Flight: QR970, Doha to Ho Chi Minh (13 January 2018)
Loyalty Scheme: Qatar Airways Privilege Club (a partner of the Oneworld program)
Frequency: 10 flights weekly
Duration: STD: 2:00am (+03) – ATD: 1:56am (+03) Early 4mins; STA: 1:30pm (+07) – ATA: 1:43am (+07) Delayed 13mins
Qatar operate a number of A330 aircraft (200 and 300 series). The aircraft predominately operates on flights from Doha to smaller European cities, the Middle East, India/ Sri Lanka and Asia. There are a number of configurations of the aircraft including a three class configuration (First, Business and Economy). This particular flight was operated in a two class configuration of 30 full flat business class seats and 275 standard economy seats. The seats on this particular plane are the B/E Aerospace Diamond seat which face slightly towards the left or right depending on the side of the aircraft you are seated in.
Doha Airport is a lavishly designed and decadent airport. A fairly modern airport, it works well as a large transit hub (pretty important as Doha plays a part of the well-oiled Qatar Airways cog connecting various cities through the one hub). Exiting my previous flight it was a short walk to transit security and through the priority lane for First and Business Class passengers. Once through you go down into the central atrium area (where the large but certainly not soft teddy bear awaits you).
For those travelling in Business, the lounge provided is the Al Mourjan lounge. Located a few floors up, the lounge is spacious and modern. Midnight/early morning is the busiest time for Doha Airport. My objective was to relax with a hot shower and upon entering the lounge I made this a priority. There was a 15 minute wait for a shower before I was allocated one. By the time I got round to showering it was time to board. I sadly didn’t have time to eat or drink in the lounge.
A point worth nothing is that Doha is a silent airport and no announcements are made for flights. There is also no separate wifi network for lounge guests and at peak times this can be quite slow.
Business 1A. I was initially seated 2A but after a previous flight I knew it would be more comfortable in 1A as the foot well in the bulkhead seats are much wider than those found in other rows. No one was seated in row 1 (which seems to occur quite frequently on Qatar), so moved to row 1 shortly after take off. Other passengers seated in row 2 also had the same idea and followed suit.
The space in the foot well in row 1 certainly makes a big difference. Whilst not particularly uncomfortable it could feel slightly claustrophobic for some people.
Similar to my flight from Paris to Doha on the A380, I was greeted by the Cabin Manager on this flight who introduced herself . The flight attendant working my aisle came by with my ordered drink (the lemon and mint signature mocktail) and a cold towel (my choice between hot and cold). She also issued menus and followed up with pyjamas. Some flights have the newer ‘The White Company’ pyjamas but this flight had the older standard Qatar Airways grandfather collar version. As usual, a well-padded pillow, thick quilt, amenity kit, noise cancelling headphones and Evian still water were waiting at my seat.
Very similar to the A380, the inflight entertainment is brought to you via the Oryx One system on a large HD screen which can either be controlled directly on the screen or on the hand held remote. Content was again broad with a diverse mix of movies, TV, music and games. No cameras are available on the A330.
No wifi on board. Power ports and USB charging ports were available at each seat to charge your devices.
The Bread and Butter (food and drink)
Qatar Airways offers a dine on demand service in Business Class. Menus are delivered and orders taken prior to take off (depending on the aircraft and how much time flight attendants (FA) are on board). In most cases passengers still end up ordering food shortly after take-off and prior to landing. The option to dine whenever you please is certainly welcome.
I again chose to eat quickly as possible after take off and requested a meal 80 minutes prior to landing (assuming I’d be woken up around that time). Frustratingly this was not the case and I was again woken from my deep sleep around an hour and 45 minutes prior to landing.
For the meal shortly after take off, I had the Laksa soup which was tasty and not too spicy (even for someone such as myself who’s quite sensitive to heat). That was followed by a bean, asparagus, orange and blueberry salad with glazed chicken breast. The chicken was a tad dry but overall a satisfying light meal.
Before landing I went with the smoked salmon and followed it up with a traditional Arabic breakfast (feta, olives, cucumber and tomato with breads and marinated chickpeas). The meal was accompanied by a side of pastries which were a tad dried out.
Qatar’s A330 is a comfortable plane to be on for medium haul routes. That said it is significantly less comfortable than Business class seats found on other wide body aircraft in the Qatar fleet. I can safely say this is my least favourite medium/long-haul Qatar Business Class seat.
I still managed to get a decent sleep and the food was top notch. The inclusion of pyjamas on this early morning departure really made the experience more enjoyable despite the somewhat narrower seat. Having the seat next to mine free was a bonus. A solid product overall.
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.