This is a substantial piece of kit which stays in place and which provides excellent privacy, unlike the token effort BA launched on their A350 recently:
Qatar proactively offers pajamas on this very long flight, and, while basic, they fit me reasonably well.
The best thing about bed mode in the Q-suite is the padded lid for the storage area. Not only can this be sat on, but your elbows will fit nicely here if you’re a side sleeper like me.
After a few hours’ nap, I had dinner, which started with a lamb amuse-bouche:
Yet another starter dish – prawns and scallops (excellent!):
A forgettable, slightly fatty beef main course:
…and finally, an exquisite lemon and cream sponge, wonderfully tart. Overall, a very solid meal, only let down by a weak beef dish.
Qatar’s Oryx One entertainment system is also world-class. In full HD, and with an enormous amount of choice, there is no excuse for being bored on this 16-hour odyssey to Canberra.
After another sleep, it was time for a second breakfast. This time, I went for fruit and the porridge oats.
Once again, the catering was of a high standard. I’d come into this flight knowing how hyped the Q-Suite product is, and looking to be something of a contrarian – but the reality is, it’s just a superb product. All of the good reviews I’ve read and watched before this experience now seem justifiably effusive in their praise.
The bush fires of late 2019 seem a long way away now, but they were in full swing at the time of taking this trip. Sydney was covered in smoke, and it stank, even inside the terminal. I was shocked at just how bad it was – we flew over multiple bushfire sites on approach.
If you’re saying on to Canberra, you need to exit the aircraft in Sydney, clear a short security check and wait again at the same gate. The wait for me was less than an hour, so barely enough time to get to a lounge and enjoy it properly, although you might want to get a coffee. It’s an efficient process and the loads to Canberra are very low, so boarding is done very quickly.
Amazingly, the aircraft is thoroughly cleaned for the 40-minute hop south to Canberra, and new pillows are placed out, too. No new passengers board in Sydney – the airline doesn’t have the right to carry domestic Australian passengers – so this seems excessive, even if it makes for a pleasant experience!
In summary, Qatar’s Q Suite is the best business class seat I’ve flown, and the service, food, and ambiance all contribute to a memorable experience. The only minor downsides were a slightly weak ground experience in Doha, with a busy and impersonal lounge along with an enhanced security check, and a single underperforming dish out of nine. I join the ranks of reviewers lauding Qatar for this incredible product and would certainly fly it again!