Although I’ve always wanted to try Qatar Airways A380 in first class (naturally!), it’s never been a high priority since it’s clearly an inferior product when compared to the full private suite offerings from their competitors. Did I change my opinion about the seat and lack of privacy? Yes and no…let’s jump in!
My trip started after a 24h layover in Doha, which could have been on Qatar Airways tab! If only I hadn’t already booked a stay at the Shangri la Doha before they renewed their free stopover program, in which you can get a free hotel stay on qualifying tickets. I flew in from Nice (NCE) on Qatar Airways beautiful B787 business class cabin. As always, my expectations for first class were high!
Qatar Airways A380 First Class Routes
Qatar Airways only has first class on its A380 fleet and those can be found on the following routes to and from Doha:
How to book Qatar Airways First Class With Points
There are a few ways you can redeem your points to fly Qatar Airways in first class. The most notable to Australian travellers are Qantas Frequent Flyer, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and American Airlines AAdvantage.
From Perth Melbourne or Sydney, a one-way redemption to London or Paris in first class will set you back only 135,000 Asia Miles whereas Qantas will charge you 168,000 for the same ticket from Perth or 192,000 when booked from Sydney or Melbourne.
American Airlines AAdvantage comes in at only 115,000 one way from any of the three cities in Australia.
First Class Check-in
The first class experience starts as soon as you pull up to the airport, the first and business class check-in is the first stop.
Business and first-class passengers enjoy a completely private checking area, separated from the rest of the airport, similar to what Singapore Airlines has going on at Changi.
Since I already had my boarding pass, I went straight through to the security checkpoint and immigration which was deserted (of fellow passengers) due to Ramadan I assumed.
After the security you will end up in the central duty-free area, and only a short stroll away from the elevators which take you up to what is possibly the most amazing first class lounge…ever.
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge
I’m only going to touch on my lounge experience briefly here as it deserves a review by itself (check out my Al Safwa First Class Lounge Review here).
The lounge is an architectural masterpiece and feels more like a museum than an airport lounge!
As it turned out, I was the only passenger in the whole place with approximately 20+ staff to cater to my every need, perfect!
I enjoyed some dinner before retreating to the hotel like bedrooms which you can have free of charge for up to 6 hours.
Boarding Qatar Airways A380 In First
I had been monitoring the Expert Flyer seat map for some time and was hoping to be the only passenger in first class. Unfortunately for me, Qatar seems to be pretty generous when it comes to allowing business class passengers to upgrade with points, so there were three passengers in the first class cabin when I boarded. I knew they were all upgraded since Qatar doesn’t allow upgraded business class passengers with a first class seat into the Al Safwa First class lounge (ouch!).
Even though it was Ramadan, I was still offered champagne on the ground in Doha as a welcome beverage which was great to see. I spent the whole boarding process taking pictures and probably annoying those three other first-class passengers.
Qatar Airways First Class Bathrooms
Qatar Airways has two large bathrooms at the front of the first class cabins separated by a small snack bar where guests can help themselves to a snack or a drink throughout the flight.
The lavatories are very spacious, but it’s unfortunate that Qatar didn’t feel the need to fit them with a shower suite like Emirates or Etihad.
On Board Wifi
Usually, Qatar Airways offers a measly 8MB of free data to all guests after which you have to pay to play. First class passengers receive a 100MB wifi voucher.
The Qatar First Class Seat
The Qatar Airways A380 first class cabin has a total of 8 very spacious but not so private seats spread over two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.
The cabin is very sleek and the attention to detail is exquisite. I really like the different textures and materials Qatar Airways uses in the seat design.
The whole feel is that of pure luxury. All seats are identical with the front row being closer to the lavatories and the back seats being closer to the galley.
Since all the other passengers were seated in the front row, I abandoned my pole position at 1A (used it as a storage area) and moved back one seat to 2A to enjoy more privacy.
