Flight: QR40, Paris CDG to Doha (12 January 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: Qatar Airways Privilege Club (a partner of the Oneworld program)
Frequency: Three flights daily
Duration: STD: 3:00pm (CET) – ATD: 3:53pm (CET) Delayed 53mins; STA: 11:30pm (+03) ATA: 12:09am (+03) Delayed 39mins
Qatar Airways’ A380 is the only aircraft in their fleet that has First Class. Until recently it was the pinnacle of the Qatar fleet but has since been superseded by the introduction of their new Business Class seat, the Q Suite. Introduced just three years ago, the Qatar A380 is still a relatively new aircraft and has one of the densest configurations out there for an operating A380. Seating is split between First (8 suites), Business (48 reverse herringbone fully flat beds) and Economy (461 seats).
Prior to boarding my flight, I spent a few hours in the Qatar Paris Premium Lounge. The lounge itself was well appointed and comfortable with a dedicated dining areas and attentive staff eager to ensure I was well fed, well-watered and comfortable. I took advantage of the shower rooms as it was an early morning flying in from Heathrow. I was pleased to find not only was there a rain shower but also four side jets. Water pressure could have been higher, however it was still a nice shower.
Upon boarding a staff member approached each passenger individually to notify us that boarding commenced. As CDG Terminal 1 has security at each satellite gate area, I passed through security once I reached the satellite after leaving the lounge. Boarding had not yet commenced and there was a 10 minute wait before boarding was called for those needing special assistance, shortly followed by those seated in First, Business and with elite status.
After boarding we left the gate at the scheduled time, however sat on the tarmac for some time before the captain announced that we had a small technical issue which needed to be written up, meaning we were towed back into the gate. After about 40 minutes we pushed back once again. Whilst delayed flight attendants made an effort to speak to each passenger and reassure those of us (most) who had onward connections at DOH.
Business Class, 10A. I was soon greeted by the flight attendant working my aisle and offered a welcome drink (I chose the delicious lemon and mint signature drink) and the choice between hot or cold towels. My seat was equipped with a thick blanket, pillow, amenity kit, headphones and a bottle of Evian still water. While not as private as the reverse herringbone seats found on other carriers like Cathay Pacific, facing towards the window meant I didn’t feel particularly exposed.
Reverse herringbone is my favourite seat when travelling solo as it gives you plenty of personal space and in my opinion isn’t as claustrophobic as staggered seats found on carriers such as Etihad and Emirates on their A380s.
When fully flat, the seat converts into a long comfortable bed with decent room around the knees. As this was a daytime flight no pyjamas were offered and no mattress pads available for the seat like offered on my previous flight in the Q Suite. I generally sleep quite well on planes anyway and managed to fall into a deep sleep for four hours before I was woken by staff for my pre-landing meal.
Inflight entertainment is brought to you via the Oryx One system on a 17” HD screen which can either be controlled directly on the screen or on the hand held remote. Content was broad, with a good mixture of movies, TV, music and games. A few ads play prior to movies beginning, but these can be fast forward. The plane also features a nose, tail and belly cam but disappointingly not in HD with the telecast coming across somewhat grainy. Still, it’s a great feature for plane geeks like me who like watching the plane take off and land from the tail cam.
I didn’t spend time in the on-board lounge on this occasion but there is a bar and seating area available to first and business class passengers to whittle away the hours in.
The Bread and Butter (food and drink)
Qatar Airways offers a dine on demand service when it comes to food and drinks in Business Class. Menus are delivered and orders taken prior to take off (depending on the aircraft and how much time flight attendants (FA) have before take off). In most cases passengers still end up ordering food shortly after take-off and prior to landing, but the option to dine on demand is certainly welcome.
I chose to eat quickly as possible after take-off and requested a pre-landing meal about 90 minutes prior to landing. As I have come to find on Qatar, the FAs generally wake you 20-30 minutes prior to your requested pre-landing meal time, which is annoying if you want to maximise rest time.
For the meal after take-off I coupled it with the Lanson Rose Champagne, which was served with a bowl of mixed nuts. Shortly after my table was set with a bread basket and an amuse bouche of curried chicken pieces and sour cream. I hadn’t originally ordered it but was served a pumpkin soup which was delicious and was glad they had made the error! Following the soup I enjoyed some hot savoury pastries as well as a falafel wrap with tahini. Both were tasty.
Close to landing I ordered the Tofu in panko breadcrumbs with curry sauce. It was followed by the delicate chocolate crunch. The tofu was quite tasty and exactly what I wanted – something filling but not heavy. The chocolate crunch also impressed with the chocolate delicious and beautifully presented.
Qatar’s A380 business class offers one of the best products out there, both in terms of hard product and on board dining. Service is well intentioned but sometimes feels a tad impersonal. The seat itself is comfortable and beautifully designed. It is a shame that Qatar cheapens out on flights not strictly overnight by not providing pyjamas or mattress pads. These little extras would have taken it to the next level. Overall a very pleasant way to spend time in the air.
About the writer
I’m a well travelled 30 something who blames it all on his father (though really, I’ve taken it to the next level). Travelling from a young age and continuing to do so independently from the end of high school, I am happy to step on a plane headed anywhere. Indeed my colleagues at work don’t ask me if I’m going away in holidays, but where I’ll be headed. They don’t even bat an eyelid when I pop down to Melbourne for the weeknight just to see some show that takes my fancy.
All of my travel is self funded. Through a mixture of great fares and frequent flyer points I’ve developed a penchant for sitting at the front of the plane. However let’s be honest; I’ll just about sit anywhere if it means I get to fly somewhere.