Review: Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Overnight Flight (ICN-DOH)


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I’ve reviewed the Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class in the past but, as that review was for a daytime flight and on this occasion the flight was overnight, I think it’s worth taking another a look at what the offering is like.

My flight was scheduled to take off from Seoul Incheon Airport at 01:20 and boarding was called at 00:20. As there is no First Class cabin on the Qatar Airways 777s I was first onboard and had a few seconds to take some unobstructed pictures of the cabin.

Qatar Airways offers a number of different cabin configurations on its 777-300ER aircraft and this one came with 42 Business Class seats – the most you’ll see on this aircraft.

With that many Business Class seats the aircraft’s premium cabin is split in 2 and is set out in a 2-2-2 layout.

Seat map courtesy of seatguru.com

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Cabin

I’d made sure to book myself in the front cabin to stay as far away as possible from the first row of Economy class because that where the bassinets go:

And where there are bassinets there are babies…..and babies aren’t quiet 🙂

I’d also made sure to book myself into one of the centre seats because they are the only two seats on the aircraft where both have direct aisle access.

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Seats

If the passenger in the seat next to me wants to get up in the night he/she can get into the aisle without clambering over me and, likewise, I wouldn’t have to clamber over him/her if I wanted to get up.

Not the case for the seats on either side of the aircraft.

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Seats

I had also been careful not to select a seat in row 1.

I like to have all the things I need for a long flight close to hand (MacBook, phone, cables, kindle, charger etc…) and, although most of the seats in the Qatar Airways 777 Business Class cabin have good storage space at the base of the seat ahead of them…..

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Seats

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Seats

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Seats

…..while, for obvious reasons, the seats in row 1 don’t have these:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Seats

The seats in row 1 are limited to the other storage areas that the remaining rests in business Class also have.

In the front of the centre armrest:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Seats

At the back of the centre armrest:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Seats

And a small cubby in the centre partition between the two seats where the airline places a water bottle for each passenger before boarding:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Seats

Within a minute of having walked on to the aircraft a flight attendant introduced herself and asked what I’d like to drink and if I’d like a hot towel – I asked for the brut champagne.

She also asked what size pajamas I’d like, told me the name of the cabin supervisor, the flight length (9.5 hrs) and told me to be sure to call her if there’s anything I need at any point in the flight.

I continued to look around the cabin and my seat:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Seats

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Seats

The Qatar Airways 777 Business Class seat is definitely not one of the best that the airline offers (those seats are on the A380, A350 and 787 Dreamliner) but they’re still actually quite good…..at least I think so.

They have a good amount of storage around them (as long as you’re not in row 1 or row 5) and they’re comfortable to sit or recline in.

They’re a bit old fashioned when it comes to how lie-flat they are in that, technically, you’re not completely parallel to the ground even though the seat reclines a full 180 degrees – you’re at a slight angle.

I was fine in these seats on my epic Auckland – Doha flight earlier in the year and I found the seat fine to sleep in on my outbound Doha – Seoul flight a few days earlier (I didn’t review that flight as all I wanted to do was sleep – taking lots of notes for a review wasn’t high on the list of things I wanted to do!)

I’d get to see if I still like the seats as a bed later in the flight .

Boarding + 5 mins: My champagne and hot towel arrived…. 

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

…..and the flight attendant said that she’ll be back again soon with an amenity kit.

I asked if I could have a ladies amenity kit for Joanna as I already have more men’s Qatar Airways kits than I know what to do with (although ladies and men’s contents are identical the color of the bag is different).

Apparently this wasn’t a problem at all.

One thing that Qatar doesn’t provide in business class (which I really wish it would) is slippers…..but I was ready this time! I’d brought along a pair from the Courtyard Seoul that I had just been staying in.

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

For those wondering what the issue is, I don’t like walking into airplane bathrooms in just socks (very icky) and, as I always take my shoes off on every flight, it’s a chore to have to put shoes on every time a bathroom break is called for.

Not a massive issue by any means but one that I finally remembered to do something about 🙂

Boarding + 23 mins: An announcement of “cabin crew all passengers are onboard” was made and I noticed a strange thing.

I’d logged in to QatarAirways.com the night before this flight and all the seats in my section of the Business Class cabin were shown as unavailable (i.e presumably booked)….but now when I looked around the cabin there were 6 empty seats of which one is the one next to me. Winner!

Boarding + 25 mins: The flight attendants offered newspapers.

Boarding + 27 mins: An amenity kit was brought around and, as promised, it was a ladies color.

