My review of Qatar Airways Boeing 787 business class and its impressive 1-2-1 layout

This is my review of Qatar Airways business class on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

This is the final part of my series on my trip to Doha with Qatar Airways last month.  You should also read my earlier pieces on:

The Qatar Premium Lounge at Heathrow

Qatar Business Class on the Boeing 777 Part 1 and Part 2

The Al Mourjan lounge at Hamad International, Doha

I apologise for the slight delay in getting this final article onto the site.  I had a very small time window between returning from Doha and heading off on holiday over half-term and I couldn’t get this last piece finished in time.

There is one more related article still to come.  Having flown Qatar Airways, Emirates and British Airways in business class in the last four weeks, I am going to run a Great Airline Cook Off next week to compare the food offerings!


Today I am reviewing my Boeing 787 Dreamliner Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Zurich.

I discussed the variety of aircraft flown by Qatar in my review of the 777 flight.  There is a mix of A330, A340, B777, B787, A319 (in an all-business formation) and, as of last month, A380 aircraft in the fleet.

Due to delays in receiving the A380s there were a lot of aircraft changes going on.  The reason I flew back to Zurich is that my original B787 flight to London had been switched to another B777 a few weeks earlier and I wanted to experience their latest product.

There is no First Class on the Qatar Boeing 787 fleet and, as you will see, it really is not necessary.  The business class seat and food is very close to the First Class product offered by many airlines.

The new A380 aircraft slowly coming into service (only one is currently flying) have the same business seating as I review below but do have a First Class cabin.


I wrote about the impressive Al Mourjan lounge in this article.  Unfortunately, with the new Hamad International airport still not entirely finished, we had to be bussed to our gate – a pretty sweaty experience as I was dressed for London rather than Doha weather.  Business class passengers had their own bus.

Qatar Airways 787 business class review - bus

One upside of this was the ability to see the Boeing 787-8 aircraft close up from the outside.

Qatar Airways 787 business class review - outside 2


Qatar Airways 787 business class review - outside


Qatar Airways 787 business class review - engine


The Boeing 787-8 aircraft and the new A380’s contain the very latest version of the Qatar Airways business class seating.  It is very, very good if you are a solo traveller, as the layout is 1-2-1.

The Boeing 777 fleet is laid out 2-2-2 so you will always have a seatmate.  You can read more about this in my earlier review.  There is always a trade-off, of course, and the trade-off here is that the seats have an angled herringbone layout.  This allows for a similar number of seats whilst switching from 2-2-2 to 1-2-1.

This is how the cabin looks using a professional photographer and studio lighting:

Qatar 787 business class seat

and this is what it looks like when I do it on my iPhone in ‘real life’:

Qatar Airways 787 business class review - cabin


Qatar Airways 787 business class review - cabin 2

I had a solo window seat.  As you can see, the seat is far closer to British Airways First Class than British Airways Club World.  You certainly have less personal space than BA First but it is light years ahead of the offering in Club World if you travelling on your own.

You get a handy flat storage area for newspapers etc:

Qatar Airways 787 business class review - storage

At some point British Airways has to bite the bullet on its Club World seating.  Qatar is just one of a number of airlines now offering a 1-2-1 layout where every travellers gets direct aisle access and solo travellers can have their own private space.

My only gripe about the seat was that my legs did graze the back of the seat in front if I sat cross-legged:

Qatar Airways 787 business class review - pitch

Because of the herringbone layout, your feet slot into the corner by the window and – when the seat is flat – you are facing towards the window.  The seat was comfortable and easy to operate and I adjusted quickly to slotting my legs into the corner space.


The toiletry bag was the same Ferragamo one as my outbound flight.  You can photos of the bag and its contents in the earlier review.

It is worth noting that the new A380 services have an Armani amenity kit in business class.

Food and drink

My review of my 777 outbound flight gives you a good overview of the Qatar lunch and dinner dining options.

My return flight departed Doha at 8.40am.  Qatar was offering a breakfast service which, of course, gives them less scope to show that they can do.

The appetiser selection was:

  • Seasonal fresh fruits with honey crème fraiches
  • Cereals
  • Bircher muesli
  • Greek yoghurt with raspberry compote and toasted granola
  • Smoked salmon with celeriac remoulade

This was followed by a selection of mains:

  • Arabic breakfast plate
  • Grilled chicken sausage with tomato and herb omelette
  • Mushroom parantha

I went for the fruit and, as you can see below, the omelette.  It actually tasted like an omelette.  If you have ever tried airline egg before you will realise what a groundbreaking statement that is!

