Maybe the perfect flight.
Doha’s Hamad International Airport is a stunning piece of architecture. Only an $8 Uber ride from Old Town that takes about 10 minutes, the airport is located on east side of Doah against the Persian Gulf coast.
With the flight leaving at 8:15AM it was an early ride to the airport, and as it turns out I wish I left earlier as there was much to do in the Qatar business class lounge.
A grand entrance awaits premium class passengers.
Check In took a matter of seconds as did security. The airport was plenty crowded, but most were connecting passengers.
I’m sure there is a good explanation for this 5 million dollar bear, I just haven’t heard it. It’s a good photo op.
High end shops, Apple computers, flight simulators and race cars. And that’s before the lounge.
Take an escalator up to the Al Mourjan business class lounge. The lounge is massive, shaped in a long rectangle. This guide shows the layout.
This artwork is at the entry. Go left to take a tour around the facility or go upstairs for a full service restaurant.
Seating is everywhere, except unlike most lounges the chairs a spread out into spacious areas that offer a certain amount of privacy.
At the far end there are cafeteria like tables where you can grab a coffee and sweet.
There wasn’t a vast amount of food in any of these areas. I suspect due to the restaurant upstairs.
Business workstations, Game Room, Washroom, Prayer Rooms, this lounge has everything.
Including a lake, below the staircase up to the restaurant.
Which I failed to allow enough time to enjoy, next time.
QR944 to Singapore left from the farthest gate, as it turns out it was a remote gate which was a bus gate that offered a closeup of an A380 as well as 2 A350-1K, one of which would take me to Singapore. A golden opportunity wasted. What an awesome picture a closeup of that Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine would have been. Try taking a photo walking up stairs with a busload of people behind you, carry-on roller in one hand and laptop case in the other because I left the shoulder strap at home.
At least I got half!
Today’s journey would be on Qatar Airways A350-1000 registration A7-ANB, delivered on June 30th, 2018.
There are 2 cabins on the A350. The front cabin has 40 of the 48 business class suites on the A350-1K.
During the flight I went back to the mini-cabin that has only 8 seats. Other than boarding congestion, this is the place to be in my opinion.
Specifically in 11A or 11K with a nice view of the engine.
There are only 2 lavatories, behind door 2 on this Airbus which could be problematic on long flights before landing.
Seat 1K would be my home. This seat was not blocked when I booked this flight, unlike row 1 on the 777 out of Chicago.
The QSuite on the A350-1K has 1/2 inch less width than on the 777 QSuite.
And the monitor is slightly smaller as well.
Qatar installed the premium dual transparency electronic window shades which are so much nicer than the pull down shades.
When seated in 1K, the only other seat in line of sight is this one.
When seated your privacy with both suite doors open.
Row 1 center, like the 777, is rear facing.
Even with a slightly more narrow pod, the foot well has plenty of room.
The window side armrest can be lowered and connects with padding to make an even larger area to sleep.
IFE controller and ports are opposite of the 777, or maybe it’s that way on seat K on the 777.
QSuite and A350-1000 Safety instructions.
Time to go.
Cleared for takeoff.
Amenities on this trip are similar to those one the inbound 777, with the exception of pajamas.
The aircraft had wifi with less than impressive speeds when I tested it.
Coffee is in order on the morning flight before breakfast. Sorry no Mimosa or Champagne for me!
For Breakfast I would have the smoked salmon and scrambled egg.
Later on the Light Options tried are the grilled chicken with pesto sandwich and stir-fried beef tenderloin.
Plus from the Snack Platters menu I’d try the veggie skewer and raspberry tart.
Non-alcoholic beverages for this morning flight.
The smoked salmon with dill cream cheese was outstanding.
These were thick slices of salmon.
And a basket of rolls. It’s so much more like first class doing it this way as opposed to the FA bringing around a basket and you select one.
The main course was restaurant quality as well.
I’m tempted to compare this to a dozen or thereabout other so called premium class breakfasts I’ve had on international flights.
After breakfast the mood lighting was turned on. What’s not to like?
Here is my only complaint about this flight, if you can call it a complaint.
The handheld remote device has the airshow.
Which is pretty cool.
Except it kept shutting off, just like your phone shuts off every few minutes. I gave up after awhile.
Heading east to Singapore where the time zone difference is 5 hours meant it was 5PM before I knew it.
I started my sampling feast by ordering the veggie skewers. My flight attendant for the flight was amazing. Polished, friendly, attentive, all the things that make a great flight experience she had. Much different from the inbound flight. She suggested I order more than one skewer as “they are small”. I enjoyed them with a Cháteau Batailley, which was surprising they had any left after my inbound flight.
No kidding they were small! But delicious.
I was encouraged to try the grilled chicken sandwich.
This was delicious as well.
Why stop now?
The stir-fry beef tenderloin was remarkably good. The chili sambal added just a touch of heat, I was tempted to order another.
An amazing experience was coming to a close.
The best redemption price for this is using American points. Middle East to Asia 2 on their chart is 40,000 points and a few dollars in taxes. You can also book the flight using British Airways Avios. They charge 60,000 points for this trip and the taxes are around $135. At the time I booked this trip BA had a 40% bonus with an AMEX transfer. That meant 43,000 AMEX points. As I value AA points higher (because of their hold policy) I spend 3,000 more points and an extra $100 to save the AA points. Would I do it again, not sure.
A drawback with AA points is their draconian routing rule that doesn’t allow USA-Asia-2 via anything but Asia-1 region. So the ORD-DOH and DOH-SIN would have been 2 awards, or 110,000 points. Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles) had this exact route available for 95,000 points on a single award. So I called to find out the taxes as their new website doesn’t show the taxes and fees (duh). They were $650 as Qatar has been increasing their YQ fees recently. Too bad.
Carrier: Qatar Airways
Date: November 2018
Route: Doha, Qatar - Singapore
Flight #: 944
Aircraft: Airbus A350-1000 Reg: A7-ANB
Configuration: J48 / Y281
On Time: Yes
Reward Flying Rating: 8.9 out of 10 ✈
✔︎The QSuite cabin is gorgeous.
✔︎Very well designed seat. This seat is 1/2 narrower than the 777 QSuite
Cabin/Seats Rating: 9 out of 10 ✈
✔︎Qatar offers more business class amenities than most.
✔︎First class presentation on this flight.
✔︎All meals were excellent.
Amenity/Food rating: 8.5 out of 10 ✈
✔︎ Large, responsive to touch and great contrast. Handheld remote airshow disappointed because it shut down like a phone would.
✔︎ Free WiFi but the speed was poor when tested.
IFE rating: 8.5 out of 10 ✈
✔︎This crew was fabulous.
Flight Attendant rating: 8.5 out of 10 ✈
✔︎A350-100. This was the 6th A350-1000 to fly. What an amazing aircraft.
Aircraft rating: 10 out of 10 ✈