Review: Qatar Airways A380 First Class Doha To London

Introduction
From Airbus To Megabus: A Trip Of Contrasts
Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay Villa
Review: Six Senses Zighy Bay Activities & Dining
Review: Al Maha Bedouin Suite
Review: Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai Dining
Review: Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai Activities
Review: Dubai International First Class Lounge DXB
Review: Qatar Airways First Class A320 Dubai To Doha
Review: Qatar Airways First Class A380 Doha To London
Review: British Airways First Class A380 London To Los Angeles
Review: British Airways A380 First Class Tasting Menu
Review: Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport LAX
Review: American Flagship Lounge Los Angeles LAX
Review: American First Class A321 Los Angeles To New York
Review: Hilton Austin Airport


Upon arriving at the self proclaimed “5-star gateway to the world,” we first found ourselves in what can only be described as a mess of a security line. The queues were insane, though fortunately there was a premium line which only had a very short wait.

Since this flight was last October, we headed to Qatar Airways’ Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge for our layover. That’s because we were visiting before Qatar Airways opened the Al Safwa First Class Lounge.

Our layover was fairly short, so you can’t really complain when you consider we headed straight up to the second floor of the lounge for a few glasses of Krug. Overcoming jetlag is all about adjusting to the time at your destination as soon as possible, and as luck would have it, it was happy hour in LA. So this seemed like a good enough start! 😉

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“Breakfast” in the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Lounge Doha

Our flight to London was scheduled to depart at 7:45AM, so we headed to the gate at around 6:45AM. We were departing from gate A3, which is just a short walk from the lounge.

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Qatar Airways A380 departure gate Doha Airport

In addition to the main entrance to the gate area, there’s a separate entrance for first & business class passengers, which leads directly to the upper deck. That’s the benefit of a purpose-built A380 gate, I suppose.

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Qatar Airways A380 departure gate Doha Airport

Upon having our boarding passes scanned we took the elevator up a level, where the first & business class gate area was located. As you can see below, it was still empty, despite only being a few minutes before boarding (presumably most passengers only board when they really have to).

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Qatar Airways A380 first & business class departure area Doha Airport

The whale jet was parked outside, though due to the way the windows are positioned, it’s tough to get a great picture.

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Qatar Airways A380

At around 7:05AM boarding was called, and we were still among the only passengers in the gate area. We headed down the upper deck jet bridge, where I managed to snap a slightly better picture of the plane.

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Qatar Airways A380

As we boarded I also had a bit of a flashback, and realized that I had flown the Doha to London A380 inaugural flight, exactly a year prior, on October 10, 2014. That meant that we were flying on Qatar’s one year anniversary of operating the A380.

Qatar Airways 3
Doha (DOH) – London (LHR)
Saturday, October 10
Depart: 7:45AM
Arrive: 1:15PM
Duration: 7hr30min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 2A (First Class)

Upon boarding we were welcomed aboard by the cabin manager and one of the first class crew, and pointed left towards the first class cabin. Qatar’s A380 first class cabin is on the upper deck, to the left of the main entry door.

The cabin has a total of eight seats spread across two rows. I tend to think the cabin is quite sleek, though at the same time it’s really not competitive with what’s offered by Emirates and Etihad in terms of privacy. Then again, the longest route on which Qatar operates the A380 is about seven hours, so perhaps they feel that’s not needed.

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Qatar Airways first class cabin

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Qatar Airways first class cabin

I was seated in 2A, while Andrew and Tiffany were in the two seats across from me.

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Qatar Airways first class cabin, row two

The seats are more or less identical whether you’re in row one or two. The advantage of row one is that you’re further from the galley, while the advantage of row two is that you’re further from the bathrooms.

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Qatar Airways first class cabin, row one

I will say that Qatar’s first class seat is extremely comfortable for just “lounging.” It’s one of the most comfortable airplane seats in the upright position.

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Qatar Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 2A

There’s no denying that the finishes in the cabin are beautiful and understated. There’s not the level of bling you’d find on Emirates or Etihad, but rather just understated luxury.

