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Review: Qatar Airways A380 Business Class (LHR-DOH)

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Review Overview

While the seat on this plane has been surpassed by many competitors, Qatar Airways' A380 offers a uniquely fun experience in business class


In July 2023 I had the opportunity to fly Qatar Airways’ A380 business class from London to Doha. I’ve flown Qatar Airways multiple times in the past, including on their 787, 777 with QSuite, and 777 without QSuite, though it was my first time onboard their A380. I was particularly looking forward to this flight because it’d be my first post-COVID flight on Qatar Airways, and I’d also get to experience their onboard bar, known as one of the best in the sky.

While neighbour and rival Emirates operates the A380 as the backbone and crown jewel of their fleet, Qatar Airways reserved their A380 purely for some of their most premium routes, mainly because they feature a first class cabin. Unlike Emirates, Qatar Airways isn’t particularly interested in investing in their A380s and keeping them up to date, so they feature older seats and WiFi. Still, I decided to seek this flight out specifically to try their A380 before these flights disappeared, although it wasn’t the only flight with award space at the time of booking.

Booking Qatar Airways’ A380 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’ A380 Business Class

I was dropping a friend off at Paddington station in the morning, so decided I might as well head straight to the airport, getting to Terminal 4 just short of 10 AM ahead of a 3:05 PM flight. Departing Heathrow in a premium cabin is almost always a very smooth experience, so with mobile boarding pass in hand I was through security in a matter of minutes. If I were to have checked a bag, I would’ve had to wait until the check-in counter opened at 11:05 AM, though thankfully I didn’t. Instead I spent time indulging in the a-la-carte menu at the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge, which I’ve reviewed here.

Our beautiful A380 was departing from gate 5. I left the lounge fairly early despite the fact that the gate was next door, since I knew I’d have to undergo document checks for my onward flight to Vietnam. I’m glad I did, since the process took a good 20-30 minutes, and seemed to involve some confusion regarding my nationality (my passport is issued by Hong Kong, though the “nationality” section says Chinese). Thankfully I was given the “clear” by a supervisor, and still had half an hour to spare before boarding commenced.

an airplane on the tarmac
Qatar Airways A380 at Heathrow Airport

At Heathrow’s Terminal 4, the A380 gates feature two separate entry points. Economy class was boarded through gate 5a (including frequent flyers), whereas first and business class passengers were boarded through gate 5b. The jetbridges for each entry point feed directly into the lower and upper decks of the A380 respectively.

Upon seeing me, the gate agent asked if I’d visited their lounge yet, and I reassured her I had.

people sitting in a line at an airport
A380 Departure Gate Heathrow Airport

Boarding was scheduled to begin at 2:20 PM, 45 minutes before departure. Boarding for economy class passengers by gate 5a began well before first and business class, with business class boarding commencing closer to 2:30 PM.

Qatar Airways Flight QR4
Monday, July 3, 2023
Origin: London Heathrow (LHR) T: 4 Gate: 5 Dep: 15:05 (15:20)
Destination: Doha (DOH) Gate: B1 Gate Arr: 23:50 (00:00+1)
Duration: 6 h 45 min (6 h 40 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A380 Reg: A7-APJ
Seat: 22A (Business Class)

Qatar Airways’ A380 Business Class Cabin and Seat

I boarded through the first set of doors on the upper deck of the Qatar Airways A380 (behind the first class cabin), and turned right into the 48-seat business class cabin. All business class seats are located in a single cabin with no partitions, consisting of 12 rows of reverse herringbone seats.

a row of seats on an airplane rows of seats with monitors on the side of the plane a row of seats with monitors on the side
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Cabin

I’d selected seat 22A, the last row on the left side of the business class cabin. I didn’t envision I was going to sleep much on this flight, so chose a seat where I could sneak in cabin pictures without intruding anyone’s privacy, as well as have easy access to the bar. Turns out there’s a fair bit of noise cancellation between this seat and the bar, despite the fact that the bar is located directly behind – I went to the bar midflight thinking it was empty (it was so quiet), before realising that it wasn’t.

a seat in a plane
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Seat 22A

The center seats have quite a bit of privacy from each other, as there’s a divider that defaults to the “up” position. I’d note that there’s virtually zero head privacy from the aisle, though.

a group of people sitting in a row of seats
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Center Seats

Exploring my seat, I first found the seat controls to the left, which were intuitive.

a seat controls on a table
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Seat Controls

A few designers of reverse herringbone seats have surpassed the storage options available in this seat, though I wouldn’t say it was particularly lacking. To my left was a small surface, large enough to store a laptop.

