Review: Qatar Airways 787 Business Class Daytime Flight (FCO – DOH)


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I was looking forward to trying out the Qatar Airways 787 Business Class cabin as I’d heard very good things about it from a number of people who have experienced it first hand. On top of that I had been impressed by the level of service on my Auckland – Doha flight earlier in the year so I was interested to see if that had been a one-off or if the airline could maintain those standards.

At Rome airport Qatar Airways boards premium cabin passengers by a separate door to the rest of the aircraft….

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

……which is nice because it completely eliminates the scrum you often get when boarding is called (like on British Airways at least 75% of the time).

Knowing that I wanted to get a few pictures on board before the cabin filled up with people I made sure I was first in line to board and, at 15:33 local time I was the first on the aircraft.

The Qatar Airways 787 Business Class cabin is set out in rows of four seats in a 1-2-1 layout so every seat has direct aisle access.

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

The centre seats looked pretty spacious…..

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

….and thanks to a divider that can be raised between them they looked like they wouldn’t be too bad if you found yourself sitting next to someone you didn’t know – the screen adds quite a bit of privacy.

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

After a quick look around the cabin, I soon turned my attention to my seat – 2K

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class Seat Map

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Note: from this point onwards I’m going to set out this review as a timeline to give readers an idea of when various aspects of the flight took place and, should they at any point take this flight, when and what they can expect.

My chair already had a pillow and blanket on it when I boarded and both turned out to be pretty comfortable.

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Once I stopped taking photos of everything around me the flight attendants snapped into action like a well oiled machine.

Boarding + 8 mins  I was offered a drink of my choice and, when I went for Champagne, I was given the option of Rose or Brut (I went for Brut) and then an option of a hot or cold towel. 

Boarding + 9 mins –   just a minute after taking my order a flight attendant brought me a glass of Champagne and a cold towel.

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Boarding + 10 mins – Amenity kits and menus were brought around.

Food Menu (click to enlarge):

Non-alcoholic drinks menu: 

Wine & Port menu:

Cocktails & Spirits Menu 

Qatar Airways used to offer Armani amenity kits but have recently changed to offering Bric’s:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

I preferred the Armani kit but others will probably differ.

Boarding + 11 mins –  the flight attendant who had served me the Champagne introduced herself and showed me the headphones and bottle of water in the aisle-side armrest:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Boarding + 12 mins –  The cabin service director (I think that was her title) introduced herself and went out of her way to make sure I knew to call her or one of her team if there was anything I needed during the flight – not something you find flight attendants on most other airlines telling you!

At this point I has a bit more time to look around my surroundings and to take everything in.

Qatar’s 787 Business Class cabin looks very nice and very modern…as it should considering how new most of the aircraft are.

There are no storage bins over the centre section……

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

…….so the bins over the window seats are shared.

The cabin itself feels spacious and I suspect that the lack of overhead bins over the centre section has a lot to do with that.

One of my big bugbears with a number of airlines is the minimal amount of storage space they provide around their Business Class seats….but this didn’t seem to be an issue with Qatar’s 787.

At the window seats there is good-sized ledge just below shoulder height by the window (thee centre seats have this too….just in the centre):

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

There is  a cubby around knee level by the window:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

There’s a further cubby (presumably for shoes) at floor level:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

And, as I’ve already mentioned, there’s yet another storage cubby in the aisle side armrest where the headphones and water are housed.

The amount of storage is pretty impressive but none of the cubbies are big enough to storing anything larger than an iPad – Laptops/MacBooks will have to go on the shelf. 

Connectivity-wise there’s a headphone socket and USB port next to the seat controls by the window-side arm rests:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

The IFE remote control is just to the right of these:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

As in most modern aircraft the Dreamliner offers a universal power port….in this case it’s under the seat controls and just above the window-side storage cubby:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Some passengers could face an issue here…as I did.

The power port is upside-down and quite close to the padding of the table above it so, if your laptop happens to have a chunky power adapter as my MacBook Pro does, you could find that you can’t plug it in.

The solution is to make sure you carry a multi-country adapter and to use that to extend the power port outwards….like this:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

That issue aside the connectivity looks good. It’s especially nice to have power and various inputs close to hand and not anywhere out of the way – it makes it easy to access everything even when the tray table is deployed or when the seatbelt signs are on and you don’t have that much scope to move.

There was pink mood lighting over the windows but as it was still daytime this didn’t have much of an effect.

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

The last think I noted at this point was the Dreamliner offers air vents that passengers can control above every seat:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Not a major thing for me…..but a lot of modern aircraft no longer offer this and there are quite a few people who bemoan the loss of controllable vents – this should be a positive for them.

Boarding + 35 mins – I broke off from noting down everything about the cabin as the Captain introduced himself over the address system, informed us that the flight time would be 4 hrs 49 mins and that he expects an on-time pushback.

