Date: February 8, 2018
Flight No.: QR835
Route: Hanoi Noi Bai to Doha Hamad International (via Bangkok Suvarnabhumi)
Airline: Qatar Airways
Type: Boeing 777-300ER
After a couple of flights in Cathay’s economy class, it was time for the main part of the trip – a roundtrip from Hanoi to New York via Bangkok and Doha onboard Qatar Airways’ business class. While Qatar Airways nowadays also operates direct flights between Hanoi and Doha, I took the flight that makes a quick stop in Bangkok.
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
Checking-in for and Boarding Qatar Airways Flight 835 from Hanoi to Doha
I left the hotel around 1PM on the day of departure with the hope of being able to do some spotting before catching my flight. The driver dropped me off at Noi Bai airport’s Terminal 2 which is the airport’s sole terminal used for international flights
The terminal was rather small given the limited traffic the airport serves, but it was nice and airy. And, it reminded me of Tokyo Haneda’s international terminal a bit.
As I still had about one hour until check-in would open, I tried to find some windows through which I could watch aircraft. After a bit of walking around, I found wall-to-ceiling windows overlooking the apron, taxiways and runways in the restaurant area one floor above departures.
I stayed there for about an hour and then went back down to check-in for my flight. I was second in the business class line, and after about 10 minutes I had my boarding passes. After leaving the desk, the staff run after me to hand me a lounge invitation that she forgot to give me during the check-in.
Since I was flying in business class, I could go through the empty priority lane. However, that only applied to the boarding pass check – and so, I was stuck waiting at immigration and security check for about 20 minutes. As such, the priority lane was not exactly useful.
Airside, I did a bit more spotting and visited the ACV Business Lounge that Qatar Airways and several other airlines use.
I left the lounge around 4:20PM, and went to the flight’s departure gate, gate 32, which was just a short walk away. I photographed a couple more movements from there, and then, shortly after half-past-four, I was the first one to board the flight.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER Old Business Class Cabin
While my next flight – to New York – was operated by a 777-300ER featuring Qatar Airways’ latest QSuites business class, the flight from Hanoi to Doha featured the airline’s old business class with full-flat seats arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration.
The aircraft featured 42 seats split across two business class cabins. The first one – between door 1 and 2 – had four rows of seats, while the one behind door 2 only had three rows.
I was seated in 7E, an aisle seat in the middle pair of the last row. Before looking at the various features of the seat, I want to note that while the seat lacked privacy (and the window seats lacked direct aisle access), it offered an incredible amount of legroom.
As for the seat itself, at the back of the seat in front of me was the IFE monitor, and under it, there was a fairly large storage compartment. To the side of the storage compartment, there was a magazine rack and a shoe compartment.
The console between each pair of seats featured two small counters that covered a storage area with water bottles in them. And, the top of the console also featured a larger counter that was shared by both seats in each pair.
Besides the above, the console also housed the tray table.
On the inner side of the console, there was a small storage compartment where a noise-cancelling headset could be found upon boarding. Later on during the flight, it proved useful for storing my pocket camera as well as cellphone.
A USB port and the headset port were located in the compartment. And, the IFE controller was located inside an armrest above the compartment. A universal power outlet could be found on the front side of the console.
Finally, the seat controls were located in the armrest facing the aisle. The unfortunate thing about them was that, since they were on top of the armrest, the buttons were quite easy to mistakenly press with elbow.
Separately from the set of controls in the armrest, there were also two preset buttons (and a reading light) on the panel behind the seat.
Departing Hanoi Onboard a Qatar Airways 777-300ER
As soon as I settled in my seat, one of the cabin crew members came to introduce himself, and to ask if I wanted a drink and a hot or cold towel. A couple of minutes later, he brought me the Coke and hot towel that I asked for, as well as the menus for the short hop to Bangkok.
While Qatar Airways seems to offer full dine-on-demand service even on short hops within the Middle East, that was not the case with the 5th freedom flight from Hanoi to Bangkok. Still, the full drink menu was available.
A short while later, boarding was completed, and the inflight service director came to introduce himself. While the cabin became full before departing from Bangkok later on, there were only three or four passengers in business class on the first leg of the trip.
Shortly before 5PM, one of the cabin crew members came to take my meal order, and so I ordered the hot savoury pastries and a selection of desserts. And, I asked for Earl Grey tea to go with the dessert.
Around the same time, the Captain welcomed us onboard through the PA and mentioned that the flight to Bangkok would take 1 hour and 32 minutes. Right after that, prayer and safety videos were played.
The aircraft doors were closed at 5:06PM, and we were pushed back at 5:12PM – a bit more than ten minutes ahead of schedule.
After a bit of taxiing, we reached our departure runway from which we took off at 5:23PM.
QR835 from Hanoi to Bangkok: Business Class Service
Just four minutes after take-off, the cabin crew closed the curtains and partition separating business from economy class and started preparing for service.
About ten minutes later, my table was set and the hot Asian-style “pastries” were brought. The plate included a spring roll, a chicken wrapped in a leaf, and a piece of salmon. While the portion was tiny, the food itself was tasty – especially so since I love sweet chili sauce.
One thing that I realized once eating was that with the tray table out, it was impossible to leave the seat.
Anyways, soon after I finished the course, the plate was cleared. And, right after that, the tea and dessert were brought. The dessert plate consisted of (I believe) a walnut cake, a macaron, and a chocolate cake.
