When we review flights at Young Travelers of Hong Kong, we attempt to center each review around each specific flight. For that reason, last year we introduced guides, where we’d introduce the product as a whole based on our cumulative experience, as well as other experiences that we’ve read from trusted sources. In this post, I’ll be giving my version of a comprehensive guide to Qatar Airways’ reverse herringbone (A350, A380, 787) and leased A350 business class product.
I haven’t flown Qatar’s A330 or A340 (which has a similar configuration to Lufthansa’s A380 business class, though with different finishings and slight structural differences), their old 777 business class (different finishings but otherwise similar to their leased A350) or their brand new 777 QSuites, so I’ll leave them out of this guide. If I do fly them in the future (which is likely, since Qatar will switch to flying their older 777s from Hong Kong for both frequencies later this year), I’ll write a separate guide about these products.
Should you want to see more comprehensive reviews of individual flights that I’ve taken on Qatar Airways, here are the reviews of all flights I’ve taken on them in business class:
- Qatar Airways 787 Business Class Doha to Hong Kong
- Qatar Airways Leased A350 Business Class Munich to Doha
- Qatar Airways Leased A350 Business Class Doha to Munich
- Qatar Airways 787 Business Class Hong Kong to Doha
Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class
Here are the tips, tricks and what to expect whenever you see yourself booked on a flight in Qatar Airways’ 787, A380, or A350 business class.
Qatar Airways’ 787/A380/A350 Business Class Seat
Qatar Airways’ reverse herringbone business class seat looks stunning, and is consistent across their 787, A380 and A350 product, with minor differences. I’ve only flown the 787 before, though the product differences between the 787 and the Airbus aircraft are pretty minor – you can expect a similar in-seat experience onboard each of these aircraft (the biggest difference would be the addition of a great onboard bar onboard the A380).
Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class Seat
As you’d expect for a reverse herringbone configuration, every seat reclines into a very comfortable flatbed, with adjustable presets for each component of the seat, lumbar support, seat padding (soft/firm), etc.. While the seat is less private than quite a few other reverse herringbone business class products due to a lack of a “head privacy” shield, the customisability of the seat more than makes up for it, in my opinion.
Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class Bed
It does seem like Qatar Airways successfully one-upped themselves with QSuites, which I haven’t yet tried, though you shouldn’t have any qualms spending 10-15 hours in this seat on a longhaul flight. The seat also features a power port and a couple of USB ports, so you’re going to be well-wired throughout the flight.
Qatar Airways’ Leased A350 Business Class Seat
Qatar Airways grew faster than their planes were being delivered, so as a short-term solution they acquired A350s from fellow oneworld airline LATAM, who leased four A350s to them. Two of these A350s have already been handed back to LATAM, and the other two operate primarily on Qatar Airways’ two frequencies between Doha and Munich (I guess since they’re higher capacity, as they feature ~60 extra economy seats), occasionally making the shorthaul flight to Muscat or Kuwait City.
LATAM Airbus A350 Munich Airport
I was equipment-swapped onto one of these planes on my Doha to Munich roundtrip back when they still operated these A350s to numerous destinations around Europe. If you’re booked onto an older Qatar Airways 777, you’ll receive a somewhat older version of this hard product, though personally I haven’t flown a Qatar Airways 777.
The hard product is more rudimentary compared to Qatar Airways’ own A350s, featuring 30 business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. You’ll have much less customisability (e.g. you can’t control seat softness, etc.), though I do find the seat itself to be slightly better padded, which I appreciate.
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Leased Business Class Cabin
Each seat converts into a fully flat bed. Since I was sick to the point of being unconscious on one of my 787 flights and tired to the point of being unconscious on the other, I can’t judge which bed is more comfortable – though I will say that this product features a more private bed if you’re in a window seat (since there’s a very nice privacy partition, whereas head privacy is limited on the reverse herringbone product), with more space to move your feet, since the ottoman isn’t restricted. Therefore, if you’re flying from Doha to Munich on a redeye, I wouldn’t be too concerned about sleeping comfort.
