Flying business class on a long haul flight has been something I’ve always wanted to do but I’ve never been able to justify the exorbitant costs. I’d much rather be uncomfortable on a plane for one day and splash out on nicer accommodation or experiences at my destination.
Fortunately for me Qatar Airways happened to be having a sale just as I was looking to book my flights to Sydney. I compared the prices of flying out of London to a few other European cities and found that the prices of flights departing from Oslo were considerably cheaper than that out of London, especially for business class. I found that I could get a business class return flight out of Oslo for only around £800 more than an economy flight from London would have cost. Since I only had about a week to spend in Sydney I figured this extra cost would be worth it if it meant I would be well rested when I arrived and would help to minimise the effect of jetlag. I would also be returning to work the very next day after arriving back in London so feeling fresh upon my return was equally as important.
Obviously I had to get myself from London to Oslo for the flight so I picked up a relatively cheap economy fair with Norwegian Airlines. Since my Qatar Airways flight was leaving at 10:05am I flew to Oslo the day before and stayed at the Radisson Blu Airport Hotel which is connected to the airport terminal. There are cheaper hotels outside the terminal but that means having to get a shuttle bus or taxi to and from the airport and I preferred to pay a little extra to avoid that hassle. For my return flight from Oslo to London I was able to book a redemption flight on British Airways using Avios points.
The first leg of our Qatar Airways flight from Oslo to Doha was on a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner. The business class seats are in a 1-2-1 layout meaning that the seats by the window on either side are solo seats with a pair of seats in the middle of the aircraft. This layout works well as it means every seat has direct access to the aisle and if you are travelling solo you can have a bit of privacy by choosing one of the solo seats. Even though we were travelling as a couple we still opted for the solo seats as we wanted to sit by the window.
All business class passengers were provided with an Giorgio Armani amenity kit containing an Aramni fragrance, body lotion (or aftershave for men), Rituals lip balm, hair brush, earplugs, socks and eye mask.
The seats all came equipped with a USB plug and international power point, as well as noise cancelling headphones. I didn’t use these as I always bring my headphones so I can’t comment on the quality.
There’s plenty of legroom as your feet kind of slot underneath the seat in front. This seat will transform into a fully flat bed however since I flew on this aircraft during the day I didn’t get the opportunity to test this out. I did recline the seat though and the controls were easy to use.
Lunch was served on board but since I had only eaten breakfast not too long ago I opted to skip the main meal and just went for an appetiser. I had wanted to order a soup from the menu as well but I was seated near the back and by the time one of the crew had come to take my order they had already sold out. The Arabic Meze appetiser was delicious, I was so impressed I think I had it on 3 out of the 4 flights.
There were plenty of films to choose from in the in-flight entertainment system, including a few that were new releases. I was impressed by the size of the screen which is so much bigger than what you get in economy. You can either touch the screen to make a selection or use the remote control in your seat.
Inflight WiFi was also available but at a steep price as you are charged by MB and not by time. You’re given an allowance of 15MB to use for free but this disappears very quickly, especially if browsing on a laptop rather than a mobile phone.
As business class passengers we had access to the Al Mourjan Business Lounge at Doha’s Hamad International Airport. I can safely say this is by far the most impressive airport lounge I have ever visited. I’ve used the British Airways Business lounge at Heathrow T5 a couple of times, as well as the Qantas lounge at Sydney’s international airport and they both pale in comparison.
When you enter the lounge the first thing you see is this “pool” and the beautiful staircase that leads upstairs.
Upstairs is the main dining area which serves a three course buffet. There isn’t really any food downstairs aside from drinks and a few pastries but there is an abundance of seating. There are power points at most seats and a lot of them also had touch screens so you could check the latest flight information.
The lounge also has shower facilities if you want to freshen up between flights.
Our second flight was on a different aircraft – this time we had a Boeing 777-300ER. It has a layout is different to 787 with the seats being in a 2-2-2 layout.
There was still loads of legroom although if I did prefer the layout of the 787 as it was more private and you weren’t so far away from the TV screen. We were provided with all the same amenities as the first flight with the addition of pyjamas as it was an overnight flight. The sizes are pretty generic and since I’m quite tiny I found them to be oversized even when given the S/M size. On the return flight they handed me a L/XL size so I was thankful that I had packed my own clothes as there was no way those XL pyjama pants would have stayed up on me! I’m not sure if the crew didn’t pay attention to the size when they handed them out or if they just didn’t have any smaller sizes available but I wasn’t too fussed since I had packed my own.
The food menu was similar across all flights with some slight variations and I was impressed with the quality of all the dishes I tried. Since it was an evening flight the cabin was too dark to take decent photos of the food although I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of this dessert.
The 777 seats do transform into a fully flat bed so I was able to have a decent sleep on the plane. I didn’t have any problems with jetlag after arriving in Sydney or when I returned to London and I really think being able to lay down and have a proper sleep made all the difference. People at my office even commented that I seemed surprisingly fresh and awake which was nice to hear!
Overall we were very happy with the level of service provided by Qatar Airways and I would be more than happy to fly with them again, especially if they continue to offer bargain price business flights! Qatar Airways are part of the oneworld alliance so I was able to earn Avios points on these flights and even earned enough tier points to qualify for a British Airways Executive Club Silver membership.