Qatar Airways’ Business Class experience during the pandemic

Qsuite or not, Qatar Airways has given me the best Business class experiences in recent years and I was excited to find out how it has changed in the global pandemic that we are in.


The flights/seats

I flew from Dubai to Bangkok with a 3-hour transit in Doha under Thailand’s Visa Exemption Scheme. For these flights, I’d used 52,250 Qmiles (transferred from Citibank) and paid only $69 in taxes.

It was my first points/miles transfer from Citibank to Qatar Airways and it took less than 2 calendar days (initiated on a Saturday) to appear in my Privilege Club account.

Reminder: Qatar Airways made major changes to their Frequent Flyer Program just a few months ago which increased my valuation of Citibank miles/points.

Flight 1 (Dubai to Doha on Boeing 787-8)

This QR1019 flight was on a Boeing 787-8 with reverse-herringbone Business Class seats. Click here to read my full review on this seat last year. The duration of this flight was about 45 minutes.

Flight 2 (Doha to Bangkok on Boeing 777-300ER)

This QR836 flight was on a Boeing 777-300ER with Qsuite Business Class seats installed. Click here to read my full review on this seat last year. The duration of this flight was about 5 hours and 45 minutes.


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Check-in experience

As shared in my guide to travel to Thailand, the check-in experience was less than ideal. None of the staff knew about the Visa Exemption Scheme in Thailand and were about to deny me from getting on that plane. It was eventually sorted out after a 10-minutes’ wait and a few overseas phone calls from the manager on duty.


Amenities

Flight 1 (DXB – DOH)

As I was in the inaugural flight from Dubai to Doha, I received a sweet pastry that the cabin crew called a ‘cupcake’. With a surprise filling, it tasted way better than it looked!

Other than this ‘cupcake’, there wasn’t an amenity kit as the flight was under 4 hours. However, like most other airlines, there was a safety kit at my seat containing a mask, hand sanitisers and gloves.

Flight 2 (DOH – BKK)

I received an amenity kit for this flight and also a safety kit like the previous one. The content of the amenity kit was exactly the same as what it was pre-pandemic.


Al Maha Meet & Greet service

What is Al Maha Meet & Greet service?

Qatar Airways Gold and Platinum members get complimentary Al Maha Meet and Greet service to assist with transfer, departure or arrival at Doha’s Hamad International Airport. The usual price for this service is QAR 300 ($110). I decided to check out this service as I got my Qatar Airways Privilege Club Gold status with a status match from Alaska Gold last year.

To book this service, I forwarded my booking reservation to Al Maha’s email address and received a confirmation within an hour.

An Al Maha staff met me at the bottom of the plane’s airstairs (with a name board) when I arrived in Doha. She then walked me to the premium transfer bus that took us to the terminal.

Upon reaching the terminal, we walked to the baggage screening area and then to Al Mourjan Business Lounge. About an hour before my flight, another staff came to walk me from the lounge to the gate.

Aside from the express baggage screening which can be useful when there are long lines in non-pandemic lines, I did not see any value in this service and found it pointless. Especially when she did not wait for me to get an Instagram video of the big yellow bear at the airport!


Lounge experience

Dubai

Qatar Airways Business Class passengers had access to The Gallery Lounge in Terminal 3. However, if you have complimentary access to Priority Pass lounges from credit cards like Citibank Premiermiles and do not mind a 20 minutes walk to the gate, you’d prefer Ahlan Lounge.

Doha

Qatar Airways Business Class passengers have access to Al Mourjan Business Lounge while transiting in Doha. Since last April, Qatar Airways have consolidated its premium lounges in Doha, oneworld Business Lounge and Al Safwa Lounge, to Al Mourjan Business Lounge.

Al Mourjan Business Lounge now offers à la carte dining instead of buffet, which is always great! The menu is very small but food quality was better than that of the pre-pandemic buffet. There was also a sushi bar at the bar.


In-flight service

There were noticeably less guest interactions during both my flights aside from boarding, meal and turn-down service.

We were never told to have our masks on at all times but we had them on anyway, except during meals and sleep.


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In-flight dining

Flight 1 (DXB – DOH)

I wasn’t expecting hot food to be served on this 45-mins flight, pandemic or not. The chicken shawarma was delicious. Was very impressed by the outstanding efforts of the cabin crew to make it happen.

Flight 2 (DOH – BKK)

As my flight departed about 2 hours past midnight, Passengers were only offered a light meal and breakfast. Meals are still offered on demand!

I had the braised oxtail with cashew nut sauce and it was so delicious! Breakfast was just okay. Side dishes came with plastic covers/wrappers.

Also, I noticed that there were no bread baskets and fake candle. Cutlery were given all at once, wrapped in napkin, similar to how Singapore Airlines did it pre-pandemic.


Bottom line

The soft product hardly changed since my last flight with Qatar Airways 11 months ago. The airline’s Business Class experience is still world-class in difficult times like these and worth every mile that I’ve spent.


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