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Leased Business Class Bed
Otherwise, privacy is maximised as far as forward facing 2-2-2 business class seats go (as the ottoman doubles as a storage compartment), so the two biggest downsides to the leased A350s are the lack of direct aisle access from the window seats, and less private aisle seats.
Which Seats Are Top Picks?
Let’s start with the reverse herringbone configuration that Qatar Airways operates. I can only truly speak for the 787 and leased A350, so will only briefly mention what I believe are the ideal seat configurations on Qatar Airways’ A380s and mainline A350s. That’s fine, as I believe the best seat picks on the A380 and A350 are rather straightforward.
Let’s get the obvious sorted out first. The window seats are more private, especially if you’re traveling alone, and the center seats are better if you want to socialise with your travel partner throughout the flight. That said, there’s a privacy partition at the center seats which can be adjusted to move up or down, so having a middle seat when traveling alone isn’t too big of a problem.
Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class Seat 4F
However, the main thing to realise is that there are no overhead bins above center seats on the A350 and 787. This is because Qatar Airways tried to go for an airier cabin. The 787 also features air nozzles at the window seats, which aren’t featured at the center seats. That’s another big reason why I’d probably opt for a window seat were I traveling with a partner.
On a mainline A350, I’d opt for a rear mini-cabin window seat any day. It’s a more discreet cabin with 12 seats, and the only issue is that there’s more foot traffic during boarding. Furthermore, the lavatories are all located by the big forward cabin, so there’ll be virtually no foot traffic during the flight. I’d probably pick the last row if I could, since the bulkhead seats can sometimes be used as crew storage compartments.
Meanwhile, the A380 features 48 business class seats in a single large business class cabin. The forward seats are adjacent to the lavatories, while the rear seats are adjacent to the bar. Both are sources of substantial light and sound disturbances, respectively. Therefore, I’d probably go with a seat in the middle of the cabin a little nearer to the front (rows 15 or 16), since the lavatories should emit less unwanted noise and light than the bar does.
These are my opinions, though they aren’t tried and tested, so you might want to refer to other sources for the best seats on Qatar Airways’ A380s and mainline A350s (if I fly on these planes business class in the near future, I’ll update this post).
Qatar Airways Airbus A380 Doha Airport
My thoughts on Qatar Airways’ best 787 and leased A350 seats, however, are based on my personal experience.
Qatar Airways 787 Best Business Class Seats
On Qatar Airways’ 787s, the front row is adjacent to the only galley the crew works out of, and the seat storage cupboard in front of the seat is also used as a crew storage compartment that they tend to use during the flight. It’s no massive deal, though I’d certainly avoid the first row.
Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class Cabin
The last row is adjacent to the entryway, an open space where you can stretch your legs and grab yourself a few chocolates, toothbrushes or top up a glass of champagne. I sat in the last row on my flight from Doha to Hong Kong and didn’t take issue with the lavatory proximity, though it’s definitely worth noting that the window seats in row 5 are missing a window. Since the galley tends to be loud, I’d stick to picking window seats in row 3 or row 4 when traveling on Qatar Airways’ 787.
Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class Entryway
In theory couples should love seats 6E and 6F, which are behind the entryway and are completely isolated. However, I’d avoid sitting here, since all economy passengers walk right past you, and you’re sandwiched by the bathrooms. A romantic cocoon-like setup just becomes a little less romantic when you’re being serenaded by the flushing of airplane toilets.
Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class Seats 6E and 6F
Qatar Airways Leased A350 Best Business Class Seats
Qatar Airways’ leased A350 business class features five rows of forward facing business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. If you’re into direct aisle access, I’d recommend you choose a middle seat, as no one climbs over you when you’re sleeping.
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Leased Business Class Seats 4E and 4F
However, if you’re like me and value privacy, you’d want a window seat, since there are substantial privacy partitions separating window seats from the rest of the cabin, while there’s minimal head privacy by the aisle seats.
