First Look At Qatar Airways A380!

As I hinted at a bit over a week ago, last Friday I flew from Doha to London Heathrow on the Qatar Airways A380 inaugural flight. Out of the millions of miles I’ve flown, I don’t think I’ve ever chased a flight as much as this one. That’s because Qatar Airways had a roughly four month delay in taking delivery of the plane, thanks to His Excellency’s extreme attention to detail.

That only added to my anticipation, especially as I considered that The Chief might even make an appearance aboard, given how proud he was of his new baby.

To say that I couldn’t sleep the night before the flight (despite being exhausted as heck and severely sleep deprived) would be an understatement.

Qatar-Airways-A380-01
Qatar Airways A380

On Friday I shared 15 pictures and five facts about the Qatar Airways A380, so figured I’d expand on that today and share some more information about the flight.

Qatar Airways A380 first class cabin

Qatar’s first class cabin is located at the top of the upper deck, and is gorgeous. It features a total of eight seats, spread across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.

It’s not the most private product in the world — unlike Emirates and Etihad, they don’t have fully enclosed suites in first class. That being said, it almost works to their advantage, as the cabin feels so spacious and stylish thanks to how open it is.

It’s worth noting that Qatar plans to fly their A380s primarily between Doha and London/Paris, so for the most part the A380s won’t be used for ultra longhaul flying (where enclosed suites are more useful).

It’s no secret that Qatar’s CEO has a frightening level of attention to detail when it comes to everything, and that’s very much reflected in the cabin and finishes. The cabin really feels like it was designed in a way where no expense was spared.

Qatar-Airways-A380-02
Qatar Airways A380 first class cabin

Qatar-Airways-A380-03
Qatar Airways A380 first class cabin

Qatar-Airways-A380-04
Qatar Airways A380 first class cabin

I selected seat 2A, which I was happy with, as it gave me a nice overview of the cabin.

Qatar-Airways-A380-05
Qatar Airways A380 first class seat

The bed was extremely spacious. It did lack privacy somewhat, though there’s a “shield” you can raise along the side of the seat for added privacy.

Qatar-Airways-A380-06
Qatar Airways A380 first class bed

Qatar-Airways-A380-07
Qatar Airways A380 first class privacy screen

Each seat also has a fairly large closet, perfect for hanging clothes or storing a small laptop bag.

Qatar-Airways-A380-08
Qatar Airways A380 first class closet

To the left of the seat was a compartment with a bottled water holder and entertainment controls.

Qatar-Airways-A380-09
Qatar Airways A380 first class entertainment controls

Meanwhile to the right of the seat were the seat controls and headphones.

Qatar-Airways-A380-10
Qatar Airways A380 first class seat controls

Qatar-Airways-A380-11
Qatar Airways A380 first class seat controls

Qatar Airways A380 first class bathrooms & bar

In front of the first class cabin are two huge bathrooms. There aren’t showers like on Emirates, though the bathrooms are large and beautifully designed. They reminded me a bit of what Lufthansa offers on their A380s.

Qatar-Airways-A380-12
Qatar Airways A380 first class lavatory

Qatar-Airways-A380-13
Qatar Airways A380 first class lavatory

One cool aspect of the bathroom was that the faucets had sheets of water rather than a stream, which I’ve never before seen on a plane.

Qatar-Airways-A380-14
Qatar Airways A380 first class lavatory

While the bigger bar is behind business class, there are two small display areas at the front of the upper deck right near the bathrooms. They had drinks and snacks, including nuts and chips.

Qatar-Airways-A380-15
Qatar Airways A380 first class bar

Qatar Airways A380 first class amenities

For a six hour flight they sure as hell went all out on the amenities.

For one, Qatar Airways offers A380 first class passengers complimentary wifi, which is pretty awesome. You’re given an access code and then can access unlimited data for the entirety of the flight for free.

