Qatar Airways – my review of their Boeing 777 business class (Part 1)

Today I am reviewing my Boeing 777 Qatar Airways flight from Heathrow to Doha last week.

Here are the other articles in this series:

The Qatar Premium Lounge at Heathrow

Qatar Business Class on the Boeing 777 Part 2

The Al Mourjan lounge at Hamad International, Doha

Qatar Business Class on the Boeing 787

Like the other two big Middle Eastern airlines, Qatar Airways has grown at a huge rate in recent years.  The upside of this is that they have a modern fleet – there are plenty of Boeing 777, Boeing 787-8 and, from this month, Airbus A380 aircraft in there.

It is also the launch customer for the Airbus A350 with a whopping 80 on order.  You can see the current fleet list here.

The downside is that they also have a number of older Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft flying long-haul, some of which have earlier generations of seats.  To add to the confusion, Qatar also runs an A319 ‘all business class’ service from Heathrow to Doha in the late evenings.  I wrote more about that here.

Tomorrows Heathrow schedule is due to see 1 x A340, 2 x A330, 1 x A380, 1 x A319 and 1 x Boeing 777.  This will change again in December when a 2nd A380 comes on stream and will also be used to Heathrow.

Boarding

For reasons I am not entirely clear about, Qatar began to board the plane very early.  When I was asked to leave the lounge there was still 50 minutes to the scheduled departure time.  Despite that I was one of the last to get on.

The plane was exceptionally hot at this point but it did cool as the air conditioning kicked in.  Not surprisingly, we were closed up and ready to go by the official departure time.

Business class was almost entirely full with, I think, 22 of the 24 seats taken.  I had booked a window seat.  It turned out my seat mate was an elderly gentleman whose wife was sat across the aisle from him as they had failed to secure adjacent seats.  I offered to swap and moved into one of the middle pair.  They were heading down to Perth without any stopover in Doha.

Seating

If you are flying in business class, the key thing to know is that some A330 and all A340 departures do NOT have fully flat beds – they slope at 165 degrees.  Arguably, as they are used on day flights from Heathrow, it is not a major problem.  However, if you want to guarantee yourself a fully flat business class seat then stick with the Boeing 777, Boeing 787-8, Airbus A319 and Airbus A380 departures.

On this trip, I flew a Boeing 777-3 down to Doha.  This has the first generation of Qatar flat beds.  On the return, which I will review next week, I took a Boeing 787 which has their latest seat and which is effectively the same as the version used on the A380.

To complicate things further, Qatar operates two different versions of the Boeing 777-3 as well as also running 777-2.  On my aircraft business class occupied rows 1-4 in a 2 x 2 x 2 configuration.  There is no First Class on the 777’s.  The other versions of this aircraft have 7 rows of business class seating.

This is what the Boeing 777 seating looks like when the photo is taken by a professional photographer on an empty plane:

Qatar B777

and this is what it looks like when I do it on my iPhone in natural light with real people and real luggage scattered around:

Qatar Airways 777 business class seat

and

Qatar Airways 777 business class seating

and

Qatar Airways 777 business class middle seat

with the TV built into the back of the seat in front:

Qatar Airways 777 Oryx TV

You can’t disguise the fact that, for a solo traveller, this is not perfect.  On the other, for a couple, it is great!  This is how me and my seatmate had to share our drinks and amuse bouche of Indian spiced lobster:

Qatar Airways 777 amuse bouche

The seats were perfectly comfortable, however, and accommodated my 6′ 2′ frame with no major problems.  When the seat is in bed mode, your feet slot into the gap in the back of the seat in front.

If you compare the 777 layout to the BA Club World layout, there are two key differences.  The first, of course, is that Club World has solo seats, albeit you are actually sitting with someone, just in a yin/yang layout facing them.  However, the seats are narrower.  Remember that BA runs 2 x 4 x 2 on a Boeing 777 whereas Qatar runs 2 x 2 x 2.

For a couple, the 2 x 2 x 2 layout here is a substantial improvement on Club World.  A couple can sit side-by-side by a window, which is not possible on BA – the only ‘side by side’ pairs are in the middle blocks of Club World which require jumping over a strangers feet to reach the aisle.  You also have direct aisle access from 2/3rd of the seats.

Click here to move on to Part 2 which covers the Qatar Airways food, toiletries, IFE and my arrival into the new Hamad International Airport.

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Qatar Airways - my review of their Boeing 777 business class (Part 2)
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Comments

  1. I have flown Qatar quite a lot this year always alone; and the 777 has by far my favourite of their business class seat’s. Yes you have to sit next to someone; but the amount of space you get is incredible and only 1/3 of the seats don’t have direct Aisle access – and they are so long you step over feet. The 777 space in my experience is only bettered by Oman Air’s unbelievable business class seats. I am also taller than average coming in at 2m (I don’t know what that is in olde world) and the BE Diamond seats on the 319 / 787 both have the same flaw which is your feet have no space in bed mode. If you stick them In the gap on the window seats your have hard plastic digging into them all night long which is just /plane/ uncomfortable.

    • An issue with the 787 was that it was a squeeze to cross my legs (which I tend to do to support a newspaper) because there is not a big enough gap between the back of the next seat. That is the trade-off for 100% direct aisle access and a huge number of solo seats, of course. More on that later in the week.

    • Thywillbedone says:

      Second those comments on Oman, perhaps the only case where you pay for Business and get something more akin to First.

  2. Noqueueing says:

    When travelling with a friend / the better half I’ve found the CW configuration ok even when one of us has been sitting by the window (which has always been the case).
    Just put the slider down and there you go, you can toast ,chat, whatever.
    As a solo traveller my biggest gripe with CW is the occasional loss of privacy when the slider is taken down during meal service and take-off /landing.
    That said – the product you described here does look quite appealing, apart from the minor sharing part.

  3. Arguably on BA CW, you can get the rearward pair at the back as a couple with no hopping over people’s feet. Also, the BA middle pair don’t have the big armrest in the middle which is again arguably better for a couple (although terrible for the solo traveller!)

    • It would seem that they generally block one of the centre pair of the last row of CW seats (and the windows seats) on the 777 for the baby bassinet. You can’t reserve that using online seat reservation in advance, I haven’t tried to call centre as we’re not that bothered.

  4. Thanks for the tips!

  5. Bit late in the day to add a comment, but flew QR005 yesterday to LHR and earlier that day a flight from KTM to DOH.

    Explained to the missus that the A319 from KTM should be compared to Club Europe rather than our experience in First with BA a couple of weeks earlier to DEL. Frankly even on a A319, its a pretty close run thing, the seats on BA were far better and a better ameity kit/PJ’s but in every other regard QR won hands down. In terms of comparing a regional QR service to Club Europe it was like chalk and cheese.

    Only had about 30 mins in the business lounge at DOH and agree the scale of it is impressive. I can only describe the terminal as ‘future proof’ because frankly it was empty such was its vastness, although not sure whether time of day contributed as well. If only Aer Lingus operated from T5 it would give you some idea of how sparse the place was!

    Flew back on QR005 which is probably acknowledged to be the ‘weakest’ flight going into LHR on the older A330. Only 2 in First, and probably no more 12 in business. Service and food impeccable and blew BA in F out of the water, but again the seat let QR down a little with the angled seats and the electric gizmos not working properly.