It doesn't get any better than this. At least I can't image a better all around flight for the price. You be the judge.
This was the opening salvo on another round the world journey, this time sampling American Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, Qantas and Virgin Australia. Needless to say the excitement was high.
The trip almost never exited Boston. After an uneventful flight from Chicago to Boston on American Airlines (see below), I had a few hour layover in Boston. My choice, as I would rather be early than late, especially during a high travel period as well as when weather could be an issue.
The incident was an hour before departure to Doha. Tired of the Air France lounge I went into the concourse to look around. Seeing that the Air France lounge had a single washroom, I used the facilities in the concourse. Next I visited a few shops looking around at some luggage and books. As boarding approached I headed to the gate.
Reaching into my pocket to check my phone panic struck. No phone. Where's the phone?
I know I had it leaving the lounge. Did I leave it at the luggage store? A quick check proved fruitless. It must be in the washroom. Great, it's been at least 20 minutes. I'm screwed.
I offered my blessings as I entered the men's room. Turning the corner, there in full view, alone on the wash basin counter was my phone . No one took it! I wonder how many people saw it and contemplated a heist? Whoever they may have been, thank you for being a good samaritan!
Carrier: Qatar Airways
Date: November 2016
Route: Boston - Doha
Flight #: QR744
Aircraft: A350-900 #A7-ALG
On Time: Yes
Reward Flying Rating: 8.6 out of 10 ✈ (Highest rating to date)
A bit of luck
Qatar Airways is very generous with reward space. The hard part is finding premium class on American for a connection. The BOS-DOH route is frequently available.
Value for Reward per redemption point:
✔︎Sky High: >.08
This reward was secured using 67,500 American Airlines points and was pre-devaluation. The good news is the new requirement is only 2,500 more points post-deval. A sample one-way fare for this route was $6,538 giving the points a redemption value of 9.7 cents. Even the lowest fare on this route was $3,424 for a 5 cent value.
You have to contact American reservations for a Qatar flight. They aren't populated on the website. Your best bet to find these rewards is to search British Airways.
Stay at Gate
Having stated there was only a single washroom, meaning really single, you probably have an idea of what the Air France lounge in Boston Logan is like. Don't hurry to attend.
It was dark and the lounge was next to the Qatar flight gate, downstairs, and has a window. It might have a decent view of the airport tarmac. But at night it just seemed like you were in the basement, which you are.
✔︎Pray for early arrival
When traveling to Doha on a premium class ticket don't exit through normal immigration. Continue on and you'll find the Doha arrival lounge which looked spectacular. You can exit and get your visa from here as well. This is the main room. In the back by the counter is the entrance. They have a full compliment of services, including showers.
Boston Logan Terminal 5 gearing up for the overnight European departures.
Even though I had a mobile boarding pass from Qatar I could not enter security as they required a paper boarding pass. That policy resulted in an hour wait in the area shown above.
The low-light of the trip was the boarding area. So as to not ruin a good thing, I'm only posting the boarding sign. Qatar did not have their act together for this boarding process.
Soon all was to be forgotten.
What were they thinking?
There are numerous words that could illustrate the Qatar A350 cabin. But none of them would really portray the true feeling when you enter.
Described almost as crimson with purple highlights using the A350's 16.7 million color variation mood lighting, there is only a single drawback.
Pictures don't turn out well.
My advice. Go take a ride on one.
This is a look back in the business cabin behind the entry. Since there is no partition it really can't be considered a separate cabin or mini-cabin.
Storage bins are huge. There are no bins above the center seats giving the cabin an airy feeling.
For reference this piece of luggage just barely squeezes into the overhead bin of an A330.
Huge windows with electronic shades. (Although a 787 window would have been preferred on this flight as apparently the Northern Lights were out over Greenland. That would have been incredible to see!)
Lavatories are nicely appointed and well stocked.
✔︎Just like home
Get me off this plane
The B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seat is rapidly becoming my favorite business class seat, or any class seat. They are super comfortable, well designed and fully functional. Qatar did an outstanding job with their version.
A pillow and blanket await.
The table doesn't stick out as far as on some other carrier's, allowing for more room to move.
While not enclosed you still have a sense of privacy.
The exit side armrest, which can be moved up and down, contains a bottle of water as well as your headphones.
I love how these regulators insist on requiring "Max Stowage" weights posted everywhere. First, where's the scale? I don't usually travel with one. Second, what am I supposed to put in that compartment that weighs more than 3.3 lbs, a gold brick? Not likely.
On the other side is a storage compartment.
And in my case a perfect fit for the travel shoulder bag.
At the base of the pod in front of yours is a small storage compartment for your shoes.
Workspace and reading lamp.
Underneath are the power outlets. (How did this get by Qatar's meticulous quality control??)
And an ingenious panel of seat controls attached to the side of the secondary table.
✔︎Like a Rock
Plan on getting a good night's sleep.
You have a fairly large footwell and lots of legroom.
Upon request, turndown service. Qatar provides a mattress pad as well as duvet.
For couples traveling together the center seats offer the ability to converse with a moveable divider.
And with divider up.
Cabin/Seats Rating: 8.5 out of 10 ✈:
This was my second trip in an A350, with the first being a short hop on Singapore's new bird. I mentioned in that report the nasty smell of jet fuel when spooling up the engines. I made the comment that I had hoped it was a one off. Well now I hope it is a two off. The smell on this flight was also very strong.