Qatar-Airways-A380-16
Qatar Airways A380 complimentary wifi

One other cool thing is that unlike on the 787s, you can actually purchase reasonably priced wifi plans without data limits.

Then in terms of the amenity kit, there was a lovely Giorgio Armani amenity kit, which is limited edition and exclusively available on the A380s. It’s one of the nicest amenity kits I’ve received on any airline.

Qatar-Airways-A380-17
Qatar Airways A380 first class amenity kit

Then there were pajamas, which were a bit on the big side but decent quality.

Qatar-Airways-A380-18
Qatar Airways A380 first class pajamas

Lastly, there were Missoni slippers — while they were on the small side, they were the most comfortable airline slippers I’ve ever received.

Qatar-Airways-A380-19
Qatar Airways A380 first class slippers

Qatar Airways A380 business class cabin

Qatar Airways has a fairly small business class cabin on the A380. There are a total of 48 seats spread across 12 rows. It is one single big cabin, so it doesn’t feel especially private. That being said, it features the same reverse herringbone seats available on their 787s, which is my favorite business class hard product.

Qatar-Airways-A380-20
Qatar Airways A380 business class cabin

Qatar-Airways-A380-21
Qatar Airways A380 business class cabin

Qatar-Airways-A380-22
Qatar Airways A380 business class seat

I’d argue this is the best business class hard product of any A380 flying so far. Qatar Airways is the only airline to have reverse herringbone seats in business class on the A380.

Qatar Airways A380 business class bar

Hands down the highlight of the Qatar Airways A380 is the onboard bar, located on the upper deck behind the business class cabin and in front of the economy cabin. The two other airlines with impressive A380 onboard bars are Emirates and Korean Air, though I’d say Qatar’s is the nicest by a long shot.

Not only is the bar itself beautiful, but it has a large couch on each side of it.

Qatar-Airways-A380-23
Qatar Airways A380 onboard bar

Qatar-Airways-A380-24
Qatar Airways A380 onboard bar seating

The bar has a really impressive liquor and wine selection, in addition to an extensive cocktail menu.

Qatar-Airways-A380-25
Qatar Airways A380 onboard bar

Most impressive is that they serve Krug at the business class bar.

Qatar-Airways-A380-27
Qatar Airways A380 onboard bar champagne selection

That’s right.

Krug.

In business class.

Krug is just about my favorite champagne out there, so I’m thrilled when I get it in first class. But to get it in business class? WOW!

Interestingly it’s not the standard champagne in business class, yet it’s still available at the bar if you ask for it. Why do they offer it, you ask? Because the bar is shared between business and first class, and the idea is that they don’t want the alcohol selection to be a downgrade for first class passengers.

Given how much time I spent at the onboard bar and that they serve Krug, I probably wouldn’t even go out of my way to fly first class over business class on this flight next time.

Qatar-Airways-A380-26
Qatar Airways A380 onboard bar champagne selection

In addition to an amazing drink selection, they also have a nice food selection at the bar. There are several bar snacks in addition to canapes, muffins, cookies, etc.

Qatar-Airways-A380-28
Qatar Airways A380 onboard bar canapes

Since it was the inaugural flight, they also had a special A380 cake made by Fauchon.

Qatar-Airways-A380-29
Qatar Airways A380 onboard bar cake

Qatar Airways A380 first class food

Qatar Airways has an “on demand” dining concept. Since the flight left Doha at 8AM and landed in London at 2PM, a majority of the options were breakfast items, though they also had a decent number of lunch options.

Before takeoff I had a glass (or four) of Krug, which was accompanied by warm mixed nuts and a hot towel.

Qatar-Airways-A380-30
Qatar Airways first class pre-departure Krug

Then the flight attendants offered Arabic coffee and dates.

Qatar-Airways-A380-31
Qatar Airways first class pre-departure Arabic coffee

Qatar-Airways-A380-32
Qatar Airways first class menu

After takeoff I had breakfast, starting with a gravlax salmon starter.

