Review: Qatar Airways Business Class A340 Doha To Colombo

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Our flight from Casablanca arrived at around 10:30PM, and our connection to Colombo was at 2:15AM, so we had just under four hours. Transit security in Doha was quick, and within minutes we found ourselves in the Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge, which I’ve reviewed before.

After getting caught up on some work and having a snack, we eventually headed to our departure gate at around 1:20AM. We were departing from gate C5, which was about a 10 minute walk from the Al Mourjan Lounge.

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Hamad International Airport terminal

Boarding for our flight commenced at 1:35AM, about 40 minutes before departure.

Qatar Airways 664
Doha (DOH) – Colombo (CMB)
Monday, August 2
Depart: 2:15AM
Arrive: 9:35AM
Duration: 4hr50min
Aircraft: Airbus A340-600
Seat: 4B (Business Class)

This flight was operated by the same type of plane we had from Colombo to Doha. The A340-600 has just 24 business class seats, spread across four rows in a 2-2-2 configuration.

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Qatar Airways A340 business class cabin

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Qatar Airways A340 business class cabin

The friendly cabin service director, Eduardo, directed us to our seats in row four.

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Qatar Airways A340 business class cabin

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Qatar Airways A340 business class cabin

We had assigned seats 4A & 4B, on the left side and in the last row of the cabin.

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Qatar Airways A340 business class, seats 4A & 4B

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Qatar Airways A340 business class, seats 4A & 4B

Already waiting in the storage compartment behind our seats were headphones and bottled water.

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Qatar Airways A340 business class seat storage

I took a quick glimpse at the economy cabin behind us. It’s sort of insane how many economy seats Qatar Airways has on their A340-600s!

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Qatar Airways A340 economy cabin

Also waiting at our seats were Qatar’s excellent plush pillow and blanket, which I quickly used to get comfortable.

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Qatar Airways business class pillow & blanket

Moments after settling in we were offered a small pouch with some amenities. This wasn’t the full blown amenity kit given that this was a short flight, but I assume rather just intended as a snooze pack.

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Qatar Airways business class amenity pouch

The pouch consisted of eyeshades, earplugs, socks, and a comb.

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Qatar Airways business class amenity pouch

Moments later Mohammed, the flight attendant taking care of us, came by and introduced himself. He informed us that the flight time would be 4hr30min. He offered us our choice of drinks, as well as hot or cold towels. We selected hot towels and Qatar’s excellent lime mint juice, as usual.

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Qatar Airways business class hot towels & lime mint juice

Moments later he brought the menu and wine list, and explained that we could eat what we wanted when we wanted.

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Qatar Airways menu & wine list

Boarding was efficient, and at 2:10AM Captain Alfonso made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our cruising altitude of 39,000 feet, and that he hoped we’d have an on-time arrival.

By 2:20AM boarding was complete, and every business class seat was occupied. From the looks of it, business class seemed to consist mostly of Europeans, with several older British and German couples.

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View from seat 4B in Qatar Airways business class cabin

I was expecting we’d push back shortly, but unfortunately there was a bit of a delay. After a while Captain Alfonso was back on the PA to explain that there were two passengers who no showed, so their bags had to be offloaded. That’s a process that took about 30 minutes, so it was 2:50AM before we began our pushback.

At that point the safety video played, which in this case was the special FC Barcelona one.

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Qatar Airways FC Barcelona safety video

Here’s the safety video, for those of you who haven’t seen it (it’s rather over the top):

As we taxied out I watched the airshow, noting our route straight out over the ocean.

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Airshow enroute to Colombo

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Airshow enroute to Colombo

We taxied out to runway 34R, and by 3:10AM were cleared for takeoff, as there were a few planes ahead of us for takeoff (as usual in the Middle East, the middle of the night is rush hour). Our takeoff roll was long, and we had some great views on departure.

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Airshow taxiing at Doha Airport

As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection, and per Matthew’s suggestion, watched Dr. Ken. That’s the same guy who played Mr. Chow in The Hangover. While this sitcom wasn’t quite as over the top, it was still amusing.

