I woke up way too early for this flight but just couldn’t sleep knowing that I was going to step aboard a Dreamliner for the first time. I had come so close in the past but the scheduling gods had stood in my way. This time I made sure to check Flightradar in advance, making sure that the inbound flight had arrived on time, just to put my mind at ease!
Given that there isn’t a dedicated OneWorld lounge in ARN, we opted to enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the Radisson, rather than going out of our way to spend time in a contract lounge.
We cleared fast-track security and passport control extremely quickly despite thinking we were cutting the timing quite fine.
I wasn’t overly bothered by getting a bit of extra time at the gate area though, as it gave me a great opportunity to get acquainted with our sleek and elegant ride to Doha.
Qatar Airways B787
Boarding commenced on time and as I walked up the jetbridge, I could barely contain my excitement. I looked across and caught a glimpse of the awesome, flame like tapering on the engines and the blue tint of the windows and couldn’t help but break out in a massive smile.
As I stepped on board my jaw nearly hit the floor.
This did not look like any cabin I had ever seen before. It looked more like the shuttle used by the higher orders of an alien society, commuting between their galactic empires:
Whilst most airlines have a bulkhead and galley next to the boarding door, Qatar want you to be impressed. If you’re travelling in Economy you’ll see this and immediately aspire to sit in one of these seats one day. The sleek marble bar and elegant bouquet of roses, framing the entrance as the purple ceiling extends overhead, is quite a sight to behold – especially when you’re used to US and European carriers… or indeed economy class.
Whilst the majority of the business class cabin is located on your left as you enter, there are two seats to your right – which are ensconced in their own private cocoon, behind the second bar and magazine rack.
A good friend of mine always picks these seats as he loves the private feeling. The cupboards to the sides are not actively used during the flight, so there’s no disruption from crew. Whilst the toilets do flank these seats, the entrance is adjacent to the boarding doors and away from the seats, with plenty of queuing room between the bars (not that this is needed when there are two bathrooms shared between only twenty two passengers.) The only thing that could go wrong here would be if the bassinets were attached to the front row of economy behind you.
As I was busy picking my jaw up off the floor, a member of the cabin crew greeted us with a smile, “welcome on board!”
She showed us to our seats, although given how small the cabin is, this wasn’t strictly necessary.
This shot was taken later on in the flight…
…things were slightly more chaotic during boarding but moving out of the way for other pax was extremely easy given the space around each of the seats. I also like that the armrests sink into the seat pre-takeoff. This means that you have a flat surface to open your suitcase on, if you want to remove laptops, cameras etc.
Once I actually got to my seat and saw the finishes up close, it was time for my jaw to hit the floor all over again!
I was sitting in seat 2A but would definitely take seat 1A in future if it is available. It has a massive table area above as well as two additional latched cupboards. The crew were generally very good at keeping the curtain closed as well. FYI The bulkhead seats on QR flights are only ever available at the airport and not even OneWorld Emeralds can select them in advance.
On the left, my seat : 2A. The Qatar reverse herringbone has to be the best looking business class seat I’ve ever laid eyes on. There is only one thing that I immediately wished for and that was a privacy shield at head height, like CX and AA have on their 777s. It makes a real difference to the privacy level when you can’t instantly make eye contact with half the cabin and I can see why most airlines opted to add the shield when creating their versions of the original US reverse herringbone seat.
The leather trim surrounding the seat is perfectly stitched. The IFE controller was ultra responsive. A bit of a shame to see S-Video next to the USB port though. Who actually uses that rather than HDMI?
The seat has a very user friendly interface for adjustments. Also, how incredibly shiny are those polished wooden surfaces?!!
Seat interface. The third from the left, on the bottom, is the massage function 😎
Music selection on point. The fixed screen also means that gate to gate entertainment is possible without giving yourself neck ache.
I felt like a child playing with his toys on Christmas day as I went about exploring the various features of the seat 😀
On my left was a very deep, leather topped, storage bin
Next to the storage bin is a universal Empower socket
Above this there was another large shelf polished to within an inch of its life, featuring some beautiful recessed lighting. I like how the literature rack has enough space to add a couple of your own magazines rather than being crammed to bursting already.
As I mentioned earlier, the aisle facing armrest moves up and down and is set to the down position for takeoff and landing. Inside the armrest was a bottle of Evian water and a sealed pair of noise cancelling headphones.
The headphones that Qatar uses are decent but nowhere near the level of the Bose QC25s offered by AA.
Whilst I was busy playing with the seat a very professional and courteous member of the cabin crew came over to offer me a drink and a choice of either hot or cold towel. I almost died of shock ❗ Even JL doesn’t offer a choice of towel temperature in F and here I was being given the option in business class! I opted for cold and also asked for a glass of champagne. The towel was promptly brought over with a full sized champagne flute and a bottle of Billecart Salmon. The champagne was then poured for me at my seat. Again, what a contrast to almost every other airline, where the choice is generally between miniature glasses of champagne, water or juice – presented 30 at a time on a large plastic tray.
