While not as spacious as the Qsuite and limited in storage, Qatar Airways' 787-9 business class is still great, especially paired with industry leading catering, service and WiFi
When Qatar Airways introduced their revolutionary QSuite in 2017, they were just in the process of receiving brand new 787-9 aircraft as part of their longhaul fleet. Unfortunately the fuselage of the 787 was not wide enough to house a QSuite configuration, so Qatar Airways partnered with seat manufacturer Adient to come up with a configuration exclusive to their 787-9 aircraft. Dubbed the “Ascent” suite, this seat debuted in 2019, and has since been inducted on a couple of other airlines.
On this trip, I specifically routed through Hanoi to try out this new suite, especially to see how it’d compare to the QSuite (which I flew in 2019 and reviewed here). Bear in mind that if you’re on a 787-8, you’ll get a different type of seat altogether (I flew Qatar Airways’ 787-8 in 2017, and reviewed it here). If the platform you’re booking on doesn’t tell you whether you’re flying a 787-8 or 787-9, check the business class seat map – the 787-8s have six rows in business class, whereas the 787-9s have eight rows.
Here’s my review of a Qatar Airways 787-9 flight in business class from Doha to Hanoi, where I’ll talk about the seat, as well as the service received onboard the flight.
Booking Qatar Airways’ 787-9 Business Class
I booked a one-way ticket in from London to Hanoi via Doha in business class for 75,000 American AAdvantage miles. Little did I know at the time I could tag a Hanoi-Hong Kong segment onto the itinerary for free, so I didn’t manage to do that this time round. The auxiliary taxes for this ticket amounted to £285.91, most of which was due to the UK Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax.
The flights for my entire outbound itinerary were as follows, bearing in mind I could’ve tagged the Hanoi to Hong Kong segment onto the AAdvantage itinerary for no extra miles by calling:
03/07 QR4 London Heathrow – Doha dep. 15:05 arr. 23:50
04/07 QR976 Doha – Hanoi dep. 02:20 arr. 13:45
04/07 CX742 Hanoi – Hong Kong dep. 19:00 arr. 22:00
(You can modify American AAdvantage itineraries for free, though unfortunately I couldn’t modify my Hanoi – Hong Kong segment without a hefty change fee, so I left the tickets separate.)
My Experience Flying Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class
I was connecting off a Qatar Airways A380 flight from London, and arrived at Doha Airport just after midnight. Unfortunately I’d received an alert from Qatar Airways’ app that my onward flight was delayed until 5 AM, around 2.5 hours after our originally scheduled departure time. While not ideal, this wasn’t enough of a delay to make me super concerned about my onward flight to Hong Kong, so I just took the extra opportunity to have a shower and relax at the Al Mourjan (The Garden) lounge, located in the airport’s brand new North Expansion. I’ve reviewed that lounge here.
At about 3:45 AM I decided to investigate the state of affairs near gate C1, given that I was otherwise just sitting around at the airport lounge. I made the 10-minute journey over from the North Expansion back over to gate C1, which is located near the original main concourse.
Doha Airport Terminal
The flight hadn’t begun boarding yet (Doha Airport has “holding pen” gates that you wait in after your boarding pass is scanned, though even that hadn’t opened yet), and I was told to come back for a further update at 4:25 AM. I was on the verge of falling asleep, so headed to the nearby “old” Al Mourjan lounge to get myself an iced coffee.
Due to the expansion, my visit to the old Al Mourjan lounge was very similar to the one I had in 2017 (not like the mess in 2019 when Doha Airport faced a massive overcrowding issue), without much crowding and with WiFi quality restored, so I won’t review it again.
Old Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge, Doha Airport
I headed back to gate C1 at 4:15 AM, and boarding passes were scanned shortly after. Unfortunately the “dots” on Doha Airport’s window impeded my view of the 787 taking us to Hanoi, so this was as best a view I could capture of the aircraft at this time.
View (or Lack Thereof) of Qatar Airways 787 from Gate C1, Doha Airport
We were finally boarded at 4:30 AM, just over two hours after our scheduled departure time.