a table with a bottle and a paper holder on it
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Table Space

There was another storage area by my feet, suitable for smaller loose items (such as an amenity kit or pencil case).

an open seat on an airplane
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Armrest Storage

The side storage bins characteristic of the A380’s upper deck were labelled “No Stowage” (for whatever reason), though that didn’t stop me from putting a few loose items there. These were very much open and available for us to use, and by far the biggest storage bins at the seat.

a white object with a door open
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Side Storage Bins

The power ports were located under the armrest, and featured a 110 V power port, USB port, and DIN port.

a close up of a power outlet
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Power Ports

By the seat shell in front was a conveniently placed drawer for shoes.

Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Shoe Cupboard

The tray table folded out from under the TV screen in front, and was a really good size – I particularly appreciated the flat extension that was nearer to the front of the seat.

a computer on a table
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Tray Table

Also to my left was a touchscreen IFE remote, though I never found myself needing it, since the IFE screen itself was touchscreen-enabled.

a phone in a leather case
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class IFE Remote

Finally, I was glad to find air nozzles above me, which are always particularly good at keeping me awake when I’m low on sleep.

a white panel with buttons and lights
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Air Nozzles

Not pictured is a reading light, which was also located by my left.

This seat would’ve been state-of-the-art a few years ago, though Qatar Airways is the victim of its own competitive advantage here – thanks to seats such as the QSuite, the head privacy and lack of storage is more evident in this seat. Airlines such as Cathay Pacific and British Airways have come up with reverse herringbone seats that have more privacy and storage, and Qatar Airways bit itself in the foot when compromising head privacy for a sleeker design in the seat shell.

Qatar Airways’ A380 Business Class Amenities

On my seat I found two pillows – a more substantial one for sleeping, as well as a day pillow that was more economy class-style (which fairly quickly found its way into one of the spacious A380 side storage bins).

a group of pillows on a chair
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Pillows

There was also a rolled-up blanket, which I’ll showcase later.

To my left I also found a Diptyque box (which was presumably meant to replace an amenity kit on this shorter flight), as well as a “Travel with Confidence” pack featuring face masks. The Diptyque box also featured socks, though I did wish a full pouch was offered on this segment.

a gift box and a package on a tablea small black box with white objects on a table
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Amenity Kit and Mask Kit

We were also provided headphones, which were located in one of the seat’s storage bins. These were Phitek-style headphones, which were perfectly alright.

a pair of black headphones on a patterned surface
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Headphones

No mattress pad was offered on this flight, as is consistent with my experience on Qatar Airways on non-QSuite flights. Pajamas also weren’t offered on this flight.

Qatar Airways’ A380 Business Class Pre-Departure Service

The flight attendant serving my aisle came over and welcomed me, informed me of a 6h, 5m flight time, and asked what I’d want to drink, out of a list of orange juice, lime and mint juice, water, and champagne. I chose a glass of lime and mint juice, which was served with a refreshing towelette.

a glass of juice and napkins on a table
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Lime and Mint Juice

A while later the flight attendant came round, passing a menu and wine list. Stupidly I actually forgot to take pictures of the inside of the list, though I have pictures of the (identical) wine list on a subsequent flight.

a two menus on a table
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Menu and Wine List

The flight attendant was super friendly, and pointed out the headphones located in one of the storage bins, as well as a bottle of water located by a nook next to me. About sometime during the boarding process, the inflight service leader also came and personally welcomed me onboard the flight.

Somebody came and settled across me in seat 22E, ordering a champagne. After trying to see if the crew were frazzled with boarding activities (they weren’t), I decided to be cheeky and asked if I could have a glass as well. The flight attendant gladly obliged and brought me a glass.

a glass of wine on a table
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Champagne

Shortly before takeoff a crew member came back to ask whether I’d had time to peruse the menu, and my meal order was taken.

Qatar Airways’ A380 Business Class Lavatory

The 48-seat business class cabin on the Qatar Airways A380 share four lavatories, two at the front, and two at the rear near my seat. The lavatories were very well appointed, to the point where the toilet seat was padded, in case you wanted into pajamas (on a longer flight).

a bathroom with a toilet and sink
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Lavatory

Taking Off from Heathrow Airport

Boarding was completed at around the departure time of 3:05 PM, with every seat in business class taken. The captain came onto the PA to announce our flight time, and at around 3:15 PM the safety video was screened.

