Flight Date: 07APR2013–With the Oneworld Global Explorer fare you are allowed to fly all the Oneworld carriers, as well as a few others; one of those is Qatar Airways [QR joined the Oneworld Alliance on 30OCT2013]. Qatar Airways has announced they will be phasing out their first class cabins, so I decided it was now or never. I was connecting from Dubai, where the day before I experienced my first haboob (sandstorm). Dusty and a bit restless I arrived early to Dubai International Terminal One.
The first class check-in counter was empty and I was in and out quickly. Dubai is obviously Emirates home turf, so instead of visiting the small lounge that Qatar Airways shares with several other airlines, I decided to wait and enjoy the premium terminal at Doha International instead.
Boarding for the short 50 minute flight to Doha was scheduled at 06:40am for a 7:30am departure. With such long advance times this usually means you have to take a bus and today was no exception. The bus was packed and it took forever. Many passengers jokingly wondered if we were driving to Doha instead.
We finally made it to our plane, but by the time everyone had boarded and bags were loaded, we were late. I only had an hour layover so my chances of enjoying Qatar’s premium terminal at Doha during my layover were fading fast. The plane landed 40 minutes late and another bus awaited our arrival for a quick jaunt to the connection terminal, I was informed I had been moved to a flight departing five hours later. Premium terminal or not, I didn’t want to wait that long and asked if I could try and make my scheduled flight anyway: they agreed warning that my bags would probably not make it.
Qatar Airways offer chauffeured car service from the terminal directly to your connecting flight for first class passengers. After the never-ending bus ride earlier that morning, this was a much appreciated perk.
The equipment to Paris was an Airbus A340-600, one of my least favorite. Don’t know why I have this aversion, but I think it must have something to do with those four tiny engines.
Qatar utilizes a one-two-one seating arrangement. The cabin attendant greeted me and informed me that I would be sharing the cabin with only one other passenger.
The first impression you get after boarding is the sea of drab grey; in fact, everything except the seat fabric is grey. Although only seven years old, the Qatar Airways’ A340-600 first class cabin looks dated with an antiseptic feel. Definitely not anywhere close to its competitors’ offerings.
Color scheme aside, the seat was comfortable and I got situated with a nice glass of champagne and the Herald Tribune. As this was a morning departure, the menu consisted of Western and Arabic breakfast fare.
I chose the Arabic breakfast plate and since I had missed grabbing a quick bite at both the Dubai and Doha lounges, I was in such a ravenous state by this time, even my shoe started to look appetizing! 🙂
The service began with a small tray of fresh fruit, croissant and toast, hot coffee and freshly squeezed orange juice.
The Arabic breakfast was tasty and the portions were just right. Both the croissant and Arabic bread served were piping hot, yet still soft and moist and the za’atar was yummy.
I flew on QR’s B777-200LR aircraft in business class last year and simply stated; it’s a better product. With regional competitors: Emirates, Etihad and Oman Air all offering industry leading first class service, I wonder why Qatar Airways decided to go a different route? There is nothing inherently wrong with Qatar Airways’ first class product, but you do get the sense that QR’s priorities are focused on business class. Nevertheless, the flight attendant in charge was courteous, professional and friendly. The meal was enjoyable and although I was too knackered to enjoy the in-flight entertainment, the movies, tv shows and music selections were extensive. I opted for the turn down service and slept peacefully for nearly four hours…a testament in itself! In light of the upcoming demise of QR’s first class service, I’m glad I got the chance to fly with them, although most will find their business class product, especially on the B777 series aircraft, a cheaper yet equally enjoyable experience.