My Qatar Airways A340 Business Class Flight In 10 Pictures

I’ve stated in the past that I think Qatar Airways offers the world’s all around best business class product, and that’s in spite of the fact that I’ve never found the service on Qatar to be especially good. However, between their excellent hard product (at least on the A350, A380, and 787) and top notch catering, they’re one of my favorites.

Qatar Airways also impresses on their shorthaul flights, like the one I took last year between Doha and Abu Dhabi. Where else in the world do you get a flat bed, pre-departure champagne, a meal, and a cappuccino, on a 30 minute flight?

Well, earlier today I flew Qatar Airways business class from Colombo to Doha, a flight that was operated by their A340-600. They only have a few of these planes left, and they’re in a super high density configuration, with just 24 business class seats.

Qatar-Airways-A340-Business-Class - 1

Qatar-Airways-A340-Business-Class - 2

Unfortunately the plane doesn’t have reverse herringbone seats, but rather has forward facing fully flat seats, similar to what they have on their A320s. That’s more than sufficient for the four hour flight from Colombo to Doha, but I find the inconsistency in them reconfiguring planes to be a bit strange.

Qatar-Airways-A340-Business-Class - 3

Qatar-Airways-A340-Business-Class - 4

Once again I was blown away by Qatar’s soft product, especially when you consider this flight was only four hours, about the same length as a Chicago to Los Angeles flight, for example.

The menu looked incredible, as always. On most airlines I see just a few things on the menu that really sound great, while on Qatar I typically have a very hard time deciding.

The meal started with warm mixed nuts and drinks.

Qatar-Airways-A340-Business-Class - 5

That was followed by an incredible tomato and basil soup (and it really was incredible).

Qatar-Airways-A340-Business-Class - 6

That was followed by a beautiful mezze.

Qatar-Airways-A340-Business-Class - 7

Then I was served the main course, which was a flavorful Sri Lankan chicken and rice dish.

Qatar-Airways-A340-Business-Class - 8

For dessert I had a red velvet cake with nougat, which was out-of-this-world. I had a cappuccino to accompany it.

Qatar-Airways-A340-Business-Class - 9

Last I was offered a cheese plate, along with a box of chocolates.

Qatar-Airways-A340-Business-Class - 10

Service on the flight was okay, as I find to be the norm on Qatar. I’m never been blown away by the service, as I find the flight attendants to be rather impersonal, but I think that’s largely a function of their work environment.

However, the food and small details of the service on Qatar really are second to none in business class, even though they’ve made some service cuts lately.

As a point of comparison, here’s what I was served on my China Eastern flight from Shanghai to Colombo the day before, a flight which was two hours longer than my Qatar Airways one:

China-Eastern-Business-Class-Meal

Is there an airline with a better business class soft product than Qatar? If so, I haven’t flown them…

Comments

  1. I flew this route a few days ago, but on a 777 instead of the a340. While I’m also a fan of the reverse herringbone seats on the a350 and 787, I have to admit I found the J seats on Qatar’s 777 more spacious and comfortable. Only thing holding it back is the lack of privacy.

  2. I’ve only flown with Qatar 2x, and while the service on the first flight (JFK-DOH on an A350) was good but not exceptional (basically exactly as you describe), the second flight (DOH-AMM) had one of the best crews I’ve ever flown with. Very personable, friendly, and seemed genuinely happy (I actually ended up exchanging a few jokes with the flight attendant (I believe she was Ukrainian) working my section). Not sure if they had a “special” crew as the Prime Minister of Singapore was on that flight (with I’m assuming his wife and huge entourage) – in fact, they were brought on board by “His Excellency” himself. The food was indeed amazing on both flights.

  3. Business Class service on Qatar has always struck me as pretty good – they are responsive, polite, and often do kind little gestures (they are always offering you additional chocolates lol). I’m not sure what’s to fault, given there isn’t much more to it than that for Business Class (if you want languid fawning, you need to go to First where they have enough time for that glad-handling).

  4. Do you collect/redeem Qmiles with qatar, or which Mileage Plan you use when collecting on QR. I hear collecting AVIOS is supposedly better than qmiles?

  5. @Jenelle927 Billecart Salmon
    @ Lucky We just flew CMB-DOH-PER and had amazing service on both, close to the best, if not the best, of any of the business class we have flown. The food was amazing. Given some bad reviews I have read of the A340/777 compared to 787/A380/A350, I was surprised at how excellent it was. My wife has asked for extended time in DOH next time. Between the wonderful lounge and the shops, she reckons she needs a good 5-6 hours as a starter.

