Review: Qatar Airways QR 944 Business Class Doha to Singapore

Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
Seat version: Lie-flat in 1-2-1 configuration (non-Qsuite)
Seat number: 5K
Frequent Flyer Program: Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
Cost: 70,000 miles + $383 for AMS-DOH and DOH-SIN

So this is how it feels like to book an 8-hours Qsuite flight and being told at the gate that I will not be flying in a Qsuite.

Aircrafts with this seat

Qatar Airways features this seat on some Airbus A350-900, all A380 and all Boeing 787-8.

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Airplane swaps

I have mentioned in my review on Qatar Airways Qsuite about how it is very unfortunate that Qatar Airways is infamous for airplane swaps. These swaps are not uncommon in the airline industry as they adjust to day-to-day operational demands. However, Qatar Airways airplane swaps are frequent. Booking a Qsuite route and selecting a Qsuite seat does not guarantee you a Qsuite. You may end up in a Business Class seat like this one if you are not that unlucky. Else, it will be in an old seat with a 2-2-2 cabin configuration.

I was at the losing end of an airplane swap for this flight and I can tell you that it was not a good feeling to be told at the gate that I would not be flying in a Qsuite. What sucked even more was that there was absolutely nothing I could do. I could not fly on a later timing, I could not get a refund, I could not file a complaint and get compensated, I could not make a travel insurance claim. All I could do was to suck it up and make the most of the situation. Don’t get me wrong, Qatar’s other Business Class seat is not horrible by any means. But if you have flown in a Qsuite, it’s hard to accept anything less when you are paying the same amount of miles or cash.

Airport lounge

Flying Business Class on Qatar Airways gives you access to the massive Al Mourjan Business Lounge in Doha Hamad International Airport. Note that it’s best to arrive in the quiet hours of 0200 – 0500 hours.

Al Mourjan Business Lounge
Al Mourjan Business Lounge

Pre-flight and seat features

In line with flying in any Qatar Airways Business Class, the soft product is consistently great. I was asked if I wanted a hot or cold towel after the cabin crew introduced himself. Shortly after, I was given the food and beverages menu. Flying Qatar Airways Business Class gives you the benefit of dining anytime you want. There was plenty of time for me to have a look and place my order (to be served at my preferred time) before take-off. I requested for Braised Australian lamb belly for lunch.

This seat can be transformed into a bed with the cabin crew’s assistance. The seat controls, and necessary power and USB sockets are all within reach. I usually drink at least a bottle of water every couple of hours when I am not sleeping. For this reason, I especially liked the bottle holder by the window.

Seat 6K
Seat 6K
Seat 5K
Seat 5K
Seat 5F
Seat 5F
Lallier Grande Reserve Champagne and hot towel before take-off
Lallier Grande Reserve Champagne and hot towel before take-off
Bric’s amenity kit
Bric’s amenity kit
Bric’s amenity kit’s contents
Bric’s amenity kit’s contents
Food and beverages menu
Food and beverages menu
Alcoholic menu 1 (Click to enlarge)
Alcoholic menu 1 (Click to enlarge)
Alcoholic menu 2 (Click to enlarge)
Alcoholic menu 2 (Click to enlarge)
Alcoholic menu 3 (Click to enlarge)
Alcoholic menu 3 (Click to enlarge)
Headphones compartment beside the seat
Headphones compartment beside the seat
Universal power socket and USB port
Universal power socket and USB port

The cabin

The Business Class cabin is “bright and airy”. As anti-social as it sounds, that is not what I look for in a premium cabin. Standing up from my seat, I could almost see what everyone was doing and watching on their screens. There is no privacy in these seats. Reverse-herringbone seats on airlines like Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific has a little “wall” so that the person next to you cannot see your face. With this one, you’ll be out in the wild!

There is a mini bar in the Business Class cabin if you would like to socialize with fellow passengers. There was no one there throughout my whole flight though.

Front Business Class cabin
Front Business Class cabin
Rear Business Class cabin
Rear Business Class cabin
Mini bar in between two Business Class Cabins
Mini bar in between two Business Class Cabins

Lunch

Dining in Qatar Airways Business Class is exceptional, as always.

Scallop
Scallop
Soup of the day
Soup of the day
Pan fried prawns with pesto
Pan fried prawns with pesto
Braised Australian lamb belly
Braised Australian lamb belly
View from the aisle
View from the aisle
Warm dulce de leche lava cake
Warm dulce de leche lava cake
Spring onion panini shortly before landing
Spring onion panini shortly before landing
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Service

Consistent awesomeness, Qsuite or not. I was served by the same cabin crew most of the time. Dine-on-demand is always nice to have. Food was served course-by-course, as expected and cutlery was provided together with each course. Most airlines just give you a set of cutlery containing multiple knives, forks, spoons in your napkin as they set up your table for dining. Extra bit of effort like this really makes Qatar Airways stand out from other 5-star airlines like Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

Restroom

The restroom is about the same size as those in Economy Class. You just get a little more amenities in Business Class.

Rituals toiletries
Rituals toiletries
Shaving kits and toothbrushes by the sink
Shaving kits and toothbrushes by the sink

Virtual Reality experience

Qatar Airways is having a pilot trial of Inflight VR only for flights to/from London and Singapore. I had the chance to play with it for couple of hours. It is essentially an In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system in Virtual Reality (VR) where you navigate, watch movies and enjoy unique experiences through a pair of VR goggles.

Click here for my honest review on this trial product.

EQZixAOWsAE7rNZ.jpg

Conclusion

The soft product (service, food and drinks) were world class. The hard product (seat) was also very comfortable. However, the lack of privacy makes this seat nowhere near the top Business Class seats in the world right now. Flying in this seat made me appreciate the Qsuite and most other Business Class seats by other airlines even more. It’s a pity that you’ll have to use your hard-earned miles/points to play seat roulette for seats that would give you entirely different experiences.

Ratings (vs other Business Class seats)

Seat: 6/10
Dining: 10/10
Privacy: 4/10
Service: 10/10
Cleanliness: 10/10

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