Date: February 13, 2018
Flight No.: QR704
Route: New York John F. Kennedy to Doha Hamad International
Airline: Qatar Airways
Type: Airbus A350-900
My ride to Doha was Qatar Airways’ A350-900 – an aircraft that I tried before in economy class between Doha and Frankfurt. This time, I was flying in the front of the plane, in the airline’s excellent business class.
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 the Qatar Airways Flight from NY to Doha
I left my hotel, Courtyard Downtown Manhattan, around 5:30AM to catch the “A-train” to Howard Beach.
Interestingly, the two daily Qatar Airways’ flights to New York operate from separate terminal. And so, while my QSuites flight arrived at terminal 8, my return flight was departing from terminal 7 – and so, I got off the Airtrain there shortly before 7AM.
Since there was just one group in front of me at the business class check-in desk, I had boarding passes for my flights to Doha and then on to Hanoi in no time.
With those in my hands, I went through the security where I had to take out all electronics including camera lenses. Once airside, I went to the British Airways Galleries Club Lounge where I stayed until 8:45AM since the flight was scheduled to board at 9AM.
As I got to gate 9, boarding lines were already starting to form. However, since there were no signs or anything else to tell people where to stand, it was quite a mess.
Then, once the boarding started, we were told to wait in the middle of the jetway by the staff near the aircraft… Just to have another staff come yelling at us asking why we stopped and blocked the jetway.
Qatar Airways A350-900 Business Class Cabin
Well, in spite of the “incident” in the jetway, I soon found myself inside the purply-lit Qatar Airways Airbus A350-900 cabin.
The aircraft was equipped with two business class cabins – with the first of those being located between the first and second pair of doors, and featuring six rows of reverse herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
The second cabin was smaller with just three rows of seats.
After taking a couple of cabin photos, I settled into my seat, 5A. It wasn’t until then that I realized how good the QSuite actually is, since the reverse herringbone seat is great – and yet, it felt quite inferior to the seat I was able to enjoy on my way to New York.
Taking a closer look at the seat, there was the IFE screen right in front of me with the tray table and the foot cubby under it. Then, there was a pair of counters along the window.
The amenity kit was placed on the smaller one of those, while the area around the larger one located to the left of the seat itself housed a magazine rack, a bottle holder, and a reading light.
Also, upon boarding, a duvet and a pillow could be found on the seat.
The seat controls could be found on the side of the smaller counter. And, under the it, there was a storage compartment large enough to fit my 13″ laptop. There was also a panel with the USB and universal power outlets in that area.
The IFE controller was located on the side of the larger counter.
In the armrest on the aisle-side of the seat, there was another small storage compartment where the headset could be found upon boarding.
And, the last thing to note here is that the window blinds were electronically controlled.
Pre-Flight Service Onboard Qatar Airways A350 Business Class
About 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time of 9:45AM, the in-flight services director came to introduce herself. And then, a Japanese crew member came to introduce herself in Japanese – what a nice touch on a flight between the USA and Qatar!
It also left me wondering whether the Japanese crew member was assigned to my aisle because I am Japanese…
At the same time the Japanese crew came to introduce herself, she also asked me for my welcome drink preference and whether I wanted a hot or cold towel. She brought me a cup of mango juice and a cold towel just a minute or two later.
Boarding was completed at 9:34AM with a couple of seats left empty in the business class cabin including the seat across the aisle from me.
Soon after that, menus and pyjamas were distributed, and the captain welcomed us onboard. Unlike the long inbound flight, the flight to Doha would “only” be 11 hours and 15 minutes and we would be cruising at 37,000 feet.
The drink menu for the flight was the same as on the other flights. And, the meal menu was as follows:
At 10AM, fifteen minutes after our scheduled departure time, yet another Japanese cabin crew member came to introduce herself and take my order. I decided to get the roasted butternut squash soup, smoked salmon with pea and potato salad appetizer, and marinated chicken breast with a creamy sage sauce main.
For dessert, I opted for lime and coconut panna cotta and seasonal fresh fruit.
Just as I finished ordering, the captain made an announcement apologizing for the delay. Another several minutes later, he also explained that we were having a minor issue with the right side toilets that the engineers (some of them wearing Etihad Airways jackets, how ironic?!) were working on fixing.
