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Qatar Airways really hit the nail on the head with its new Qsuite business class. The Pros: tons of privacy, great food, top-notch entertainment and amenities, a double bed in biz. The Cons: no in-flight Wi-Fi on the 777-300ER.

With more than a dozen daily flights from Paris to New York City, there were no shortage of options to get me home from the Paris Air Show. I had my pick of nonstops operated by all three major American carriers, plus Air France, La Compagnie, OpenSkies and XL Airways. So which did I choose? Qatar Airways, flying nearly 15,000 miles to get home rather than the ~3,600 it would have taken for any of the nonstop options above.

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I’ll explain the CMB (Colombo) stop in a moment, but the goal was to end up on the very first flight of Qatar Airways’ new business-class product, Qsuite. Mission accomplished.

In This Post

Since we’ve covered Qsuite in tremendous detail over the past few days, some sections of this review might seem a bit lighter than you’re used to. If you’re afraid you’ll miss the extra-deep dive, I recommend checking out these posts before we get started:

Now, on to the review…

Booking

Once we’d identified flight 7 from Doha to London as the Qsuite inaugural, I was a bit discouraged by the fare — about $4,300 for the one-way, 7-hour journey, which was a tremendous sum. Of course there wasn’t any low-level award availability, either, so booking the flight with partner programs like American’s AAdvantage or British Airways Executive Club (Avios) was out.

My first instinct was to check for itineraries originating in another city and connecting in Doha (with the exact flight I needed). Given that flights to many regional destinations aren’t operating at the moment, my options were fairly limited, though I did come across a sub-$2,000 fare from Kathmandu. Eventually, after some playing around with flight numbers, I was able to get the fare to about $1,830 by selecting the British Airways codeshare (BA flight 7007 vs. Qatar 7) and a SriLankan flight from Colombo. We paid with The Platinum Card from American Express to earn 5x points on airfare.

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Since I booked my flight through SriLankan and the updated seat map wasn’t available, I had to call Qatar Airways to select my seat. The best option at the time was 10A, a rear-facing window seat in the second business cabin.

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According to the seat map on ExpertFlyer, there were four seats blocked around me, with 9E and F, and 11E and F available to select. I was hopeful that these seats would all go out empty, giving me an opportunity to grab a quad all to myself. Fat chance on such a high-profile inaugural, but hey, it was worth a shot, especially considering at least nine seats were left to book the night before the flight!

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I decided to credit my flights to American AAdvantage, which should earn me 2,800 redeemable miles, 3,375 elite-qualifying miles and $562 in elite-qualifying dollars for the SriLankan flight; plus 4,060 redeemable miles, 4,875 elite-qualifying miles and $812 in elite-qualifying dollars for the Qatar flight. That’s a total of 6,860 redeemable miles, 8,250 elite-qualifying miles and $1,374 in elite-qualifying dollars. TPG also earned 9,150 Amex Membership Rewards points by paying with the Amex Platinum card.

Airport and Lounge

My flight from Colombo arrived about 20 minutes early, and with no line at transit security, I made it to the lounge about 15 minutes after that.

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When I had passed through the Al Mourjan Business Lounge en-route to the Maldives just last month, it was packed to the brim. This is one of the largest airport lounges in the world, but there had hardly been any open seating.

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However, when I visited just after 9:00pm this Friday night, the lounge felt like a ghost town — I counted fewer than a dozen guests between the two floors.

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I went to check out one of the nap pods, since they had been fully booked during my previous visit — it seemed like a decent option for getting some rest during my 9-hour layover.

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Fortunately, I had pre-booked a room at The Airport Hotel, though, located in the transit area just a few steps from the lounge. It was quiet, comfortable and entirely private.

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With tax, the room cost about $260 for my overnight stay, which certainly isn’t as cheap as I would have liked, but getting a good night’s sleep was a must given how much flying I was doing to get home.