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Qatar Airways inflight entertainment

When we looked at the menu, we were a bit surprised to find that they basically had a full dinner service on offer, rather than breakfast. For a flight departing at 2AM and landing at 10AM, you’d think breakfast would be the primary meal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining, since dinner is almost always better than breakfast on planes… but I was surprised.

Matthew and I were both tired, so the initial plan was to go to sleep right after takeoff and eat before landing. However, we then realized this was just a 4hr30min flight, so it seemed better to get the meal “over with,” and try to sleep until as close to landing as possible.

This is also when it dawned on us just how insane the journey ahead of us was. We were flying to Colombo, had a seven hour layover there, were flying to Jeddah, had a seven hour layover there, were flying to Manchester, had a four hour layover there, were flying to New York, had a six hour layover there, and then were flying to Los Angeles. What were we thinking?!

Anyway, the rather strange (and extremely impressive) menu for the flight read as follows:

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And the beverage list read as follows:

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Mohammed and Eduardo were great about carrying out the meal service quickly. Within 30 minutes of takeoff our tables were set, including personal breadbaskets.

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Qatar Airways business class supper service — table setting

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Qatar Airways business class supper service — breadbasket

To start we had the wild mushroom soup, which was hot and flavorful.

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Qatar Airways business class supper service — wild mushroom soup

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Qatar Airways business class supper service — wild mushroom soup

For the starter I decided to mix it up (I’m usually a die-hard mezze fan) and have the chicken cheese tikka with mint chutney. It was phenomenal.

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Qatar Airways business class appetizer — pinenut chicken cheese tikka with mint chutney

Meanwhile Matthew had the mezze, which looked as good as usual.

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Qatar Airways business class appetizer — Arabic mezze

For the main course I had the saffron chicken korma, which was also incredible and flavorful. It was so well prepared, and translated well even at 39,000 feet, unlike some other dishes that may be good on the ground but not in the air.

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Qatar Airways business class main course — saffron chicken korma

Matthew had the lamb loin, which looked good as well.

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Qatar Airways business class main course — herb crusted lamb loin with rosemary jus

For dessert we had the chocolate florentine gateaux with nuts. It was decadent.

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Qatar Airways business class dessert — chocolate florentine gateaux with nuts

The meal was done about 90 minutes after takeoff, giving us about three hours before our arrival in Colombo. Qatar’s meal services are just flawless. Where else in the world do you get this kind of a meal service on a short redeye flight?

Towards the end of the meal I watched Fresh Off The Boat, another sitcom I find pretty hilarious.

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Qatar Airways inflight entertainment

By the time the meal service was done, the sun was already rising over the Indian Ocean.

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Sunrise enroute to Colombo

I reclined my seat and tried to get some rest. Despite being dead tired, I didn’t really sleep all that well, for whatever reason.

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Qatar Airways business class cabin after dinner

I woke up a bit over 30 minutes out of Colombo, as we were passing over the southern tip of India.

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Airshow approaching Colombo

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Airshow approaching Colombo

I asked Eduardo for a couple of cappuccinos, which we promptly served us.

You know how there are some experiences in life that are just disproportionately enjoyable? Well, for me sipping a well made cappuccino on a plane shortly after having woken up while looking out the window and watching the airshow is one of them.

There’s something about just sitting there for five minutes holding a warm mug in my hands while coming to terms with the fact that I just slept for several hours while in a machine transporting me at 500 miles per hour over an ocean that never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes a nice cappuccino helps with slowing down and appreciating that.

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Qatar Airways business class pre-landing cappuccinos

We were offered Walkers cookies with the cappuccinos, and also some chocolates.

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Qatar Airways business class pre-landing chocolates

Moments later Captain Alfonso provided us with updated arrival information, informing us that we’d be landing at around 10:15AM, a bit behind schedule (due to our delayed departure).

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View approaching Colombo

We hit a bit of chop as we descended through the clouds (the flight was otherwise very smooth), and sure enough touched down at around 10:15AM. From there it was a short five minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we arrived at 10:20AM.