At this point I turned on the inflight entertainment system to realise that the A380 had a tail camera, though it was probably the lowest resolution tail camera I’ve ever seen.

a screen shot of an airplane
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Tail Camera

We encountered some interesting traffic upon pushback out of Heathrow’s Terminal 4, including a Delta A330neo (an aircraft type I want to fly someday) and an Avianca 787.

a plane on the runway a white airplane on a runway
Delta A330neo and Avianca 787 Heathrow Airport

We pushed back at about 3:20 PM, 15 minutes after our scheduled departure time. At about 3:30 PM the captain came onto the PA to say that we were facing a hefty queue for takeoff with air traffic control, and would be taking off in about 15-20 minutes. I peered out of the window and…yikes! Indeed there were a number of planes just sitting around, presumably waiting for their turn to rocket off into the sky.

a plane wing on a runway
Lots of Traffic at Heathrow Airport

I wish I could tell you exactly which plane took off at which time, though the reality is that I fell asleep – oops. I was woken up by the jolt caused by the plane accelerating upon takeoff, and was struck by how quiet the A380 is – the noise level was barely raised from when we were taxiing. We were wheels-up from runway 27R at 3:50 PM, where we veered left to begin our eastbound journey towards Doha.

an airplane wing and runway with many airplanes in the background an airplane wing over a body of water an airplane wing and a landscape
Takeoff from Heathrow Airport

A donations video from Educate A Child (charity) was played after takeoff.

The seatbelt sign was turned off about 10-15 minutes after departure, and some pretty mood lighting was turned on.

a man sitting in a chair with a computer on the back of a plane
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Cabin after Takeoff

Qatar Airways’ A380 Business Class WiFi

Many of Qatar Airways’ planes feature their new Super WiFi, offering top-tier speeds at a reasonable cost. Unfortunately the A380 isn’t one of these planes. Qatar Airways’ A380 WiFi is provided by OnAir, which provides a data-capped service, and the speeds are terrible. The portal offers:

  • 100 MB/3 hours of WiFi for US$10
  • 200 MB (no time limit) of WiFi for US$20

I purchased a 200 MB pass, though found it to be almost unusable – texts would take forever to send, and I didn’t need to think about loading a web page or anything on Instagram. At least the slow speeds meant that I never got quite close to my 200 MB limit.

At some point the crew came over seeing that I had the WiFi login page on, and said a more courteous version of “I wouldn’t bother, the WiFi isn’t working”. I’m sure other passengers had complained about the lack of WiFi, and appreciated that they were attentive about what I was loading up. The funny thing is that the WiFi was working, it was just so slow that it didn’t seem like it was…

Qatar Airways’ A380 Business Class Bed

I wasn’t planning on sleeping far too much on this flight, though I put my seat into bed mode to check it out. There’s a good amount of shoulder space, and you can shield your head from the aisle a bit by raising the armrest.

a bed and a tv in an airplane
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Bed

The lack of head privacy does continue into bed mode, though – this seat definitely feels more exposed than many reverse herringbone seats I’ve sat in in the past.

a person sitting in a chair on an airplane
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Bed

Still, you won’t be uncomfortable in this seat, which flies some of Qatar Airways’ longest routes (either on this aircraft to Perth, or on a similarly-configured A350 on flights to the U.S.).

Qatar Airways’ A380 Business Class Meal Service

As aforementioned, stupidly I forgot to take pictures of the menu. Qatar Airways has an a-la-carte dining structure, with many items available for dining anytime. So I can only share what I ate, though I can confirm that there were about 10 “main meal” items on the list (between appetisers, main courses, and desserts), as well as a few lighter options.

About 40 minutes after wheels-up the crew came around to set my table, which included a breadbasket, faux candle, a beautiful water glass, and a butter plate with salt and pepper shakers. I initially declined olive oil, but the flight attendant said “it tastes very good, I’ll bring it over anyway”.

a table with a television and a tray of food
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Table Setup for Meal Service

A couple of minutes later the flight attendant returned with a scotch egg amuse bouche.

a plate of food on a table
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Amuse Bouche – Scotch Egg

For starters I ordered the mushroom soup with sautéed morels, which was delicious and beautifully presented (the crewmember took the lid off once it was presented at my seat).

a bowl of soup on a table
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Meal Service – Mushroom Soup with Sautéed Morels

I also ordered a seafood starter consisting of smoked salmon, tuna, and crab salad with hollandaise, black lemon and what was advertised to be yuzu cucumber, but ended up tasting more like cantaloupe. This too was delicious and beautifully presented (though I personally probably would’ve chosen a different consistency for the black lemon purée, since it was a bit striking on the plate), and I particularly enjoyed the fatty and delicious smoked salmon.