Qatar Airways Flight QR976
Tuesday, July 4, 2023
Origin: Doha (DOH) Gate: C1 Dep: 02:20 (05:10)
Destination: Hanoi (HAN) T: 2 Gate: 34 Gate Arr: 13:45 (15:55)
Duration: 7 h 25 min (6 h 45 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 Reg: A7-BHC
Seat: 8A (Business Class)
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Cabin and Seat
I boarded through the first set of doors into Qatar Airways’ 787-9 business class cabin. As noted in the introduction, Qatar Airways features Adient Ascent suites in business class, which are somewhat similar to reverse herringbone seats with a door. There are 32 seats, spread across eight rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Cabin
The window seats are angled away from the aisle, as is standard with normal reverse herringbone seats. The window seats kind of remind me of the enclosed suites that you otherwise get on the British Airways Club Suite or Etihad’s A350.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Window Seats
Meanwhile, the center seats face towards the aisle. There’s quite a large gap between the middle seats and the aisle, and there’s also a large privacy partition between middle seats (should you end up next to a stranger). You can lower the partition fully so couples can sleep side by side, though you’ll still be angled towards opposite directions.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Center Seats
I managed to snag myself 8A during the booking process, which is the left window seat in the back row of the business class cabin.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Seat 8A
The first noticeable trait of the seat was that it was much firmer than I expected – perhaps it translated to being more supportive in bed mode, though this isn’t a seat you can sink into.
Exploring my seat, to my left I found a cupboard for storing small items, which housed the headphones provided for this flight.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Storage Cupboard
There’s plenty of counter space in this seat, and I like the faux marble, though otherwise storage in this seat is quite limited. You can’t store anything under the seat in front of you for takeoff and landing, so I had to stow my backpack in the overhead bin. There isn’t even a literature pocket large enough for a laptop.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Side Table
To my left I found some very intuitive seat controls.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Seat Controls
A tray table slid out from underneath the seat, and it was quite sturdy. You could angle it vertically if you wanted to, and the seat is also quite easy to get out of even when the tray table is deployed.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Tray Table
To my left I found a touchscreen remote for the entertainment system, as well as a universal power port and USB port. Unfortunately there isn’t USB-C charging here, despite this being a relatively new seat. There is a wireless phone charging pad to the left of the seat, though I found it to charge my phone so slowly that I resorted to just using the universal power port.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Power Ports and Wireless Charging
The Adient Ascent suite features a door, separating it from most reverse herringbone seats in the industry. The door is actually quite large, though the seat walls didn’t feel as tall as they did in the QSuite. They’re certainly more substantial than you’d otherwise find on British Airways or Etihad.
The doors don’t “lock” in place, though I didn’t struggle with that much during the flight (i.e. it wouldn’t slide open unexpectedly). These doors are locked in the “open” position during takeoff and landing.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Door
Note that seats 5A and 5K are missing a window.
This is a good seat, perhaps surprisingly lacking on the storage front, though otherwise feels quite spacious and private (which is a hard balance to strike).
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Amenities
Waiting at my seat was a pillow and blanket, which I’ve included a photograph of further down in the post. Mattress pads weren’t proactively offered on this flight, and I’m not sure whether they were provided on request (my guess is no, since nobody in the cabin was using them at any point). Mattress pads seem to be reserved exclusively for QSuite flights and ultra-longhaul flights on Qatar Airways.
I did get a small set of pajamas, which were not only comfortable, but also pretty. I didn’t change into them on this flight, though I did nick them home with me. Slippers were provided in the same kit.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Pajamas
An amenity kit was also provided – the pouch itself must’ve been one of the largest pouches I’ve ever gotten on a flight in business class, and it was quite well stocked with Diptyque amenities.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Amenity Kit
While I’d probably have appreciated a mattress pad on an overnight flight (and if they were on request, I’d appreciate if they were proactively offered), this is otherwise a fairly strong set of amenities.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Pre-Departure Service
Once I settled into my seat I was welcomed by one of the crewmembers, who introduced himself by name and offered a welcome drink. I chose a lime and mint juice. Despite being tired, the crew were warm on this flight, which I was grateful for.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Pre-Departure Beverage – Lime and Mint Juice
I was also handed a menu and wine list.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Menu and Wine List
My meal order wasn’t taken until after takeoff on this flight. I believe they began the process on the ground, but as the pilots were very eager to start heading towards Hanoi, the crew didn’t have enough time to take meal orders from the entire business class cabin. As someone who was very low on sleep and had been awake for about 18 hours, I was definitely not complaining that our priority were getting off the ground!