Qatar-Airways-A380-33
Qatar Airways first class breakfast — salmon gravlax starter

Then I had some greek yogurt.

Qatar-Airways-A380-34
Qatar Airways first class breakfast — greek yogurt with honey

And then a traditional Arabic breakfast as my main course.

Qatar-Airways-A380-35
Qatar Airways first class breakfast — traditional Arabic breakfast

Then prior to landing I had the Arabic mezze to start.

Qatar-Airways-A380-37
Qatar Airways first class lunch — Arabic mezze

And then I had a ribeye steak sandwich.

Qatar-Airways-A380-36
Qatar Airways first class lunch — grilled ribeye steak sandwich

The food all tasted very good. Ultimately it wasn’t all that “first class,” but then again this was a breakfast flight, and it’s difficult to truly differentiate the first class meal service too much when you’re on a six hour daytime flight (not that I’d object to caviar for breakfast!).

Qatar Airways service

The service on this sector was impeccable. Qatar Airways has 25 cabin crew on the A380, which I believe is even more than Emirates has (and Emirates has two dedicated shower attendants).

Unlike on past Qatar Airways flights, I found the service to be extremely personable and attentive. I spent a few hours at the onboard bar, and the crew there was especially fun and pleasant. A special shout out to Roxana, who mixed some great cocktails and couldn’t have been more fun to hang out with.

Qatar Airways A380 bottom line

The Qatar Airways A380 is simply gorgeous. While it doesn’t feature fully enclosed suites or onboard showers, the attention to detail on the Qatar Airways A380 was almost unlike anything I’ve seen on another airline.

Rumor has it that after London and Paris their third A380 destination will be New York, so I can’t wait for that (and you can bet I’ll be on the inaugural).

What do you think of the Qatar Airways A380?

Comments

  1. “Given how much time I spent at the onboard bar and that they serve Krug, I probably wouldn’t even go out of my way to fly business over first class on this flight next time.”

    Typo: First over business.

  2. thanks for an informative post that didnt include a captioned image or gif. its nice to read a travel blog and not buzzfeed.

  3. Both you and Sven took really awesome pics! For the A380 first class lavatory, where are the toilets? Are they hidden? 😉

  4. I liked your blog, but considering hw many blog posts you are trying to get out of a single trip, it becomes more and more boring. Yes, I want to read about it. Once. Not 3-4 times with the same info and pics.

  5. Thanks for the report. I’ve been looking forward to this for a while.

    Qatar is going some way towards justifying the idea of super business class with the J Krug both in the DOH lounge and also onboard!

    Whilst I didn’t get the slippers, I did actually get an Armani kit on a recent QR F flight on the A330. I agree, one of the better kits out there in terms of contents.

  6. lovely report and lovely A380.

    I actually like the slightly more understated look of QR’s A380s as compared to Emirates’. Etihad’s looks even more subtle.

    And while I appreciate that the service was top notch, and certainly it should be- I wonder how much of that is accounted for by the fact that it was an inaugural service, and thus they were on the very top of their game. Can we expect that 1 month or 1 year in, things would be equally top notch? Hopefully yes.

    Lucky, did you get a glimpse of Economy? How was that?

  7. Looks really nice. It’s a shame I don’t really have any desire to fly to Doha. I suppose it might be an option if one were heading to CPT.

  8. @ AJ — I made one post the day of the trip with pictures and no commentary, and now that I’ve had a chance to rest I wrote a post with actual details. Sorry if that’s too much!

  9. @ Adi_T — Oh, it absolutely could be that the fact that it was an inaugural was the reason for such good service. Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to go to economy.

    As far as the bar goes, it’s a bit larger than the one on Emirates, and also better designed in terms of seating, in my opinion.

  10. @ danny — I booked a revenue ticket originating in Cairo. Quite reasonable first class fares departing there.

