There isn’t a huge degree of rhyme or reason to transfer security in Doha airport. I’ve sometimes been lucky enough to disembark directly into the departure concourse, with only a short walk to the lounge. Other times, like this one, I find myself unceremoniously dumped into the transfer system.
We landed at the furthest possible gate and had quite a walk ahead of us. After spending a few hours eating, sleeping and drinking I didn’t mind getting my heart rate up with a bit of a speed walk (you can always tell a Londoner abroad, we’re the ones walking twice as fast as everybody else).
After ten minutes or so we reached the chaos of the transfer security hall. Thankfully there is a premium lane there which is always super fast, primarily because the security system is a total farce.
The guy manning the controls to the screening machine fell asleep twice during the time we were waiting in line. Every single person set off the metal detector and not a single one of them was asked any follow up questions or checked at all when doing so.
For a full review of my first visit to the Al Mourjan lounge CLICK HERE
Strange though it may sound, the idea of trying out business class on this route was so alluring that I was actively hoping not to get an upgrade. I was really intrigued to see what level of service they’d deliver on such a long route
Dine on demand is incredibly time consuming and labour intensive to deliver and few airlines manage it in cabin of more than 12 passengers. The cynic in me doubted that Qatar could pull this off with 48 people to take care of, over the course of nearly 15 hours
I asked for a glass of champagne before take off and this was served with an ice cold towel. I thought that the champagne tasted a lot better than the Billecart Salmon I’m used to on QR but thought nothing of it until I looked at the menu. In fact it was so good that I forgot to take a picture…
The food menu had a decent variety of options and I appreciate the sentiment behind having a light options section, something crucial when eating multiple meals over the course of such a long flight. In practice though I struggle to see how pastries, cheese and indulgent desserts classify as ‘light’.
The drinks menu however was quite something. Without question the greatest drinks list I’ve ever seen in a business class cabin and with the exception of ANA, JAL and Singapore First Class, one the best I’ve ever seen in any class. This wasn’t a wine list with just one star bottle but rather a tome of real depth, showcasing superb wines across a multitude of styles.
Pommery Cuvée Louise 2002 – A prestige cuvée that is easily the equal of Krug or Dom Perignon
Chartron et Trébuchet 2014 – A classic and rich Pouilly-Fuissé, a beautiful Burgundy
Château Bon Pasteur 2011 – A standout Bordeaux, keenly chosen from one of the best value districts in the region
Chateau Dereszla 2008 – A wonderful 5 Puttonyos Tokaji. Rich, golden and simultaneously sweet and refreshing.
After take off the crew came around quickly to distribute drinks and confirm meal orders.
At this point I feel that I should mention how long the meal service took. As a Oneworld Emerald my order was taken first, which I thought was a nice touch. However my bowl of noodles wasn’t served until others around me had received their main courses, despite the fact that I had asked to skip the nuts and the starters so I could get to sleep as soon as possible.
When the food was placed down the FA didn’t even look at me, much less apologise for the wait or check if my water needed refilling.
I later pressed the call button to ask for a top up of my wine and recognised a familiar face. She in turn recognised me, from my lacklustre flight in QR F earlier in the year. She was much friendlier this time but every bit as inept. She initially got my drinks order wrong and returned to spill wine down my leg as she filled my glass, saying nothing, just making an awkward face as it happened.
Elsewhere the crew were bumping into each other on a fairly frequent basis with a very loud and prolonged crash emanating from the galley at one point. When I went to use the bathroom after eating, there was a full portion of butter smeared across the aisle floor with a footprint in it. There is no question about it, Qatar’s service is nowhere near as polished on the A380 as it is on the Dreamliner. Everything here takes place on an industrial scale and the staff seem constantly frantic and harried.
You have to give credit to Qatar for being one of the few airlines to give business class passengers pyjamas. The PJs are generic but fit well and aren’t overly hot. The noise cancelling headphones are similarly unbranded but quite comfortable and do a good job of blocking out the noise of a meal service. Maybe it’s just the unusual length of this flight but as I drifted off I couldn’t help thinking that the IFE should have an alarm function for people who want to manage their sleep, in order to avoid jet lag.
Qatar serves Business Class passengers proper espresso based coffee, I think this is a bare minimum requirement in a premium cabin, other airlines do not… The salmon was excellent but the addition of the plastic pot detracted somewhat from the overall presentation.
The above image demonstrates why Qatar are so highly regarded. Full sized cutlery and champagne flutes, geometric plates, proper salt and pepper pots and a crisp white linen table cloth. Much like the wine list, the majority of what you’re looking at here is ordinarily the domain of First Class. To see all of these elements together in Business is remarkable.
The sleek curves of the leather banquettes, the freshly cut roses, the recessed lighting, the Arabic chandeliers; it all combines to spectacular effect. A bar with this design would be a standout on the ground. The fact that there are ten of these things flying around the globe, is a fact that fills me with a deep and sincere happiness.
We spent an hour or so hanging out here and chatting to the British FA. She was great fun to talk to and had a really interesting life story, she was working as cabin crew in order to pay the bills, whilst she trained to get her pilot’s license. Given the glacial pace at which I crank out these trip reports, I’m sure she’s a captain by now!
As another flight with Qatar drew to a close, I looked out of the window and saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House beneath me, illuminated fittingly in a wash of sunset pastels. I couldn’t help but smile.
The main service was chaotic, no doubt about it. However, the dine on demand really came into its own when I wanted to set my own schedule and here, much like at the bar, the service was sincere, friendly and professional.
Speaking of which, the sleek and stylish bar is reason enough to try out the Qatar A380 at least once.
The food was as good as ever but the wine list was the real standout on this flight. Prestige cuvée champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy and even a Tokaji.
The seat is great, there are PJs and slippers. The list goes on.
Here’s what it all boils down to, Qatar have such a superlative hard product that the odd slip up still doesn’t detract from their overall 5* standing.
On balance this was easily one of my favourite business class flights ever.