I need to work on smiling more in pictures. I was way happier than this XD
A thick, ice-cold towel (that smells like Turkish delight); a large glass of iced water; a full sized flute of Drappier Rosé (I figured I should try both champagnes in the interests of equitable research); Piano Gloss finishes and shiny HD entertainment. At this stage of the journey I was already convinced that this was going to be in my Top 3 business class flights of all time.
Whilst we were still on the ground, as I sat sipping my champagne, I was offered both a top up and an Armani amenity kit. The outside was not at all impressive and actually felt quite cheap.
The small bag contained some basic flight socks, eye mask and ear plugs. The full sized after shave balm and the small bottle of Acqua di Gio were a lovely touch though.
I was also handed a separate menu and drinks list and, despite this being only a 6 hour flight, I was informed that the service was fully dine on demand. I was free to order whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. The flight attendant mentioned that I should let her know if I wanted to reserve anything though, just in case some popular dishes ran out (I assume this offer was made as a result of my OneWorld sapphire status at the time).
Menu and Drinks List
The cloud cover was pretty thick as we reached our cruising altitude but the enormous blue windows even made looking at a canvas of cloud exciting!
I was surprised by how quickly the warm cashews and champagne were brought out. It seemed to happen within milliseconds of the crew being released. All the more impressive given that everything was hand served for every passenger, including sample tastings for wine.
After finishing my champagne I went for a quick look around the cabin and started taking all of the pictures for this report. Just as I peeked out of the window I spotted this!
I’m pretty sure it was just a small private jet but for a second I did a double take, the speed with which it whizzed past and the dirty grey trail made it look like a missile 😮
After the ‘missile’ excitement I headed back to my seat for lunch. Whilst dine on demand was proactively offered, it seemed like almost everybody had opted to eat straight after takeoff. I guess this facet of the Qatar experience comes into its own on longer flights.
I was served by a very chatty and friendly member of the cabin crew, he seemed genuinely interested in my trip and said he’d make sure that my first experience of the Dreamliner was a memorable one. He also told me that he was A380 trained and assured me that I’d be just as impressed with my upcoming sector to BKK.
I was pleased to see that the table was properly set without the use of a tray underneath. The cutlery felt firm and heavy, there were proper salt and pepper shakers and a very large side plate for the three fresh and crunchy pieces of bread.
I started with the beetroot soup and chive creme fraiche. My theory held fast. Soups on planes are almost always awesome and this was no exception.
It may have looked like somebody put Krang from TMNT into a blender but the soup was seriously delicious. I love how this was presented too, with a fitted porcelain lid that was removed at the table, allowing the aroma of the chives to fill the air around my seat.
Next up I went with the mixed Arabic mezze, which was decent but not spectacular. It was very carb heavy with zero protein. The Rully Premier Cru Gresigny on the other hand, was very good indeed.
The food thus far had been good but not great. There was a spectacular aroma filling the cabin as I made my way through the mezze though and I was quickly able to pinpoint its locus: the plates of chicken tikka masala ordered by other pax in my vicinity. As the flight attendant approached and placed the beautifully decorated dish in front of me, I knew I had made the right choice.
Large tender pieces of marinated chicken, crunchy pieces of lightly steamed vegetables and a rich and aromatic sauce, sitting on a bed of fragrant rice. Utterly amazing. I had been to Dishoom in London the week before this flight and this dish was easily the equal of anything I ate there (and the lines can sometimes be an hour long, even when it’s raining!)
I was totally full at this stage and decided to skip dessert. Rather than ordering a macchiato I asked for a double espresso with some warm milk on the side. That one flight on BA F was just too ridiculous an experience to want to repeat. I needn’t have worried though, moments later the FA returned with an expertly crafted double macchiato, a cold towel and a box containing four Valrhona chocolates.
A perfect end to an amazing meal.
After the meal I checked out the bathroom, the Rituals toiletries were quite nice but the bathroom itself wasn’t particularly impressive.
It’s hard to argue with the view though.
With the meal service over and a few hours to go until landing, I decided to work on some photo editing, whilst listening to the IFE. Unfortunately there seems to be a weird feedback loop created by having a Mac plugged in on the QR787 (something I’ve since verified on subsequent flights). I’m not sure if it is caused by the metal case of my Macbook but every time I rested my hands on the keyboard the feedback got louder.
In the end I had to unplug the laptop and just let the battery run down as I worked.
Oh well, not every aspect of the flight could be perfect, I thought to myself. Maybe I should have another glass of champagne to cope with the stress. Then the bad thing happened: I was told that the champagne had run out with more than three hours to go. I asked if this included the rosé… it did.
So I endured the Qatar version of real hardship. I sipped a few (full sized) glasses of rich white burgundy, as I worked on my laptop, with plenty room to set up my camera on an adjoining table and still had room to get up from my seat whenever I wanted. I spent some time watching the world go by out of the vast windows and an hour before landing I had another double macchiato and another box of chocolates.
Anybody that prefers BA or American Business Class to this, is out of their mind. Despite a couple of minor issues this was an incredible flight and one of the few times that I have been genuinely wowed by a Business Class experience, even preferring it to the First Class product of numerous carriers. Given the prices that Qatar is routinely available for, you would have to have one hell of a good reason to fly an alternate carrier if the QR 787 was an option.