This is our review of Qatar Airways and its Qsuite business class on the Boeing 777-300ER from London to Doha.
Back in March, Qatar Airways adopted Avios as its frequent flyer currency. This led to some substantial changes in how you can earn and spend Avios:
- Qmiles were replaced by Avios
- Qatar Airways and British Airways began to let you transfer Avios seamlessly between the two programmes – this article explains how
The cost of redeeming Avios on Qatar Airways fell sharply in most cases, as did the taxes and charges required. For example, the ultra-long flight from Doha to Auckland now costs just 70,000 Avios plus £115 in Business Class, one way. You see this price whether you book via ba.com or qatarairways.com
There are some exceptional deals out there now
There are some astonishing deals available via this new partnership.
Let’s take Australia, for example. Business Class flights to Sydney on British Airways – which are virtually impossible to find anyway – cost 300,000 Avios on a peak date plus close to £1,000 in taxes and charges. And, you know, you’re flying on British Airways …..
Fly Qatar Airways, on the other hand, and:
- you pay just 180,000 Avios return in Business Class
- the taxes and charges are just £600 return (and around £400 if you fly from Dublin, Amsterdam etc to Doha)
- you can choose from multiple destinations in Australia, not just Sydney
- and, of course, you’re flying Qatar Airways
It is now virtually pointless using a British Airways 2-4-1 American Express voucher to fly to Australia. For roughly the same cost (360,000 Avios vs 300,000 Avios for two people, offset by the cheaper taxes on Qatar Airways), you can fly on Qatar Airways and get a superior product.
If you DON’T have a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, of course, redeeming for Australia on Qatar Airways instead of BA is the easiest decision you’ll ever have to make.
How good is this ‘superior product’?
As part of their promotion for the launch of the Avios partnership, Qatar Airways offered us a return Business Class flight to Doha. Over the Bank Holiday weekend I’ll be showing you what I found.
By now, if you are an HfP reader, you have either flown Qsuite already or looking forward to flying it in the future. It is pretty much at the top of anyone’s bucket list.
The seat, which was the first to bring the concept of a door to business class seating, has won so many awards it is hard to keep track. That said, it is no longer the new kid on the block.
Qsuite was introduced in 2017, which feels like a lifetime ago now. Is it still the creme-de-la-creme? As you’ll see in my review below, I think so – despite the introduction of many other new business class seats over the past five years.
On which aircraft can I find Qsuite?
As a quick reminder, Qsuite is only available on Qatar’s A350s and Boeing 777s. Unfortunately the number of Qsuite aircraft has been decimated by the ongoing dispute Qatar Airways has with Airbus, which means that the majority of the A350s have been parked.
You can find Qsuite on the following aircraft types:
- A350-900 (10 of 34 aircraft, although the majority are currently grounded)
- A350-1000 (19 of 19 aircraft)
- Boeing 777-200LR (7 of 8 aircraft)
- Boeing 777-300ER (38 out of 52 aircraft)
You can learn more about Qsuite on the Qatar Airways website here.
Qatar Airways at Heathrow
I won’t go into much detail about my ground experience with Qatar Airways, as the airline is about to move back into Terminal 4 next month and my experience at Terminal 5 will not be particularly representative.
Suffice to say that Qatar does not seem to have avoided some of the staffing issues faced by other UK airlines, as I had to wait a good 15 minutes or so to check in. This isn’t helped by the fact that the destinations Qatar flies to are more likely to still have various covid protocols in place, forcing check-in staff to verify documents which can add a significant amount of time per customer.
BA’s First Wing was also struggling, with a queue for check-ins and just one security lane open, far from ideal.
The problems were compounded when the departure boards announced that the flight was ‘boarding,’ only for me to take the air train to the T5C satellite building and find out that it wasn’t the case! The gate agents then started boarding the flight, only for us to wait standing in the jet bridge for another 30 minutes or so.
It turns out that the incoming flight had been delayed, which had a knock on effect on my flight. Fine, these things happen – but what I do not understand is why they didn’t just push back the boarding time sufficiently and let passengers wait in the comfort of the lounge or gate area, rather than hound us into a tight and uncomfortable space. It was a 101 in how not to board a flight.
On board Qatar’s 777-300ERs
Things improved once we were finally allowed to board, with Qatar’s customary exceptional service kicking back in, and from thereon it was a very enjoyable flight.
The aircraft features 42 Qsuites across two cabins.
How to book the first row on Qatar Airways
I was sat in seat 1A, a rear-facing window seat.
There is a special trick to reserving the first row on Qatar Airways flights. These seats are typically blocked until check-in in order to keep them free for any families who may want to use a bassinet.
The only way to get a first row seat on Qatar Airways is to request one at check-in (in person, not online). At this point, all remaining unoccupied seats are made available on a first-come first-served basis. In some cases, as on this flight, I was told to ask again at the boarding gate, who processed the seat change once the flight had closed.
The Qsuite cabin features a 1-2-1 layout with a difference: half the seats are rear facing. In this case, all odd rows are rear facing, so you should expect to fly backwards. If you have flown BA’s legacy yin-yang product you will know that it is not particularly noticeable apart from at take-off and landing.
There is another benefit to the odd rows in the window seats, as these rows feature a seat that is closer to the window than the aisle. Seat 2A, for example, is closer to the aisle in order that our foot cubby holes can tessellate. You can see what I mean here:
Qatar Airways Qsuite
On the 777-300ERs Qatar Airways has opted to keep all the overhead lockers rather than removing the centre pair. This means there is plenty of storage to go around but does make the cabin feel a lot smaller during boarding, when all the bins are wide open.
Make sure to duck before you sit down in your Qsuite or you may bang your head!
On the other hand you also get overhead air nozzles, which I like as often the cabin temperature is too warm for me.
As you can see, I had a grand total of three windows which I was very happy with!
The seat is very comfortable and features a nice little lamp and reading light next to it:
There is also a storage ottoman to one side, which can also be raised as an armrest:
Inside was a pair of noise cancelling headphones and a bottle of water.
In front of you is a large entertainment screen:
Below this is the tray table, which sticks out oddly. I’m not sure why this wasn’t designed to tuck in more neatly under the IFE screen – it’s too small to put anything on but too big to ignore. It’s one of the few things that don’t make sense about the Qsuite.
You also have a foot cubby, as is standard in most business class cabins these days. As foot cubbies go it is a decent size:
To the left of the IFE is a large side console with marble effect. This is a huge space, and features a small insert underneath perfect for storing passport and the in-flight menus. Underneath this you’ll find the seat controls, secondary IFE controller, USB and mains plug sockets as well as a contactless NFC reader which is used for pairing your personal device to the IFE system and for audio pairing. However, this is currently only available on QSuite JC and 787-9 YC but is deactivated and is going to be phased out in future modifications.
Waiting in my Qsuite was a nice purple pillow:
Whilst, on the side console, was a fluffy, fleece-lined blanket, amenity kit and covid protection kit. For some reason, Qatar Airways also supplies a second, smaller pillow with an inspirational quote. I always find this a bit odd and find the pillow goes unused.
The amenity kit is the new Diptyque kit which you either get in a cool gift box or faux leather pouch. On this flight we got the gift box:
Inside is a pair of socks, soft eye mask, ear plugs plus Diptyque toiletries including face cream, body lotion, lip balm and eau de toilette.
The scent of the products is amazing and the face cream is fantastic too – all in all this is a big step up from the previous BRICS amenity kits offered by Qatar.
Qatar also supplies dental and shaving kits in the business class lavatories, of which there are four. They are huge – some of the biggest toilets I have used on an aircraft – with plenty of room to get changed after a flight.
It is hard to argue with the quality of the Qsuite hard product. It gets virtually everything right, and features the highest walls/door on any business class product I have flown which means it really is private. Nobody can see in unless they are standing above you.
It is hard to explain just how good it is. Until I flew Qsuite for myself I always thought it looked like pretty much any other business class seat, albeit with more privacy. It’s not until you step into the seat that you realise just how well done it is – everything is well proportioned and in just the right layout. It just works.
It also helps that it also looks attractive, thanks to a well chosen range of finishes that combine Qatar’s signature burgundy with textured fabrics, leather and thermoplastics. This wasn’t the newest aircraft but it still looked smart.
Qatar Airways in-flight Wi-Fi and entertainment
The in-flight entertainment screen is 21.5″ diagonally, making it one of the biggest business class screens on the market. You can operate it via touch screen or using the secondary remote control. It is nice and responsive:
The entertainment selection is good, which a solid pipeline of recent releases as well as a good spread of classics including a bunch of Marvel and Harry Potter titles. I ended up watching The Kings Man which was comically bad as well as the new Spider-Man: No Way Home, which I actually thought was very good despite the fact that I sometimes find the Marvel films quite tedious.
With the resolution of these screens no longer a limiting factor I’d love to see entertainment loaded at higher quality and streamed with higher bitrates. It’s getting to the point where we are using 4K screens but watching content that looks like it was compressed in 2006.
Qatar also offers what it calls ‘Super Wi-Fi’ on some aircraft, including this one. Super Wi-Fi is high speed satellite broadband that it touts as being up to ten times faster than standard airplane Wi-Fi.
If you are a Qatar Airways Privilege Club member then you get an hour’s free access to test it out, and by my reckoning it is definitely faster and more reliable than most airline Wi-Fi offerings.
Best of all, the Wi-Fi is reasonably priced at $10 for the entire flight, with no usage caps or speed throttling. This is a steal given that BA charges up to £25 for full-flight access and if you buy Super Wi-Fi when you check-in online through Manage My Booking, it is even cheaper at $8.
All B777s and A350 in Qatar Airways’ fleet are quipped with Super Wi-Fi, with the service progressively being rolled out to all Qatar Airways aircraft.
Service in Qatar’s Qsuites
Once you’ve familiarised yourself with your seat the cabin crew will come round and ask whether you want a hot or cold towel and what welcome drink you’d like.
I went for the Taittinger Prestige Rose, which is a surprisingly scarlet colour:
After take-off a second round of drinks orders is taken. It was at this point that I faced my worst nightmare – Qatar had only stocked two bottles of the rose champagne – so I had to make do with the Charles Heidsieck brut reserve. Dark, dark times indeed:
This is the first time the rose champagne has ever run out, and to be fair it was a full cabin, but stocking only two bottles does seem like a bit of an obvious mistake to make. Perhaps the outbound flight was particularly thirsty?
The crew also come round and ask when you want to dine and what you want to have. All dining is on demand so you can choose any time of your liking. I went for ‘as early as possible’ which meant around 40 minutes after takeoff.
One of the defining features of the Qsuite is the absolutely vast tray table, which is covered in a cotton table cloth plus a cute little battery operated candle light which adds a touch of class:
First up is an amuse bouche of smoked salmon:
To start I went for the poached lobster and seared scallop, served cold:
Whilst for my main course I chose the braised osso buco with beef jus:
And finally, to finish, the cheese plate as I wasn’t feeling particularly sweet:
All the food is freshly plated on board rather than just being reheated, which makes all the difference. If you get peckish again mid flight you can also choose from several lighter options including afternoon tea or croque monsieur.
Just before landing the crew come round with a small box of Läderach chocolates as well as another hot towel:
It always makes me laugh when the crew come round at the end of the flight to offer a personal thanks for flying Qatar Airways, when really I should be thanking them.
Five years on and Qatar’s Qsuite still reigns supreme. As I said before, it’s hard to understand just how ‘right’ the whole experience is until you’ve tried it for yourself – photos just don’t do it justice.
When it is coupled with Qatar’s excellent in-flight service you have quite possibly the world’s best business class experience, aided by the cabin crew’s impeccable (if less chatty) service style.
If I were to nitpick there would be two (well perhaps three) changes I would make:
- Fix that sticky out tray table
- Offer a mattress pad on all flights, as currently all you get is a pillow and blanket. However, this is offered on night flights over 6 hours and 15 minutes.
- Stock more than two bottles of rose champagne!
Fundamentally, however, Qsuite still rules the roost.
In a few days I’ll show you what Qatar Airways is offering on its brand new Boeing 787-9 aircraft, which does NOT have Qsuite.
Head for Points made a financial contribution to the Woodland Trust as part of this trip. The Woodland Trust creates and manages forests in the UK in accordance with the Woodland Carbon Code.