The highly regarded Qatar Airways QSuite has been in operation since 2017, but it wasn't until recently that I got to experience what Qatar claims to be a first in business class.
While it might not be first class, it's a damn excellent business class product!
Booking Qatar Airways Qsuite
95% of my flights are booked using points/miles (not upgrades, outright redemptions), so this is one of the few times I forked out the cash for business class.
I managed to find an excellent deal in business class flying from CGK (Jakarta) to AMS (Amsterdam) via DOH (Doha). The total price you may ask? $2700 for a return ticket in business.
While the fantastic B787 operates the CGK to DOH route (I've reviewed the Qatar B787 business class seat here), the AMS route is now featuring the B777-300 with newly fitted Q Suites. In fact, I got to try out the high-density version flying to Europe and low density on the way back to Qatar.
The Qsuite Experience
I had one glass of champagne while boarding the Jakarta to Doha flight before clocking out for the night as it was a red-eye flight.
Waking up in Doha there was a 2h transfer time, so my only mission was to get a quick shower and change clothes before boarding the Amsterdam flight.
The mornings at the Al Mourjan Business Lounge are definitely busier than during the evening. A solid 30min wait for the showers meant I didn't get to check out the lounge until I flew back a week later (check out the Al Safwa First Class Lounge here).
At the boarding gate, it turned out our aircraft was parked at a remote stand. Business class passengers we were put aside and shuttled off in a separate bus.
The high-density Boeing 777-300ER fitted with the QSuite business class product has 24 individual business suites with direct aisle access and sliding doors. The low-density version however, has 42 business class seats.
The Qatar Airways QSuite
Right from the start, it's easy to see why so many people are raving about the QSuite. The cabin is beautiful, the Spanish and slate grey which are synonymous with the Qatar Airways brand are flawlessly executed in combination with faux marble and a light beige details.
You can see that unlike some airlines Qatar Airways hasn't skimped on quality or gone for "the budget version". It's all immaculate and luxurious; I'm a fan.
The seat itself is comfortable as well. It's wide but definitely not Singapore Airlines "wide". While some claim the cabin can feel a bit claustrophobic when the doors are closed, I personally didn't experience this and the level of privacy the doors (1.35m tall) add is impressive.
If you do feel a bit "confined" go for a backward facing seat; they are positioned directly next to the window which allows a bit of breathing room between yourself and the door.
If you think flying backwards is weird; it's not. In fact, you won't be able to tell once in the air, and during takeoff, you get an incredible view.
Which seats are facing backwards? You can easily see this on the seat map but as a general rule of thumb: B, D (middle seat), G (middle seat) and J are forward-facing while A, E (middle seat), F (middle seat) and K are positioned facing to the rear.
If you're after the double bed, go for seat numbers with E and F.
In terms of tech, there's a nicely sized monitor coming in at 21.5inches. Too bad it's not touch screen operated (makes it easy to pause movies).
There are also plenty of buttons and ports to connect and charge your devices, which is to be expected.
Qatar Airways QSuite Bed
In bed mode the armrest on both sides of the seat go down, adding some extra width to stretch out.
The seat clocks in at 2m so there's plenty of room; even the foot cubby hole is rather spacious when compared to other business class products. The crew can make your bed with a mattress pad and extra fluffy blankets.
There's one thing I don't like about the seat when in bed mode and that's the headrest.
If you're a back sleeper, it's fine, but for those that prefer a face-down position, it's pretty uncomfortable due to the height difference between the headrest and the rest of the seat.
Qatar Airways QSuite Double Bed
In the middle, it gets even better, with some of the seats turning into a double bed. Sure there's still a barrier where your feet go, but it's far less than the one you find onboard Etihad Airways in first class. Even when sharing with someone else it offers some much-needed space to stretch out.
Qatar Airways Quad Pod
Are you travelling in a party of 4? No problem, Qatar Airways has got you covered as well. When booking with four people at a time, the Quadpod is selectable as a seating preference. Essentially the partition between 2 pairs of seats facing each other can be lowered so you can interact and dine together.
Once the sliding doors are closed, and the partition is lowered, the QuadSuites feel incredibly spacious.
The 21.5-inch screen quality is very high, and a snappy operating system will help you select one of the 4,000 movies, TV series and documentaries to watch. I would have liked to see a touch screen, which makes pausing and selecting movies just a tad easier.
To control the system, there's a small touch screen remote which also comes with hardware buttons for easy of use. While it works well, it's just a bit fiddly.
Amenity Kit & Pyjamas
On the Qsuite flights, pyjamas by The White Company are on offer. Qatar Airways is now also sporting a new amenity kit design by Nappa Dori which feature different images of Qatar. It's nice, but I think many people would love for the the hard-case Bricks kits to come back.
Qatar Airways Service, food & drinks Doha to Amsterdam
On my flight from Doha to Amsterdam, the crew seemed flustered somehow, and it was apparent right from the start.
When asked if I wanted a hot or cold towel (I love this about Qatar Airways; the ability to chose!), even though I asked for a cold towel, a hot one was delivered.
A few minutes later the same crew member was back with a bottle of red wine even though I had ordered the non-alcoholic mint lemonade.
Foodservice was a mess as well, it appeared the crew (although friendly) were running around without a sense of direction. From the time of my breakfast order, it took about 30 minutes to get some of it delivered.
I had some pastries and muesli as a starter and the Arabic breakfast as a main. While everything was nice and presented well, when the Arabic breakfast arrived there was no bread with it (it's an essential part of it).
Assuming they would come back with the bread, I waited 10 minutes before calling over one of the crew asking if the bread was coming… 30 minutes later (I thought it would be fun to see how long it would take for them to notice) I was still waiting for the bread.
When another crew member noticed I hadn't touched the breakfast yet, she asked if everything was alright. After explaining I was waiting for the bread, she rushed back to the galley, and 2 minutes later bread was finally delivered.
A similar style of service continued throughout the flight with crew forgetting drinks etc. Considering it was a morning flight, I don't think I asked for much having had: 1 mint lemonade, 1 breakfast and 1 glass of champagne.
Qatar Airways Service, food & drinks Amsterdam to Doha
What a world of difference an airline crew can make! On the way back to Doha I struck gold with an all-star crew; granted there are much more staff on the low density 777 because of the increased number of business class seats, but all of them were organised, happy to be there and proactive.
The cabin manager introduced herself and told me that later on in the flight they would set up the double bed for me (they noticed me taking a million pictures), so I could get some nice shots.
After an excellent lunch (I opted for the Signature Arabic mezze, beef filet and selection of cheese) which was the complete polar opposite of my previous experience, the crew made up the double bed for me, complete with champagne glasses on display and nicely presented pyjamas from The White Company.
The Amsterdam to Doha flight was one of my favourite business class experiences to date, and 90% of that was due to the excellent crew.
Saying that, this is the main reason I prefer Singapore Airlines because they never seem to have an "off-day", or at least they don't show it.
Qatar QSuite Conclusion
Is it just as good as first class? No.
For me, first-class is all about the wining/dining and next level service while being exclusive. Even though the Qatar QSuite is impressive, there's a vast difference between 42 seats and 4 to 12 in first class for example.
As a hard product, I would rate it as my favourite seat. There's just nothing like it in terms of comfort and privacy. In many ways, it sure is a first in business.