Qatar A340 business class bottom line

This was another incredible flight on Qatar Airways. Their soft product in business class is simply second to none, especially on these shorthaul flights. Where else do you get a legitimate four course meal on a fairly short redeye? Furthermore, their cappuccinos are incredible, which is a great thing to wake up to after a short night of sleep.

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Comments

  1. Lucky, presume u do not have check in luggage on this trip?

    Was thinking if you will cover the transit situation in CMB , where u transferred on separate tickets?

    How was the transit situation in CMB transit area, especially u r on separate tickets and add that the 2 flights r from different alliance? Would check-in luggages be difficult to interline if on separate tickets?

  2. @ Flyingfish — Correct, we didn’t have checked luggage. Will talk about the transit experience in the next installment, but basically we just went to the transit desk to get our boarding passes. If we did have checked bags this would have been much more complicated.

  3. Love the single page for each bottle of wine! I worked in an Italian restaurant years ago and we did similar – we soaked off the labels from wine bottles and placed them in a photo album with the price beside them – one for each page.

  4. @Lucky QR is the best airline IMO, but whenever I board and see a flight attendant, I think of His Excellency telling the crew “the pilots are my chauffeurs, they only come to @%$& you”

    Do you get any feeling of sorrow for the crew when you see them?

  5. @flyingfish, with checked luggage on two separate tickets (e.g. not Sri Lanka) you would need to clear Immigration, then buy large appliances if you want, collect your bags, walk outside from the arrivals building, head right to the departure building and clear a security check point going into arrivals. Now here is the messy part. There is another security check point before the can get to the checkin desks, but you will not be allowed to clear that check point until 3 hours before departure of your flight. I’d love to see Lucky’s impression of this waiting/hold cell/purgatory part of the airport. After you clear the check point you go to the check in desk, then back through immigration and finally you are in the airport. None of these steps takes too long, but depending on when you next flight is you might be stuck outside the pre check in desk check point, which is not pleasant.

  6. @Lucky – It was your reviews of Qatar (not to mention, of course, your tips and tricks on miles which I’ve reading daily for the last 6 years) that has led me to fly them 3 times, twice in business and once in first. I agree the food is great, the service terrific, and so forth, but you had post a few years back on just how poorly the airline treats its staff and that has really changed my perspective on flying them. I’m not saying that other airlines are necessarily exemplars of how to treat employees, but given that Qatar seems particularly bad in this area does that give you any pause in flying them? All the times I’ve flown the airlines the crews have been so sweet and kind, but since your posts about working conditions there (and other things I’ve read about it), I’ve not flown Qatar anymore and don’t plan on it. I just don’t think all the luxury and first class treats would taste as sweet knowing that the person serving them to me could their job for something trifling or less. I realize there is always the counterargument that if people boycotted the airline everyone might lose their job, but that doesn’t really work for me here given: (a) it doesn’t appear Qatar is a profit-making venture anyway; and (b) I, at least, redeem miles so am not paying anything anyway (although realize sometimes, like on this trip, you do have a revenue ticket).

    Would be interested in your thoughts on this.

    Thanks as always,
    Django

  7. I love the subtle, or not so subtle, nuance of pic #16 in your report. Keep up the great screen shots!! 🙂

  8. @flyingfish2

    Hey twin. Lol.

    Thanks for your info. OMG. This would be crazy. Looks like everyone one is better off doing a 1-night stay in CMB town if they are trying to take advantage of the cheap ex-CMB ticket fares.

    Anyway, I will read on Lucky’s write-up on the transit experience in the next episode.

  9. I flew last month between Doha and CMB in economy class. The food was a disaster. The seat is not comfortable. Service is ok. So my experience on Qatar was not perfect

  10. Thanks for your sharing. It makes me even more excited for the upcoming flight in business class with Qatar!!
    I have a question to ask (though it is asked in early reply), hope they don’t bother too much.
    The first one is about transit in CMB. I m flying with Srilankan Airlines from CAN to CMB then with Qatar from CMB to DOH. Do you mean that, if i don’t hv any checked luggage, i can just go to the transit counter and get my onward boarding pass? ( my first flight arrives at around 23:00pm and second flight departs at around 3:30am) I m stuck with the problem and can’t really get the answers on the Net.

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