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REVIEW – Qatar: First Class – Doha to London (A330)

qr a330 f food - REVIEW - Qatar: First Class - Doha to London (A330)

Qatar (QR)

  • Flight: QR005
  • Class: First
  • From: Doha (DOH)
  • To: London (LHR)
  • Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
  • Seat: 1A
  • Date: September 2014

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After familiarising ourselves with the seat and aircraft features on the very short hop from Dubai to Doha, we boarded a very similar plane to continue the journey from Doha back to London.

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We boarded on time and were immediately offered Krug and canapes.

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We were also given Giorgio Armani branded amenity kits.

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The female amenity kit contents
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The male kit (silver as opposed to gold accents)
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As far as contents go, this has to be one of the most generous amenity kits out there (alongside SQ F)

The kits come with cologne, shower gel and aftershave/ moisturiser.

Two things I found strange, the bag itself has a very cheap feel as a result of the satin material, not durable at all. Secondly, the kit contains a full size shower gel despite the fact that QR is the only ME3 airline without an onboard shower.

Upon boarding we were also handed a very extensive wine list and menu each. Apologies for the picture quality on some of these. My next travel related purchase will definitely be a camera that can take pictures in low light.

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Just before the meal service I took the opportunity to take some more detailed shots of the seat and cabin.

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An odd thing about the F seats on QR outside of the A380 is that the window seats have considerably more personal space than the centre seats. Although I understand that the storage space behind the divider is intended for the window passenger whereas the storage on the open side is intended for the aisle passenger. In practice this would be quite awkward though, as clearly both lockers are within the personal space of the window passenger.

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The area to the right of K is intended as a locker for the aisle passenger and not a table for her.

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Ultra high-level detail shot: I liked the fact that there was a divider to stop your belongings sliding into another passenger’s seat during take off and landing.

We asked to dine together, an experience which was very comfortable. There is no extender but the table is large enough to accommodate two people without any issues.

The companion seat has plenty of room so on this occasion I wasn’t too bothered about reprising my role of ‘buddy’ (not something I can say for any 747 ever).

The caviar came in an individual tin with all the garnishes kept separate.

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One thing we’ve all learned in this hobby is that metal spoons are the devil. So you’ll be glad to hear that Qatar provided a very nice mother of pearl instrument with which to eat the luminescent beads of oscietra.

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Kamara skipped the caviar as she just wanted something light. She went with the roasted tomato soup, made considerably less light by smashing through most of this bread basket!

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In between courses we were brought a refreshing palate cleanser of lemon and mint sorbet.

Kamara opted to have the lobster ravioli appetiser as a main course, it was really good. The prawn bisque in particular had a deep and rich umami flavour, whilst the pasta was thin enough to let the lobster shine:

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I opted for the tandoori malai prawns, which had a great charred flavour to them. The rice wasn’t too great although I have been spoiled by Asian carriers with their onboard rice cookers.

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I continued to drink Krug throughout the meal whilst K switched to water. We also skipped dessert and just had a small box of Godiva chocolates each.

Not exactly healthy eating but a step in the right direction right?

After our meal we both asked for a turndown service, although unfortunately there were no PJs available (the A380 on the same route offers Missoni PJs). I asked for the aisle seat to be made up so that I could switch back to the seat at my leisure. The FA was happy to oblige.

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As far as F bedding goes QR didn’t really provide any ‘bells and whistles’. No memory foam or tempurpedic mattress topper, quite an ordinary feeling blanket and a couple of light synthetic pillows. Still, with the screens up this definitely feels more private and spacious than every Business Class out there with the exception of row 11 on SQ 777s. I’ve not yet flown BA F although I will be doing so next week in a 747 so will report back in a future report.

Before getting into bed, I watched the sun set over the clouds, with a glass of Krug. I spent some time contemplating the awesomeness of the moment. The richest most powerful men in history up until 50 years ago, leaders of empires, were never able to witness such a spectacle in such comfort all whilst covering astonishing distances, the world below condensed to a distant picture.

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This is probably an underlying sentiment which drives those of us who are into miles, points and discount airfares. We understand the exceptional nature of air travel and are eager to dedicate as much time and resources as we can to making the experience as special as possible.

Once the sun set, the cabin lighting was switched over to night mode.

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I unpacked my headphones and settled down to watch a movie.

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The headphones were decent enough although not the super high-end Bose headphones found on other airlines. The IFE is obviously old but by no means unwatchable. For a flight of this length it is totally adequate. I actually had an iPad with me but for some reason I just like plugging into the IFE and watching movies that I otherwise may not have bothered with. The weeks leading up to a trip always involve K and I holding off on watching things at home, so as not to ‘spoil’ the IFE when we fly.

Although I had been hoping that QR would load Chateau d’Yquem on this flight, I was out of luck. It is probably the single most expensive bottle of alcohol loaded on any commercial airline, so it makes sense that it wouldn’t always be available.

However, the Pichon Lalande had caught my eye. This is a particularly good wine, one of the ‘super second’ wines classified as second growths (as opposed to the top-tier 1er crus) but in many instances holding their own against their considerably more expensive cousins.

I was always raised with the idea that you must eat when you drink wine. My friends in Spain find the idea of a wine bar without food completely absurd.

With this in mind I called an FA and requested the steak. More than anything, I was interested to see if it was any different in the air and whether the cut would be better given that this was an F cabin vs a J lounge.

The FA warned that there may not be any steak left, I said in that case I’d take the cheese plate.

15 minutes later she set the table for me, so I left my bed and crossed back over to the window seat.

She brought over the cheese plate, which was quite basic but featured blue cheese and grapes, so I was happy.

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After removing the cheese plate the FA then asked if I was ready for the steak. I guess something was lost in translation. I though I would get cheese if no steak was available. The FA, on the other hand, thought I was the reincarnation of Marlon Brando and required constant caloric intake in order to maintain a ludicrous body mass index.

Anyway, you all know how this ends. She asked if I still wanted the steak and I said yes.

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The steak was still cooked all the way through, although I preferred the sauce and thought the meat was more tender than in the lounge.

After this trip I didn’t eat a proper meal for about 2 days.

Shortly after finishing my ‘snack’ the cabin crew prepared the cabin for landing. I loved being able to snap some shots of London on this exceptionally clear night.

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THE VERDICT


Convenience
QF wins.
Direct flight at night time gets you in to Dubai first thing in the morning with no hassle.

Food and Drink
QR wins.
Caviar and Krug. The end.

Amenities
QF wins.
SKII is a seriously high end brand for an amenity kit, the bags themselves are also high quality.
QF PJs are super comfortable. QR didn’t offer any.

Service
QF wins.
I love the Aussie FAs, they are friendly without being overly familiar and there are absolutely no communication issues. QR had great cabin crew on the first sector but the long-haul crew were not so memorable.

Cabin and Seat
QF wins.
The QF seat on the A380 is enormous and the bedding is absolutely amazing. The A380 gives you better air quality and a huge sensation of space. When comparing it to the QR A330, there is no contest.

 


WINNER : QANTAS FIRST CLASS


Overall the Qantas experience was the better of the two. Having said that, I would much rather fly Qatar Business than Qantas Business.

I’ve not flown on the newer QR planes but on the A380 where they serve Krug at the bar, your experience as a J passenger has to be about as good as it gets. The mentality of QR, the constant drive to improve is apparent. In doing so they really are making F obsolete.

I’m also glad to report that QF have begun to step things up by offering caviar in F since February 2015.

In an industry where we so frequently hear about “the race to the bottom”, it is refreshing to see these two airlines racing to the top.

end - REVIEW - Qatar: First Class - Doha to London (A330)

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