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READ MORE FROM THIS TRIP
Introduction: From Cold To Hot and Checking The #1 Country Off of My Bucketlist
• Review: Plaza Premium Lounge (Toronto Airport)
• Review: Air France / KLM Lounge (Toronto Airport)
• Review: Air France A350 (Business Class); Toronto – Paris
• Review: Air France A320 (Business Class); Paris – Stockholm
• Review: The Generator Hostel (Stockholm)
• Review: Norrsken Lounge (Stockholm Arlanda)
• Review: Menzies Executive Lounge (Stockholm Arlanda)
• Review: American Express Lounge by Pontus (Stockholm Arlanda)
• Review: Stockholm Arlanda Lounge (Stockholm Arlanda)
• Review: Qatar Airways A350-1000 “QSuites” (Business Class)
Typically when I write an airline review, I write about the entire experience starting the minute that I walk through the door of the airport to the minute that I go through customs/immigration. However, today, I’m going to start with the SPOILER ALERT: THIS! FLIGHT! WAS! AMAZING!!
Ok, let’s rewind and start from the beginning…
Words cannot express how excited I was about this flight! Qatar Airways is one of my favorite airlines but, ironically, every time I have flown business class, it’s been in their “old” business class.
Note: There are four photos located at the top of this page. The photo located second from the right (next to the train picture) is Qatar’s “old” business class.
“Qsuites” have been all the rage since Qatar introduced the seats in the summer of 2017. Not only was this my first time in Qsuites but also my first time flying on any A350-1000.
HOW I BOOKED THE FLIGHT?
Typically, I try to redeem miles on the longest flights so I can obtain the “full experience.” Qatar departs from the US and flies to Doha and the flights are around 12-16 hours. However, this 6-hour flight fit my schedule perfectly so I redeemed 42,500 American Airlines Miles + SEK 410 (~$43USD) while the retail fare for my specific flight was SEK 23,389 (~$2,486USD).
This is an incredible use of American miles and the trip is easy to replicate with credit cards such as American Express Gold Card (READ MORE) or any other card the earns American miles. Personally, I used the miles I received from the CitiBusiness/AAdvantage Platinum Select World Mastercard.
A350 BUSINESS CLASS (QSUITES) REVIEW
As I mentioned in my review of the Norrsken lounge, I arrived at the airport 6 hours early for my flight with the following schedule:
Qatar Airways 172
Stockholm (ARN) – Doha (DOH)
Aircraft: Airbus A350-1000
Scheduled Departure: 9:45PM
Scheduled Arrival: 5:55AM (+1 day)
Duration: 6Hrs 10Mins
Seat: 9A (Business Class)
Check-in for 9:45PM flight opened at 6:45PM. As you can tell from the clock, I had more than 3 hours to wait. Interestingly, the front desk attendants were adamant about not allowing me to check-in, however, when I explained to them that I was flying business class and did not have any bags to check, the mold softened and they checked me in within minutes.
I was directed to the “Fast Track” security line for business and first class passengers and found myself in the Duty Free maze (on the other side of security) in less than a minute.
I departed the Stockholm Arlanda Lounge at 8:25PM and arrived at Gate F62 within 3 minutes.
At the gate, we went through ticket and ID validation before entering the actual gate waiting area. Within a few minutes of arriving at the gate, an announcement advised passengers to line up as check-in would begin soon. There was a separate line for priority boarding and economy class.
Check-in was quick and efficient. As I entered the waiting area, I noticed signs that directed passengers to sit in their “boarding zone.”
Near the boarding door were 8 seats for Business class passengers. This immediately became a unique challenge as there were more than 8 business class passengers and “Zone 1” passengers were already beginning to fill their seats.
At 9:08PM, we began boarding and I boarded through door 2L.
I was greeted by the cabin manager and one of the business class flight attendants and escorted down the near aisle to my seat (9A).
Qatar Airways’ A350-1000 has a total of 46 amazing Qsuites!
The forward business class cabin on the A350-1000 has a total of 38 seats spread across 10 rows (10 rows in the middle section and 9 rows on the windows). The rear business class cabin has an additional 8 seats, spread across 2 rows. Both sections are set in a 1-2-1 configuration.
It is worth noting that throughout the business class cabin, all seats alternate between facing forward and rear-facing.
In the middle section, the rear-facing seats are close to one another, have a counter between the seat and the aisle, and can turn into a double bed (Sort of! You still have separate footwells).