The privacy screen on each seat is effective of blocking the direct line of sight, but you can still see the other passengers legs + dining table, so it does feel a bit “exposed”.
The seat itself is very comfortable and wide. Every aspect of the seat can be controlled via the remote so make sure the lumbar support is positioned down when in bed mode, or you might feel an uncomfortable bump.
Each seat has a fixed cocktail table which is perfect for resting your drink in between sips.
On the left-hand side of the seat, there’s a touchscreen entertainment controller and a bottle holder. Although the touchscreen controller is a novel idea, it’s mostly painful to use.
On the right-hand side is a dedicated panel to control your seat (both touchscreen and hardware buttons are available) and additional storage space where you will also find the noise cancelling headphones.
Bed mode is where the Qatar Airways A380 first class seat shines. Due to its lack of privacy you will also get excellent airflow so while other first-class suites tend to get a bit hot, the Qatar seat was perfect for sleeping.
It’s also generously wide so as a stomach sleeper I had one of the best possible naps one can have on a moving object.
Qatar Airways Amenity Kit
Qatar Airways now also stock a Bric’s kit in first class which is slightly larger compared to the business class one but contains the same products except for a leather luggage tag by Bric’s. The kit includes lip balm moisturiser and a facial mist by Monte Vibiano.
Qatar Airways A380 Onboard Bar
Qatar Airways has a full bar which is located behind the business class cabin on the upper deck and divides business class from economy class right behind it. It’s a very well designed space with plenty of seating and standing room for business and first class guests to hang out.
Once again the attention to detail and the understated luxury are as prevalent as we’ve seen in business and first class. Unfortunately, due to Ramadan, the bar wasn’t displaying any alcoholic beverages and what’s usually a beautiful display on the bar back shelf was replaced with tomato juice and water bottles.
A range of snacks were also served at the bar which looked very nice. I didn’t end up spending much time in the bar and decided to try some of the first class food.
Qatar Airways First Class Dining
After the excellent standard of the food served in business class, I was a little disappointed with the quality of the food on board my particular flight. I started off with the caviar which was nice but not quite as good as the caviar service I enjoyed onboard my Thai Airways first class flight a few days prior.
After the caviar, I was served an amuse-bouche which unfortunately wasn’t edible even though it looked appetising.
I enjoyed a fantastic Arabic meze on the business class flight so decided to compare it with the first class option. Unfortunately I can’t say it was better, in fact, I thought the business class option was much tastier.
For my entree, I enjoyed the lobster tail which was delicious but a little bit overcooked. I had ordered a steak as my main but considering it was close to 3 AM local time I decided to cancel the order and opt for sleep instead.
I usually don’t sleep well on an aircraft (even in first class!), but the Qatar bed is fantastic, very wide and comfortable. The pyjamas were also very nice, but I forgot Qatar Airways uses sizes which would make a fat person feel skinny, so my medium was more like a triple XL.
When I woke up, it was time for breakfast, so I settled on an espresso, some yoghurt and scrambled eggs.
All washed down by another glass of Krug since it was late afternoon in Australia. Overall the breakfast was a bit underwhelming as well.
The First Class Crew
On both my business and first class flights the crew were exceptional. They were professional, attentive and also managed to be personal without it appearing to be “fake”. I still rate Singapore Airlines crew as my favourite in the sky, but Qatar Airways are definitely up there with the best.
Qatar Airways A380 First Class Conclusion
Overall I did really enjoy the Qatar first-class experience, and if getting good sleep is part of your first class criteria, QR certainly delivers. Unfortunately, the food on my flight was underwhelming compared to the competition, but this could have been due to numerous factors and considering I really enjoyed the dining experience in business class I doubt it’s the case always.
It’s nice to see Qantas Frequent Flyers have another solid option to head to Europe in first class using their frequent flyer points. But the new Asia Miles award chart gives an even more attractive redemption rate especially to those over east!