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I asked the front desk for a 4:30am wakeup call ahead of my 6:35am departure, but that call never came. Luckily, I had set my phone alarm as a backup — at checkout, the agent insisted that the call had been completed, but there hadn’t been a ring in my room. There was no apology. If you choose to stay here (it’s your only transit option without going through immigration), be sure to set your own alarm.

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When I emerged just before 5:00am, the terminal was much busier than it had been the night before, though still a far cry from what I had experienced in May.

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The lounge was much busier as well, with close to 100 guests.

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It by no means felt crowded, though — there must have been more than 500 people there during my visit last month; with only 100 or so, there’s more than enough room to stretch out.

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The upstairs dining area was similarly free, though all of the window seats had been occupied.

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Qatar’s scaled back its a-la-carte offerings, unfortunately, but there are plenty of dishes available at the buffet.

Qatar 777 Qsuite Review

I decided to have a snack just after I had arrived the evening before. The red pepper hummus and halloumi (cheese) salad were both fantastic.

Qatar 777 Qsuite Review

I also requested some sushi (which is available to order). I received six thin pieces of maki — a mix of three veggie rolls and three with smoked salmon. The sushi tasted fine, but it was hardly incredible.

Qatar 777 Qsuite Review

There was also a large selection of desserts, but after a snack in the lounge and a full meal on the SriLankan flight, I was stuffed at that point.

Qatar 777 Qsuite Review

I found the breakfast selections to be a bit less appetizing, but I tend to prefer lunch and dinner items to yogurt and fresh fruit.

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I didn’t leave myself with much time in the morning, so I left the lounge shortly after arriving and made my way to the gate to check out the pre-departure festivities.

When I arrived, my first instinct was that I had accidentally gone to the gate for the London flight departing an hour later — there was absolutely no acknowledgment of this being the first Qsuite flight. I was also a bit concerned that the aircraft had been held up at the Paris Air Show, and we’d end up with the old 777-300ER configuration today.

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However, when I asked a gate agent, she confirmed that yes, our flight would be operated by A7-BED and would have Qsuite onboard. Thank goodness!

Business Class Cabin

There are a total of 42 business-class seats on this plane — 24 in the forward cabin (pictured below) and 18 in the smaller rear cabin.

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One thing that’s unique to Qsuite is the “quad” arrangement below — paired rear and forward-facing center seats can be connected by sliding the in-flight entertainment displays to the side, creating a suite of sorts for families or colleagues traveling together.

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Since we were preparing for a flight, the configuration at Doha (above) was quite a bit different than what the airline had arranged at the Paris Air Show (below).

The roses had certainly been a nice touch, but they were nowhere to be seen on the actual flight.

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The lavatories were unchanged, however — I had my pick of two just in front of our rear cabin, and there was never a wait.

Since I already shared several posts detailing the cabin, I’ll direct you there for a closer look. To see more of the product in general, check out First Look: Qatar Airways Qsuite Business Class. Meanwhile, if you’re interesting in the business-class cabin as a whole (and a bit of economy as well), Touring Economy and Qsuite Business Class on Qatar Airways’ 777-300ER is where you’ll want to be.

The Seat

While a few seats opened up closer to departure, both cabins were almost entirely full when I had booked, leaving me with my choice of just two seats: 10A, a rear-facing window-side seat, and 11B, closer to the aisle and just behind it. Given that the window-side seat would be more appealing to solo travelers in general, that’s the one I picked. I also wanted to experience a rare rear-facing seat (there wasn’t any major difference to report, besides the fact that loose items fall backwards upon takeoff rather than to the front).

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It’s not often that I have enough time (or privacy) to capture an on-camera tour of a business-class seat, but given that I was on hand for the Qsuite launch last week at the Paris Air Show, there was an opportunity to do just that.