At 10:30AM – forty five minutes after the scheduled departure time, and still on the ground – warm nuts and a drink (mango juice in my case) were served.
Finally, at 10:55AM, the crew announced that we were ready to depart, and at 11:02AM – more than an hour and a quarter behind schedule – we were pushed back.
After taxiing for a couple of minutes and crossing runway 04L, we finally reached runway 31L – our departure runway.
We took off at 11:23AM, and our take off was followed by the (among spotters) famous “HoBe” bank. Thanks to that, shortly after take off, I could enjoy great views of the airport.
Business Class Lunch Onboard Qatar Airways A350
The seatbelt signs were switched off less than ten minutes after take-off and a couple of minutes later, the crew closed down all the window blinds. Another ten minutes later, I was served Coke Zero that I ordered before take-off and another bowl of warm nuts.
Then, almost one hour after take off, the table was set up. What stood out – compared to my QSuites flight – was that the setup was done using a cart, and that there was no “cool” water cup and electric candle.
On the other hand, unlike on the inbound flight, a salmon and caviar amuse-bouche was served.
Once I was finished with the amuse-bouche, the plate was cleared, and the excellent butternut squash soup was brought.
That was followed by a great (although a bit too oily) smoked salmon and potato salad appetizer.
Finally, the main – chicken breast with creamy sauce – was served.
When the crew came around to clear the plate of my main course, she asked me if I wanted a tea or coffee with the panna cotta dessert, and so I asked for a cup of Earl Grey tea. The dessert was excellent, and after finishing it, I was more than full – but I still had one more course to go, the fruits.
Sleeping in Qatar Airways’ A350 Reverse Herringbone Seat
After the meal, I went to the restroom, and by the time I got back, a mattress was placed on my seat. Then, a cold towel was brought, followed by a box of Godiva chocolates.
After watching a couple of The Big Bang Theory episodes, I went into the restroom to change into the pyjamas, and when I got back I continued watching some TV shows and played around with the IFE a bit.
While I will not go into too many details here, I will say that together with Emirates’ and Turkish Airlines’ in-flight entertainment systems, it is one of the best ones you can find in terms of the quantity of the content.
Then, I decided to turn my seat fully flat and catch some sleep.
Here, I have to note that I had quite a hard time falling asleep as I kept hitting my knees into hard parts of the seat – in fact, while the seat was comfortable, I preferred sleeping in both the “old” generation seat and the QSuite. The quite high cabin temperature didn’t help either.
In spite of that, I slept on and off for several hours, until about 3AM Qatar time.
Qatar Airways Business Class Breakfast
Soon after waking up, just as we were flying over Turkey, the Japanese cabin crew member brought me a hot towel, and I started watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine on the IFE.
Then, about thirty minutes later, she came to ask me whether I wanted something to drink and eat, so I ordered breakfast. This time, I went with a smoothie, Greek yogurt, and smoked turkey and cream cheese croque monsieur.
Several minutes later, the table was set up, and one after another, the items that I ordered were served. As usual, all of the items – except for the bread basket – were excellent. Although, the scrambled eggs were a bit too dry for my liking.
After breakfast, just as it was getting brighter and brighter outside, Smints and hot towels were distributed.
Arriving at Doha Hamad International Airport
Around 5:50AM Doha time, the captain announced that we would be starting our descend into Doha – where it was 22 degrees Celsius at the time – shortly. As such, I got up from my seat and went to change back into jeans.
While I was waiting for the person before me to get out of the restroom, the purser came to chat for a bit and to apologize for the delay.
The seatbelt signs came on just a couple of minutes later with a long queue of people still waiting to get changed. (The right side toilets couldn’t be fixed in the end, and so only half of them could be entered.)
At 6:16AM, the cabin crew was asked to sit down for landing, and fifteen minutes later, the landing gear was extended.
We landed on Doha Hamad International airport’s runway 16L at 6:34AM, and parked at a remote spot just four minutes later, at 6:38AM – a bit more than half an hour behind schedule.
After bidding farewell to the crew, getting off the plane and on the bus, I found myself in the terminal. There, I entered Qatar through dedicated business and first class immigration area, and visited the airline’s arrival lounge.
But, more about that in the next installment.