Sunrise and Takeoff from Doha Airport
At 5:05 AM the safety video was screened. I like that Qatar Airways’ safety video highlights some of their destinations (despite the fact that the links are usually somewhat random).
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Safety Video
It was well after twilight at this point in Doha, and while I’d love to visit properly at some point, I was definitely happy to be pushing back!
Sunrise at Doha Airport
The captain came onto the PA, apologised for the delay, and explained that they had to find a replacement aircraft to operate our flight due to a maintenance issue. (While not explained, there were also thunderstorms in Hanoi during the early afternoon, which I’m guessing had some impact on our delay.)
One upside of our delay was that we had stunning views of traffic around Doha Airport, as it was just about sunrise as we taxiied out.
Traffic at Doha Airport around 5 AM
We had a roughly 15-minute taxi to runway 34R, and climbed out of Doha, just about catching gorgeous views of The Pearl before we made an eastward right turn towards Hanoi.
Takeoff from Doha Airport
At this point the crew turned on pretty mood lighting in the cabin.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Cabin after Takeoff
About five minutes after takeoff, the crew came around to “unlock” our suite doors, so we could close them.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Rear Walkway
Qatar Airways’ 787 doesn’t feature a bar, though there’s a walk-up bar at the back of the cabin where you can get some packaged snacks. This isn’t a huge perk, since the airline has a “dine anytime” model anyway.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Rear Walkway Snacks
I really mostly enjoyed the rear walkway because of the great vantage point it had of the cabin.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class View from Rear Walkway
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Lavatory
Qatar Airways’ 787-9 features two business lavatories, both located by the walkway in the back of the cabin. These lavatories even have pull-down window shades (whereas the rest of the cabin has electronic window shades), and you can also find some dental kits here, as well as L’Occitane amenities – though otherwise the lavatory is fairly standard for a 787.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Lavatory and Toiletries
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Meal Service
Shortly after takeoff a crewmember came to welcome themselves, and took my meal order. The crew started getting ready for a meal service around 20 minutes after takeoff.
The menu read as follows:
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Menu
The drinks selection was identical to that of the previous flight, and read as follows:
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Drinks
There was definitely a more limited selection on this redeye flight than there was on my previous flight (where I forgot to take a picture of the menu), though a dine-on-demand model is particularly valuable on such flights.
To keep myself awake I ordered a cardamom karak chai, which was very tasty.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Cardamom Karak Chai
Around 40 minutes after takeoff my table was set – once again, a very nice presentation. I was very keen to go to bed at this point, though was worried about oversleeping and waking up before landing, and figured this would be a bit of a boring review if I didn’t at least eat something.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Table Setup
I’d actually pre-ordered the Alaskan king crab congee. Pre-ordering on Qatar Airways is a bit useless, in my opinion – there are fewer options available online than there are onboard, you can only order one item (which doesn’t work well with an a-la-carte dining setup, where you can order as much as you want onboard), and Qatar Airways doesn’t typically run out of main courses. My pre-order was acknowledged, but really only as an “ah!” moment from the crew than than a proactive acknowledgement.