Even by the time I finished the meal which was about 30 minutes after take-off, the seatbelt signs were still on. And so, I watched Back – a British TV series that I started watching onboard my Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong.
The seatbelt signs were finally switched off at 6:10PM, at which time I went to take some wing shots from the empty window seats.
I also visited one of the restrooms briefly. And, while no amenity kits were distributed on the short flight, the restrooms were well-stocked with dental and shaving kits.
Landing and A (Not So) Quick Stop at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
Less than five minutes after I got back to my seat, the Captain announced that we were expecting to arrive in Bangkok at 6:55PM and to commence descent in 12 minutes.
And, sure enough, the seatbelt signs were switched back on at 6:21PM and soon after that, we started descending. During descent, I watched Young Sheldon – another TV series that I started watching onboard the flight to Hong Kong.
At 6:59PM, the cabin crew were asked to sit down for landing and three minute later, we landed at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport. Another seven minutes later, at 7:09PM, we parked at our gate and the “transit process” begun.
Passengers utilizing just the fifth freedom flight between Hanoi and Bangkok disembarked, the ground crew got onboard to do some quick cleaning and to distribute comforters.
During the layover, the cockpit and cabin crews were replaced by new ones as well.
Departing Bangkok Onboard Qatar Airways’ Business Class
Shortly after 7:30PM, the new cabin crew member that would be taking care of my aisle came to introduce herself and to offer me a pre-flight drink. Once again, I asked for a glass of Coke.
She brought the drink within a couple of minutes, and then she came back with an amenity kit and a set of pyjamas.
Finally, she brought me the menu for the flight. While the drink menu stayed the same as on the short flight, the dine-on-demand meal menu was, naturally, much more extensive that the menu on the flight to Bangkok.
At 7:50PM, passengers originating in Bangkok started boarding, and so, it got quite busy in the cabin.
The boarding took about forty minutes, and in the meantime, the cabin crew came around the cabin offering newspapers. Separately, the Captain welcomed the new passengers onboard and mentioned that the flight time to Doha would be 7 hours and 30 minutes – and that we would be first cruising at FL300 before climbing to FL340.
Once boarding was finished, the cabin crew closed the aircraft’s doors, and we were pushed back at 8:43PM. After a slightly long taxi, we reached the runway end, and took off at 9:01PM.
QR835 from Bangkok to Doha: Business Class Service
This time around, the seatbelt signs were switched off less than ten minutes after take-off. And, not long after they were switched off, the crew went around the cabin taking meal orders.
As Qatar Airways offers dine-on-demand on the flight, I decided to have an appetizer (an Arabic mezze) and a fruit plate first, and have the main – roasted duck – before landing.
About ten minutes after placing my order, just as we entered into a turbulent area, warm nuts and a glass of mango juice were served.
After that, however, the service stopped for more than thirty minutes due to the turbulence. And it wasn’t until 10:30PM that the crew came back into the cabin and started serving the dinner.
First, I was brought an amuse-bouche and a selection of breads. I was also offered a choice of olive oils from which I chose a chili one. Not long after that, Evian still and San Pelegrino sparkling waters were offered, and I went with the latter.
Then, the Arabic mezze was brought.
Both the Arabic bread served with the mezze, as well as the bread from the the bread basket were excellent. However, parts of the mezze including the hummus tasted a bit bland.
Finally, once I was done with the mezze, the fruit plate containing a piece of apple, dragon fruit, melon, etc., was brought.
Sleeping in Qatar Airways’ Old Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat
After I finished the meal around half past seven Doha time, I decided to catch some sleep. Around the time I turned my seat into its bed position, we were just off the coast of India.
While the console provided enough separation from the other seat in the pair, the seat was quite exposed to the aisle. At the same time, however, it was very comfortable to sleep on. Since it was a fairly short flight, no mattress pad was provided. And, while the comforter was comfortable, the pillow could have been a bit larger.
All in all, I managed to sleep for about four hours.
Duck for Midnight Breakfast
I would have slept for longer, but I was woken up by the cabin crew member asking me if I wanted to have the duck that I ordered after take-off. She said that we would be commencing descent in about ten minutes, and that she had heated it up for me and so it was ready to be served.
What a nice touch!
The duck was served not long after, and it was delicious. However, as I wasn’t too hungry and the portion was fairly large, I only ate about half of the dish.
Separately from the above, a box of Godiva chocolates had been placed on the console while I was sleeping.
Landing at Doha Hamad International Airport
Not long after my table was cleared, the seatbelt signs were switched back on, and we started descending soon after.
At 12:14AM, the cabin crew was asked to sit down for landing, and before doing so, the flight attendant that was serving my aisle came to ask if everything was up to my expectations during the flight.
We landed at Doha Hamad International Airport at 12:37AM, and at 12:46AM – about thirty minutes behind schedule – we parked at our arrival gate.
Soon after, disembarking started, and the business class passengers were overtaken by a group of passengers trying to make their connection.
Needless to say, I hope they made it to their flight!
Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class Hanoi – Bangkok – Doha Summary
Even though this flight wasn’t the “main event” of my Qatar Airways business class experience, it was still highly enjoyable. The crew was friendly, the meals were tasty, and – in spite of my limited choices – the drink menu was extensive.
Also, the old generation seat was surprisingly comfortable. And, while the privacy side of the seat left a bit to be desired, the unrestricted leg space that cannot be found in the more modern business class seat more made up for that.
At the same time, if I was taking the flight just as a fifth freedom route from Hanoi to Bangkok, I would have left disappointed by the meal.