WOW! Hello from 34,000 feet somewhere over Iran. I’m currently trying out Qatar Airways’ QSuite between Doha and Amsterdam. I flew to Doha this morning, where I managed to sample QSuites for the first time; I believed that a review of the “world’s best business class product” was long overdue.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class
Mainly I was looking forward to playing some sort of devil’s advocate, since I’ve heard unanimous praise from various trusted bloggers. It all seemed too good to be true.
It wasn’t. Obviously I’ve tried enough business class products so that I can come up with a couple of (nitpicky) criticisms with regards to the seat, though there’s no question that this business class product blows any other that I’ve flown out of the water.
This is as close to perfection as business class gets.
Before I get too far into Qatar Airways’ QSuite
Here’s my biggest beef with Qatar Airways’ QSuite – you’re not guaranteed to fly in QSuites until the moment your plane leaves Doha, even when you’re flying a “QSuite guaranteed route”. Qatar Airways runs two flights between Hong Kong and Doha – one that leaves Hong Kong for Doha at 7 PM, and the other of which leaves at 1 AM. While the 1 AM flight gets swapped to Qatar Airways’ inferior 2-2-2 777 configuration approximately 2 out of 7 times a week (which is still more than you’d expect), I was monitoring Qatar Airways’ flights between Hong Kong and Doha prior to my flight, and realised that the 7 PM flight got swapped out 5 out of 7 times a week two weeks in a row, which I found rather ridiculous.
There’s no reason for me to gamble for a QSuite on a “QSuite guaranteed route” when I could be guaranteed a solid hard product on Etihad or Oman Air, for example. But when the gamble does pay off…
Qatar Airways’ 777 QSuite Seat
Both of my flights were operated by Qatar Airways’ premium-heavy QSuite 777s, which feature 42 business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. This is a play on the Solstys-style staggered business class seat that you’d find on Hong Kong Airlines or Thai Airways, with the main similarity shared being that some seats are closer to the aisle and others are closer to the window/middle. This means that some QSuites are better than others.
My seat, 5A, was closer to the window, and was further away from the door. This is consistent with all A and K seats (in odd-numbered rows up to row 5, and rows 8 and 10).
Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class Seat 5A
Meanwhile, if you’re seated in a B or J seat, your seat will be closer to the aisle (and the seat is flush with the door, which means it’s a little less spacious than the window seats). All center seats in even numbered rows (D and G) are positioned similarly, minus the windows of course.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class Seat 6B
Meanwhile, if you’re in an odd-numbered row and seated in a center seat (E and F), you’d be in a so-called “honeymoon seat”, where two seats are located right next to each other. Qatar Airways brought the “honeymoon seat” to the next level, and you can convert these seats into a double bed. Obviously, if you end up seated here next to a stranger, there’s the option to fully raise the partition. You can even open up the partition with the adjacent aisle-side center seats to make a quad suite, which we’re planning to try out on our return flight from Doha to Hong Kong.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class Honeymoon Seats
All aisle-side seats face forward, whereas all windowside and honeymoon seats are rear-facing, in order to maximise space.
The key differentiator of the seat from other market products is the addition of a sliding door for privacy.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class Door
Most skeptics of the product that I know have said that the seat looks cramped and/or slightly claustrophobic. What I think they fail to realise is how wide exactly the seat is. The designers of the QSuite had more shoulder space to work with compared to classic Solstys-style staggered seats, due to the forward-backward layout of the seats; each seat tapers slightly towards the foot area, allowing for a couple extra inches of shoulder space. The doors are also quite thin, which means that there’s an extreme amount of personal space for each passenger when the door’s closed.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class Bed
Additionally, there’s enough storage at the seat to rival a FedEx warehouse. There’s padded side storage next to the seat that doubles as an armrest, there’s a platform by the side console on top of the seat controls and power ports, and there’s a further open space under that to put smaller devices such as a charging phone. These storage areas are also very conveniently placed – they’re all within reach, and the enclosed one is also closest to your arm, which reduces the chance of knocking things over – genius.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class Storage
There are a few nitpicky things I have to say about the seat that I’ll elaborate on more in the full report:
- The seats weren’t in mint condition – for example, the tray table at my seat on my flight from Doha to Amsterdam would keep getting stuck in place, so I’d have to toggle a lever underneath the table every time I wanted to push it back into its stowed position – not something I should be doing for an aircraft retrofitted less than a year ago
- In some cases opening your suite door would end up closing the door behind you, which I found odd, especially considering how new the seats are. Also, the doors would keep sliding open by themselves whenever the plane was ascending, so I’d rather the newer QSuite doors be given a little more resistance
- It was easy to see the people seated across you when the door was open, so I’d rather the suites be in staggered rows (or at least be slightly offset from one another) – I don’t know if this is fixed on Qatar’s A350s outfitted with QSuites
Is the QSuite perfect? No, I didn’t expect it to be. After all, the QSuite was the first business class enclosed suite that entered the market (even though Delta introduced their enclosed suite product first), so they didn’t have much “learning from other’s mistakes” to do.
But the design flaws in this seat are minimal – not a single design boo-boo that I mentioned above concerns any of the seat’s features. They’re all either to do with the seat’s alignment or its condition, which is saying a lot. This is a game changer in business class, and easily the best business class seat I’ve ever sat in (and it beats my previous favourite, Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class, by a huge margin).