Qatar Airways 787 business class review - omelette

There are lighter options of a Summer green vegetable and mozzarella salad or artichoke filled pasta with cherry tomato and basis sauce.  Laduree desserts and a cheese selection were also available.

Apart from a slightly soggy croissant, the food was excellent.

At the back of the cabin is a small bar (the A380 aircraft will have a proper lounge area).  There is no seating available but you are welcome to help yourself during the flight to more champagne or a nibble:

Qatar Airways 787 business class review - bar big


Qatar Airways 787 business class review - bar

In Flight Entertainment

I covered the Oryx IFE system in my 777 review.  The 787 features the same (huge) range of content and also benefits from a touch-screen remote control.

There was also in-flight Wi-Fi.  This was not free but did work well when I signed up and gave it a go.  Despite visiting fairly low-graphic sites, though, my $10 credit was worked through in around 15 minutes.  If you wanted to work for the entire flight it would be expensive.

Interestingly, according to the Business Traveller review of the A380 business class service, the wi-fi prices on that aircraft are substantially cheaper at US$10 for three hours.

The windows

I should mention the windows, as Boeing has made a big noise about the fact that the 787 windows are bigger than a standard long-haul plane.  Whilst this is true, it does not jump out at you – they are not so much bigger.

What is impressive, though, is the way that the windows can be tinted by the crew.  For much of the flight the windows were set to a blue tint which reduced glare:

Qatar Airways 787 business class review - windows


Just over five and a half hours later I landed in Zurich.  I was very quickly off the plane and immigration was a breeze.

Qatar Airways 787 business class review - getting off

My overall experience of Qatar Airways was very impressive and they represent an excellent addition to the oneworld alliance.  If you get the opportunity to try them for a cash flight or an Avios redemption (and availability is generally pretty good) then you should.

The Premium Lounge in Terminal 4 at Heathrow is excellent and their commitment to food in business class is well ahead of BA.  The Oyrx in-flight entertainment system is also a world away from what BA can offer, as I found out painfully when we flew to Dubai in Club World last week.  Qatar and Emirates both put the BA system with its limited range of product to shame.

For a solo traveller, the ability to fly Qatar in business class on a 787 or A380 and get a solo seat is a genuine advantage.

The downside, of course, is that a flight on Qatar Airways will involve a change of plane in Doha which breaks up your journey.  If you live in London that may be a concern.  If you live in the regions (Qatar flies from Manchester and Edinburgh, the latter having a 787 service) flying from your local airport to the Middle East and changing is probably less painful than changing planes at Heathrow.

The only one of the ‘big three’ Middle Eastern airlines I have yet to experience is Etihad.  I am hoping to give them a go early in the New Year and to see how they compare with Qatar, Emirates and of course British Airways.

If you want to find out more about the Qatar 787 service, there is a special Dreamliner page on the Qatar website here.

Bits & pieces: Qatar sale from £315, 50% bonus on buying Flying Blue miles
British Airways launches an Avios sale - £1 taxes and 50% discounts (full analysis)
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  1. 1-2-1 seating in business is indeed getting to be the new standard. I experienced the new CX business class late last year and it was an excellent product too. It is a pity I like to take only direct flights as much as possible. That means for the time being, BA is my primary airline. But hopefully I can try QR soon at some point.

  2. Nice review. I love Qatar’s Business Class in the Dreamliner. I posted a trip report about it a couple of months ago on my blog, including a Youtube clip: The only thing I did not like was the highly expensive WiFi. I will post my Emirates A380 Business Class experience next week. And I have an Etihad flight in January as well!

    • My Emirates A380 J last week was a bit wobbly, cabin full and crew all over place. Neither my wife nor I got the drink we ordered with lunch and we were being served by different people. Did use the new C concourse at DXB for the first time though. Seat, IFE and food quality still very high.

  3. Good review and similar to my experience when I flew Qatar last month for the first time.

    My first flight was on an A319 (not the all business offering), in your list of aircraft I’m assuming you are only listing those that go to LHR? Quite simply the A319 was superb, a 2 x 2 layout with a fixed 3 rows of business and pretty good recline for a small aircraft.

    I then went on the A330 back to LHR so one of the older aircraft, the seats were showing their age a little (one wouldnt work if you were sat in it, but would work if you pressed the buttons whilst standing up first) and the TV but on the whole the service is so attentive it doesnt really matter. Food was restaurant quality both ways. Tired their 40 year old port which I hated! On the whole another good flight even if on an older craft.