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

Boarding + 28 mins: Pajamas and menus were brought around….

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

…….and, seconds later, the cabin supervisor introduced herself to me and said “if there’s anything you need just ask me or just please press the call button“.

Wow. Press the call button?! You’d be lucky not to get ejected form your seat if you dare press the call button on a US airline 🙂

Both the flight attendant attending my row and the cabin supervisor were very smiley and, as almost all Qatar Airways staff I’ve come in contact with onboard various flight have been, they seem genuinely interested in providing the best service they can.

There’s nothing sycophantic about their behaviour….just polite and very pleasant.

Boarding + 29 mins: Captain came on the tannoy to introduce himself, confirm flight time of 9 hours and 33 minutes and to wish us all a nice flight.

Boarding + 33 mins:  The announcement of “cabin crew arm your doors and cross check” was made so I knew we were about to be on our way.

Boarding + 35 mins: The departure prayer and safety video were played:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

Boarding + 41 mins: We pushed back 19 minutes early

As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been in Qatar 777s before but this is the first time I’ve actually reviewed an overnight 777-300ER flight.

I’m aware that the 777-200LR has an identical layout and that I flew in that aircraft for over 16hours….but that was the longest flight in the world (Auckland to Doha) so it’s special and a bit different – I think it’s definitely worth reporting what Qatar Airways is like with their 777 on a more normal overnight flight.

Boarding + 48mins: The cabin lights were dimmed to purple for take off

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

Boarding + 59 mins: After 18 minutes of taxiing around Seoul Incheon airport the engines get louder, we accelerate down the runway and, as my iPhone clock changes to 01:20 we’re in the air.

Take off + 10 mins: The flight attendants begin taking meal orders

Take off + 12 mins: The seat belt sign was extinguished…..which was strange as it was still bumpy and, within a minute, it was back on again and it stayed on for the next 50 minutes.

Before the flight attendant reached me to take my meal order I took a look through the menus:

Dining:

Drinks:

Take off + 17 mins: It was my turn to order a meal and the flight attendant addressed me by name (off the manifest), thanked me for being a oneworld Emerald status holder and proceeds to take my meal and drink order.

Take off + 32 mins: Warm nuts and champagne were served.

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

As I was drinking the champagne (which I felt was well deserved as I hadn’t stopped working in the 3 hours I was in the lounge 🙂 ) I took a look around the rest of my seat.

The seat controls are on the armrest:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

The IFE controls are under the armrest in the centre section:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

The headphones, which had been next to my seat when I boarded,……

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

…..plug in into the jack-point in the storage space at the back of the seat partition:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

This is also where Qatar Airways has put the USB and LAN points.

The seats have flexible reading lamps mounted around shoulder level in the partition between the two seats…….

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

……. and, just in case you don’t know the person seated next to and would like some privacy, there’s a small movable partition between the two seats.

Here it is stowed away:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

And here it is deployed:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

This makes zero difference to how private things are when you’re seated upright or even partially reclined but it helps a bit when you’re lying flat.

There’s no wifi on offer on Qatar’s 777-300ERs….but that’s not really an issue for me as I wouldn’t have purchased it anyway – Qatar Airways sells wifi in bundles of gigabytes rather than by duration and I really dislike that.

The power ports on this aircraft are at floor level in center section……..

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

……and there’s an issue with them that a few passengers may have – large plugs, like those on some MacBooks, don’t fit in all the way so you need to use an adapter to extend the power port outwards before all works as it should.

Take off + 50 mins: A flight attendant started to set my table for the meal:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

Take off + 57 mins: My appetiser was served with a choice of still or sparkling water.

I had chosen the mushroom and chestnut cream soup:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Meal

It was nice and warm….and flavorful – I liked it.

That was a good start to the meal

Take off + 1 hr 6 mins: My empty bowl was taken away in typical Qatar Airways efficient but not over efficient manner – I love how the flight attendants do this.

Take off + 1 hr 10 mins: My main course of “seasonal bibimbab namul” (a Korean specialty of courgettes, black mushrooms, carrots, oyster mushrooms, egg  and minced beef served with hot chili paste and sesame oil) was served:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Meal

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Meal

I would have preferred it to have been a little hotter (temperature-wise) but it was still very tasty.

I’ve said before that I like to order spicy food on flights because spicy is a taste that doesn’t get dulled too much at altitude.

Where regular meals can taste a little bland at 38,000ft spicy food usually maintains its kick…and this dish had just enough of a kick to keep it interesting.

