Qatar Airways Downgrades Regional First Class Catering

As I’ve written about in the past, Qatar Airways is unique in that they market the forward cabin of regional flights as first class.

In other words, they use a lot of two cabin aircraft for regional flying (A330s, 777s, etc.), and when the aircraft flies within the Middle East the cabins are marketed as first class and economy class. But when that plane flies outside the Middle East, those same cabins are marketed as business class and economy class.

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Qatar Airways A330 business class cabin

So why does Qatar Airways make an exception on shorthaul flights within the Middle East, and market the forward cabin as first class? The way it was explained to me is that many of the premium passengers traveling on those routes are Qataris, and they want to make the best services available to them, so that they get first class lounge access, etc. I guess that’s the benefit of having a state owned airline.

This does make Qatar Airways unique, as Emirates, Etihad, etc., don’t do the same. And it’s a bit odd, because they’re not actually charging a premium for those flights being “first class” rather than “business class.”

For example, flying “first class” between Cairo and Doha, Qatar Airways serves Krug champagne (my favorite!).

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Qatar Airways first class Krug

And the catering really is a treat, especially in comparison to what other airlines serve in business class on flights that are a similar length — they serve an appetizer, soup, salad, main course, and dessert. And the quality of everything is simply top notch.

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Qatar Airways first class lunch — seasonal salad and classic Arabic mezze

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Qatar Airways first class lunch main course — grilled prawns with Arabic tomato sauce

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Qatar Airways first class cappuccino and dessert

Well it seems they’ve come to their senses (at least financially, from their perspective), and they’ve downgraded the catering. Reader qasr notes that as of last week Qatar Airways is now offering standard business class catering (both food & beverage) for intra-Middle East flights in first class.

That’s not a huge difference in terms of the food, though it does mean that the beverage selection — including Krug — has been substantially downgraded.

Bottom line

With this change I’m not sure I can justify flying paid business class out of Cairo anymore. 😉

In all honesty, I don’t blame them, and I’m kind of surprised they don’t just start marketing the flights as business class. I guess regional first class customers are still coming out ahead, as they’ll get access to the Al Safwa Lounge once it opens in late April.

Ironically this makes Qatar Airways one of the few airlines which serves better champagne in the lounge than onboard.

Comments

  1. Got to say this about His Excellency….he keeps his airline in the travel blogs on an almost daily basis, good or bad! Not shocked either, Krug on a 2 hr flight seems a bit excessive, plus he’s got American flight attendants to pay for now!

  2. “In other words, they use a lot of two cabin aircraft for regional flying (A330s, 777s, etc.)”

    They use all of their two cabin aircraft…even the A320 and A321 have their premium class called First.

    “This does make Qatar Airways unique, as Emirates, Etihad, etc., don’t do the same.”

    True, but Emirates does offer a 3-cabin plane on many of their regional flights, with First, Business, and Economy. The seats offered in first are definitely a throwback, to say the least.

    “Krug champagne (my favorite!)”

    Krug is your favorite champagne? Who knew?

    “I’m kind of surprised they don’t just start marketing the flights as business class.”

    As you said, it’s all about the lounge access.

  3. All local airlines in China also marks their 2 cabins as first and economy when the aircraft serves within China. When it becomes international, it works as biz and eco. Sounds just like QR, right?

    You’ve been to China. You know what I’m saying if you’ve tried our regional flight:)

  4. The anomaly in calling Business Class as First Class within the Middle East has to a lot to do with the Arabic language. Business Class translated roughly into English means “Workers Class” whereas, First Class literally translated means “Preferred Class”. The Arabic word for First Class is “Daraja Ooula”. The word “Ooula” in The Holy Quran corresponds to the people who are “preferred” by ALLAH (SWT). If you haven’t guessed it by now, titles are everything in the Arab world – considering that they all dress alike are not easily differentiated. In the Arab world, it is common practice that when a CEO (often a business owner) travels along with his (her???) senior managers on the same flight; the latter wouldn’t dare be seated in the same class as the former. Never mind that you have the points to be upgraded or are paying out of your pocket to do so. Why you ask…
    because:
    East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
    Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;
    (Rudyard Kipling)

  5. and as someone who understands Arabs, their language and culture; your comment doesn’t surprise me!

  6. Ben,

    They have been doing that for at least a month now. When ai flew CAI-DOH in early February they already were offering Business Class champagne onboard.

    However, they do serve Krug for First passangers only in the lounge, and that includes regional flights.

    Got a golf cart to take me to the aircraft after having a bottle or two of Krug while waiting for my flight….

  7. Lucky
    On AA award, got aircraft swapped on regional QR from F cabin to a 1-cabin economy aircraft, which disqualifies DOH F lounge entry.. Any recourse for F lounge entry? (J class on inbound) Any way to get AAdvantage miles credit due to F downgrade to coach without cancelling/rebooking award? AA International partner liaison couldn’t help. Thanks

  8. @ fauxblogger — Unfortunately probably not much that can be done. It’s actually news to me that QR has one cabin aircraft? Is it part of a larger award?

  9. Lucky,

    Thank you as always for prompt reply. QR’s DOH-AUH 2 afternoon flights on A321 no longer market biz or first class. Perhaps only seasonal? I need this segment to complete MLE-DOH-AUH (AA Award) to connect to EY454. Also is interesting(?) that row 1 blocked for booking (economy begins in row 2).

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