So, before you scroll down to see the photos, you’ll want to check out this video tour of a Qsuite business-class seat:

As you may have noticed in the video, each Qsuite offers an all-in-one control and power “center,” seen below. I’m quite a fan of the design overall — the controls are well-placed and intuitive. My only complaint is that I ended up knocking my laptop charger out of the outlet as I came and went from the suite, since it was positioned at the corner. Hardly a deal-breaker, though.

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In addition to the electronics shelf and the table above, there’s a storage compartment under the larger armrest. A bottle of water and noise-canceling headphones were waiting for me under the lid.

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There’s also a decent-size footwell — I didn’t feel super cramped even with the seat in bed mode, as would be the case on Singapore’s A350, for example.

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Each window seat has TWO air vents (woohoo!) and a fancy overhead light. I should note that the cabin did get a bit warm during the flight, but the (super-powerful) air vents kept me comfortable.

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Of course, the highlight of this product is the sliding door — you can see it in operation here. There’s still plenty of privacy even when the door is open, but I decided to keep mine shut for most of the flight.

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There’s a second safety information card that deals with emergency removal of the suite door — I found it especially easy to slide open and closed, though.

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My flight attendant opened and closed the door to come check on me often (without a knock).

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It’s easy to request some privacy, though — simply hit the “DND” button on the control panel and you shouldn’t be disturbed at all during the flight.

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As I mentioned earlier, several of the seats around me hadn’t been booked as of the night before — that was still the case after boarding was complete, so I asked a flight attendant to prepare the suite across the aisle as a bed (I’ve done that often in first class, but never in business class before). She was happy to oblige, and installed a mattress cover and pillow at seat 10D.

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I found the bed to be quite comfy — I managed several hours of sleep (even though I wasn’t exceptionally tired), and even slept through the alarm I had set. The suite door and center partition made the suite feel quite private.

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By comparison, here’s a look at the same suite with the doors, center panel and one of the “quad” dividers open — still a fair amount of privacy, but it shouldn’t be too difficult to chat with a companion.

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Amenities

Business-class passengers receive a hard-cover kit with Castello Monte Vibiano amenities, along with an eye mask, ear plugs and socks (not pictured). Toothbrushes and razors are available in the lavatories.

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You also get two pillows — one large and one small — plus a super-comfortable blanket (I was tempted to take mine home, but I left it on the plane). I was also expecting pajamas, but unfortunately those hadn’t been boarded. With that and the complete lack of acknowledgement at the airport and gate, I have to say that I’m a bit surprised by how little thought the airline seemed to put into this inaugural.

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I found noise-canceling headphones in one of the seat compartments. They’re decent, but not on par with higher-end Bose headsets, for example.

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A flight attendant also passed out Fast Track immigration cards for Heathrow. I didn’t need mine since I was connecting, but it certainly would have come in handy given the outrageous immigration lines I encountered.

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Aside from the pajamas, there was one must-have amenity that Qatar neglected to install onboard — in-flight Wi-Fi. Now, the Wi-Fi that the airline does offer on other planes is hardly fast, but at least it’s possible to check email, chat with colleagues, etc. Not having Wi-Fi available on the first aircraft to offer Qsuite was a major oversight in my opinion. I hope it arrives soon.

In-Flight Entertainment

Qatar’s entertainment system was already pretty fantastic, but Qsuite really kicks things up a notch. Nobody I’ve asked seems to know for sure, but I’m going to estimate that the new display measures roughly 20 inches — it seemed a bit smaller than what JAL offers on the 777 and it was certainly nowhere near as large as the 32-inch screen Asiana has in first class. But I found it to be a perfect size given the distance from the seat.

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The main display is touch-enabled, but you can also select content with the touchscreen remote.

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In case there was any question that I was the first person to use this Qsuite, there was still a plastic protective cover on the remote…

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There were loads of movies available, ranging from classics to new releases.

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The content was high-resolution as well — no VHS-quality, here.

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As with most recent systems, you can use a position slider to skip around — perfect for picking up where you left off on a previous flight.

