During the holiday period, I had the opportunity to fly with Qatar airways from Warsaw to Phuket via Doha. The second leg was operated by a Boeing 787, despite traditionally being served by the A350. Such deviation from the standard schedule was great news for me, as I finally got the chance to fly onboard the 787 Dreamliner. The aircraft type itself made me quite excited for the trip, however, the free upgrade to business class took the experience to a whole new level.
Boarding was a kind surprise
After arriving from Warsaw I had a few spare hours that I have spent on strolling around the terminal and taking photos (the modern architecture of Doha Hamad International is very photogenic). Around an hour and a half before departure, I arrived at gate E20 and awaited boarding. It started punctually at 06:55. During online check-in, I chose a seat 22K and was set to board as zone two. Once the boarding of my zone had started I promptly walked towards the gate, excited about my first ever flight onboard the Dreamliner.
After passing my boarding card to the personnel at the gate, I got slightly worried, as the employee froze after seeing some information at the screen. She then looked up at me and I have heard the magical, “Mr. Karol, you have been upgraded to business class”. The opportunity to spend a 7-hour flight in a Qatar Airways business class seat had made my day. Seeing a new boarding card being printed out with “Business Class seat 5K” on it felt even better.
I happily jogged to the bus, and shortly after was greeted as the first passenger on board the five year old A7-BCZ Boeing 787. As a welcome drink I selected fresh orange juice, followed later by a glass of champagne.
The onboard experience
Warm greetings and the extreme kindness and professionalism of the staff made everyone feel very welcome on board. Even though the service remains at a high level in economy class, in business class it goes even higher.
Qatar Airways offers dining on demand in business class, meaning that whenever a passenger wishes to eat, they can ask for the preselected meal. I decided to eat breakfast first and order a main meal later on, a few hours after take-off.
For starters, I took a platter of seasonal fruit and for breakfast, a cheese omelet accompanied by a selection of bakery items.
Enjoying the flight in a flat-lie seat instead of a standard economy one was a pleasure. It made the flight seem much shorter than it actually was. I managed to get around two hours of good quality sleep during the flight, despite ongoing light turbulences.
Overall, it’s difficult to highlight any negatives of the trip, mainly as an upgrade to a higher class has made it so memorable. However, if I were to find some, I would have to say that the beef steak with cheddar and onion chutney was quite heavy. Also, my seat had no easily reachable window. But, oh well, with all the upsides of the business class, I couldn’t really complain.
Why did I get upgraded?
It seems like there are a few reasons for me getting lucky with the upgrade. The key reason was the technical overbooking caused by the Dreamliner flying instead of the A350. Less capacity seemed to create issues, especially in economy.
Qatar Airways’ B787 capacity is of C22 Y232, whereas the A350’s capacity is flightly greater with C36 Y247 seats. The difference of 15 seats was enough to force the airline to seek solutions in order to minimize the number of passengers denied boarding.
The other crucial aspect was me being a member of the Q-miles program. According to the flight attendants, it greatly increases your chances of a free upgrade.
Finally, as I was flying alone, it was easier to change my reservation and realocate my seat. Possibly freeing one window seat in economy has allowed a family to sit together, which before was impossible. On top of that, I was one of the first to arrive at the gate once the boarding process had started.
Overall, it was a great surprise and an experience that will remain in my memory for quite some time.