Boarding + 36 mins – One of the flight attendants introduces the crew over the address system

Boarding + 41 mins – One of the flight attendants who was working my aisle took my meal order as well as my post take-off beverage order.

Boarding + 42 mins – (15 mins before scheduled pushback) The announcement came for the cabin crew to “arm doors and cross check“.

The doors to the aircraft were closed and I noticed that the business class cabin was not full. From where I was sitting I could see at least 4 empty seats.

Boarding + 44 mins – The usual Qatar Airways safety video featuring Barcelona was played:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Boarding + 45 mins – We pushed back……12 minutes early.

Boarding + 1 hr 2 mins – After a seeming endless taxi we finally turned on to the runway and we took off.

After take off I decided to play around with the seat and discovered that the aisle-side armrest (which has to be down for take off and landing….like in so many modern cabins) is powered and is raised/lowered using the seat control panel. That’s new to me.

When I moved on to the IFE controls I just confirmed what I thought on my last Qatar Airways flight….I don’t like having to use the remote to see what’s available and to select what I want to view.

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

What’s wrong with giving us a touchscreen monitor on which the Oryx Entertainment system can be used?

Once you’ve selected something to watch you can use the IFE screen to pause, play, rewind etc…

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

……as well as to change settings like brightness and volume….but to actually view the IFE offering (which was average) you’re restricted to the screen on the remote which is around the size of an old iPhone screen.

Am I missing something here? Is this really the only way to view and select what’s on offer?

Take Off + 16 mins – It wasn’t long after we levelled out the flight attendants were back in the cabin and serving post departure drinks served (I just had sparking water).

They also brought around a salmon and caviar amuse bouche with a potato salad accompaniment:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

The salmon and caviar were very nice but the potato salad was made with horseradish sauce and I found it a bit too hot.

Qatar Airways offers a “dine when you want” service and, usually, I make the most of this and ask for my meal to be brought to me when I think I’ll want it most. On this short flight, however, I decided to just eat whenever the crew brought the meals around.

Take Off + 27 mins – The flight attendants cleared aways the remnants of the amuse bouche.

Take Off + 30 mins – 3 minutes later table cloths and napkins were brought out, the table was set and a breadbasket placed on the table – I’ve yet to have bad bread on Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Take Off + 35 mins – My starter of Arabic meze was brought out.

This includes:

  • Hummus
  • Tabouleh – a parsley salad with bulgur, tomatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes dressed with a lemon vinaigrette
  • Muhammara – a dip with walnuts, cumin, garlic and a lot more
  • Arabic bread (pitta bread)

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

This is a starter which I come back to time and time again on Qatar. It always tastes fresh and isn’t too filling before the main course – once again it didn’t disappoint.

Take Off + 46 mins – The plates from my starter were removed.

Take Off + 50 mins – A flight attendant brings around my main course of Arabic spiced chicken with machboos sauce, machboos rice with fried onions and raita (yogurt with chopped cucumber and spices):

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

This. Was. Delicious.

The chicken breast was of a good size, it was well cooked,not dried out at all and very flavorful. The accompanying rice, yoghurt and onions worked very well with the chicken and I could have easily had seconds and thirds.

If you ever see this on a menu you really should order it – it’s easily in my top ten main courses I’ve had on an aircraft.

Take Off + 1 hr 2 mins – The plates from my main course were taken away and I was offered tea or coffee….. I ordered mint tea.

Take Off + 1 hr 5 mins – Three minutes later my dessert of panna cotta and mint tea brought out (no waiting around here!).

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

The dessert was nice and light and was a good way to end a three course meal without feeling overfull.

overall the meal service was excellent.

At no point did I catch myself wondering when plates would be taken away, there was no feeling of being rushed but there was also very little waiting around (as the timings should show) and there was a feeling of efficiency throughout.

The Qatar Airways Dreamliners are fitted with wi-fi so, after the last bits of dinner were cleared away, I decided to see what it was like……..and I discovered something I really don’t like.

Qatar sells its internet in packages of megabytes rather than by time:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class Wi-Fi

I hate this.

I have absolutely no idea what 20MB or 50MB of access means in the real world so I have no way of making an informed choice on (a) which package to go for and (b) just how good or bad of a deal the packages are.

This isn’t quite as heinous as Iberia’s offering (see this review of the Iberia A330) but it’s not that far off and I refused to purchase it.

On a positive note (and I’m really trying hard to find one here) Qatar Airways offers 15 minutes free WiFi access so, if you really have to get online, that’s the most cost-effective way of doing it (albeit for a very short time).

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class Wi-Fi

After deciding that I hated the way the airline sells wi-fi I moved on to playing around with the seat a bit more:

Although the controls allow you to set the seat in just about any position you wish…..

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

…….I liked some of the pre-sets.

The best one was the pre-set to the left of “bed mode” which puts you into the perfect position to watch the IFE screen or your own laptop if you have it on the table in front of you.

It was still very much daytime at this point but, although I didn’t need to sleep, in the name of research I tried out the seat in bed mode.