While my meal order was taken I’d asked if I could only have the Alaskan king crab congee. I’d selected it mostly because the king crab sounded tasty, though surprisingly everything about it was delicious – the congee was a good consistency (if not a little too gelatinous – I probably would’ve added slightly more water myself), and the flavour was really nice, with garlicky notes and spring onion pairing well with the soy sauce that came with it on the side.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Main Course – Alaskan King Crab Congee
Since the congee wasn’t a massive portion, I finished it quite quickly. My tray sat around for 15 minutes before being cleared, which isn’t really on the fast side, but typically I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. After being seriously sleep deprived and facing a three-hour delay bringing us past sunrise, though, I was sure getting a little bit restless and hoping to go to bed as soon as I could.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class WiFi
Qatar Airways’ 787-9 is one of their planes that features “Super WiFi”, also available on their 777s and select A350s. You can purchase a full flight pass with unlimited WiFi for US$10 (it’s US$8 if you pre-purchase online, though that’s only available if you book directly through Qatar Airways’ website – I booked with American AAdvantage miles), and Qatar Airways Privilege Club members get an hour of WiFi for free.
WiFi clocked a good 20.9 Mbps down and 0.75 Mbps up, which was perfectly usable, though the upload speed in particular wasn’t amazing. Between the price point and the usable speed, this is a really good offering for inflight WiFi, however.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Bed
After my meal tray was taken, I made my own bed. Qatar Airways’ mattress pads are exclusive to QSuite flights and ultra-longhaul routes, so unfortunately this route didn’t qualify. The pillow and blanket are pretty good, though I think they’ve been outdone by a few other airlines, especially with the lack of a mattress pad (Cathay Pacific, Turkish Airlines and Etihad come to mind). There’s plenty of space for your feet in this configuration, however.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Bed and Footwell
There’s not a ton of space in this configuration – I ended up sleeping in a slightly awkward position, and woke up with zero circulation in one of my arms. However, I recognise that this is a 787 with a tight fuselage, and for that reason I’d like to commend Qatar Airways for an effective use of space.
Indulging in Qatar Airways’ A-La-Carte Meal Service
By the time I went to bed, it was completely light outside – the crew set all of the windows to the “partially dimmed” setting (3 dots out of 5), though they didn’t “lock” the settings, so you could un-dim your window if you wanted to.
View out of Window after Meal Service
I ended up sleeping for about four hours, waking up about 90 minutes before we landed into Hanoi. I decided to press the call button, and asked for an iced latte. Qatar Airways has such a strong beverage selection, and I loved that iced espresso based drinks are available.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Iced Latte
I also asked the flight attendant serving me for a soup of the day. He hesitated, and I mentioned “if the soup isn’t available, I’ll have the salad” – the flight attendant returned with just the salad, without much explanation of the soup being unavailable.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Meal Service – Kale and Bulgur Salad with Avocado Relish
The salad itself was okay – the kale hid some avocado relish, which was a bit salty for me – though after two steaks and a lot of flying, the dish hit the spot for me.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Service
Qatar Airways’ staff are super well-trained, and especially in premium cabins, service runs like clockwork. There were introductions when boarding the flight, goodbyes before landing, I was addressed by name (though only when flight attendants were reading off their sheets), and the a-la-carte service is executed with unparalleled finesse.
That being said, I did feel like the crew were a bit less polished on this flight – trays took longer to get cleared, no apology was made when my first choice wasn’t available, etc.. I must recognise that it’s a very tall order to operate a flight departing at 5 AM, and the crew must’ve been absolutely knackered after the three-hour delay.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Entertainment System
I then quickly checked out Qatar Airways’ entertainment system (the below pictures weren’t taken until landing, so the cabin wasn’t this light at the time), and found the entertainment system to be much more substantial than on the previous flight. I appreciated that entire seasons of TV shows were on offer.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Entertainment System
While the 787 doesn’t feature a built-in tail camera, I appreciated the forward and downward camera views available to us, where we had a (literal) birds’ eye view of what was going on below.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Downward Camera
Landing into Hanoi Airport
Around half an hour before landing the captain made an announcement over the PA saying that we’d be descending into Hanoi soon, looking at a gate arrival time of 3:55 PM. About five minutes after this, the cabin was prepared for landing.
There were some thunderstorms in Hanoi during the early afternoon, though those seemed to have cleared in the meantime – albeit only being able to stay for a short while, I was excited for my first landing into Vietnam!