a plate of food on a table
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Meal Service – Smoked Salmon, Tuna, and Crab Salad with Black Lemon Purée

For the main course I ordered sautéed halibut with barley risotto, which was served with samphire and some other garden vegetables. This too was delicious – the fish was just a hair on the overdone side, but I particularly enjoyed the beurre blanc sauce that came with it.

a plate of food on a table a plate of food on a table
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Meal Service – Pan Seared Halibut with Samphire and Barley Risotto

While I skipped dessert (and can’t even remember what the main dessert option was – it was a gateau of sorts), I didn’t pass up the chance to try the 2013 Château de Myrat Sauternes, which I really enjoyed.

a glass of wine with yellow liquid in front of an airplane window
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Dessert Wine

I did take a picture of the (identical) beverages list on a subsequent flight, which read as follows:

a menu of a restaurant a menu with a bottle of champagne a book with a bottle of champagne a book with a bottle of wine a book with a picture of a bottle a book with a bottle of wine a book with a picture of a bottle a book with a bottle of wine a book with a bottle of wine a book with a bottle of wine a book with a picture of a bottle of winea menu with black text
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Drinks

Qatar Airways has some of the most flexible catering out of any airline out there, and as far as I know, is one of a very small handful of airlines to have maintained a “dine on demand” concept post-pandemic. Contrary to my experience on previous flights, everything I ate was delicious. The drinks list was also as extensive as I remember – I don’t remember flying another airline with a drinks list as extensive as Qatar Airways’. I’d only just note that I wish their cocktails were as creative as their mocktails – they have some snazzy specialty mocktails, though their cocktails are somewhat bog-standard.

I reclined my seat into bed mode and napped for about an hour after the meal service, before heading back to check out the bar.

Qatar Airways’ A380 Business Class Bar

One of Qatar Airways’ A380 USPs is the bar located behind the business class cabin, which in this case, was right behind my seat. The bar is stunning – it easily beats out Emirates’ old A380 bar (I’ve never been on an Emirates plane with the new business class bar), and it features a “loveseat” in the middle surrounded by some bench seating on the side. Should there be turbulence you can sit at the bar with seatbelts on (though you can’t sit there for takeoff and landing), and there are a few 110V power ports if you wanted to charge a device.

a interior of an airplane with a bar and chairs
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Bar

When I first visited the bar I felt like the crew were fairly busy, and nobody joined me. I’d ordered a pineapple margarita from the mocktail list when the crew took everyone’s drinks orders, and it was served to me at the bar along with some hot nuts. The margarita itself was rimmed with salt, and tasted delicious.

a bowl and a drink on a table
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Pineapple Margarita and Nuts

Later in the flight the crew also put up some bar snacks for display, though they pulled out refrigerated versions of any of these snacks on request. These bar snacks are specific to the A380, which is pretty cool (they do read as slightly posher than the British bar snacks that I’m used to, though I’m sure I could’ve had a packet of potato crisps if I wanted to).

a group of small glasses of food on a table
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Bar Snacks

While the rest of the cabin had traditional window shades, the windows by the bar featured electronic window shades.

a window in a plane
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Bar Window Shades

The bar is a good place to stretch your legs, though the main fun bit is when people mingle, especially on an afternoon flight like this. There were fewer people than I expected at the bar for a flight flying throughout a Monday evening, and as mentioned earlier minimal noise bled towards my seat despite being in the rear of the cabin. Still, I had a nice chat with an Australian couple, as well as someone living in Doha, and had a very fun time.

The crew working the bar were very friendly and sociable, and kept us topped up with drinks. I ordered a virgin mojito at some point (despite it not being on the menu, though my new friend at the bar had one) – the bar attendant asked jokingly “why not drink today?” I said there was probably a long day of flying ahead of me, though it wasn’t every day I’d be on the upper deck of a Qatar Airways A380, so convinced myself into a “real” mojito. I was asked whether I wanted a single or a double – I went for a single, and the mojito was very tasty.

a glass of water with lemons and mint leaves
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Mojito

At some point during the evening I also asked if I could have a glass of port, which the bar attendant said was a good choice. It was indeed tasty.