  11. After all the delays, it appears the quality team missed a bit on the inside of the closet.

    Re: The hanging bit of trim under the small stowage pocket.

    That being said, great review and fantastic to see it in the air. I would love the opprtunity to fly Business not to mention First!

  12. Lucky, as we all know Qatar’s CEO has that traditional international first class is dead and will be replaced by a super business class. So in your opinion how do Qatar’s first and “super” business compare? Was there a substantial difference between the two?

    On a side note: I am so glad that you enjoyed your very brief time in Cairo. It happens to be one of my favorite cities and I hope you’ll get a chance to visit it again.

  13. I, too, hope the A380 will fly DOH-JFK someday. From interviews I’ve read online, however, his Excellency always stated it depends on the economy. If flight loads are full and economy is doing well, I bet we’ll see the A380 at JFK by (hopefully) next year.
    For inaugural flights, does the airline handpick the best crew or do you think it’s just randomized?

  14. @ Joey — I don’t know for Qatar specifically, but for at least one other Middle Eastern airline they do “hand pick” the crews.

  15. @ Imperator — For what it’s worth I don’t think the reverse herringbone seat is actually what Al Baker means by the “super” business class seat. I think there’s supposed to be more innovation coming, eventually. At least that’s his claim.

    That being said, for a business class seat it really is excellent, so I don’t think the difference is that huge, especially for a daytime flight with an amazing onboard bar.

  16. Nice report.

    “It’s worth noting that Qatar plans to fly their A380s primarily between Doha and London/Paris, so for the most part the A380s won’t be used for ultra longhaul flying (where enclosed suites are more useful).”

    JFK isn’t “ultra longhaul?”

    “Interestingly it’s not the standard champagne in business class, yet it’s still available at the bar if you ask for it. Why do they offer it, you ask? Because the bar is shared between business and first class, and the idea is that they don’t want the alcohol selection to be a downgrade for first class passengers.”

    I imagine that will change.

    EK F pax don’t have a downgraded alcohol selection while in the bar; the FA simply goes to the F cabin and gets whatever you want…

  17. It seems like QR have economy class split on both levels… So is the entire bottom deck and back of the upper deck, economy class? Sounds like an awful lot of economy class seating. And when it comes to boarding, does the economy class all board vie the bottom deck or is is split boarding?

  18. Lucky,

    I’ve always wondered about these A380 J/F bars that are located just in front of the upper deck Y cabin. There would obviously be a closed curtain between the bar and Y cabin but also a tremendous longing from Y pax to try and sneak into the bar to have a far more pleasant flight. If the bar tenders back is turned and a Y pax slips through the curtain ‘looking for the toilet’ into the bar is anyone really going to notice? Presumably the Y cabin crew won’t be going through the bar area much (and won’t have memorised the faces of every upper deck Y pax) and the J cabin crew won’t memorise every J pax either. The average clueless Y pax could easily ignore the curtain and think the bar area was for them and for those cluey Y pax it would be quite a game on a long boring flight in Y to try and sneak into the bar on the premise of ‘looking for the toilet’.

    How is this policed? I assume they can’t have a locked divider for emergency reasons (not to mention that crew would walk through there many times).

  19. I have found the openness in Qatar’s old First too much, as passengers separated by only an aisle make eye contacts at an uncomfortably close distance, the new privacy screen looks helpful, though. Guessing it’s because usually the cabin is occupied by people from a same family (who have BMW7s waiting to pick them up directly at bridge/remote stand)?

    Given Qatar isn’t very consistent in First Class service (which varies from excellent to good but not memorable) and the flight is to short to really enjoy it, I’d probably take CX Business instead

  20. @alex

    haha, exactly what I was thinking. I think I wore Gio to prom?

    @Lucky,

    Awesome report, keep up the great work.

    **In SQ Private Room, having a great satay!

  21. First, thanks for the review and the whole blog…I’m quite new to this “game” and find your blog very entertaining and interesting. Unfortunately, in Germany we don’t have so many options for collecting miles and points like in the US.

