Three years ago, my best flight of 2019 was with my favourite airline: Qatar Airways. In 2020, like most people, I ventured not far from home and in 2021 I only travelled within Thailand. Last year, saw me carefully resuming international travel. Of the 68 flights I had through 2022, the best flight of 2022 was again with Qatar Airways.
One of my hobbies is trawling the net for the best flight deals I can find. Sometimes I pinch myself at my successes! I picked up a very affordable Cathay Pacific flight from Doha to Bangkok via Hong Kong. The first segment was a code share with Qatar. It was a longer way around but a much cheaper and more comfortable option than the direct Doha-Bangok flight! It also earned me more points and status credits for my Qantas Frequent Flyer balance.
Best of all, a few days before travel, Qatar Airways switched aircraft, placing an Airbus 350 equipped with their latest business class iteration: the QSuite. This switch was to my advantage but there are many customers who complain about Qatar’s all too common last minute aircraft chanes. These passengers think they have booked a Qsuite and sometimes find themselves in inferior configurations. There have even been passengers who find that their window seat has been changed to a middle seat. I suggest being vigilant and checking the seat map at Qatarairways.com
As my previous Qatar Airways flights have been connecting flights through Doha Airport, I had never actually checked in here before.
Qatar has a dedicated Premium section accessible directly from Entry Gate 1. I was seen to immediately by a warm check-in team. There was some concern that I may not be able to transit Hong Kong. I was carrying a copy of the latest information which they double-checked, and it was “all smiles” again. The rules keep changing so fast. I try to check carefully before airport arrival!
It was straight from dedicated check-in to a dedicated security lane, entered by scanning one’s boarding pass. The gate stubbornly refused to accept my Boarding Pass, despite my persisting in swiping it fast and slowly at differing angles. I was then rescued by a Qatar official, who also failed to get the gate to open. His solution was to try the next gate (why did I not think of that?).
I found myself back at the enormous Al Mourjan Busin=ess Lounge at Doha. I have still not warmed to this Lounge. I find the space way too cavernous, and I have not found a section of the lounge that feels like “home”. As it was very late at night and I had already had dinner, I opted for a snack in the a la carte restaurant, choosing a delicious toasted sandwich and iced coffee. Service in the restaurant was, surprisingly, a little haphazard. My iced coffee came twice, and the waiter seemed really confused the second time. I was fascinated that the waiters brought a full meal for the table next to me when the person had already departed for their flight. What a waste. Even when I told them that he had gone, they still insisted on adding more plates of food, which sat there for about thirty minutes before being removed.
Boarding was on time and very relaxed and stress-free. I was welcomed warmly at the door. What seemed like seconds after I had sat, a staff member came to take my drink order, settle me in, familiarise me with the Q suite and take a photo for me!
The cabin crew provided excellent service throughout the whole flight. They do work hard.
This was my first ever QSuites Business Class experience. The Qsuite was launched by Qatar Airways in 2017 on the Doha to London Heathrow route and was later expanded to other routes across the globe. Since its launch, it has received numerous awards and recognition from various industry bodies including from Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards, the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, and the Business Traveller Awards.
The Cabin interior was beautifully designed in the Qatar Airways signature colours of burgundy and grey, enhanced with rose gold detailing. It does look stunning.
Notice the direction I am facing? I sat backwards for the flight. I have done this on only two other occasions. Southwest had a 737 model that had reverse seats in the emergency exit. The check-in agent pointed out that cabin load was low and wondered if I wanted to switch to a forward facing suite. I was curious to try the experience. Apart from an odd sensation at take off, I didn’t find the experience uncomfortable. Would you like it?
The main feature of the Q suite is its complete privacy, with a sliding door that can be closed to seal one’s self off from the rest of the world. In addition, Qsuite has a “Do Not Disturb” sign that lights up. I do miss the “olden days” of striking up conversation with complete strangers, at times!
In the middle of the cabin is “The Quad” which a family near me was fully enjoying. Movable panels allow four people to be together in their own space, sealed off from the rest of the cabin. They were able to face each other and share conversation and a meal.
The seat was very comfortable and the fully lie-flat bed came with a lovely quilt and pillow. I was disappointed to discover that the quilted mattress had not been loaded along with the Diptyque branded amenity kits! There were lovely pyjamas with the World Cup logo emblazoned on them, however. Be warned. I put the purple/pink and white coloured sleepwear into my wash and the dye ran through my clothes!
Each suite has a 21.5″ personal entertainment screen which can be used to access featuring 4000 movies, TV shows, and music. There is also a spacious work desk. The media panel also has an all-access power port, with USB, HDMI and NFC capabilities. I didn’t use the provided noise-cancelling headphones, as I have my own. I didn’t use the slow Wi-Fi.
Despite all these features, my focus was on rest and I slept very soundly for most of the flight.
Qatar offers fabulous food in Business Class but as I was tired, and I had already eaten in the lounge, I eschewed the first meal.
For breakfast, I ordered a delicious oatmeal porridge served with berries. I asked for and got a lovely iced coffee and a breakfast smoothie. I could have had more food but as I had the Cathay lounge ahead and another two airline meals, I demurred.
We smoothly descended into Hong Kong International Airport, with some superb views of the city below us.
De-planing was fast- I was one of the first off the plane. I was certainly first into the transit area, through the security check and into a very empty airport and onto the Cathay Lounge for a meal and a shower.
My rating is: 94%
Incredible service and Incredible comfort with a few glitches like the Lounge service, lack of mattress, amenity kits and non dye fast pyjamas ! They were still my best flight experience in 2022 narrowly pipping my two Eva Air Business Class flights!
- Booking: 10/10
- Check-in: 10/10
- Boarding: 10/10
- Meals: 10/10
- Entertainment: 10/10
- Service: 9/10
Would I fly them again? I have already booked four flights in 2023! Let’s hope the mattresses are loaded, and they don’t change the aircraft at the last second.
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