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As I arrived at the boarding gate assigned for my Qatar Airways Mumbai to Doha flight, I noticed that Qatar Airways‘ ground team was setting up the boarding area, but a crowd had already started to walk around the gate area instead of being seated.
Qatar Airways Mumbai to Doha flight is operated by a Boeing 777ER aircraft which is fitted with the latest QSuite product, a fact that is not well advertised because Qatar Airways did not put out a press release or do much pomp and show about it.
Within about ten minutes, pre-boarding was called. First up were wheelchair passengers and passengers with small children (in arms). The process moved pretty quickly, and within 5 minutes, all passengers with different tiers with Qatar or oneworld were called, along with the Business Class passengers.
Everyone was brought into a holding area and then released in one go, to the plane. Qatar Airways announced boarding per tiers. However, it was a mad dash to get on the plane.
I boarded through gate 1L, which was exclusively used for Business Class boarding on this flight. As I entered, the first thing I noticed was the Qatar Airways motif on a dark backdrop. Very imposing and very premium.
Qatar Airways QR 557
Mumbai (BOM) – Doha (DOH)
Monday, February 19, 2018
Departure: 04:05 AM
Arrival: 05:25 AM
Duration: 03:50 hours
Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 10A (QSuite Business Class)
Meal Service: Breakfast
Qatar Airways operates two-class flights on most of their planes now, with the understanding that QSuites is a product as good as most First Class, so a separate First Class cabin is not needed.
Once on board, the agent at the gate inspected my boarding pass and directed me towards my seat. By the time I had booked my ticket, most of the single seats were gone or blocked, and I was auto allocated a seat in the middle.
At the time of check-in, however, I was unable to check-in to any of the QSuite seats with the 4-seater Quad. So, I requested help from the Qatar Airways Twitter team, who allocated me seat 10A.
On each plane which has the QSuites installed, the seats next to the windows marked A/K, are reverse facing. The forward facing seats, marked B/J, are placed away from a direct view outside the window.
On the middle set of four seats, it is organized as two forward and two reverse facing seats, allowing for four people to rendezvous mid-air if they would like to. This is beneficial for families or colleagues traveling together.
I went WOW! as soon as I walked into the QSuites cabin for the first time. The most ergonomically designed seats out there, with privacy for each passenger. The best part, however, was that each seat took the same footprint as a standard Business Class seat, so there was no loss of capacity while installing this product.
The Boeing 77W equipment of Qatar Airways has 42 Business Class QSuite seats, 24 in the forward cabin (pictured above) and 18 in the smaller rear cabin. Today, the cabin was fully occupied. The rear cabin, where I was seated was dimly lit in pink mood-lighting.
I was allotted 10A, which is the seat closest to the engine and reverse facing. It was my first time on a reverse-facing Business Class seat, having done the drill a few times flying Etihad Apartments being seated backward already. I walked up to my seat and was quickly followed by a flight attendant.
The first thing as I parked myself into the QSuites, and begun to take some pictures of this marvelous product. Everything you need for a long-haul flight enclosed in a cubicle with enough space to move around.
As I mentioned, 10A is right next to the engine. So I had a good view of the GE90-115B engine which was going to be company for the next 3.5 hours. On the next gate, we had an Emirates A380 getting ready for its trip to Dubai.
On my seat, there was already a blanket placed, along with an amenity kit from Nappa Dori, which is an Indian luxury brand of leatherwear. All medium-haul flights of Qatar Airways get a Nappa Dori designed amenity kit.
The amenity kit contained socks, eyeshades and lip balm from Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio. There were no sleeper suits given out on this flight, due to the short length of the flight. Also missing was the throw pillow which is placed on most Qatar Airways flights with the QSuites, and is yours to take home.
There is a 21.5″ high-resolution touchscreen on every QSuite, which was the right size for this distance from the eye level.
Looking around, the sliding door, which is the best part of the QSuite, stood out. Like you can see, I could not peep across if the Suite door was slid shut.
As I was exploring the Suite, the flight attendant working my galley approached me and introduced herself. She walked me through the various features of the seat. She collected my blazer and offered me a choice of a welcome drink.
I asked her what was available, and I was informed there was water, fresh juice or a honey and mint lemonade. Next, she wanted to know if I wanted to get a hot or a cold towel. I requested for a cold towel and a honey and mint lemonade, which was brought very quickly to my seat.
The seat had a small leather box next to it, which looked like an ottoman, but would pop open into a box which could hold your stuff. A bottle of water and the headsets were placed inside.
The seat controls were built into a panel which was accessible very easily. It had a whole set of buttons to control the movement of the seat in all directions along with lumbar support, and various preset seat positions as well. There was a lot of space right under the table, which could be used to store your travel documents or a laptop when not using it.
The side panel had controls for various sort of connectivity and charging options. There were two USB ports, including a high-voltage port exclusively for charging. Additionally, there was an HDMI connection to beam your content to the screen, a headphone jack and a charger port. All in all, it was an intuitive design.