  6. As a French man, it hurts me in my flash to see that you have cheese before the dessert! Even if all looked delicious…

  7. Ride economy like everybody else. Who cares about first (there are hardly any airlines that have first anymore) or business class. Hardly anybody rides up there so why should we care? I almost NEVER ride anything but economy.

  8. Dear Lucky. When traveling on Brussels Airlines you can credit your miles to Etihad. Can you do the reverse? Flying from Brussels to Melbourne with Etihad next month (business class sales season tipped the balance !) and would like to know whether there is a way to log those Etihad Miles on a Miles-and-More account.

  9. @Kevin – I almost never ride anything, but business or first (if I can find it), so I care. And so do others. You are not the only one who reads this blog. FWIW there are others that focus more on economy flights. Maybe you should read those blogs if reading about J/F offends you. I’ll agree that we don’t need another LH or EK review though:-)

  10. Not sure if lucky posted anything about the lounge situation in CMB, but I find it pretty disappointing, even the UL Serendib lounge (probably the most underwhelming lounge at a principle hub I’ve visited to date). QR uses the Araliya Lounge, a contract lounge, which I find to be much better and less crowded.

  11. “Service on the flight was okay, as I find to be the norm on Qatar. I’m never been blown away by the service, as I find the flight attendants to be rather impersonal, but I think that’s largely a function of their work environment.” :

    I respect your opinion and understand one’s perception of the service is quite a subjective topic, but to hear this opinion constantly in a somewhat decisive/determined tone makes a reader like me uncomfortable, and I am concerned that it might negatively affect against Qatar flight for future passengers. Sure, it’s good to be aware of human right issues etc. in Qatar airways’ work environment but to slash their service in every review doesn’t sound quite correct to me.

    As an Asian lady who is based in Cairo, I think I have had a fair amount of Qatar flight experiences along with those with Etihad (eco, J & F – A346/A345/A380) & Gulf Air (eco. J). Sure, never flown eco with Qatar but I flew in J/(F as it’s called so within ME) in A350, A380, A333, B777, A320 and F in A380 etc. to/from Gulf & Europe, between the Gulf states, to/from ICN/BKK etc. Although I came across some disappointment at times at meal offerings (especially F A380 from/to BKK lol), so far I also had several occasions on which I had to write compliment letters for excellent service and care. I guess, service gets sometimes functional and impersonal (but it’s also same with Etihad and other Gulf airlines) depending on route, but I would say, for 85% of my Qatar flights, I have been quite pleasantly satisfied with the level of service/care, and I don’t particularly feel indifference/fear/uneasiness/nervousness in their service attitude. I won’t say I have been blown away many times by Qatar service (well, I don’t get easily blown away by the flight service), but to me, Qatar service combined with their excellent hard product made me much prefer to fly with Qatar rather than Singapore/CX premium cabin which I take from time to time.

  12. Ben, I love reading this blog and look forward to your posts, but your sense of dare I say ‘entitlement’ has sharply increased over what seems to be your last few trips and it makes a lot of readers, including myself feel a bit turned off now from this blog. Not every airline can serve Krug or Osetra Caviar, but that seems to be the theme with your posts recently, that unless you are receiving this level of ‘Michelin star’ service then your opinion is that the product (soft and hard) is terrible.(And I still cringe a bit when you mentioned Moet as ‘sub-par’ champagne in one of your previous posts, that is similar to a privileged/spoiled rich kid who only buys the most expensive champagne only because it is the most expensive). I am a regular J class flier on multiple airlines and at the end of the day yes some are better than others, but you generally know what you are signing yourself up for when you chose an airline. Given that you are fortunate enough to fly ‘for free’ it is just a bit hard to swallow the attitude. Also in future please be mindful that peoples careers could be at stake when you write these posts.

  13. We had the chance to fly QR in J operated by a A350 Doha – Singapur return with our 1 year old and 1 1/2 year old son (at return) and both times they have been exceptional. I tealy enjoyed the service. Tge have been friendly to us all the time and we had some nice chats. Probably an adorable toddler is an icebreaker, but I can’t think of anything I could complain about the onboard experience.

    Cheers

  14. Listen Lucky, The only reason they have installed these seats on the a340 is because the plan on retiring them soon.
    After they retire their a340’s, QR plans to save money by installing the same seats onto future a320 family aircraft.
    That’s the reason for this unique QR a340 configuration.