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Qatar Airways A380 first class cabin, seat 2A

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Qatar Airways A380 first class cabin

To the left of the seat is a large console, on which drinks and other items can be placed without having to take our your tray table.

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Qatar Airways A380 first class seat side table

To the left of the seat was a place for bottled water, as well as the entertainment controller (which I find rather difficult to use).

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Qatar Airways first class entertainment controller

To the right of the seat was a further storage compartment, as well as a monitor for seat controls.

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Qatar Airways first class seat controls and storage compartment

Then the seat pre-sets were located to the right of the seat, along with the controls to lift the privacy shield between seats (which have to be lowered for takeoff and landing).

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Qatar Airways first class seat controls

Each seat also has a private closet, which is quite spacious. Waiting in the closet was the amenity kit.

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Qatar Airways first class closet

Qatar’s amenity kits are provided by Armani, and are fairly nice. On the inaugural A380 flight they had limited edition A380 amenity kits, which didn’t seem to be on offer anymore. Furthermore, a year prior they also offered slippers and pajamas, which weren’t offered on this flight. Qatar Airways sure seems to be cost cutting.

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Qatar Airways Armani amenity kit

As it was their first time on the A380, I showed Andrew and Tiffany the two lavatories at the front of the cabin. They’re not quite as over the top as Emirates’ shower suites, but they’re probably on par with the bathrooms offered by Lufthansa, for example.

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Qatar Airways A380 first class bathroom

The bathrooms are spacious and soothing, and are well stocked with amenities.

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Qatar Airways A380 first class bathroom

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Qatar Airways A380 first class sink

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Qatar Airways first class bathroom amenities

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Qatar Airways first class bathroom amenities

Just behind the bathrooms are some display areas with light snacks and some bottled drinks, along with magazines. It’s a bit of an odd display since no one ever seems to use it, though it does look nice.

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Qatar Airways A380 first class drink display

And then of course between the two lavatories are the stairs to the lower deck, which is a nice reminder of just how massive the plane is.

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A380 staircase

So I’m generally not very impressed by Qatar Airways crews, and that’s probably a function of the working conditions at the airline. While I find they use a lot of the terms typically associated with good service (“my pleasure,” “certainly,” etc.), it doesn’t usually come across as very sincere, in my experience.

It was perhaps more evident on this flight than any other Qatar Airways flight I’ve taken — the crew didn’t want to be there, and they made sure we knew it. It wasn’t one thing in particular, but rather just a combination of everything throughout the flight.

I was offered a pre-departure beverage, and ordered a glass of Krug. It took about five minutes for it to be delivered. The cabin was hot during boarding (extremely hot), and the flight attendant just put a hot towel down next to my drink. It might sound minor, but Qatar crews are supposed to ask whether you want a hot or cold towel, even in business class, let alone first class. In this instance it was especially hot in the plane, so a cold towel would have been even nicer than usual.

I asked if I could get a cold towel instead, and she said “okay.” She returned another five minutes later with it.

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Qatar Airways first class pre-departure Krug

After that, menus were distributed for the flight, which were in a nice leather binder. As the flight attendant handed me the menu she said “I will take your breakfast order for after takeoff shortly.” It might sound like a minor distinction, but it’s a dine on demand menu, so you’re supposed to be able to eat what you want when you want.

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Qatar Airways first class menu

Aside from the three of us, there were three other first class passengers. They were all traveling separately, and I believe they were all Qatari. They all seemed rather unamused by the product, and even less amused by the three of us knowing one other, and having conversations.

As boarding finished up we were offered Arabic coffee and dates.

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Qatar Airways Arabic coffee & date

We were also given complimentary wifi vouchers, which is a nice touch on Qatar’s part.

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Qatar Airways complimentary wifi voucher

Despite our scheduled 7:45AM departure time, at 8AM we still hadn’t moved. Around that time the captain came on the PA to advise us we would be departing shortly, and that there was a slight delay due to a sick passenger, as their bags had to be offloaded. He expected we would still arrive on schedule. Furthermore, he informed us that our flight time was 6hr55min, and we’d be cruising at 38,000 feet.

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View before pushback at Doha Airport

Finally at 8:10AM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video played.