Time to go.
Upon entering I was offered champagne. At first I just had water and was given an oshibori.
Multiple flight attendants came by to introduce themselves. The attendant taking care of me was named Klowyne. She was excellent and made the trip even more special.
After departure I enjoyed some Pommery Louise 2002 champagne. This brand runs about $75 a bottle. Second only to Dom on Thai first class in my travels so far. Kudos QR.
An amenity kit, slippers and pajamas were passed out. Qatar provides pajamas to business class customer on overnight flights. They are really nice too!
The amenity kit includes Giorgio Armani items:
Time to eat and drink.
Qatar has an extensive beverage menu:
As well as a food menu offering 3 mains, numerous anytime snacks as well as breakfast on arrival:
Once the tray folds out it provides plenty of room. Also notice Klowyne really knows how to treat your pour.
✔︎Compliments to the Chef
Fine dining with a miss or two
No rave reviews
Get me a meal from economy
I will take away the suspense. Dinner was incredible. Was it Austrian Airlines good. Maybe...
I began with Garden Pea soup. Okay so it's green, get over it.
A nice touch of fresh micro-greens as a garnish.
Next the Anitpasti salad. One word, OMG
Butter bean and tomato salad
And then this incredible dish of marinated peppers with cheese.
And some crostini.
I opted for the grilled chicken with chickpea sauce.
It was delicious. Blackened with mild spices, not burnt, juicy and tender.
And to finish off the outstanding meal I chose the rich chocolate torte. And that it was!
The problem with sleeping so well is I slept until breakfast so I wasn't able to try any of the light menu options.
For breakfast I chose the bircher muesli and for the main, well I guess I'm a typical American.
Breakfast was not as good. The steak was way over well done and the eggs were the typical pre-made whatever they do. This meal prevented Qatar from an exceptional rating in my book. It looked good though. Bottom line is the I have no complaints at all with QR's catering.
Soft Product: Food/Amenities Rating: 8 out of 10 ✈:
IFE: Rating: 8 out of 10 ✈:
✔︎Can I stay and watch some more?
Watched a favorite and went to sleep
400 cable channels and nothing to watch
Glad I brought my tablet
The Airbus A350-900 has 3 outside cameras. A cockpit view, underneath ground view as well as tail camera. Unfortunately take-off and landing were at night. The hand held controller could also be set to show the air show while viewing something else on the monitor. Nice feature but somewhat useless.
Flight Attendants: Rating: 8.5 out of 10 ✈:
✔︎Made the flight special
Did their job
Did they board?
Many trip reports describe Qatar flight attendants as aloof while being professional in performing their duties. The crew on flight 744 was friendly, engaging and extremely attentive. For a business class flight I can't imagine any better service.
Aircraft: Rating: 10 out of 10 ✈:
✔︎Didn’t realize was on a plane
Time for a trade-in
This aircraft had made its first revenue flight one year and one day prior to this flight. It was the 13th A350-900 built. The A350 is a remarkably quiet aircraft in the air. While the 787 is quieter on take-off, the A350 is superior at 40,000 feet. Frankly you don't know you are flying.
These are some notes I made during this business class flight:
- Dine on demand unusual for a business class flight
- Four course main meal
- Food quality rivals, if not superior to many first class meals
- Comfortable pajamas in business class
- Mattress pad and turndown service
- A delightful cabin crew
- Brand new state of the art aircraft
I would happily take Qatar, especially their A350, anywhere anytime!
American Airlines B737 service ORD-BOS in First
Traveling from O'Hare on a busy pre-holiday I decided to arrive a bit early which gave me a chance to check out the American Airlines Admiral's club up on the 3rd floor of Terminal 3. It's a spacious club with nice views of the airfield. Fun for some plane spotting. I'll be seeing that one in the middle in a few hours.
Free food was sparse and unappealing at lunch time.
Paid food was plentiful.
Saving my appetite I wanted to go to Boston. Time to board, I stand in the First Class priority line.
This is a pre-boarding announcement. Anyone needing special assistance or traveling with children may board now.
Obviously the little guy isn't so sure about this.
The cabin on this 737-800 just seems a bit drab. Dark and gloomy.
American's first class seats are decent. They offer a good amount of legroom. I just wouldn't want them transcon or more than say 3-4 hours.
The laptop/tablet holder under the armrest is useful (albeit you aren't supposed to use it on take-off and landing) while the electronics are not easily accessible. But then again, they have electronics.
And away they go.
The flight crew was Miami based. The pursuer stayed in the galley for the most part while his assistant served the cabin. He was a young man, in his 20's and looked like he was asleep. He was nice, just VERY quiet. He came around to take lunch orders. I had pre-ordered using AA's website which is a nice feature. (They send you an email 2 weeks out so you can choose then if you want.)
The young flight attendant asked the lady next to me what she'd like for lunch. Then he asked me what I'd like to drink, which confused my neighbor. I assured her everything was fine as I had pre-ordered. Lunch was served to all the passengers, except me. Then the young man appeared and asked if I'd like a cookie. I said I'd prefer my lunch first.
He looked confused. Returning to the galley he was back moments later with lunch and apologized profusely, many times. No big deal. It actually was pretty good.
This aircraft had American's personal device entertainment. While I didn't watch anything I used to American website to look something up, it was very slow. Pretty expensive too, unless you plan on flying American all month.
Next stop Boston and the long anticipated Qatar A350 trip.