While travel during the current outbreak is a concern, if you do choose to go you often get spoiled by empty airports and airplanes. Also, keep in mind that the recent dramatic changes in demand have provided a huge amount of attractive fares – some often in ‘Mistake Fare’ territory.
After my excellent experiences with Qatar Airways recently I was more than excited to try out its newest Qsuite product that is now installed on all of its Boeing 777-300ER planes (and some A359s).
I left the excellent Al Mourjan Business Lounge on-time and discovered that my flight would board almost right outside – at Gate C6. In the past, the security checks for flights to the US could be overwhelming and lengthy. My boarding pass showed TSA Precheck proudly, so I was hoping for a quick turnaround.
TSA Precheck seemed to be ignored completely but the security questions and additional checking were quick and painless. The gate seating area was full to the last seat, however, and there was just standing room left.
Boarding was fairly orderly, however business class passengers ended up boarding amid a rather large crowd of economy passengers who decided it was time to storm the rather hapless agent (our boarding passes were all canned earlier anyways).
I initially was seated in 10K – a suite in the middle of the plane that was just a row away from some very angry babies in economy behind me. As the suites filled up, I was able to move to 2J – a window suite with much better natural light.
Note that the Qsuites alternate between forward and backward-facing and your foot cubby forms the table for your seat neighbor on the other side of the divider.
I was fairly impressed at first glance with the suite. However, it seemed not as intuitive and functional as I had hoped. It took me a while to find my bearings and shoot some good video and take photos.
The cabin crew seemed enormously friendly and well versed (just as it usually is with Qatar Airways’ crew). I felt right at home and settled into my suite a bit better.
There is a great amount of storage (i.e. for backpack) right next to the seat so that you will have it available at all times. There is a huge LCD screen just in front of you plus the table that is the foot cubby for the person facing the other way.
It dawned on me how much privacy these suites really offer. In fact, just after takeoff, I forgot completely that there were other passengers in business class!
I changed into the provided pajamas right away and found them to be high quality and very comfortable.
Our take-off was smooth and gradual – just as you’d expect from a B777 loaded to the brim with fuel (and not as crazy as my recent B777 on SWISS).
Flight attendants came out with warm nuts and welcome drinks just a few minutes later and I was able to order some breakfast as well.
Food and drink
Qatar business class follows a ‘made-to-order’ concept, so you can order any item at any time – which is a great luxury!
I’m a big fan of the Arabic breakfast (and especially Ful Medames). It was excellent, and I found the espresso to be quite good as well. This flight was off to a good start!
Qatar Airways has invested in new Wifi that comes with a speed of 10Mb or more during flight. It is free for one hour and just $26.95 for the whole flight. I was sold and indeed the WiFi worked pretty fast (much better than the old version) with speeds around 2Mb for me.
Our route was straight north first and we turned west later over Russia and Norway before heading out over Greenland and Canada.
Most of the flight it was VERY clear and there was just minimal turbulence for around an hour – quite amazing.
After a few hours, I felt hungry again and ordered some more of the delicious items off the big menu. There is no need to preselect at takeoff what you like – Qatar Airways allows you to change your mind at any time.
Lunch was equally excellent and I decided to try out the entertainment system as well. The Oryx entertainment system comes with more movies and TV shows that you can ever watch. The provided noise-canceling headphones worked exceedingly well too.
Sleep and amenities
Qatar Airways uses mattress pads on this flight and your seat becomes a fully flat bed. I was too tired to ask (and frankly forgot about it). The seat itself is similar to the A359 business class seat, but you have so much space above and to the left and right of it – it feels just like a Singapore Airlines first class suite on the B777. It’s massively big and feels just so comfy.
Indeed after just a few minutes I was sound asleep and only woke up eight hours later. At the time, we had made our way well into Canada. And of course, I was excited to try some more dishes from my ‘flying restaurant’!
The dinner items were equally exceptional with the fresh berries easily taking the crown of some of the freshest berries I have ever seen.
After just a few more hours it was time to get ready for landing. I could not believe we were so close. I wanted to stay at least another 16 hours in my suite!
Overall, this flight was exceptional and likely beats most first class experiences (I’ve flown the majority of international first class cabins over time). The crew were knowledgable and superbly friendly. The suite was spacious and equipped with tons of the latest gadgets. The catering was exceptional and allowed me to eat exactly what I wanted. The WiFi was super fast and worked for most of the flight. The flight seemed to be executed by seasoned professionals and we arrived early into Los Angeles.
It was so good I can’t really say what Qatar could have done better – in fact, I had hoped that the plane would have gone slower so I could have gotten more of the excellent onboard service. Bravo Qatar Airways, you have cracked the code and all but derve to be the ‘Worlds Best Business Class!