Not shown in the picture is an NFC reader, which QR intends to use with NFC-enabled phones to be able to set IFE preferences via the Qatar Airways app. This functionality is not enabled at the moment.
The touchscreen handset, shown below, allowed to control the Oryx One IFE system and showed various other details during the flight, such as the flight map and time.
The headsets placed were not of any particular brand but were noise-canceling regardless. They did a decent job, given I was sitting next to the engine and I could not hear much but a low hum through the duration of take-off.
The seat footwell was decently sized as well and addressed a fundamental flaw for most staggered seat designs these days, where there is not enough space for those who want to sleep sideways to keep their feet together.
Qatar Airways also put two individual air nozzles above each seat so that we do not have to depend on the cabin crew to feel too hot or too cold in the cabin.
While the other passengers were boarding, reading material was circulated through the cabin. They were just newspapers, and I passed since I do not fancy reading much at 4 AM.
The IFE had a whole bunch of flight map data being served up, which continued to entertain me during while the flight was being prepared.
Soon enough the menus were distributed. While we began our taxi, the orders were taken for our meal service. This was a breakfast flight.
Qatar Airways has a fantastic selection of wines on their menu. More than that, they do real justice to those beautiful wine bottles, putting a full picture with the descriptions. Here is one insert from the wine list for my flight.
On this route, Qatar Airways was offering Lanson Champagne ($40), and also the Rose Champagne from the same brand. Here is the rest of the wine list that was offered, which covered almost all the geographies with good wine I think:
- Chardonnay: Laroche Chablis Premier Cru 2015, France
- Sauvignon Blanc: Leyda Single Vineyard Garuma 2016, Chile
- Assemblage Catarrato & Pinot Bianco: Leone D’Almerita Terre Siciliane 2016, Italy
- Medoc: Chateau Haut Condissas 2010, Bordeaux France
- Shiraz: Hollick Wrattonbully 2015, South Australia
- Assemblage Petite Syrah & Zinfandel: Conundrum Red 2014, California
- Sweet Tokaji: Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 2013, Hungary
- Port Wine: Gran Cruz Porto 1992, Douro Valley, Portugal
There was also a selection of cocktails available.
After take-off, meal service began almost immediately, given the short length of this flight. I had requested to have Rose Champagne after take off. However, orange juice was served along with a ramekin of hot nuts. I started to sip on the orange juice, not realizing there was a mixup and we will never get to the Rose Champagne. The juice was fresh, and the nuts were warmed to the right temperature.
I started to watch a movie, and in a bit, it was time for breakfast. The foldable table under the screen was brought out and set up for breakfast impeccably.
The attendant working my galley was very experienced and sort of a perfectionist, knowing where to bring the bread basket exactly. It was a pretty looking bread basket, and it had a muffin, a croissant, and some bread. I requested for some strawberry preserve to be brought along.
First, Qatar Airways’ unique date and cinnamon smoothie was brought along, which was delicious.
For breakfast, I had requested the Amritsari Channa Masala, in keeping with the tradition to try out an Indian entree to see how various airlines deliver it. It came with some Onion Bhajiya (Onion Fritters) and Alu Badam Tikki (Potato/Almond Patty), along with a large helping of tangy tamarind sauce. It was lip-smacking good. Hats off to Qatar Airways for delivering an excellent Indian meal on their plane.
After the breakfast service was complete, plates were quickly cleared out. The cabin crew was doing their best to finish meal service early so that passengers had an opportunity at catching a nap. In fact, most of the cabin went straight to sleep after takeoff, so I was one of the very few people to be eating at this hour.
I quickly visited the lavatory. It very spacious in my opinion. Helps many passengers on the longer segments were sleeper suits are handed out.
There were Rituals amenities in the dispensers, and shaving and dental kits were set out for passengers who would need them.
A nice touch was the after mint which was placed by the cabin crew while I was gone.
I did not ask for the bed to be prepared for me. However, at some point in time, I did slide myself into bed mode and dozed off. The best part about the flight was a real duvet in Business Class. It was not a thin cloth, but a real quilt. Okay, I cannot emphasize enough on that.
The footwell had enough space to allow me to sleep comfortably on the side as I mentioned before. I woke up after about 1.5 to 2 hours of sleep; about time descent commenced on this flight.
The first thing to notice was the slightly longer route this flight had to take, to stay clear of the airspace of UAE and Oman, perhaps adding a bit of time to the flying time as well.
Soon enough, we touched down in Doha at the Hamad International Airport.
My jacket was brought to me without having to ask for it, and in no time I headed out of the plane.
Apart from the small mixup on the juice, the service was flawless. While Qatar Airways has also hired crew from across the world, Qatar Airways has done an excellent job of bringing together a great team who feel affiliated with the airline. This is unlike at least one of their Middle-Eastern peers who have not been able to train the crew enough so that they behave as one team.
It was my first experience with Qatar Airways QSuite product, and all I have to say is it is the best Business Class out there right now. The privacy that it offers and the high standard of the product is not comparable.
Have you flown the Qatar Airways QSuite? How do you rate the product?