Qatar Airways have been voted the world’s best airline. I had the pleasure of flying with them to Malaysia recently. Read my review of Qatar Airways service and find out if they lived up to the hype!
Gazing out at the bright blue skies, with a glass of pink champagne in hand, it felt almost surreal. For once in my life I didn’t want the plane journey to end. In fact I would have been quite happy to just stay on the plane for 24 hours. Being wined and dined and treated to five star service was a far cry from the school runs….
Why is it that when we book holidays, many of us tend to focus on our hotels and not the airline who takes us there? If you haven’t flown business class before, I should stress that business class is completely different on all airlines. We should think of it in the same way as we do when booking a hotel. In fact we should apply this to economy class too! Qatar Airways is a five star airline, that offers five star service. Think of the difference between booking a three, four or five star hotel; airlines have a similar grading. Flying with Qatar Airways is the equivalent of staying in five star hotel. Recently voted the best airline in the world and winner of the best business class airline award at the World Airline Awards, I was going to make sure I appreciated every minute of it.
Normally the first thing I do when I get on a long haul flight is to check out the inflight entertainment. I browse the latest blockbusters that I haven’t seen and try to catch up. Not this time! The menu, or should I say ‘menus’ were my first port of call. They were given to me by my flight attendant, Praveem, who courteously introduced himself to me before take off. He called me by name and said he would be looking after me throughout the flight. I received a hot towel, noise cancelling headphones and a luxury amenity kit, packed with toiletries. I was then asked if I would like an aperitif before take- off? Sure it would be rude not to……
The drinks menu consisted of fine wines and champagne as well as premium spirits and soft drinks. I enjoyed a few glasses of Lanson pink champagne (as you do!) and opted for a delicious Bordeaux with dinner. Speaking of dinner, this too is an experience. While white linen table cloths and hot towels may be standard in business class, but Qatar Airways extra touches are the reason it is rated a five star airline. My drinks were served in what I like to call ‘proper’ champagne and wine glasses and served on demand.
There were no trollies up and down the aisle. When Praveem came out from behind the curtain with my drinks or food, I felt like he was bringing it from a kitchen, that there was a chef somewhere making it just moments before it was served. Although this was not the case, these subtle touches made for a special dining experience. The substantial menu was available at any time throughout my flight. Qatar Airways offer a dine on demand system. If you want to eat immediately and settle down for a nap, you can. You also don’t need to worry about missing breakfast, you can simply have it whenever you wake up.
The food options were superb. For dinner I enjoyed the traditional Arabic Mezze to start, followed by a delicious spiced chicken for main course and a cheese plate to finish. If I had to find fault, I would say the cheese plate could be improved, the garnish in particular was a little stale. Some of my colleagues opted for the fillet steak and said it was excellent.
Breakfast was even more impressive, the menu was so extensive I didn’t know which to choose. There were three choices of juices including a carrot and ginger energiser, followed by a choice of five appetisers and four main courses. If this all sounds too much, you can just have an express breakfast of coffee and croissants, before you disembark. On my return flight home, I opted for a light-option for dinner, a thai noodle beef salad. It was perfectly balanced, full of of flavour and something I would expect to find in an upmarket oriental restaurant.
After I was wined and dined I was able to recline my seat and watch a movie on my 17-inch flat screen TV. Qatar Airway’s Oryx One system has over 4,000 in-flight entertainment options. Suffice to say, I was spoiled for choice! I also tried the WiFi on board which was excellent, but you need to pay the $20 fee for unlimited use. The so-called thirty minutes free use, is fairly poor and only lasted five minutes. Although $20 is cheap, I did think it was unusual to ask business class travellers to pay for it.
It was then time to convert my seat into a fully lie-flat bed and get some sleep for a few hours. This comfortable 80 x 30 inch lie-flat bed together with a heavy velour blanket and The White Company pyjamas, made it very easy!
On the Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft from Dublin to Doha, the seat configuration is 1-2-1. If travelling alone I would suggest booking a window seat where you can have complete privacy. The two middle seats are ideal if travelling as a couple. One of the huge advantages of this configuration is that all seats have aisles.
On the A330 from Kuala to Doha the configuration was slightly different and there were no single seats. I happened to be sitting in seat 1a on this flight. The problem was when my colleague was sleeping it was difficult climbing over her when I needed to go to the bathroom. In this configuration I would choose an aisle seat rather than a window. Qatar Airways even have a love-seat on their Dreamliner aircraft, which is typically booked for honeymooners. Located at the back of the business class cabin, it is separated from the other passengers, although it is close to the bathrooms…
Economy class benefits:
It is not only in business class that Qatar Airways service excels. Their economy class service is excellent too, with a generous 30kg baggage allowance and the same 4,000 in-flight entertainment options, that are available in business class. The Dreamliner’s spacious cabin is not only visually attractive with mood lighting, but this state of the art aircraft comes with all mod cons, such as USB ports, apple iPorts and individual 12 inch touch screen TVs. I particularly like the large windows. Not only are they much bigger than any other comparable aircraft, but they are also dimmable. If you fancy a snooze during the day time, you can reduce the light coming in, with the touch of a button!
I was amazed at how quiet it was in business class, but the Dreamliner has reduced cabin noise in both cabins. The cabin pressure is set to a lower altitude which means there is more clean air circulating the cabin. This reduces travel fatigue and headaches.
Menus are given in economy class too. I managed to get a glance at the breakfast menu and there were three choices available, grilled sausage with omelette, fish congee or buttermilk pancakes. Another highlight of Qatar Airways service is the unlimited drinks available throughout the flight, including premium spirits, a rarity in economy class these days!
You can also avail of WiFi on-board. There is a 30 minute free option which only allows for one selfie post, but for $20 you can have unlimited use throughout the flight. All passengers receive an amenity kit with socks, toothpaste, eye masks etc and blankets and pillows are also given. Kids are not overlooked either, I was really impressed with the kids packs. I brought one home to my daughter and she played with it for hours!
Qatar Airways fly daily from Dublin Airport to Doha with onward connections to 150 destinations. At the time of issue return economy tickets to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, are available from €602, with return business class saver tickets from €3098, both including taxes and charges. For more details visit Qatar Airways or see your local travel agent.
Note: I was on a press trip with Qatar Airways and the Malaysia Tourism Board but all views, as always, are my own.