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Review: Qatar Airways Business Class 777 Bali To Doha
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This was my first time flying Qatar Airways’ high density 777-300ER, which features just 24 business class seats. In the past I’ve flown their lower density 777-300ER between Cairo and Doha, which features exactly the same business class product (except there’s another business cabin behind the galley).
I apologize for the lack of seat pictures in this post, but the cabin filled up so quickly that I didn’t have a chance to get better ones. If you see my Cairo to Doha review, though, you’ll get a much better sense of the cabin.
Qatar Airways 963
Bali (DPS) – Doha (Doha)
Wednesday, November 18
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 1E (Business Class)
Upon boarding I settled into seat 1E, which was the left center aisle seat in the first row.
The business class cabin is in a 2-2-2 configuration, with a total of 24 seats. With such a configuration I prefer having a center aisle seat, so that that nobody has to “climb” over me when they need to get up. Qatar’s business class seats are fully flat and have great legroom, though aren’t really competitive with some of the more modern products out there, like reverse herringbone seats. That’s unfortunate, since the 777 is what Qatar Airways primarily flies to the US.
I quite liked having the bulkhead seat, as it came with tons of legroom and also had a TV above it, which showed the airshow for most of the flight.
The seat controls were to the left of the seat, and were easy to use.
On the right side is a well designed “sliding” tray. You can keep it on the center armrest or otherwise slide it to the side so it’s closer to you. Best of all, there’s a bottle holder beneath it, where I found a bottle of Evian water.
Waiting at my seat upon boarding were a pillow and blanket. The pillow was pretty plush and the blanket quite large, so for business class it was perfectly nice, though perhaps still not as nice as the Westin Heavenly Bedding on Delta, for example.
Also waiting in the seatback upon boarding were the menu and wine list for the flight.
Below them in the seatback pocket were some headphones. They were supposedly noise cancelling, though I didn’t think they did a very good job. Beyond that, they really hurt my ears when keeping them on for more than 30 minutes or so.
Within a few minutes of settling in the flight attendant working my aisle, Danica, introduced herself and offered me my choice of a hot or cold towel, along with a beverage. I selected a cold towel and a glass of rose.
My rose was topped off throughout the boarding process, which was much appreciated.
Shortly thereafter I was brought an amenity kit, which contained Giorgio Armani products. Not too bad for business class!
I was also offered pajamas, which is fairly impressive for a (quasi) daytime flight in business class. Unfortunately the pajamas were pretty low quality, and I made the mistake of ordering medium pajamas. As it turns out, Qatar groups small and medium pajamas together, so when I put the top on it looked more like a tank top than anything.
After drinks, towels, and amenities were distributed, the crew came around to take meal orders. They explained that they had a dine on demand concept, and we could eat what we wanted when we wanted. I ordered another glass of rose for after takeoff, along with a full dinner.
Every business class seat was taken soon enough, including the seat across from me. My seat opponent was Qatari, and spent the entire boarding process watching TV on his iPhone at the loudest possible volume… without headphones on. I don’t get what makes people think that’s okay.
Shortly before our scheduled departure time the captain came on the PA, who I suspect was probably Spanish. He welcomed us aboard on behalf of himself and the other two pilots (another captain and a first officer) and informed us of our flight time of 9hr15min, and that we’d be cruising at 36,000 feet.
The cabin manager made her welcome aboard announcement at that point. Qatar Airways’ onboard announcements are so over-the-top. We should make a drinking game of how often they use the word “award winning” and “5-star” to describe every aspect of the airline, from the operations to the airport to the loyalty program to their onboard products. I do wonder how much Qatar Airways paid to be able to call their loyalty program “award winning?” Or was the award the best loyalty program of an airline based in Qatar? That’s the only way I could justify such an award….
We began our pushback at around 5:35PM, at which point the safety video began to play. Perhaps I’m biased, but I L-O-V-E Qatar Airways’ safety video, and am sort of sad they have a new soccer themed one now.
As I wrote about in a previous post, as we taxied to the runway, the cabin service manager was sitting in her jumpseat and started yelling at one of the other business class crew — “sit now now now now, hurry hurry hurry, we are all waiting on you.” You could hear the flight attendant frantically closing all the cabinets and securing everything for takeoff, and she was clearly going as quickly as she could.
The cabin service manager rolled her eyes at the flight attendant in the jumpseat across from her, and then yelled even louder “sit now, you need to sit now.” Eventually the other flight attendant got in her jumpseat, with plastic gloves still on. I thought it was extremely unprofessional how she yelled at her colleague, let alone in front of passengers.
At 5:50PM we reached runway 9, where we were airborne after a fairly quick takeoff roll.