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You can also watch the moving map in a picture-in-picture window, which you can move around the screen.

Qatar 777 Qsuite Review

Or, you can view it full-screen. One qualm here, however — the moving map was hardly up-to-date; it was low-resolution and simply played in a loop, with no viewing options to select.

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You can also choose from TV shows and other content, including background on Qatar Airways’ history, network and fleet.

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Selecting “Our Vision” brought me to a headshot of Akbar Al Baker, the CEO. There’s not much here, overall, but if you fly enough to have already exhausted the supply of movies and TV shows, you might find yourself digging through the airline section.

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Though there are more interesting ways to stay entertained…

Food and Beverage

First of all, check out this menu — how cool is that! Qsuite passengers get a specially designed menu and holder. For my pre-departure beverage, I opted for the Piper Heidsieck Rose Sauvage Champagne (about $60 a bottle on the ground). Qatar also serves Billecart-Salmon Brut (about $40 a bottle).

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Other wine options included:

  • J. Moreau & Fils Chablis Premier Cru 2015 ($40)
  • Villa Maria Cellar Selection Sauvignon Blanc 2015 ($18)
  • Lavau Côtes du Rhône 2015 ($11)
  • Chateau Monbousquet, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2012 ($39)
  • D’Arenberg Stump Jump Shiraz 2012 ($12)
  • Altano Douro Reserva 2013 ($11)
  • Lamothe Guignard Sauternes 2009 ($30)
  • Gran Cruz Porto 1992 ($36)

You can also choose from various beers (Corona, Peroni and Heineken) and liquors (Belvedere vodka, Glenfiddich 15, Baileys and much more).

Since it was around 7 in the morning at that point, I went with a nice date and cinnamon smoothie.

Qatar 777 Qsuite Review

Qatar offers an a-la-carte menu — you can order anything you’d like at any time during the flight.

I started with the seasonal fresh fruit, which was served with a bread basket.

Qatar 777 Qsuite Review

The fruit was indeed very fresh, and the portion was just right.

Qatar 777 Qsuite Review

Next, I had the traditional Arabic breakfast, which consisted of feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, olives, foul bil tahina and pita bread. Everything was fresh and delicious, though I’m almost certain the “feta” cheese was actually sliced cream cheese. It still tasted great spread on the pita, though.

Qatar 777 Qsuite Review

After sleeping for a bit, I ordered an Old Fashioned and a glass of sparkling water, which was served with mixed nuts.

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I was feeling a (tiny) bit hungry after the drink, so I asked to sample some of the snack items — from left to right I had a raspberry macaron, cucumber raita, rocket and asparagus wrapped in smoked salmon, a feta and watermelon skewer (still cream cheese, I think!), a chicken satay skewer and a lamb kofta. Everything tasted great.

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Then, before landing, I ordered the smoked chicken breast salad, which was served with blue cheese, pickled apple and walnuts. Yum!

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Overall Impression

There’s always some risk that something (or several things) will go wrong on an inaugural flight. In this case, the crew seemed quite familiar with the product — where to find things in the suite, how to operate the controls, etc. — so it’s clear that Qatar put in the time to properly train its flight attendants ahead of this first departure. I had really been hoping for some festivities to celebrate the occasion, though.

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Overall, I really love Qsuite, and until something better comes along, I have no doubt that this is the best business class in the industry. I look forward to flying it with a companion at some point so we can try out the double bed!

I really can’t overstate the need for Wi-Fi, though — not offering it on the airline’s new flagship plane is tremendously disappointing, and Qatar Airways needs to make this an absolute top priority over the next few months. I can’t imagine flying Qsuite (or Qatar Airways in general) from New York to Doha without having Wi-Fi available, and I doubt business travelers could justify choosing a superior product over in-flight connectivity, either.

For more on Qatar’s Qsuite, see:

Have you booked a flight in Qatar Qsuite business class?

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