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Qatar Airways safety video

Our taxi to the runway was a quick one, and at 8:25AM we were airborne.

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Taxiing Doha Airport

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Taxiing Doha Airport

It was a hazy morning, so I couldn’t get any great pictures. On top of that, the A380’s small windows don’t exactly help.

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View after takeoff from Doha Airport

10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off, at which point the service began.

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A380 cabin view after takeoff

The menu read as follows:

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And the beverage list read as follows:

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The first class flight attendant came by my seat and asked what I wanted for breakfast. I placed my order, and within about 15 minutes the breakfast service began.

I began with a date and cinnamon smoothie, which was oh-so-tasty!

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Breakfast drink — date and cinnamon smoothie

At that point my table was set for breakfast, including a breadbasket with a croissant, danish, and some Arabic bread.

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Breakfast table setting

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Breakfast bread basket

There were also strawberry jam to go along with it.

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Breakfast preserves

To start I had the cured salmon, which was tasty.

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Breakfast starter — cured salmon with citrus fruit

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Breakfast starter — cured salmon with citrus fruit

I then had a granola parfait, which was also delicious.

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Breakfast starter — greek yogurt with peach compote and toasted granola

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Breakfast starter — greek yogurt with peach compote and toasted granola

I had ordered a coffee at the start of the meal service, though it only arrived after my parfait had been cleared.

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Coffee with breakfast

Then for the main course I ordered the Arabic breakfast, which was quite good.

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Breakfast main course — traditional Arabic breakfast

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Breakfast main course — traditional Arabic breakfast

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Breakfast main course — traditional Arabic breakfast

The meal was tasty, though for an airline which is focused so much on the soft product, I found the differentiation between first and business class to be almost non-existent. The catering reminded me almost exactly of what I had between Doha and Frankfurt last year in business class. There’s not one thing about the menu which sets it apart.

The service was what really disappointed me, though. It’s one thing if the flight attendants had just been disorganized or not especially friendly, but they were both. Plates were never proactively cleared, I was never addressed by name, never asked if I wanted anything else, etc.

It was pretty funny when Andrew asked what kind of cereal they had, and the flight attendant said “the one with the chicken.” Cereal with chicken? Ew! Then we realized she meant Corn Flakes.

After breakfast I asked to have my bed made, which was promptly taken care of. The sleeping surface in Qatar first class is quite large and comfortable, and the bedding is good as well. The seat does lack privacy, though, as you only have a shield separating you from the cabin, much like in Lufthansa first class.

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Qatar Airways first class bed

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Qatar Airways first class bed

After breakfast we headed to the business class bar, which is located behind the business class cabin. Qatar’s A380 business class product is virtually the same as on the A350, and consists of reverse herringbone seats, which is a fantastic product.

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Qatar Airways A380 business class cabin

Qatar’s bar is located behind business class, which is still in front of a mini economy class cabin. The bar space itself is gorgeous (my favorite of any onboard bar), both in terms of design and the amount of space allocated it.

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Qatar Airways A380 business class bar seating

While the first class crew was quite lazy, the bartender was super nice… almost too nice. He was this Eastern European guy who loved flying. LOVED flying. Like, he put my love of flying to shame.

He engaged us in conversation, and started with “am I the only one who loves flying and is sad when the plane has to land?” He was hoping Qatar Airways would begin flying the A380 to New York or Los Angeles. Why? Not because he wants to visit those places, but because it means he can fly (and work) longer flights, as he almost exclusively flies the A380.

Eventually the cabin manager asked if he wanted a break from the bar, and he said “no, why would I want a break? I love flying!”

So I suppose I commend his next-level enthusiasm. It was unlike anything I’ve seen before from a crewmember.

While Qatar’s bar remains gorgeous, I will say that they’ve cut down significantly on the snacks on offer there since the plane was introduced. On the inaugural flight there was a large selection of snacks available, while on this flight there were just nuts and chips, which was pretty disappointing.

Fortunately they still serve Krug, so we stayed well hydrated. I didn’t get any pictures of the bar on this flight, though here’s a picture from my last Qatar A380 flight.