Meanwhile the forward-facing center seats are further apart from one another, have a partition that can be raised (or lowered), and are positioned closer to the aisle. Personally, I prefer window views or being close to the person that I am flying with so these would be my last pick, since you don’t have either.
Again, along the windows you will find alternating forward-facing and rear-facing seats. The even-numbered rows are forward-facing and located closer to the aisle. The footwell for each seat is set to the side of the seat in front (or behind you, in this case).
I’m torn on which seats are “the best.” The seats alternate, so I had to make a choice:
- Seat Option #1: close to the window but rear-facing or;
- Seat Option #2: closer to the aisle and forward-facing?
I chose seat 9A for myself which meant my seat was located closer to the window (than the aisle), however, it was rear-facing. This was my first time flying in a rear-facing seat and I was not a fan during take-off. Other than that, it was fine.
One of the cool features of Qsuites is that you can have a “quad” if traveling as group. For example, it is possible to lower the partitions between your seats, and move the TV partitions to the side so you can see and talk to the people you are traveling with. It’s, basically, a four-person suite.
When I arrived at my seat, I found the exceptional Qsuites bedding which include a thick and firm lumbar pillow located on the seat, comfortable blanket, and a second pillow that has a travel-related quote and is exclusive to Qsuites flights.
Located at the front of your suite, you will find a large counter, a personal television, and a tray table and footwell located directly below the TV.
The footwell was a good size. With some staggered seat configurations, footwell space can easily evaporate making the seat feel extremely claustrophobic but not in Qsuites.
Immediately to the side of the seat is a well designed, large compartment that includes safety literature, a bottle of water, and noise-cancelling headphones. Additionally, you can raise it (and lower it) to add width to your sleeping surface when the seat is reclined into a bed.
On the other side of the seat, you will find another well positioned mechanism that adds a few inches of width to your bed.
The front counter is extremely well designed. On the side of it you will find easy-to-use seat controls, an entertainment controller, and both a 110V/60Hz and USB outlet. Personally, I was ecstatic to see the outlet that supported plugs from around the world. I had forgotten my adaptor so this was a lifesaver as my computer was slowly dying. Additionally, there is a second USB outlet located below the TV which was great because I had a lot of devices to charge.
In the control panel, you will also find a DND button, alerting the flight attendant to “Do Not Disturb.”
The detail that is on display is amazing! Take a look at the intricate stitching design in the headrest…
At my seat was the Bric’s amenity kit, containing skincare products from Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio including an anti-aging moisturizer, hydrating facial mist, lip balm, floss, socks, and an eye mask.
A set of headphones were also provided. I tried them but they were mediocre (at best). I chose to instead use my own Bose QC35 noise-cancelling head phones for my entertainment.
A few minutes after settling in my seat, I was greeted by Lizzy from South Africa.
She addressed me by last name, took a few minutes to familiarize me with the seat, and then offered me a pre-departure drink. I ordered a glass of the Qatar’s signature lemon mint drink and a warm towel. <–this is the best drink in the world!!
“Allow me to repeat your order sir…one lemon mint drink and one warm towel.” That may not seem like a big deal but there is value in making sure someone feels understood and communication is efficient.
Before I could get my headphones out of my bookbag, Lizzy had returned with my drink, the hot towel, and presented me with pajamas and slippers from The White Company.
Note: Pajamas in business class are rare. These details are what takes Qatar to the next level.
Additionally, she presented me with, both, the business class menu and wine menu for the flight, including the small snack menu that’s available exclusively in Qsuites.
A few minutes later the cabin supervisor stopped by each seat to welcome everyone on board.
A few minutes later, the main cabin door closed and the Captain welcomed everyone aboard. He informed us that we had a strong tailwind, flight time would be 5hr40mins, and our anticipated cruising altitude would be 39,000 feet.
At 9:45PM (on the dot), we began our pushback.
Our taxi to the departure runway was quick and we were in the air in less than 5 minutes.
One aspect that I love about the A350-1000 is that the plane is noticeably quieter than other types of planes.
As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection. Oryx One has an excellent and robust selection of movies, TV shows, and music. In fact, there were 308 movies in the Hollywood section alone (yes, I counted)
Hollywood, Arabic, Bollywood and World Cinema…
…cinema for youth (or those young at heart)…
…and great TV shows…
…including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air…
I enjoy listening to music more than watching TV so I ventured over to the music section where they had new and old hits (WOW! Is that Timbaland and Magoo!?).
I listened to music for the entire flight!
One fascinating aspect about Qatar connectivity is they have “super wifi” on the A350-1000. I connected to the Wifi for the entire flight. It cost just $10, had no data caps, and was amazingly fast!
