What Is Qatar Airways’ Leased A350 Business Class Like?

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As I talked about yesterday, I recently had the chance to fly from Hong Kong to Doha to Munich in Qatar Airways business class. Yesterday I shared my initial thoughts on the flight from Hong Kong to Doha, which was operated by a Qatar Airways 787 featuring reverse herringbone business class seats. When I booked the flight, the Doha to Munich segment was originally going to be operated by a Qatar Airways A350, though in February Qatar announced that they would be leasing A350s from partner LATAM, with Doha to Munich being one of the affected routes.

an airplane on the tarmacLATAM Airlines Airbus A350-900 Munich Airport

It’s no secret that I don’t mind trying new airlines, despite the fact that LATAM’s A350 seats are far inferior to Qatar Airways’ A350 seats. So, how was my flight in Qatar Airways’ leased A350 business class product?

Qatar Airways Leased A350 Business Class Seat

Qatar Airways’ leased A350 business class cabin features 30 seats spread across five rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. For a forward facing business class seat, I actually thought that the seats were gorgeous. They were wide, well padded, and I loved the colours, though at the same time there’s something to be said when LATAM is one of the few airlines that feature an A350 business class product without direct aisle access (the other such airlines being Ethiopian, Lufthansa and Air Caraibes, out of 12 airlines that operate the A350).

a seat with white pillows and a table in the middle of the seatQatar Airways/LATAM Airbus A350-900 Business Class

I appreciated that storage space was maximised, as it’s otherwise limited in this configuration of forward facing fully flat seats. While there were nooks around the seat, the main storage compartment was under the ottoman, which fit my camera bag.

a red seat with a red cushionQatar Airways/LATAM Airbus A350-900 Business Class Ottoman

The seat also worked well as a bed – I had no problems with sleeping in the seat, and being in a window seat, I found it nice and private (I probably wouldn’t have said the same were I in an aisle seat, however). I had to clamber over my dad whenever accessing the aisle, though my dad never reclined his seat fully, so I had no issues with that either.

a bed with a pillow and a blanket on the back of a planeQatar Airways/LATAM Airbus A350-900 Business Class Bed

The seat also featured two USB power ports – one near the seat, and one on the other side should you want to place your phone in one of the nooks provided on the seatback in front. There was also an 110V power plug, so I had no problems with power on the flight.

Qatar Airways Leased A350 Business Class Amenities

Despite being a leased aircraft, Qatar Airways still offers their own crew and service on the flight, down to their amenities. Qatar Airways doesn’t feature pajamas on regional flights anymore (as far as I know, they don’t feature mattress pads on any flights anymore), though they do feature blankets on request. They’re the same blankets that I experienced on my flight from Hong Kong to Doha, so I have no complaints there. The same pillow was provided, as was the same Brig’s amenity kit.

a group of objects on a tableQatar Airways/LATAM Airbus A350-900 Business Class Amenity Kit

The headphones were marginally different, in that they had an actual noise cancellation switch. My best guess is that they were Phitek headphones – while they didn’t beat my Bose QC35 headphones, which I ended up using throughout the flight, they were probably the best airline headphones I’ve had thus far.

a pair of headphones on a tableQatar Airways/LATAM Airbus A350-900 Business Class Headphones

Unfortunately, this flight didn’t offer WiFi, which I would’ve appreciated on a five-hour daytime flight. However, I was still able to catch up on work that I had pre-loaded on my computer, as I knew that coming in. The entertainment system, however, was substantial – it doesn’t beat Singapore Airlines’ excellent entertainment system, Virgin Atlantic’s entertainment system or even Cathay Pacific’s entertainment system, as it’s harder to navigate around and I don’t love the airshow, though it certainly wasn’t below par – my parents and Hailey all found some of their favourite movies, which they were happy to watch again on this daytime flight.

a screen shot of a computerQatar Airways/LATAM Airbus A350-900 Business Class Entertainment System

Qatar Airways Leased A350 Business Class Food

Qatar Airways offered a breakfast service off an a-la-carte menu on this morning flight, which is usually my least favourite airline meal of the day. I ordered the Arabic breakfast, which I know that some of my friends have appreciated on Qatar Airways. While it wasn’t my cup of tea (the bowl of foul medames and the amount of feta cheese was too much for me to handle, as someone who had the flu and was having his third breakfast of the day), it was leagues ahead of breakfast I’d had on any other airline in business class.

a plate of food on a tableQatar Airways/LATAM Airbus A350-900 Business Class Meal – Arabic Breakfast

As a whole the meals weren’t as exciting as the a-la-carte options were on the longhaul segment prior, though I respect that, as the flight was shorter, a breakfast-catered flight, and was also operated on a leased aircraft.

Qatar Airways Leased A350 Business Class Service

Qatar Airways didn’t wet lease the aircraft, which meant that the aircraft was still staffed with Qatar Airways pilots and crew. This meant that I kept an eye out for Jason any signs that the crew were being mistreated.

I’m happy to say that the crew seemed to really enjoy their jobs. I was taking a picture of the economy cabin when I first entered the plane, and the flight attendants said that the photo would be better with crew in them, and posed for a photo, which I really appreciated. Unfortunately I can’t include it here, as I forgot to ask for permission to post the photo onto the blog.

The business class staff were incredibly proactive and kept asking us if we wanted to be woken up earlier in case we wanted anything, and when I was up after a two-hour nap I was offered something to eat, something to drink, etc.. The level of attentiveness was impressive, and the crew seemed incredibly comfortable with their job as well. Qatar Airways definitely has the best service procedure of any airline I’ve flown in business class, and I know that Akbar Al Baker boasts about that often – I hate to admit it, but he’s right.

Bottom Line: Qatar Airways’ Leased A350 Business Class

To have an equipment swap from Qatar Airways’ reverse herringbone seat to their leased LATAM product was pretty disappointing. That said, for a forward facing business class seat, I think that LATAM’s seat is one of the better designed out there (that said, it still lags behind the competition in terms of A350 business class seats).

However, I found the soft product to be exceptional across the board. I can’t say that I was as impressed with the food as I was with the first segment, though I walked in with incredibly high expectations, and Qatar Airways served me two of the best airline breakfasts I’ve ever had. Service was also friendly and proactive, and didn’t seem forced for the most part, which I appreciate – I hope that this actually reflects a level of improvement in how Qatar Airways cabin crew are treated, and the crew aren’t just very good actors.

Over the two flights I had with Qatar Airways they proved that they deserved the Best Airline Of The Year award. I hope I walk away with the same impression after the two flights I have on Qatar Airways next week.

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