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Qatar Airways A380 business class bar

Eventually I napped for a bit, and then as we were passing over Western Europe I decided to have a snack before landing.

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Airshow enroute to London

The menu read as follows:

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I had the falafel wrap with mint yoghurt, which was simple but tasty.

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Qatar Airways pre-arrival snack — falafel wrap with mint yoghurt

I had also ordered the heirloom tomato salad (and actually requested for that to be served first), but they forgot about it. So after they served me the falafel wrap they tried to remove my tablecloth, though I reminded them I had ordered the salad as well. Rather than apologizing they just said “oh.”

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Qatar Airways pre-arrival snack — heirloom tomato & mozzarella salad

Tiffany had the mezze (Andrew wasn’t eating, since he was conked out due to overdosing on about three glasses of Krug over the course of eight hours).

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Qatar Airways pre-arrival snack — hot Arabic mezze

After I finished the salad they again immediately tried to clear the tablecloth. I stopped them again and asked what kind of dessert they had. The cabin manager said she would check what kind they had and get back to me. Instead of telling me what they had, 15 minutes later she just placed the below on my tray. In fairness, they were tasty. 😉

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Qatar Airways pre-arrival snack — dessert

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Qatar Airways pre-arrival snack — dessert

I then asked for some coffee with milk, which was served another 10 minutes later (you’d think a coffee drink would be proactively offered, but it wasn’t).

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Qatar Airways pre-arrival coffee

Shortly before we began our descent, the UK landing cards and fast tracks immigration cards were distributed.

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UK landing card & fast track pass

At around 1PM in the UK, the captain came on the PA to inform us we’d be landing in about 30 minutes.

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View on descent into London

We ended up getting assigned a holding pattern for about 10 minutes, which isn’t too bad by Heathrow standards, if you ask me.

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Airshow on approach into London

It was an overcast afternoon in the UK (as usual), though the views of the countryside on approach were still nice.

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View on final approach into London

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View on final approach into London

We had some fantastic views as we were about to touch down, including of British Airways’ Terminal 5, a Virgin Atlantic 787, a Qantas A380, and more.

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Touching down London Heathrow

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Touching down London Heathrow

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Touching down London Heathrow

We touched down at 1:40PM, and from there had just a five minute taxi to our arrival gate at Terminal 4, which possibly has the most interesting traffic of any terminal at Heathrow.

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Taxiing London Heathrow Airport

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London Heathrow Terminal 4

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London Heathrow Terminal 4

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Aeromexico 787 London Heathrow

Upon deplaning I snapped one last picture of the gorgeous A380, and from there we began the long journey to Terminal 5, where I’ll pick up in the next installment.

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Qatar A380 upon arrival at Heathrow

Qatar Airways A380 first class bottom line

There are many things great about Qatar Airways’ A380, including the reverse herringbone business class seats (which are the best hard product offered on any A380) and the onboard bar. However, I find the first class cabin to be rather underwhelming compared to the offerings of Emirates and Etihad.

But I was particularly disappointed by the soft product on this flight. The crew was apathetic, and the food in first and business class is almost identical. Furthermore, it’s clear Qatar Airways is cost cutting, between them eliminating pajamas, taking snacks away from the bar, etc.

All-in-all, a rather underwhelming flight on the world’s (self-proclaimed) best airline.

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Comments

  1. Lucky do you have a fast metabolism or do you not eat everything you are served? How do you not put on weight only eating plane and lounge food?!?

  2. I’m going to start a new drinking game – every time Ben uses the word “Krug” take a shot and for every photo two shots. I agree about the bar. I think it’s definitely the most well done of the ME3. I do wonder how long they will continue to have them on A380’s. From your photos it looked empty. I had an evening flight BKK-DOH and there were only two other passengers in the bar after dinner despite the business class cabin being almost full.

  3. A great review as usual, thank you.

    I find the look of the cabin to be simply stunning! No need for bling, just understated style.

  4. Both of my two previous experiences in Qatar F are quite different from yours. I last flew Qatar from BKK to Doha in early October and was given slippers and Pajamas for a 8PM flight. Had choice of hot/cold towel and was dine on demand. They were 5 passengers total in the cabin and service was attentive.