There is also a complimentary 60 minute option for individuals that don’t need to be “connected” every second of the day.
Around 10 minutes after takeoff the crew came through the cabin to “unlock” the Qsuite doors. As a passenger you are unable to lock/unlock the doors because there is a special key that the crew uses just after takeoff, and shortly before landing.
The crew turned on the mood lighting as some passengers (everyone) went straight to sleep and others remained wide awake (me).
The moment I boarded the plane, I had taken notice of how large the cabin felt, however, it was at this moment that I noticed why. In the center of the plane, Qatar has eliminated overhead bins. This made the cabin feel gigantic and open despite having a door on your suite.
I also noticed that the window seats had individual air nozzles where as the seats in the center of the plane did not.
When we reached cruising altitude and the seatbelt sign was turned off, I went to the restroom. There are restrooms at the front of the cabin and between the business class cabins.
The lavatory was stocked with Rituals products…
…including the Infinity hand lotion, Yin body mist…
…and Organic Mandarin and Mint hand soap which, in my opinion, is AMAZING soap!!
The lavatory was spacious and I was amazed by how clean the crew kept these. I saw the crew go in after almost every use to refresh the bathrooms, replace any product, etc. They even had a large changing table. Have you ever tried to change an infant in an airplane bathroom. It’s, borderline, impossible so as a father, this is a big deal!!
After, I returned to my seat, Lizzy stopped by my seat to see if I wanted to order anything. Despite having stuffed my face all day in the lounges, I was hungry, so I decided to take a look at the menu.
The menu read as follows:
And the drink menu read as follows (in English and Arabic):
I also took a look at their wine menu which read as follows:
Occasionally, I make requests to see how the crew reacts. For example, it’s not unheard of for a business class cabin to run out of a popular food item or not understand what “vegan” means so I may request a cappuccino made with almond milk to see if it’s possible.
With Qatar, everything is possible!
I ordered the DuMol 2015 and warm mixed nuts and within minutes…
Typically, my go-to meal on Qatar is the Indian vegetarian option. However, for the main course, you’ll see that I did not order one item but a mixture of a la carte items (e.g. the potato and leek soup, fresh fruit, and grilled mixed vegetables) and she made it happen.
Then I ordered, the apple tart and hot crusted lamb fillet from the “tasting menu” which basically means they’re small appetizers. Lizzy replied “the apple tarte is delicious. I will bring that right out. The lamb fillet is small. I have some saffron basmati rice that I can also prepare and will add for more of a more substantial meal. Would you prefer that?”
Note: The table setting is beautiful. The faux-candle, the real silverware, the miniature salt and pepper grinders, the breadbasket, etc. just make it a real experience.
Then I ordered a cappuccino with almond milk…
Lizzy didn’t flinch! In fact, she just repeated every order no matter how small it was and delivered quickly despite having a fairly full cabin. I would say that she is one of the best business class flight attendants I’ve ever had on ANY airline.
Before I knew it, the sun was rising and we were descending into Doha.
On the plus side, I was extremely pleased with my productivity on this beautiful bird.
Just before landing, Lizzy and the cabin manager came around and thanked everyone for flying with Qatar Airways.
I turned on the ‘tail camera view’ to catch this awesome perspective as we arrived in Doha.
We ended up touching down at 5:25AM.
From there we had a roughly 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we pulled in at 5:35AM and parked next to this 777.
It was a matter of minutes before the forward door was opened, we bid farewell to the crew, and were off to immigration.
Doha Hamad Airport is an amazing airport but because of its popularity, the service has suffered. It took roughly 20 minutes to get through immigration using the “fast track lane” for business class passengers and the line for economy passengers was out of this world.
Qatar Qsuites is simply amazing and the hype that it has received over the past 2 years is justified. However, Qsuites on the A350 takes it to another level. Eliminating the overhead bins in the center section makes the cabin feel very spacious.
But what is really impressive is that Qatar has thought beyond the new plane and the new seat. The amenities, the space, the privacy, the dine-on-demand menu (that actually has excellent food), fast wifi, lemon-mint drink, individual air nozzles, attention to detail and high-end finishes of the QSuites product is what takes this product to the next level.
It’s absolutely breath taking! I’m not exaggerating but there were audible gasps when passengers entered the cabin in Stockholm.
If you have heard this before, I’m confirming it, Qatar Airways Qsuites is the world’s best business class and my favorite business class experience to date.
Have you flown in Qsuites? What was your experience?