This is such a fun addition, and a great way to spend an afternoon flight. If there’s one awkward thing I noticed, it’s fairly hard to sit in a circle as a group and chat in this configuration. A gentleman came to join our conversation (with the couple I met) at one point, though it was fairly hard to include him in the circle without standing, due to the way the seats were configured. This is a first world problem more than anything, especially on a plane…

Qatar Airways’ A380 Business Class Service

Qatar Airways’ premium cabin staff are impeccably trained, and in many cases I was addressed by name. The small touches are engineered to a T, to the point where the process of being welcomed onboard, taking meal orders, the serving of meals, being thanked for choosing Qatar Airways, etc. is intentionally timed. Many of these touches were noticeable, and while not necessary in the slightest, they were very much appreciated.

I do think the A380 struggles with a size problem, where there are too many passengers for the crew to be particularly personable. This is exacerbated by the fact that all 12 rows of seats are in a single cabin with no galley in the middle. While chatting with a flight attendant I learned that the A380 generally is operated by a bigger team, and the plane ends up being better staffed – though it’s hard to maintain a seamless service flow and be as personable in such a large cabin. Since I was last to be served (in the last row) I generally felt the lag in service flow a little bit, though that’s not a particularly easy fix, especially on a large plane that’s not far from retirement.

Qatar Airways’ A380 Business Class Entertainment System

I had the chance to check out the entertainment system shortly before landing, and found it intuitive to use, and appreciated that entire seasons of TV shows were uploaded. However, I was also aware that there was a much smaller selection on this aircraft than on the subsequent flight I took on the 787-9.

a screen shot of a television a screen shot of a television a screen shot of a television a screen with many images on it
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Entertainment System

Landing into Doha Airport

I spent most of the rest of the flight chatting in the bar, though about half an hour before landing the captain came onto the PA announcing that we’d land into Doha just before midnight. It was about time to head back to my seat and get ready for landing, though I found a box of Läderach chocolates waiting for me.

a white box on a wood surface
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Chocolates

The flight attendant serving my aisle came to thank me for flying Qatar Airways.

Before landing the cabin lights were dimmed, and we were ready to descend into Doha.

inside an airplane with rows of seats and monitors
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Cabin upon Landing

While the views into Doha were great, unfortunately there was only so much I could photograph in low lighting conditions.

a view of the wing of an airplane from a plane window an airplane wing and wing of an airplane
Landing into Doha Airport

We hugged the Qatari coastline, making numerous right turns until we were wheels-down onto runway 34R at 11:55 PM, five minutes after our scheduled arrival time. We had a five-minute long taxi, and arrived at gate B1 just after midnight.

After the jetbridge was hooked up to both the upper and lower decks it was time to get off the aircraft, so I took one last look at the cabin before bidding farewell to all the cabin crew.

a row of seats in a plane
Qatar Airways A380 Business Class Cabin after Landing

Presumably due to our late arrival, we were let straight out into the terminal, so those on tight connections could catch their flights. I didn’t have this problem, since I’d just received a notification from the Qatar Airways app that my flight was delayed by just under three hours, so I’d have to stay awake until 5 AM…

Conclusion: Qatar Airways’ A380 Business Class

Compared to a large handful of other airlines, this was a top-notch flight, both in terms of the hard and soft product. From the a-la-carte meal service, to the very extensive drinks list, to the impeccable service, the soft product was unquestionably amazing – the only small “misses” were the lack of a mattress pad, which Qatar Airways only hands out on QSuite and longhaul flights, and the lack of a proper amenity kit, both of which I’d have hoped to have on a high-yield six-hour flight.

Qatar Airways’ A380 reverse herringbone seat is also very good, although it’s not one of the best in the industry anymore – in fact, it’s not one of the better seats that Qatar Airways has, considering their QSuite and their new 787-9 suite. I’d consider this seat on par with Emirates’ A380 business class, whereas the QSuite and new 787-9 seat are superior.

The bar is one-of-a-kind, setting this Qatar Airways plane apart, and makes the experience much more fun and exciting. Now, if I had a single flight to take in Qatar Airways business class, I’d probably choose the QSuite, especially if I was hoping to sleep. This is a choice you can make on many flights where the A380 operates, as the A380 usually operates a fraction of flights on high-frequency routes (such as London-Doha or Paris-Doha), unless you’re specifically flying to Perth. I’ll be reviewing Qatar Airways’ 787-9 next, and would probably still pick that plane over the A380, especially on a flight where I’m planning to sleep. However, if I had a connecting flight or I’d already flown the QSuite before, I’d endeavour to take a daytime flight on the A380 just for the novelty and fun of the inflight bar.

I might even go out on a limb and say that the Qatar Airways A380 bar is the most all-out premium cabin “novelty amenity” that I know of on any airline? Either way, what a fun flight!

What’s your most fun inflight bar experience (if you have one)?

Read more from this trip:

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