    Luck, I have a question for you:
    Did your a340 feature an F cabin?
    Or not?

    The reason I ask, is because I have noticed on QR’s website that the a340-600 that operates the route sometimes has an F cabin!!!!!

  15. Qatar is the slave ship. I just read my friends employment contract as a FA. All I can say is wow. They have so many rules and are watched all the time. A full-time Starbucks employee in the United States makes more monthly then a Qatar Flight Attendant. Chew on that one. He can’t wait to quit in 2 months.

  16. Ben,
    My wife and I took four Qatar flights recently, all in business. Bali, Doha, Doha, Joberg & Joberg, Doha, Doha, New York.
    The 787’s were better, which were strangely to and from Joberg.
    But the flight from Bali and the flight to NYC were not that great. Not compared to Cathay biz.
    The frozen Mezze was terrible. The exact same meals on all four flights.
    Good wine I will give them that.
    Entertainment was touch and go, you would turn off the close captioning and it would still be there. Movies would just stop in the middle. Buffering = maddening! I don’t think there was functioning internet on any flight.
    Kids from Economy would be running the whole flight to their parents in biz. it got tiresome. Trading seats and back and forth… FA’s saying sorry and telling the parents not to let them in the biz cabin. It was a bit of a circus/daycare. No one would listen to them. They even dismissed the FA’s.
    On 777 flights, the seat was rock hard. Like a board plank. Pajamas offered on a couple flights but only small?
    The service was quite good. Especially the guys, the women were cold…

    Would I do it again? On miles sure. Would I pay? Maybe deep deep discounted.
    It just wasn’t that great, not like you make it look and sound here.

    On another note it’s not the same reading your reports anymore. It’s not a wonder why the best restaurant reviewers were always anonymous! No one would know who they are.
    The service certainly changes when they know who you are. Even China Eastern spotted you out. Do you think you’re getting preferiential treatment? Can we really expect to get the same preferiential treatment as you?
    I don’t think so Ben. Sorry to say. Your reports have to be anonymous. You’re going to have to sort something out that works for your readers. I don’t need to read about your travels around the world being treated like a king. It’s just not accurate or readers will have such high expectations they will always be disappointed.
    Dana

  17. Ben,
    It even looks like you staged these pics (and all others you want to look good) No one gets served that perfect not even a fork crooked? The champagne full and bubbles?
    The chocolate just there. They never put the chocolate like that on my flights!
    Getting on early and photographing the empty cabin is a dead giveaway you’re going to review the flight and service.
    We want a honest, anonymous reviews of what we are going to get. Not your pampered royal treatment version of things.
    Just saying!

  18. I agree with Lucky. We flew the same sector just a month ago in the A340 from CMB-DOHA and then on to NY in a A350. By the way for just over $ 2,500 return for two, which I found incredible compared to the business class fares out of NZ! This was a promotion offer and we were indeed lucky to have come across this fare and to be in CMB at the time to take up this offer. I would like to express my appreciation to Lucky for posting a review on Qatar offers from the three Cs in Asia a few weeks earlier before I booked my flights.

    Another a plus point that I would like to note unlike in many other airlines, when you book online, Qatar offers you a 48 hour hold on your reservation, which I found very useful.

    Despite the configuration (lack of aisle access), the slightly angled seats in A340 was quite good – but not as good as in A350. We found the service in the DOHA-NY sector was far better than the CMB-DOHA. Cabin crew on DOHA-NY was full of smiles and went the extra mile to make the journey memorable. However, we did not experience the same level of service in the return sector, although we could not fault the service.

    The images displayed by Lucky are very close to as they are presented, if you choose to take the trouble to take few good pictures.

    Compared to the on board service, Araliya lounge in CMB does not do justice to the level of Qatar service. But it provided a good selection of food and drink compared to the BA lounge in NY which Qatar uses. Though seating and was atmosphere was better food and beverages were inadequate. Noit sure whether it was the time of the day.

    Where Qatar fell short in the service was not having small and medium size pajamas in both sectors from and to NY. I have seen others having the same experience.

    I do not whether there are better business class products. But I should say that it was a memorable experience and I would not hesitate to do it again even for a higher price with Qatar.

    Ashley

  19. From a service point of view, and when flying as a family all I can say is that they are usually great. My two kids always get so much attention to the point where one recent flight I think almost the entire crew were surrounding me in the gallery whilst I was holding my six month old! (In a friendly way, not creepy!) This was in economy as I see it as a waste of miles taking kids in business class!

Leave a Reply

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