Date: February 9, 2018
Flight No.: QR701
Route: Doha Hamad International to New York John F. Kennedy
Airline: Qatar Airways
Type: Boeing 777-300ER
The morning after a surprisingly comfortable night in the Al Mourjan Lounge at Doha airport, it was time for the aviation highlight of the trip – a flight from Doha to New York onboard a Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER sporting the airline’s latest business class product, the QSuites.
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.
Boarding Qatar Airways Flight 701 to New York JFK
I left the Al Mourjan Lounge around 7AM and walked over to gate D3 where the flight was scheduled to board at 7:30AM.
When I got to the gate, people were already being accepted into the waiting area. But, not before going through a quick security interview, having their electronics “secured” into plastic bags, and going through a security check first.
The actual boarding started shortly after 7:30AM – and after being one of the first passengers to walk down the jetway, I settled in my rear-facing window QSuite, 3A.
Qatar Airways’ QSuites Business Class Cabin
The aircraft was equipped with a total of 44 business class seats split across eleven rows in two cabins. The first cabin – to the left of door L2 – was the larger of the two and featured six rows of suites while the second one housed the remaining five rows.
Given that it is basically a staggered configuration, the odd numbered seats in the outer rows were “real” window seats with the seat next to the window, while the even numbered rows had the seat on the aisle-side of the suite.
Similarly, while odd numbered pairs of seats in the center section were next to each other, even numbered pairs of seats were separated by a counter and were closer to the aisles instead.
One more thing to keep in mind is that while the even numbered suites were facing forward just like most other aircraft seats, the odd numbered seats were rear-facing.
Now, the interesting – and perhaps the most talked about – thing about the seats in the center section is the fact that they can be combined by lowering the partitions between the seats into double and quad suites.
And, while I thought that the quad suites were more of a marketing gimmick than a useful feature, I was pleasantly surprised to actually see a family using and enjoying one of those during the flight.
A Detailed Look Around My QSuite
As mentioned above, seats in odd numbered rows were rear-facing, and so, my seat – 3A – was rear-facing as well. Overall, once I sat down in the seat, it felt much more spacious than I thought it would. While the leg space wasn’t as good as in an Apex suite, there was still enough of it.
In front me, there was a large high-definition IFE screen with a small counter, a sliding out tray table, and a foot cubby under it.
Next to the screen, there was a large counter on which a pillow, a duvet, and an amenity kits were placed upon boarding. On the seat itself, there was a larger pillow to accompany it.
Under the large counter, there was a smaller storage space that still fit a laptop comfortably. And, below that there were seat controls and an IFE remote with an HD screen. There were also two USB ports, a universal power port, an HDMI port, the earphone output, and an NFC reader.
Next to the seat, there was a storage space that opened and included the in-flight magazine, a noise-cancelling headset and a bottle of water.
On the outer wall of the suite, there was a reading light and a coat hook.
And, above the seat, there was a reading light and a pair of air vents.
Qatar Airways Business Class Pre-Departure Service
Going back to the flight itself, shortly after boarding, one of the crew members came to ask me what I wanted for pre-departure drink. I opted for a cup of mango juice and it was brought to me shortly together with a hot towel.
A short while later, another one of the crew members came around the business class cabin offering a variety of newspapers.
The jetways were disconnected from the aircraft shortly before 8AM at which point the Captain welcomed us onboard and mentioned that our flight time would be 14 hours and that we would be cruising at an altitude of 36,000 feet.
Not long after that, The White Company pyjamas and the drink and meal menus were distributed.
And finally, at 8:03AM – just three minutes behind schedule, the pushback started. While we were waiting to start taxiing, snack platter menus unique to the QSuites were distributed.
We started taxiing at 8:10AM, and as we were making our way to the runway, the in-flight services director – Ramy – came to introduce himself.
Subsequently, at 8:24AM, we took off from runway 34R – and just five minutes later, the seatbelt signs were switched off.
Qatar Airways Business Class Dine-on-Demand: Breakfast
Right after the seatbelt signs were switched off, the crew member that would be in charge of my aisle came to introduce herself and to take my breakfast order. Even though Qatar Airways offers dine-on-demand, and so I could eat later if I wanted to, I decided to start the flight with a breakfast.
To see the drink menu, check the review of my previous flight from Hanoi to Doha as it was the same. As for the meal menu, it included the items below.
As I wasn’t too hungry, I ordered a smoothie, a bowl of bircher muesli, and a chicken sandwich from the light options menu.
First, the smoothie was brought.
Then, about ten minutes later, the table was set up.
After the table cloth was placed on the table, the bircher muesli as well as a bread basket were brought. That was followed by a cool-looking glass which was later filled with sparkling water, and an electric candle similar to what Hirofumi experienced onboard Turkish Airlines business class.
On a side note, both the glass and candle are exclusive to QSuite flights.
Once I was finished with the excellent muesli, Ramy brought me the grilled chicken sandwich which was served with mayonnaise and some greens. While it was a simple dish, it tasted fairly good.
Throughout the breakfast service, we were flying above Iran, passing over some breathtaking scenery.
And, I have to say that flying backwards, leaving the landscapes behind – rather than going towards them as one does when facing forwards – while having a very nicely presented breakfast was extremely enjoyable.