View upon Landing into Hanoi Airport
The entire landing approach was stunning, with views ranging from nucleated settlements to gorgeous mountain backdrops.
Landing into Hanoi Airport
We touched down into Noi Bai Airport’s runway 7L at 3:45 PM, and made our way to gate 34. We taxiied past some interesting traffic, particularly as we passed by the airport’s domestic terminal.
Traffic at Hanoi Airport
Soon we reached Hanoi Airport’s slightly glitzier international terminal, where we parked next to a China Southern 737 (little did I know I’d be departing out of this exact gate in a few hours’ time, on a Cathay Pacific A321neo).
Traffic at Hanoi Airport
We deplaned at about 4 PM, and I was glad to have a glimpse of the aircraft from the arrivals hall, especially since I didn’t really have a great view of the aircraft in Doha.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Hanoi Airport
I headed towards the transit desk in hopes of printing my boarding pass (I was unable to get a mobile boarding pass for “airport security reasons”). The transit desk invited me to take a seat across the immigration hall, though I heard nothing from them for about 15 minutes – the immigration queue lengthened, then shortened again at this time, as all of the Qatar Airways passengers made it past the Vietnamese border. Those headed on Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways flights were called by an airport staff member to approach the transit desk, though the Cathay Dragon flight wasn’t called at any point.
At this point I walked up to the transit desk and explained that I’d acquired a Vietnam visa for backup, and asked whether I could just head past immigration and get my boarding pass printed landside. She smiled and said “yeah, you can do whatever you want”. Immigration officers struggled a little with the fact that my passport states that my nationality is Chinese (despite being a Hong Kong passport), though it took just a couple of minutes for them to resolve the issue and let me through. I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity of being within the Vietnamese border, so…
Having pho during my three hours in Vietnam will go down as a great travel memory for me
(If you’re reading this review purely to find out how immigration queues are at Hanoi Airport, given the horror stories we’re currently hearing from Ho Chi Minh City Airport, be pleased to find out that immigration queues here are nowhere near as bad.)
Conclusion: Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class
Qatar Airways’ 787-9 business class is a great product. Now, this doesn’t hold a candle to the QSuite, and I think it’s on par, but not better than some of the other “enclosed suite” business class seats we’ve seen out there recently. The seat is a bit tighter than what you’d find on British Airways or Etihad’s business class suites (B/E Super Diamond seats with a door), though the increase in privacy provided by the taller door is noticeable. Despite a surprising lack of storage, I do think that this seat is significantly better than the reverse herringbone seat otherwise offered on Qatar Airways’ A380s, A350-900s and 787-8s.
While this flight probably had one of the more stripped-back menus, Qatar Airways’ soft product shines. This includes an a-la-carte, dine-on-demand meal service (and the food was good in this case, albeit more limited in variety), a spectacular drinks menu with creative mocktails and a great iced coffee selection, as well as a strong wine and liquor list. While the amenities are fine and I appreciated the pajamas, I’d go as far to say that Qatar Airways’ bedding is uncompetitive on their mid-haul routes, since Emirates, Etihad and Turkish Airlines all offer their “full” bedding (including mattress pads) on routes to East Asia – it seems weird to me for Qatar Airways to provide pajamas, but not mattress pads on these routes, as I personally value the latter. It’s also still weird to me that Qatar Airways only offers mattress pads on QSuite flights (as well as all ultra-longhaul routes), since I’d figure they’d want to introduce consistency throughout the fleet, as opposed to excessively heralding the QSuite.
If flying Qatar Airways business class, I’d probably go out of my way to fly a QSuite flight over a flight on a 787-9, especially if both aircraft fly into the same city – flying the QSuite is a game-changing experience, whereas this seat is just “very good”. I also probably wouldn’t go out of my way to fly this aircraft over an aircraft equipped with Qatar Airways’ older reverse herringbone seat (though bear in mind many of those planes feature inferior WiFi). However, this flight was still a strong one that showcased how competitive Qatar Airways is on one-stop routes involving East Asia.
Have you flown Qatar Airways’ 787-9 before?