  4. erico 1875 says:

    I have this booked from Edinburgh in April for me and the wife. Then onward to Goa. Do you know what they fly to Goa?

  5. Don’t forget the layover I’m Doha makes a big difference with tier points for BA status. A trip LHR/MAN/EDI-DOH-SIN for example gets you 140×2 BA TP with QR but you get only 160 TP with BA in Cluj world. A return would get you 560 TP, meaning you’re very close to BAEC silver (600 TP and any 4 BA flights which you could easily do as domestic or euro traveller) which includes lounge access, priority boarding, increase baggage, 100% avios bonus when flying BA/IB/AA. I’d gladly change plane In DOH for the TP’s alone, but add their amazing lounge and it’s almost a perfect layover.

  6. No surprise the food ex-DOH was great – the new catering facility at HIA is the best in the world. Having been apart of the building of HIA, it’s amazing how much more I respect QR with the amount of effort (and money – the catering facility is ~69,000 sq meters and can produce 90k meals a day – it also has a stainless steel roof!!) they put into their food.

    The Yellow Teddy Bear on the other hand…. not my idea!

  7. Hi,

    How does their business class product compare to Cathay CX? I flew CX recently and was really impressed – not as good as Emirates first class of course but still amazing.

    Also what champagne does Qatar serve in business class?

    I would be flying from Australia to Europe so not sure which planes they have there.


    • Never flown Cathay long haul. Qatar champagne was listed in the 777 review if you go back to that. As for planes, the Qatar website makes it very clear what aircraft you will get – although they do have a habit of switching.

    • I’ve flown QR J, CX J and CX F in the past couple of months, so can give a bit of insight. To be fair, was the “old” CX J on an A340, but I’d say QR are ahead in Business on both the seat and food. Oh, and the 40-year-old port. CX service was more attentive.

      Now CX F on a 777 was a different world entirely. I had a quick peek round the curtain to sneer at the riff-raff in Business, and it did look more spacious than the A340.

      Was the omelette freshly cooked, Rob? Never mind the caviar and lobster, Cathay really impressed me with freshly fried egg,

      • I couldnt stand the port, though probably the only time where I have drank something older than me! Preferred the Warre’s offering in BA F

    • The Qatar seat looks similar to the CX seat with the 1-2-1 layout, but the CX seat offers a little more privacy with the wraparounds at head height. The CX seat is great.

      With CX you can be more confident that you will be on their new business class product (on most/all 777-300ERs) for long haul, Qatar operate a mix of business class seats – check back to Raffles review of outward flight to see the difference.

  8. I am a little over 2m tall and I see these seats differently to a lot of other people.

    I feel that Qatar have crushed the seats into the plane to get to 1:2:1 and have chosen a seat far worse than its competitors in the middle east and Asia (And I’m sorry but BA CW seats too give me a better nights sleep.) Qatar have compromised on the overall seat space for the sales bling of 1:2:1. At the seat end all is well; but over the length of the seat it gets very narrow to the point where my feet end up being like a sharp edged pointy shoebox. (Which regularly cuts them up on the 787 / Business One seat as there is a small sharp edged window)

    I believe the BE seat to be a Midhaul seat (similar to the BA A321 mid haul seats with a coffin for your legs) that Qatar are using for long haul flights. Qatar’s desire to have the HUGE tv screen likely precluded any way to have it tilt in and out of view (as it does in BA First, Cathay etc) and it robs you of vertical space for your legs and makes the seat feel even more cramped- stopping you crossing them as easily. I don’t understand why the Business one seats in 2:2 on a 321 are no less spacious than the 1:2:1 seats on the B787 and A380 where the cabins are 50% wider – its not like the aisles are 2m wide.

    The BA First (777 and 380), Club World and all the Sigma Seat users have more overall space for the passenger than the BE seat. The Qatar 777 centre aisle seats are for me the best they have in business; you get a huge amount of space, freedom of movement and all the /benefits/ of the Qatar inflight service. Though if you want the ultimate in business seat the Oman Air 330 seats are unbeatable; even SQ feels cramped after that ride.

  9. Does anyone know how these seats compare with Eva’s Royal Laurel class ones on the LHR – BKK route?

    • Eva’s new seats are the same as Cathay Pacific and Eva have a direct flight to BKK. Qatar lounges are better in Heathrow; eva’s is better in Bangkok. One is one world and one star alliance if that matters.