Closing the QSuites Door to Do a Bit of Report-Writing
After the meal, I ordered a cup of Earl Grey tea which was brought together with a hot towel, closed the suite’s door, and – in privacy that, in my personal experience, was only rivaled by Cathay Pacific’s first-class seat 2A – I worked on a couple of reviews for KN Aviation.
While the the suite’s door had a gap at the bottom and it wasn’t high enough to prevent people from seeing inside when walking through the aisle, it still provided for a lot of privacy compared to, for example, a reverse herringbone seat.
By the time I finished writing the report about my flight from Hanoi to Doha, I finished my first cup of tea and asked for another one. Around the same time, we were encountering a bit of turbulence, and so it took a bit for the drink to be brought.
And, just like during the breakfast, the whole time, the views were amazing.
Sleeping in Qatar Airways’ QSuite
When I asked for my second cup of tea, I also asked if there was any chance that the suite behind me (or in front of me, since I was facing backwards) could be turned down.
The request was rejected at first, but when the crew member brought me the tea later, he realized that the seat (4B) was empty, and so he kindly turned it down for me. And so, after changing into the PJs I got earlier, I could move to my “bedroom.”
Even though the sleeves of the pyjamas were a bit too long, it was quite comfortable. And, the bed itself was fairly comfortable as well. One minor issue I had with it was the fact that it was a bit too hard (and the mattress provided a bit too thin).
And, also, the seatbelt in the front-facing rows featured airbag which made the seatbelt a bit heavy and not too comfortable to wear while sleeping.
Enjoying a QSuite-Only Snack
When I woke up after a couple of hours of sleep, there were still more than seven hours left in the flight. As such, I decided to order something from the snack menu that is exclusive to QSuite flights.
After a bit of deliberating, I went with the prawn cocktail crostini which were tasty and came in a portion that was just right for a quick snack. Together with that, I also asked for a cup of pineapple juice.
With the snack finished, I decided to do a bit more report writing and photo editing before switching over to Oryx One – Qatar Airways’ in-flight entertainment system. Out of the hundreds of movies and TV shows, I first watched a stand-up comedy show by Rusell Peters, and then Analyze That – a quite old comedy.
Qatar Airways Business Class Dine-on-Demand: Lunch
The next highlight of the flight came around 11AM New York time, about three and a half hours before landing, when I ordered lunch. I chose the following out of the extensive menu:
- Soup of the day (lentil soup)
- Dill marinated prawns with smoked salmon
- Arabic spiced chicken breast with cinnamon spiced sauce
- Seasonal fresh fruit
The soup was great – and, given that I mostly fly economy class, and even in business class it is not such a common occurrence , it felt special to be having hot soup on a flight. The rest of the meal was very good as well, even though the salmon in the appetizer was a dry in spots.
The bread was dry and hard, though. And, based on some other reviews I’ve read, it seems to be a fairly common thing on Qatar Airways. How unfortunate, considering the rest of the meal is of high quality.
Just like during breakfast I could enjoy magnificent Iranian scenery, during lunch we were flying over northern Canada – another beautiful region of the world.
Final Moments Before Starting Descent
After the lunch, while we were still cruising above the icy wonderland that northern Canada is, I changed out of my pyjamas and settled back into my seat.
At 1:00PM, the in-flight services director Ramy came to ask if I enjoyed the flight and whether I wanted any tea or coffee. And, so I decided to have another cup of Earl Grey tea and watch The Big Bang Theory, my go to TV show when flying.
About thirty minutes later, a video talking about the US customs procedures was screened and the cabin lights were switched back on, signaling the near end of the flight. In fact, the captain briefly cut the off video to announce that we were expecting to land in 40 minutes and that it was 0 degrees in New York.
Once the video finished, a hot towel was provided. And, after that, I took some cabin shots.
When one of the crew members saw me taking the photos, he came to talk to me saying he was thinking of getting a good one – and to ask me for advice. I certainly prefer this to the occasional a “NO PHOTOS!” situation!
Landing at John F. Kennedy International Airport
The seatbelt signs were switched back on at 1:44PM, and we started descending soon after.
Soon, we were flying over typical American suburban areas, and at 2:16PM, we landed on JFK’s runway 22L.
After landing, it took us another fourteen minutes of taxiing until we reached our parking gate at 2:30PM – 45 minutes ahead of schedule.
I waited for most of the passengers in the cabin to disembark before taking some photos of the cabin (most of which can be found towards the top of this article where I talk about the cabin).
Here, I would like to thank the very friendly cabin crew members for having patience with me, and even helping me clean some of the suites and open the partitions so that I could take a photo of the quad suite.
And, for posing for the below photo!
Once I was done with the photos, I bade a farewell to the crew and, sad to leave the QSuites behind, I stepped into JFK airport.
Qatar Airways QSuites Sumary
What can I say?! I took the flight with very high expectations, but they were exceeded in all aspects. While I understand it’s a matter of perception and crew, but in my case, the dine on demand service was executed perfectly. And, the food was excellent – besides the bread basket which contained really dry bread.
As for the suite itself, I cannot complain about it either. I was expecting it to feel claustrophobic, but it didn’t at all. It provided for a private space to relax and work like no other seat I have flown in.
All in all, I hope I will have a chance to fly in QSuites again soon, hopefully from Tokyo to Doha!