All the bathrooms are at the front on LATAM’s A350s, so if you’re seated in row 5, you’ll have virtually no foot traffic. For those concerned about noise from baby bassinets in economy, there’s a full walkway separating the business class and economy class cabins – used by economy class passengers boarding through door L2 to get to their seat if they’re seated on the right side of the plane – so row 5 would be my first pick (as it usually is).
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Leased Business Class Row 5
For those ultra-concerned about window misalignment and the fact that you get a sliver of a window less than everyone else, row 3 and 4 feature a “full” complement of windows, while still being a distance from the galley.
I’ve said a lot, so to summarise:
- On the 787 and mainline A350s, center seats don’t feature overhead bins, and 787 window seats feature overhead air nozzles
- The best business class seats on mainline A350s are 8A, 8K, 9A and 9K
- The best business class seats on A380s are at rows 15 and 16, by a slight margin due to their placement within the cabin
- The best business class seats on 787s are 3A, 3K, 4A and 4K
- The best business class seats on leased A350s are 5E and 5F if you value direct aisle access, 5A and 5K if you value privacy, and 3A, 3K, 4A and 4K if you want full windows
What Food Should You Order?
One of the best things about the Qatar Airways business class experience has to be their dine-on-demand menu, where you can eat anytime you want during the flight. Qatar Airways planes are adequately staffed, so the dine-on-demand model works out well for them, as it has for a number of years.
Let’s start with the pre-departure beverage. Qatar Airways serves a number of pre-departure beverage, but the signature is their lime and mint juice, which you should order if you’re into anything sour or citrusy. I find the mint infusion to be inconsistent – on one flight in particular the mint was spectacularly infused into the lime juice, and on a couple of others I felt like I was drinking lime juice out of a box – though overall it’s a very solid factor that’s embedded itself into the Qatar Airways experience.
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Leased Business Class Pre-Departure Beverage
I’ll move on to Qatar Airways’ drink menu, since I can’t comment on their cocktail list. The most reputed drink menu item on Qatar Airways’ drink list has to be their non-alcoholic So Jennie champagne. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not life-changing – though it is incredibly crisp and delicious.
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Leased Business Class Non-Alcoholic Champagne
All I can say about Qatar Airways’ other beverages is that they’re great as well. Their breakfast smoothies taste fresh (I’m unclear of whether they actually are), and the only of the five mocktails they offer which I’ve tried is the Apple Cooler, which I like.
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Leased Business Class Drink – Apple Cooler
I also have some general tips on what to order on Qatar Airways’ menus:
- Qatar Airways tends to overdo their proteins, so steer away from dishes that star proteins, such as beef tenderloin, pork, fish dishes, etc.
- Their pasta dishes range from very good airplane food to phenomenal, restaurant-quality dishes
Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class Meal – Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni with Tomato Sauce
- Their signature dishes are probably the Arabic breakfast and the Arabic mezze – while they’re high-quality, well-executed and display local flair, sometimes I feel like the portions of the dips are family-sized, whereas you only get three pieces of bread to soak up as much of the dip as you can
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Business Class Dinner – Arabic Mezze
- While I haven’t tried an Indian or Sri Lankan dish on Qatar Airways (e.g. curry, saag aloo, etc.), the reviews I’ve read have been consistently great
- Qatar Airways executes breakfast items perfectly – I’ve personally had an amazing french toast with them, and I’ve heard of some other great dishes
Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class Breakfast – Vanilla French Toast with Caramelised Pineapple
So basically, the easier the dish is to cook in a home kitchen, the less likely you’re going to enjoy the meal. Meanwhile, the more labour-heavy and technique-heavy the preparation process seems, the better Qatar Airways seems to execute.
Qatar Airways’ Business Class Amenities
If there’s one thing that Qatar Airways nails, it’s the quality of the amenities that they offer. Qatar Airways doesn’t offer mattress pads on flights from Asia to Doha or Doha to Europe (they used to, but they had to cut costs in the meantime, so you’ll only get a mattress pad if you’re flying in QSuites, or to the U.S.). While I’m fine with the Doha to Europe flights getting inferior bedding, in my opinion Asia to Doha flights should be long enough to justify “full” sleeping amenities.