About 15 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, at which point the inflight service began.
The a la carte menu read as follows:
And the drink/wine list read as follows:
As the crew prepared for service I browsed the entertainment selection. It was okay, though can’t compete with what’s offered by airlines like Emirates. For what it’s worth, since I was in the bulkhead the TV screen also extended out of the center console.
I decided to watch a few episode of Fawlty Towers. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen all the episodes featured on airplane IFE by now, though it’s one of those shows which never gets old, in my opinion.
Within a few minutes of leveling off I was served another glass of rose, along with some mixed nuts. I was impressed that they poured the rose at my seat. That’s not something you often see in business class, at least for service which doesn’t involve a cart being rolled through the aisle.
Shortly thereafter my table was set, including a breadbasket and a glass of still water.
To start I ordered the Singapore style vegetable soup. It was delicious and the perfect temperature. I was also impressed that when they served it there was a lid, which the flight attendant removed after placing it down on my tray. Qatar Airways’ soft product is exceptional.
After that I had the mezze. While not as intricate as the mezze I’ve had in first class on Emirates, it was tasty.
Then for the main course I had the beef rendang. Again, it was excellent. The sauce was fantastic and it had the perfect amount of spice.
Lastly, for dessert I had the chocolate truffle dessert along with a glass of ayran (basically a yogurt drink). The dessert was every bit as good as it looked.
To finish off the meal I had a cappuccino.
Lastly I was offered another towel along with a carton of chocolates.
The meal was top notch, one of the best I’ve had in business class. Qatar’s food and presentation are spectacular, and this flight was no exception. The crew was well intentioned and efficient, though sort of lacked that “sparkle” you get on some other airlines. I find that to be the norm on Qatar Airways, though.
After watching a couple more shows it was time for a nap, as we had about seven hours until landing in Doha. I reclined my seat, and while the seat itself was comfortable enough, it totally lacked privacy. Not only are you fully “exposed” to the aisle, but you’re basically face-to-face with the person next to you. I reclined while the guy next to me kept his seat in the upright position, so I sort of felt like he was sitting over me. A proper privacy shield would go a long way with this (otherwise outdated) product, in my opinion.
On the plus side I managed to sleep for quite a while, and woke up about 90 minutes out of Doha. I headed to the restroom to freshen up. The lavatory was rather unremarkable, and didn’t have many amenities aside from branded soap.
For the pre-landing snack I had the Thai style beef salad and “selection of indulgent individual desserts.” I had a cappuccino to accompany the meal. Again, it was spectacular.
At around 9:40PM we began our descent into Doha, and shortly thereafter a video played highlighting the features of Hamad International Airport. According to the video everything was award winning. Everything. Even the duty free store.
We continued our descent, and had a controlled collision with the ground at 10:10PM. It was one of the rougher landings I’ve had in a while, to say the least.
As we taxied in there was some more Qatar puffery over the PA — “welcome to the 5-star gateway of Qatar, the Gulf, and the world.”
The unprofessionalism of the cabin manager continued after landing. After touchdown the flight attendant in the far jumpseat (who was being yelled at earlier) made the post-landing announcement. English wasn’t her first language (just as it wasn’t the first language of any other crew members), so at a few points she stumbled a bit on words and had some minor pronunciation errors. I thought the PA was perfectly good.
Meanwhile the cabin service manager and the flight attendant sitting across from her looked at each other every time the poor lady made a mistake, and laughed audibly. Not cool.
Our taxi to the gate took about five minutes, and at 10:15PM we found ourselves at our arrival stand.
From there it was a pretty long walk to immigration.
Qatar Airways has a dedicated first & business class arrivals facility, which is one of the most impressive I’ve seen. I guess it’s a hybrid arrivals lounge and immigration checkpoint. Upon entering I had to present my boarding pass, which was scanned.
Then I found myself in the lounge, where there wasn’t a single guest. It featured similar furniture to the Al Mourjan Lounge, with rows of leather chairs as well as some dining tables.
There was also a small buffet with soft drinks, coffee, and light snacks.
Then there was a dedicated immigration checkpoint. I find immigration queues in Qatar to generally be quite short, given that most people are connecting and not actually terminating their travels there.
Qatar Airways 777 business class bottom line
This flight matched my previous experiences on Qatar Airways. The food and “small touches” were impressive, among the best of any business class product.
As far as the service goes, it also matched my previous experiences on Qatar Airways. The crews are attentive and put on a smile, though lack the warmth and sincerity you get on some other airlines. My only complaint about the service was how the cabin manager acted towards one of the other flight attendants.
If you’ve flown Qatar Airways business class, what was your experience like?