    Will be interesting to see if anything changes when I fly them in F again in late May. I also have a business ticket back from BKK in March that I am trying to upgrade. Potential two opportunities.

  5. I like the more open First Class cabins. I’d like to see a cabin that still has assigned seats but feels like a lounge. As for those more private Emirates suites…they seem cramped and cluttered and all that gold and brass, to me, just feels gaudy. I’m swooning over TAM first class and especially Air France La Première on the 777-300ER. Both very open with only 4 seats.

  6. I’ve enjoyed reading/learning from this site for the past two months, although this is my first post. Thanks to the great articles here, (my wife and) I managed to score first class award tickets on Qantas to/from Sydney towards the end of the year. Look forward to the (first-time) experience flying international first class on an A380.

    Lucky — You really, really, REALLY enjoy drinking Krug! If all your consumption wasn’t complimentary, I might suggest you seek counseling. 🙂 On the other hand, Krug should hire you as their featured spokesman. They could feature you in ads along the lines of “The Most Interesting Man in the World”, but instead of Dos Equis, you prefer Krug.

    Happy contrails.

  7. you want to Hear the Truth about good/Bad Service Ben? It’s all about Krug! Yes..i’m not kidding. I’ve two Friends working for QR And whenever sb asks for Krug they Know it’s either a Blogger or a Customer flying on Miles.

  8. Just amazing. Loved every minute of reading this report. Though I’m not a big fan of Qatar’s hard-product (it reminds me of American’s privacy-less product on the 77W), the service looks fantastic. I’ve been dreaming of booking Etihad’s Apartments but this isn’t too shabby.

    Thanks for giving us a peek into the good life!

  9. Lucky, I too was wondering where you put your roll aboard bag? I didn’t see any overhead bins nor did there seem to be any storage space in/near the seat.

    Come to think of it, a post around “where your bag goes” or “best roll aboard storage” might be fun! Without overheads I expect that might be an interesting one.

  10. I was just going to book paid F on Qatar. After reading this I’ll stick with EK! I keep hearing about these “service issues” and you are not the only one. What is going on at Qatar? That should be your next blog!

  11. Loved your review, thank you for it! IMHO QR are one of the most overrated airlines flying and seem to rest on their laurels of being a “5 star” airline. The level of service you experienced on your flight was on part with the 7 flights I’ve flown with them in the past, you can almost feel the tension of the poor working conditions coming through from some of their staff. I wouldn’t fly them again if you paid me to.

  12. I cannot agree more that QR is on a cost cutting spree which is rather disappointing as I only used to patronize them. I flew Etihad for my last two journeys.

  13. @Chris–have you noticed the screenshots are on the same text as well? As if Qatari Hunks McGee would need a whistle to attract attention. Woof.

  14. This article sounds rather harsh and biased for what the product actually is. The pictures look quite nice to me. But then again, it’s your blog and you are entitled to express your dislike towards this airline.

  15. Lucky, I think these days QR hands out pyjamas only on overnight flights. Correct me if I am wrong.

    As for the quality of service…WOW, did not expect this from QR. I haven’t flown F yet but have flown multiple times in business and the service has been splendid every time. Agreed that some of the FAs are friendlier and seem genuinely happy to be there but every FA so far has been very attentive and helpful. I should note though that the passenger next to me on my last flight a week ago got quite frustrated as no one came over to his side to welcome him/offer him pre-departure drinks/pyjamas/hot or cold towels for a good 20 minutes after boarding. What made matters worse was that there were 2 FAs on my side that were almost duplicating service (I was offered drinks by both/almost ended up with an extra set of pyjamas etc.).

    Another cost cutting (or at least I think its cost cutting) on QR’s part…they no longer serve Kopke Port in business. Its only for F apparently.

  16. This is the flight I take most often these days (not in first class unfortunately!)
    This flight always departs late and takes ages to arrive at Heathrow! I am looking forward to when they start the 787 to and from Birmingham soon where arrivals and departures are much quicker in the smaller airport, as I experienced when I flew the 787 from Manchester last week (leaving on time and arriving 45 minutes early). The amenity kit was exactly the same as your first class one which I found odd.