However, the pillow and blanket are of decent quality, and I was more than happy with them on all four flights. If I’m being picky, the pillow could’ve been a little firmer and I would’ve preferred a duvet in place of a (very comfortable) blanket, though in my understanding Qatar Airways offers both on longer flights.
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Leased Business Class Pillow
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Leased Business Class Blanket
Qatar Airways has their headphones down – they’re from Phitek, and have a separate noise cancellation switch, which should speak volumes as far as their quality goes – no pun intended.
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Leased Business Class Headphones
Hard-case amenity kits are offered on all Qatar Airways flights in business class, featuring socks, eyeshades, moisturiser, lip balm, etc.. The contents are from Monte Vibiano, which is a rather high-quality brand.
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Leased Business Class Amenity Kit Contents
Qatar Airways doesn’t put toothbrushes in their amenity kits, though there are sufficient toothbrushes located either at the bar area, or in the bathrooms.
Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class Entryway Area Dental Kit
While I love that Qatar Airways offers pajamas and they don’t feel bad on the skin, I wish they didn’t run so large, as my pants were falling off as I was wearing them. Still, very impressive indeed.
Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Business Class Pajamas
Qatar Airways’ amenities definitely act as one of the strong points of their business class product.
Qatar Airways’ Business Class Service
I’ve consistently had very friendly service on Qatar Airways. I boarded my four Qatar Airways flights incredibly skeptically, as I’ve heard multiple stories of how Qatar Airways flight attendants are treated. They’re under a lot of pressure, as slight service failures could potentially set them packing – there’s no room for error. For that reason, Qatar Airways acts as the “backup” option for most flight attendants wanting to work for a Middle Eastern airline, as the working conditions are much stricter than on Emirates and Etihad.
Did I see that trend on my flights? Honestly, kind of. The flight attendants were all friendly, extremely polished, mostly relaxed, and seemed like they wanted to be there, though there were a few hints that they have pretty rigorous training conditions. For example, a flight attendant shouldn’t have to be “deeply sorry” when I ask to be waken up and fail to respond.
We don’t know much about how crew are treated at Qatar Airways, though we have heard some rumours of pretty abysmal stories. If you’re not on the lookout, I can guarantee a great service experience. However, ignorance can’t change reality, so I suggest you look out for such hints of potential Qatar Airways moral issues when flying your next flight on Qatar Airways.
Which Lounges Can You Use?
Qatar Airways operates the Al Mourjan business class lounge at Doha Hamad Airport. The lounge is incredibly large, really airy, and features most of the things I look for in an airline hub lounge. I have to say that the decor is a little bit too toned down for my liking, the food isn’t amazing compared to other first-rate airline lounges, I’d appreciate more of a sense of place, and I wish I didn’t have to wait 30 minutes for a shower at 1 AM – though I’m being picky here, since it otherwise checks all the boxes.
In other words, I wouldn’t whine too much about being stuck here on a 12-hour layover, especially since there are dedicated work and relax areas. However, I wouldn’t arrive the airport early or schedule a long layover just to spend more time in this lounge.
Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge Doha
In a way I feel like some of their glitzier outstation lounges feel better decorated than this lounge does, but I haven’t visited any of them.
Here in Hong Kong, Qatar Airways technically uses the Plaza Premium lounge, though as a oneworld airline you’ll have access to Cathay Pacific’s The Pier lounge, which is always a great place to spend an extra amount of time, since I rate The Pier as one of the world’s best business class lounges.
Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge
Qatar Airways offers one of the world’s best business class products – there’s no doubt about that. While the hard product is a bit of a mix-n-match, the attention to detail when it comes to the soft product is second to none. While I’d look out for a flight operated by a mainline A350, 787, A380, or QSuites, you’d honestly have a great flight no matter which product you’re seated in.
We’ll have to keep up with the media in regards to how Qatar Airways crew are treated. In the meantime, though, I suggest you follow some of the above tips in order to maximise your experience on your next flight in Qatar Airways business class – you’ll be in for a great flight.