I didn’t order dessert on this flight as (a) I was pretty full after the first two courses and (b) I really wanted to get changed into the pajamas and get ready for sleep…..which is exactly what I did next.

By the time I returned from getting changed the cabin lights were fully dimmed, there was a box of 2 Godiva Chocolates waiting for me at my seat….

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

…..as well as a refreshing cold towel.

Take off + 1 hr 27 mins: A flight attendant came around to check if there was anything I needed before I settled down for sleep (there wasn’t) and to ask if I wanted to be woken for breakfast.

I decided not to be woken just in case (by some miracle!) I managed to sleep through the second meal service.

The pillow and blanket offered by Qatar were in my seat when I boarded and, while they’re better than what I’ve been given on BA and American, they’re not as good as the Westin Heavenly items that I was given on my Delta Business Class flight late last year.

Nevertheless they’re perfectly ok and, after setting the seat to lie-flat mode, I settled down to get some sleep.

Take off + 7 hrs 49 mins: After waking up and going back to sleep few times I woke up once again as the noise levels in the cabin increased.

The flight attendants had started to serve breakfast….but it wasn’t them making the noise (they were in stealth mode) – it was a couple of passengers.

the way these guys were attacking their plates you would have thought they’d never seen food before!

I hadn’t found the seat as comfortable to sleep on as I had on previous occasions and that had led to a  fitful night’s sleep – it’s strange how the bed can be fine on one flight then not so good on the next.

Take off + 8 hrs 11 mins: A flight attendant brought be a hot towel and took my breakfast order.

Take off + 8 hrs 16 mins: My breakfast arrived.

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast

The waffles were barely warm and, had this been a restaurant, I would have sent them back. As it was I didn’t because I wanted to get on and get changed out of my pajamas before we began our decent.

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast

The strawberry and banana smoothie I had ordered was pretty good – it was thick and it tasted very natural.

There was also a choice of strawberry jam, marmalade or honey offered with the basket of bread and croissants.

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast

Take off + 8 hrs 26 mins: My waffle plate was taken away and I offered hot drink – I chose a coffee with milk and no sugar.

Take off + 8 hrs 28 mins: A reasonably hot cup off coffee turned up:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast

Take off  + 8 hrs 36 mins: The remaining bits of breakfast were taken away, another hot towel was brought around and mints were offered.

Take off + 8 hrs 40 mins: The Captain announced that we would be beginning our descent in 15 minutes and that we should be in Doha in 40 minutes.

Take off + 8 hrs 42 minutes: The cabin lights started to be raised and they were a subtle blue color:

Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Review

Take off + 8 hrs 52 mins: A flight attendant came around to check that my flight had been ok, that I didn’t need anything else and to say thanks for flying Qatar Airways.

She was still smiley and friendly 9 hours into the flight – you don’t get that on all that many carriers.

Take off + 8 hrs 53 mins: The seatbelt sign came on and we were told to stow tray tables, put away personal items and put our seat backs upright.

Take off + 9 hrs 19 mins: I could hear the undercarriage coming down and the cabin crew were told to prepare for landing.

Take off + 9 hrs 22 mins: We landed at Doha Hamad International Airport.

Qatar Airways cabin crew don’t collect headphones before landing and the IFE continues working up to the gate….very helpful for long taxis (although it does get interrupted for passenger announcements)

Take off + 9 hrs 30 mins: We pulled up to the gate.

Thoughts

Negatives:

  • The breakfast was cold – that’s not what I’ve come to expect from Qatar Airways and it was poor.
  • The main meal (shortly after take off) could have been hotter – clearly the crew were having issues with how to heat the food on this flight.
  • No WiFi on the 777 – not great if you have to get work done.
  • I didn’t sleep particularly well in the bed this time – it may be a bit harsh to call this a negative as I’ve slept just fine in the same bed in the past but I have to mention it.

Positives:

  • The crew were very friendly and helpful – cold food aside they were great.
  • The food and drink selection was good – I think the Brut Champagne that Qatar Airways serves in Business Class is the same as I’ve had in Etihad First Class.
  • When not in bed mode I find this seat very comfortable.
  • The IFE selection (which I didn’t really touch on in this review) was pretty good.

I’m not sure what to make of the poor night’s sleep considering I’ve slept fine in this seat before, so I’m not going to fixate on it or let it put me off booking a 777 the next time I fly with Qatar Airways. The cold food was unusual for this airline (in my experience) but it was a noticeable black mark on the journey.

Overall this was a perfectly ok  if unspectacular flight.

Here a link to a review of the Qatar Airways 777-300ER on a daytime flight