      Seat wise you get more space and legroom; but you get smaller tv screen on Eva and a bit less choice but a bit more space overall. The inboard armrest is VERY narrow if you are larger you might prefer the width of the qatar seat.

      Service wise qatar is very customer focused onboard in C and Eva’s crew seem a bit more timid, but the food / drink is as good as Qatar and you can book the meals in advance.

      • Thanks. that’s very helpful.

        • Just wanted point out that EVA is currently renovating their Lounge at BKK, so Royal Laurel passengers will be using the Thai Airways Royal Silk Lounge instead.

          I also recommend booking meals in advance with EVA, as you get more choices there.

  10. ankomonkey says:

    Hmmm, I think I might have started with the Bircher muesli followed by the Arabic breakfast plate…

  11. Very useful. Is there an efficient way to use avios from the tax perspective?

    • Yes, tax is substantially lower on Qatar redemptions to Doha vs BA.

      Also, if you start your Qatar flight in Frankfurt or most other European cities, it is only 25,000 Avios return to Doha in business class as opposed to 40,000 Avios return from London. Tax will also be a lot lower as there will be no APD.

  12. A lot of discussion here about current generation business seats. Much of the focus is on their merits as a bed. In my view this is the problem, design that makes for a good bed makes for a bad seat. A good bed requires flat and few component parts wheras a good seat ( for people in common size range at least) requires excellent lumbar support and full range of adjustment. Combining these in a single design is difficult, SQ being a classic example of a weird contraption that fails miserably as both in my view. Many will laugh but my own favourite seat remains Thai old F. As forthe future the way to go I think must be Lufthansas new F but have not yet had the pleasure of trying it and probably never will. For those of is in C though I cannot forsee the perfect seat anytime soon. There is some logic on choosing carriers to maximise seat comfort depending on whether you planto fly overnight or during the day.

    • Oman Air might be best best business class for seat/bed I’ve flown.

    • This is a very fair point. I have done 6 business class long-haul flights in the last month and all have been day flights. Whilst I tend to semi-recline the bed I don’t think I fully reclined it on any of them.

  13. I’ve done a couple of trips on the QR 787 recently and I’d pretty much agree with everything you say here Rob, but had one slight niggle – I felt I wanted an armrest on the aisle side of the seat – there is something sort of resembling one there but its far too low to be of any use (but does contain a bottle of water and your headphones!). It needs to be the best part of a foot higher. Other than that I was very happy though.

    How long before someone comes along and points out that there is some way of raising the armrest … 😉

  14. What was the cabin temperature like?

    On all my recent long haul flights with BA (CW upper deck + First) I’ve found myself getting far too hot. It’s a bit of a problem when trying to get some sleep. Or maybe it’s just me? :)

  15. Excellent review Rob. As you know, I flew Qatar LHR-DOH-HKG last New Years eve in economy and I couldn’t fault the food or service.
    I’d like to try out the business class product sometime.

  16. Blackberryaddict says:

    I really like the middle seats on BA when I am travelling with Mrs BBA (and much prefer it to sitting opposite each other). The other QR aircraft have two seats side by side in business (which we took to KUL earlier in the year) – and that works fine too. So how does this 1-2-1 configuration work for a couple?

  17. How would this work with a kid? Have a trip soon with our 5yr old and choice between qr787 or angle flat seats. For bulkhead centre pair, is it possible to step across to the other seat or is there a wall in n the way like the other centre seats?

    For easy access to a kid the older seat layout is more convenient but I would want fully flat for an overnight leg.

  18. It irks me somewhat that I don’t have control over my window for most of the flight.

  19. I missed out on travelling on the Dreamliner when it was withdrawn from Perth to Doha due to the problems Qatar had some time ago and I was really disappointed. But even when HIA wasn’t open and using the old Premium Lounge I found it overall far superior to BA in all respects in J class. BA need to up their game significantly to even keep up with the ME carriers. Interesting to read the above comments – thanks everyone

  20. I love looking out the window AND have small kids – I guess I should avoid J and F flights in the future!

  21. Just a shame Qatar can’t seem to decide on which aircraft they are deploying and when. I was booked to travel on the A380, but they’ve just cancelled the 2nd daily LHR>DOH service, so I’m stuck on an old A340 without the fancy 1-2-1 seating.


  1. […] put a brand new Boeing 787 aircraft on the route.  I reviewed my recent business class flight on a Qatar 787 in this article and it was very impressive, especially for solo travellers.  Qatar has a special webpage on the […]