Qatar Airways’ 777 QSuite Amenities
Qatar Airways’ amenities match the impressiveness of their hard product. In terms of bedding, Qatar Airways upgraded their pillows and blankets along with their QSuite – the pillows are marshmallow-y and really nice, whereas the blankets themselves are really plush. I also like the cute decorative pillows that the airline provides. In addition, Qatar Airways provided turndown service on both of my flights this time, when they used to only do turndown service on ultra-longhauls. Turndown service includes setting up a mattress pad for the seat, which is quite thin, but does the job.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class Bedding
In the audio department, I believe Qatar Airways’ headphones are from Phitek. They’re not Bose or anything, but they’re certainly not bad by any stretch of the imagination.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class Headphones
Additionally, Qatar Airways now offers his and hers amenity kits onboard their flights. They’re still from Bric’s, though they’re no longer hard-case – they feature some basic amenities, minus a dental kit, which can be found in the bathroom.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class Amenity Kit
Qatar Airways’ 777 QSuite Food
Obviously Qatar Airways’ food stays similar whether you’re on the QSuite or not, though I figured I’d take the chance to talk about food anyway. The best thing about Qatar Airways’ business class catering is that it’s dine-on-demand, which means you can dine anytime you want. Having the flexibility to do that really adds a premium touch to Qatar Airways’ business class soft product. Their planes also are well-staffed for it, and the airline’s been doing it for years, so they’re masters of their craft in terms of dine-on-demand. Other airlines have tried following directly in Qatar Airways’ footsteps and offering a similar dine-on-demand scheme with half the number of flight attendants and improper formal training, and (obviously) they’ve failed miserably.
On my flight from Hong Kong to Doha, I found the main I ordered decent – the fish was good, whereas the rice and vegetables weren’t.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class Main Course – Fried Halibut Fillet with Lemon Sauce and Wild Rice
Last-minute I decided to go for dessert as well. I’m glad I did, because this was the most decadent thing I’ve ever had in the air, maybe aside from a remarkably similar dessert I’ve had in Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777 QSuite Business Class Dessert – Warm pistachio crumble green tea cake with raspberry filling
Obviously this wasn’t all I ate, though I’ll save the rest for the full report. I’ve consistently heard better things about Qatar Airways’ catering than I’ve actually experienced – I remember having the best pasta I’ve ever had on a Qatar Airways 787 on the same route a couple years back, though otherwise I haven’t always had the best experiences with catering on the airline.
Meanwhile, there’s something to be said about the incredible drinks selection offered in Qatar Airways’ business class product. The champagne is great, though halfway through my first flight the crew recommended a dessert wine, which ended up being phenomenal. Qatar Airways’ mocktail and non-alcoholic drinks list is also exceptional, with a variety of signature drinks as well as juices, smoothies, etc..
The dine-on-demand service, paired with the extensive choice offered with the drink menu, contributes to the decidedly premium aura that’s unique to Qatar Airways’ business class product.
Yours truly enjoying great rosé champagne in Qatar Airways QSuites
Qatar Airways’ 777 QSuite Service
As of writing this post I’m flying from Doha to Amsterdam, which is the second leg of my trip. The service on this leg is great – the crew are friendly, attentive, and efficient in serving, and everything generally feels polished. When I first found out my tray table was broken, the flight attendant I informed was incredibly apologetic, and repeatedly offered to switch me to a seat where I wouldn’t have to stow my tray table with such a hassle. They’re friendly, quite proactive, and overall it feels like a nice experience.
On the first leg from Hong Kong to Doha, the crew operating the flight was exceptional. Obviously I was more excited on that flight as it was my very first flight in QSuites, and the crew shared my excitement that it was my first time flying in Qatar Airways’ flagship business class product. They kept insisting that I should let them know if I needed anything, proactively offered to take photos of me, came around every so often to ask if I needed anything, etc.. It was some of the best service I’ve ever had on a flight, and that’s saying a lot.
Bottom Line: Qatar Airways’ 777 QSuite
When an airline comes up with a good concept, whether it’s a seat design or a service concept, other airlines tend to reciprocate. Over the years, airlines seem to be playing catch-up – a variety of airlines are all beginning to install staggered seats, reverse herringbone seats, Apex Suites, etc.. It’s much easier for an airline to follow suit than for them to introduce something new altogether.
Yeah, U.S. airlines are probably right about the fact that Qatar Airways receives an ungodly amount of government subsidies. However, first of all, it’s not like U.S. airlines are playing fair either; but most importantly, subsidies aren’t buying them the creativity nor the attention to detail needed to install a brand new product previously untouched in the market, with the same seat density as their old product (both airlines have 42 business class seats in the exact same space), and tailor the hard product in a way that it’s incredibly spacious and works for a variety of travellers at the same time.
Qatar Airways is also in a league of their own when it comes to the soft product. I don’t know what’s wrong with my experiences of their food, since I find that others who have flown Qatar Airways’ business class in the past have had superior experiences. However, I believe that everything else they offer, from their drinks selection to their thoroughly substantiated amenities, is outstanding.
There are a couple of fixes needed for Qatar Airways’ QSuites product to be flawless – it’s not. I need to talk about the sad state of transit in Doha, especially with the Al Mourjan lounge, in a separate post; that definitely contributes to the flaws in Qatar Airways’ product. I also need to address the constant swapping of QSuite-guaranteed routes to non-QSuites aircraft, which I don’t believe is fair, since it happens so often. I’ve also talked about some design flaws of QSuites above.
But yeah, wow. I was expecting QSuites to be good, but I wasn’t expecting it to blow every other premium cabin experience I’ve had out of the water. Qatar Airways offers a sensational product on their QSuite-configured aircraft, easily the best I’ve tried so far (and I’ve tried quite a few), and I’d go out of my way to fly it if I had the chance.
Have you flown Qatar Airways’ QSuite before? How was your experience?