Having checked out the seat area earlier I had been a little concerned that there may not be enough room in the feet area when the seat was laid flat.

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

That doesn’t look like all that much space:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

I needn’t have worried as, admittedly to my surprise, there was plenty of room for my feet and there should be plenty of room for most people.

I tried out various sleeping positions (back, side and front) to see what the bed was like and all three seemed ok although those who sleep on their fronts may find it a little tight.

Overall the seat appears to make for a pretty comfortable bed…..although I’d have to try it out on a true night flight before I could be 100% certain of that.

Take Off + 1 hr 34 mins – once everyone had finished dining and the cabin crew had cleared everything away the cabin lights were dimmed.

Take Off + 1 hr 39 mins – 5 minutes later the flight attendants brought round a single Godiva chocolate:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Take Off + 1 hr 55 mins – Hot towels were brought around.

Even though the cabin lights were dimmed the flight attendants passed through the cabin quite regularly (and quietly) to check if passengers needed anything.

I had no need to sleep or rest at this point so I decided to have a look around the cabin.

I discovered that the crew had set out Champagne, fruit and chocolates in the area at the back of business class (sorry for the poor photo!)…..

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

……..and I noticed that there were two unoccupied seats back here too:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

I wouldn’t select these seats if I could possibly help it as they’re too close to an area where other passengers are clearly encouraged to visit/gather.

There’s a magazine rack directly ahead of these seats….

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

…the Champagne, fruit and chocolates I’ve just mentioned were opposite the magazine rack and, as you can see from this seat map……

…….the lavatories are on either side. This area has the potential to get a lot of traffic!

There was nothing particularly notable about the lavatories except for the fact that they have windows:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

I have no idea why I like this but I do 🙂

Qatar Airways also provides amenities in its bathrooms so, if you were wondering why there wasn’t a shaving kit or a dental kit in the amenity kit that gets handed out, here’s your answer:

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

What the trip to the lavatory did highlight was that Qatar Airways doesn’t appear to give out slippers in Business Class. Not a huge issue….but to someone like me, who takes off their shoes shortly after take off and doesn’t like walking into aircraft lavatories in just their socks, it’s a notable omission.

Another small annoyance was that the IFE screen from seat 1F (centre front) was almost entirely visible to me in 2K unless I was lying flat (even when the seat was reclined quite a way half the screen was still visible). During daylight hours this is probably fine but when the cabin is dark and the person in seat 1F is watching a movie the light and flickering from the screen can be intrusive.

I haven’t noticed this before but this could be a reason to select either 1A or 1K on a night flight.

Also, there is a storage locker that the cabin crew use quite regularly directly ahead of the two centre seats in row 1 so I would avoid those seats because of that.

Going back to the flight itself…..

Take Off + 4 hrs 10 mins – The IFE scenes came on and a video showing information on Hammad international airport played.

Take Off + 4 hrs 15 mins – The captain came on the address system and announced that we had commenced our decent into Doha and that would be landing in 25 minutes.

Take Off + 4 hrs 21 mins – The pink mood lights came back on in the cabin

Qatar Airways 787 Business Class

Then, in short succession, the seat belt signs came on, the cabin services director came around to thank passengers fro flying with Qatar Airways and the first officer announced “cabin crew seats for landing”.

4 hrs 50 mins after we had taken off from Rome we landed in Doha and, seven minutes later we arrived at our gate.

Thoughts

This wasn’t exactly a long journey but I think it gave me a reasonable idea what traveling in the Business Class cabin of Qatar’s Dreamliner is like.

Positives:

  • Cabin crew were friendly, smiling and efficient
  • The food was good to excellent (depending on the course)
  • The wine selection looked pretty good – nothing mind-blowing….but it was definitely above average.
  • The seat was comfortable and appeared to have more than enough room to form a comfortable bed
  • The was ample storage around the seat (although larger items won’t fit into the cubbies).

Negatives:

  • I don’t like that Qatar Airways sells wi-fi by the megabyte rather than setting a price for the duration of the flight (and a few other time increments)
  • Lack of slippers in Business Class seems a bit mean considering how good the rest of the Business Class product is.
  • Some passengers (like me) may have issues plugging larger devices into the power outlet (see comments earlier on)
  • I don’t like the IFE controls – I’d much prefer everything to be on a touchscreen

Overall, and despite the four negatives I noted above, this was a very good flight with a great crew and nice surroundings.

This is definitely one of the better Business Class products I’ve tried out (and I’ve tried a few now) and would stand up to comparison with just about any other Business Class product I can think of.

The great thing is that, not only is this a great Business Class product, but it can be great value too.

If you’re looking to fly between Europe and Asia you can snag some great fares most of the year around (I posted some earlier today) and, when you combine that with the quality of the seat and service that you get on Qatar Airways’ Dreamliners, you can’t really ask for too much more.

Up Next: Review: Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge Doha


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