    Personally, I prefer the Emirates A380 business seat to Qatar’s purely because of the extra privacy if you have in the seats closest to the windows.

  17. “There’s not the level of bling you’d find on Emirates or Etihad, but rather just understated luxury.”

    Is Etihad really that blingy? I find it understated, but I guess tastes differ.

    “including a breadbasket with a croissant, danish, and some Arabic bread.”

    Nothing Arabic about that bread, Lucky…

    “There’s not one thing about the menu which sets it apart.”

    Well, you get to your egg meal cooked to order, and there are more options for the main…but it does seem to be a similar menu. If you ever fly Emirates’ business class, you’ll notice it as well. You can check out sample menus on their website. In many cases, the exact same dish is listed for both first and business class.

    “Fortunately they still serve Krug, so we stayed well hydrated”

    Not when you’re at that altitude lol

  18. I would be really disappointed with this experience if I paid the full fare. I expect a first class experience to be so superior in terms of service!

  19. I totally agree. As I reviewed on my blog airwaysandtravels.com, QR First failed to impress, while business class was a joy.

  20. Ben, you say that the food is very similar as what you were served in business class. Would you say that their first class food is not good enough for what you would expect for first class food? Or that their business class food is better than what you would expect for business class food? Does that make sense?

  21. Your review mentions a “guy” was the bartender, but the picture shows a beautiful lady as the bartender. She is gorgeous. What was the nationality/ethnicity of the crew? What I wouldn’t give to take her into the large first-class lavatory, undress her and make love to her at 38,000 feet.

  22. It seems like QR’s business class is too good and it doesn’t seem like there is any incentive to pay for F.

    Also, your amenity kit is the exact same as the one they give in J. The only difference is that it looks like your bottle of aftershave is bigger. I would have expected something a bit more special for F.

  23. I really cant believe that an airline blogger is so naiive not to realise that if you fly on an inaugural you are going to get service above and beyond any regular flight . I therefore think its unfair to compare , though Ben was in love with QR 1st on the inaugural A380 flight …….Other than that he regularly says he hates AAB the CEO of QR. He was also flying to London and he hates anything British ,even though its our language that America changed 😉 shedjewel is correct not skedjule ! . I’m a regular QR flyer and yes the cost cutting is evident but no more so than any other airline in all honesty .. Aside from that I like to see the pictures of the different products to form my own opinions so thanks for that Ben .

  24. I’m disappointed in your levels of Krug consumption. I have A380 F coming up (my first Qatar F) from Sydney to Doha in a couple weeks, and I’ll be extremely disappointed in myself if I don’t manage north of a bottle 😉

  25. How difficult it is (in terms of availability) to book Qatar F with AA miles? Is it more difficult to find availability from the US to Doha or Doha back to the US? What about Doha to Africa or Australia?

  26. Whatever you do, do not book this airline- here’s a summary of what happened to us flying first class on qatar!

    SUMMARY
    • In total it took us 24 hours to get to Dubai, when it should have only taken 10 hours max.
    • In total we were stuck on planes for 9 hours: 45 minutes on QR4, 5 hours on QR1004, 2 hours 40 minutes on QR1024 just waiting for no substantial reason.
    • There was an identical flight landing to DWC at the same time as our flights at 02.30am- they reached fine with no weather issues, so why didn’t we? Why did we have to wait 5 hours on that plane!? So why was everyone blaming the weather because we saw many planes take off and we know that the DWC plane went to Dubai with no issues.
    • We are frequent flyers with Emirates and fly first and business class all of the time. We were ‘wowed’ by your advertising campaign on business travel but we are extremely disappointed with the way you handled the delays and treated us at every stage of the journey.

    After complaining to them, they gave me a template reply with ‘standard lines’, apologized and said there’s nothing they can do! If they treat first class passengers like this then I’d hate to think what they’d do to economy passengers!

  27. Hi Ben,
    Nice review. The first class suite are nice and chic. From your picture, the breakfast bread looks very sad ;).

    Regards..

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