Qatar Airways sometimes has very attractive business class lie-flat fares from Europe to Southeast Asia, India and Sri Lanka. I recently took advantage of a sub $750 business class fare from Europe to Sri Lanka. Here’s my review of that flight.
While travel during the coronavirus 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 ‘error fare’ territory.
Arrival and check-in
Prague airport is a decidedly regional affair that has lately seen some surprising growth. The terminal is clearly at capacity at peak times, and can be somewhat hectic and crowded.
I had arrived a little early for my flight and escaped the crowd by crossing the street and dropping by the Regus office and the Courtyard by Marriott. Both offer a lot of room for a few hours of quiet work.
Once the time for check-in came by (three hours before departure) the lines were surprisingly long. My business class check-in agent wasn’t the chatty sort, but I had my boarding passes in under 1 minute. Sometimes, you just can’t have it all…
Prague Airport does security at the gate so you only go through an (automated) immigration check and you can access the inner workings of the airport. It took less than a minute. Amazing!
Qatar uses the Menzies Aviation Lounge at Prague airport. It also participates in the Priority Pass program. There are some basic snacks and drinks. Early in the afternoon, the lounge was filled to capacity.
The boarding gate was big and the crowds were not as menacing as I initially thought. Security was quick and boarding rather chaotic with everyone just storming at the plane when boarding was announced.
Onboard the A350
The Qatar Airways A350 business class cabin is still a masterpiece in design for any passenger. It’s a great compromise between using the available space and still having some privacy. It is not a QSuite, but it is good. The seat is wider than in other Qatar business class configurations (i.e. the A330).
Business class was almost 100% full and economy was about 75%. Unfortunately, there was a rather large group of passengers traveling together next to me. It was quite obviously their first time in a premium cabin and they ‘celebrated’ the majority of the flight by drinking and shouting in between their seats (the A350 is a lovely quiet aircraft, so no need to shout). I understand it is hard for the cabin crew to control crowds, but I felt it spoilt the experience for me somewhat.
Entertainment and refreshments
After take-off into a dreary and dark sunset, we settled into our cruising altitude quickly. There are a ton of entertainment options on the Oryx One system that comes standard with all Qatar Airways operated flights. The safety video announces it as 4,000!
Dinner service started promptly. I asked nicely if I could do a little wine tasting, as there were six wines on offer plus champagnes and dessert wines. The flight attendants obliged and I liked the wines a lot.
I thought both appetizers and the main course of chicken biryani were outstanding. Really, this was some of the best airline catering I have ever had. Plus, it was presented perfectly.
I skipped the dessert and decided to get some sleep with my rowdy seat neighbors calming down a bit. The seats recline into a fully-flat position and make sleeping a breeze. They are wide enough and long enough to sleep in almost any position naturally.
There are no mattress pads or pajamas on these flights (Europe to the Middle East is usually under six hours). Irrespective of that, I slept very well and could have slept another 12 hours; that’s how much I liked the seat (or bed).
In my opinion, this was Qatar Airways at its best. The ground experience in Prague certainly could be improved. The airplane provided, the seat configuration, the extremely courteous staff, and the outstanding catering make this a flight I’d do any day – just because. Bravo Qatar Airways!
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