    Could anyone book an award yet on the A380 first class? I looked on Qatar’s Privilege Club but couldn’t find one seat in the A380 First Class. Seemed, like it is blocked for awards!? A340 was available most of the dates.

  22. @ AJK — That’s why I said “primarily.” Only confirmed destinations are London and Paris, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they just increased A380 frequencies on the route. I wouldn’t be surprised if JFK doesn’t get the A380.

    As far as the champagne goes, I specifically spoke to a manager that was aboard, and he specifically said it would stay that way.

  23. @ Joe — Yep, it’s a high density configuration with lots of economy. I believe the upper deck economy passengers would still board via the upper deck jet bridge.

  24. @ Ben — The curtains between cabins are thick and closed, so I don’t think it happens very much. Certainly didn’t happen on my flight. It’s a good question, though.

  25. @ Lucky – thanks for the report! Just like with Etihad’s route to London, I think first class makes more sense on a longer flight, e.g. to New York. If fares ex-CAI stay this low when they put A380 on DOH-JFK, that will be a great time to visit Egypt (of course, revenue fares TO Egypt aren’t great…)

  26. Has any airline considered having a bar accessible to all three classes? Although I understand that takes away the exclusivity factor, it would be a huge selling point for the airline. Economy passengers are crammed like sardines and on an ultra long haul flight that would be a major advantage. They can even have separate bars for premium and non-premium passengers.

  27. Please please please post more pictures of the outfit that the crew member(male? female?) who was serving you coffee(tea?) was wearing. Plum pants and that shirt! High fashion like that needs to be finished off by a nice sweater. Know where His Excellency could get some? But seriously I want to see more pics of the outfit.

  28. It looks like the amenity kit holder in the First class closet is already broken in your photo. His Excellency won’t be too happy!

  29. Hi Ben,

    Nice review, thanks for posting. It doesn’t seem you mentioned anything about the TV screen or the entertainment system. So, what were your thoughts ? Was the TV screen picture quality pure class ? Its HD isn’t it ? How’s the movie/sitcom selection ? Is the entertainment system different to what QR currently use in their other aircraft such as the 346 or 788 or 77W ?

    Keen to hear your thoughts on the above.

    Cheers

    Nizar

  30. @ Nizar — To be honest I didn’t use it a lot as I almost always bring my own entertainment. The selection was good — not quite as good as Singapore’s or Emirates’, but very good. Picture quality was good as well.

  31. Hello Lucky, thanks for a really nice report..

    I hope you can advise me on seat selection. I’m trying find any information but not much is available and Seatguru don’t yet have QA A380 in their site.

    I will be traveling be flying on this A380 3 times next month, all business class. The only decent seat map I found is at http://www.theqatarsource.com/a3808f48j461yseatmap.html however it doesn’t reveal much details. I’m flying solo so obviously selected window seats however I really appreciate a good view and it look that all business seats are positioned all above the giant wings. I know you flew First but can you tell which business seat has the best view.. Thanks

  32. @ Khaled — Since it’s all one cabin, I don’t think any one seat is much better than another. I’d probably just do any window towards the middle of business class, and I think you’ll be happy. Enjoy the flight!

  33. @Lucky: did they charge you if you get the food and drink at the A380 business lounge? or it is unlimited all you can eat and drink ?

  34. Dear Ben,

    I was on the flight QR003 Friday, 10 October 2014 from DOH to LHR but unfortunately I had an economy ticket and had a seat in the bulkhead just behind the lounge area on the top deck of the A380. I’m writing an article on the experience and do not have any photos of the first class cabin. Would it be possible to get your permission to use 3-4 four of the pictures you have posted?

    I appreciate your consideration.

    Regards, Lee

  35. The Armani amenity kit is not exclusive for A380 fyi, they give the same pouch on their other airplanes as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *