Qatar Airways Business Class Bangkok-Doha – A professional experience
At the Airport
I arrived at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport at 7:40am, just over an hour and a half before departure and quickly found Qatar Airways check-in area, Q. Six desks were open, two of which were for business class and status passengers. The check-in area was almost completely deserted, I suspect that most passengers had already checked-in.
A young woman took care of the check-in. She was, just like the other check-in agents, dressed in Qatar Airways distinctive burgundy uniform. The woman was very friendly and accommodating but was not entirely comfortable speaking English and the conversation became quite shaky. My baggage was tagged all the way to my final destination as I would take a connecting flight in Doha. A first-class priority tag was attached to my bag. She also printed out the boarding pass for my next two flights as well as an invitation to the Thai Airways lounge, in the transit hall.
Lastly, I got the transfer procedure in Doha explained to me. During check-in, at the departure airport, passengers were to be arranged into one of four different categories, which each have a specific colour. If one ends his trip in Doha, they get green. If you have a connection, you are in the yellow category. If you have a connection in business class or first class, then purple is your colour, and if you have a connection to the satellite terminal in Doha, then you are in the green category. Depending on the passenger type, you are to receive your luggage tag, for your hand luggage, and a boarding pass folder in the same colour.
I got the opportunity to use the fast track security check and then went directly to the Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge for a coffee and a light breakfast. It was the lounge in the E-pier which was closest. The lounge was quite empty with only a dozen or so visitors.
Boarding and First Impressions
At the check-in, I was informed that boarding would begin early and I therefore left the lounge 45 minutes before departure for the short walk to gate D7, where the Qatar Airways logo was shown on the departure screen.
As expected, boarding began 40 minutes before departure. A strange thing was that economy class passengers boarded first, while we in business class had to wait at the gate. After nearly 15 minutes of additional waiting at the gate, we finally got the go-ahead by the staff to board. No explanation for this procedure was given.
Only one door was used for boarding the aircraft, which meant a left turn to get to the business class cabin. A very friendly Indian air hostess welcomed me at the door and showed me to my seat, 03K, and I received help with my hand luggage.
First impressions of the cabin were very positive, this was one of the new Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, and it appeared that this plane was fairly new. Everything was, in addition, perfectly clean, neat and tidy. During the boarding process, a bright blue neon light was used to create a relaxing mood.
Before departure, water and orange juice was offered, but no champagne, which may have been due to the fact the flight took place during Ramadan. It was only nine in the morning so I was happy, in any case, with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice that was also served with a slice of orange. Before take-off, newspapers were offered, as well as hot towels and a toiletry bag from Salvatore Ferragamo. The toiletry bag was better than the standard for business class, with several different creams as well as an aftershave.
The doors were punctually closed at 9:20am and after a safety briefing on the screens above, we set course for Qatar. The flight time to Doha was estimated to be six hours.
A rather new Boeing 777-300ER was used on the flight between Thailand and Qatar. On board were seven rows of business class, in a 2-2-2 configuration. The cabin was divided into a larger business class cabin, between the first and second door, with four rows, and a smaller cabin, with three rows, behind the other door. Consequently, there were a total of 42 business class seats on board.
To have only four rows of seats between the first and the second door is ambitious for business class on a Boeing 777, and this becomes obvious when you look at the official figures. Legroom in business class is 78”, which is comparable to (or slightly less than) what many airlines offer in first class. It was very spacious onboard, with plenty of personal space, which further improved as the cabin was only half full on this flight. However, it is no first class suite we are talking about, due to the pretty ordinary business class seat with a pretty ordinary design.
Between the seats was a long narrow table that served as a cocktail table. The table has long existed in the Qatar Airways seat design, but has now been extended and, therefore, there was room to slot the menu and drink list.
The seat’s functionality was controlled by a panel located on the armrest, which was easy to use. There were also electrical outlets in the seat if you wanted to charge your cell phone or use a laptop.
Qatar Airways’ inflight entertainment system, called Oryx, contains a wide variety of movies, TV series, documentaries, music albums, games, as well as information about the flight, Doha Airport and Qatar Airways. According to the Qatar Airways website, the Oryx system contains a total of 770 different titles. In the film section, there were also a number of foreign films from countries that Qatar Airways serves.
The inflight entertainment system is enjoyed on a 15.4-inch screen with good picture quality. Noise cancelling headphones were also handed out in business class. To navigate through the menu, you use a remote control that is found in the seat, and you use the arrow keys to move in different directions on the screen.
On this flight to Qatar, breakfast was served after takeoff, and 90 minutes before landing you could order something to eat from the ‘Indulgence’ menu, with a variety of snack options. The menu and drink list was next to the seat before boarding, in a brown leather binder placed in a special compartment next to the seat. It looked very elegant, especially as it was accompanied by built-in lighting, in the compartment.
There was also an extensive beverage selection onboard, described in the drink list, which was also found in the leather binder. The drink range included three white wines, a French Chardonnay from Meursault, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough and a Riesling from the Mosel Valley in Germany. The red wines consisted of a Bordeaux wine from St. Emilion, a Shiraz from Australia and an Italian wine from Tuscany. The champagne onboard was Lanson Brut 1998 and, in addition, there was a port wine. As well as a variety of aperitifs, whisky and liqueurs were also offered, as well as beer and soft drinks.
After takeoff, I was offered a refreshing smoothie and shortly afterwards, one of the flight attendants was back at my place to take my breakfast order. A white cloth was laid on my table and then glasses, cutlery and other tableware were placed in front of me. No meal trays were used during serving, everything was served individually without trays or trolleys, which is rare in business class, it tends to be a level of service found only in first class.
The breakfast began with a plate of cold cuts. On the plate was salmon, trout, eggs, cheese and vegetables. A nice breadbasket was also placed on my table containing toast, croissants and muffins. For this, I got a small bowl of butter as well as a jar of marmalade from the basket.
The next course was the main course. I like to try local food when I travel and was therefore clearly interested when I saw that an Arabic breakfast was being offered on board. The Arabic breakfast was extensive, with several side dishes, sauces, stews and vegetables. Because the content was not described in the menu, it is impossible to give a detailed description.
Along with the breakfast, vegetables were served together with some kind of spicy Arabic pita. It did not taste of anything in particular but was extremely satisfying.
The breakfast ended with yogurt and fresh fruit. I was also offered coffee and tea and of course chose a large cup of black coffee, which was later refilled.
Overall, it was an impressive breakfast. The food tasted very nice, was of good quality and a stylish presentation. This was definitely one of the better breakfasts I have had in business class.
Just over 90 minutes before landing, the Indian airhostess, who mainly served me during the flight, came over and asked if I wanted anything to eat. In the final pages of the menu there was an ‘Indulgence’ section, with a variety of light meals and snacks available to order. I ordered a panini with roast beef and mozzarella. The panini was good but felt rather uninspired for business class. But then again, I was not particularly hungry after the vast breakfast.
I rounded everything off with a cup of black coffee, which was served with a Scottish shortbread biscuit. A refill of my coffee was offered before the table was cleared.
What impressed me on board was the individual service. During meals, we were all served individually without trays or trolleys and at a good pace.
All flight attendants were dressed in Qatar Airways typical uniform, which is either burgundy or plum. The uniform gave a sense of seriousness and could possibly be seen as a little too formal, it would have been nice with something slightly more relaxed. All the staff were friendly but professional and kept a respectful distance to the passengers.
After breakfast, the early morning started to make itself felt. I felt considerably tired and therefore chose to recline my seat for some much needed sleep. I also picked up a quilt and pillow. The seat folded down 180 degrees and was comfortable to sleep in. The long table that existed between the seats gave some shielding from my neighbour and, in addition, there was a further screen which folds up for more privacy.
I got two hours of sleep and was generally pleased with the comfort. Both the quilt and the pillow were very nice and snug.
After crossing the Bay of Bengal, India and the Arabian Sea, we came in over the Arabian Peninsula, level with Oman, and after passing through Dubai and the UAE, we began to descend towards Qatar. The window shutters that had been pulled down during most of the flight were pulled up and the cabin prepared for landing. A video was shown on the screens about Doha airport and what would happen after landing.
At 11:27a.m, we landed at Doha airport’s, runway 33, over half an hour before the scheduled time. It was hot in Qatar, the cabin crew mentioned the temperature was 42 degrees.
Doha completely lacks passenger bridges, which means that all aircraft must park on the apron and passengers must ride the bus to and from the aircraft. Business class passengers got off first and waited outside a separate business class bus while the other passengers stayed on board until our bus left. The bus would make two stops, the first at the premium terminal for passengers who had a connection in Doha, and the other at the main terminal for those who completed their journey in Doha.
All in all, a very good flight. Qatar Airways delivered a good business class seat, a clean and neat cabin and a good menu and drinks list with plenty to choose from.
The service was of a high level and all the staff I came into contact with were professional, attentive and very thorough in everything they did, there was not much that they missed. I especially appreciated the little details, the fact that no trays or carts were used, the tables were served manually and that the meals were completely personalised. This was helped by the fact the cabin was half-full.
Overall, I was very happy with the experience, except for boarding in Bangkok.