To complete the globe-circling trip from the U. S. to Thailand and Laos and back booked with the help of James at JuicyMiles to secure the flights with points and miles, I saved the best flight for last.
The flight from Doha (DOH) to New York (JFK) was in business class on a Qatar Airways 777-300ER equipped with Qsuites, business-class seats with a door. Qatar debuted Qsuites in 2017. It is probably the most hyped seat to come along since the first business-class lie-flat seat.
Other posts from one amazing trip:
Asiana Airlines A380 First Class – New York (JFK) to Seoul/Incheon (ICN)
Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul/Incheon (ICN)
Singapore Airlines 777-300 First Class – Seoul/Incheon (ICN) to Singapore (SIN)
Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge (SIN) – The Private Room
First Look – Singapore Airlines 787-10 Business Class – Singapore (SIN) to Bangkok, Thailand (BKK)
Bangkok Airways ATR-72 Economy Class between Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) and Luang Prabang, Laos (LPQ)
Luang Prabang City Tour
Bicycle Tour To Tad Sae Falls, Laos
Hotel Review – Villa Nagara, Luang Prabang, Laos
Hotel Review – Marriott Executive Apartments, Bangkok, Thailand
Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class – Bangkok, Thailand (BKK) to Doha, Qatar (DOH)
Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge Doha, Qatar (DOH)
Qatar Airways Flight 701
In 2018, Skytrax and TripAdvisor named Qatar Airways the World’s Best Business Class. Based on a flight on a Qatar A350-900 in 2016, I had no reason to disagree. This flight convinced me that Skytrax and TripAdvisor are right.
Origin: Doha, Qatar (DOH)
Destination: New York, NY (JFK)
Scheduled Flight Time: 14h and 25m
Great Circle Distance: 6,704 miles
Cabin: Business Class (Qsuite)
Exploring the fantastic Qatar Al Mourjan Lounge was wonderful but eight hours of dinning, sleeping, showering and relaxing in any lounge is more than enough for me. At 07:45 I was glad to head to Gate C7 which was maybe a 10 minute walk from the lounge.
At DOH security is performed at the gate. The flight was boarding when I arrived, and I went right on after clearing security. Several Qatar flight attendants greeted me at the forward boarding door and one escorted me to the seat.
Qsuite Cabin and Seat
Qatar Airways has four versions of the 777-300ER. Flight 701 used the only version currently fitted with Qsuites. There are 48 in two business-class cabins. That’s a lot of seats in business class. Delta will have only 28 DeltaOne suites on its 777-200s.
My seat, 8A, was a rear-facing seat in the aft business-class cabin. These seats are beautiful. They are Qatar uses its traditional burgundy and gray color scheme.
SeatGuru says the seats are 21.5 inches wide and have a fully flat bed length of 78 -79 inches. That seemed about right. All seats have direct aisle access in a 1 – 2 – 1 configuration with some seats facing aft. Some middle seats are arranged in a unique and highly touted manner where four of them face each other. I call it a “quad pod.”
The Qatar website and commercial advertisements emphasize the quad pod’s versatility. With dividers lowered it is possible to have a four-way family gathering or business discussion. That’s a drawback in my book not an advantage since it encourages talking and frivolity in business class that might disturb or annoy other passengers. The worst case would be a solo traveler in one of the quad pod seats while the other three seats are occupied by people having some kind of pow wow.
Best seats. For solo travelers, the best Qsuites are the rear facing window seats in rows 3, 5, 8 and 10. Those seats are next to the window and have the console on the aisle. Couples wanting to sit close together should choose seats in the middle section in rows 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11. Those seats are right next to each other and the consoles are on the aisle.
The seat converts to a fully lie flat bed of course . As with all business-class seats with doors, when the seat is reclined feet and the lower legs extend into a relatively confined space under the console of the adjoining seat. Seat controls are straightforward. They are clustered on the console together with the video remote, A/C, USB, NSF and HDMI ports, and headphone outlet.
The video screen is directly in front of the seat.
Storage is more than adequate. In addition to an open storage area under the shelf of the console, there is a large storage compartment next to the seat. There is no shoe storage.
One of the more important features for any seat is ventilation. The 777 Qsuite has ventilation outlets that afford each business-class passenger control over the amount and direction of ventilation.
Last but not least is the privacy door, the feature that allegedly makes this seat a suite.
The door and the walls of the suite are tall enough to afford a good deal of privacy. Qatar adds a bit of flare to the door with color and curves. There is a gap of about six inches between the bottom of the door and the floor (to save weight perhaps).
Qatar supplies business class with Oryx One noise-cancelling headphones, slippers, a Bric’s amenity kit, and bottled water. Sleep amenities include a warm blanket, two pillows (including one you are asked to take home), pajamas, and a mattress pad.
Amenities for shaving and brushing teeth are available in the lavatories.
While I was exploring the seat and amenities, a flight attendant brought champagne and a towel.
Pushback was at 08:40. We used Runway 16L (One Six Left) for takeoff. At nearly 16,000 feet, it is one of the world’s longest runways. It is longer than the Kennedy Space Center runway that was used for space shuttle landings.
While climbing to the cruise altitude the pilots turned left over the Persian Gulf and followed an initial heading taking the flight over Iraq and Iran.
To complement the meal choices, Qatar offered an outstanding selection of wines and champagne.
The alcoholic beverage selection was also very good.
First Meal Service
Breakfast was served about 40 minutes after takeoff. Qatar sets a very nice table. The battery powered candle and basket of warm bread are nice touches reminiscent of first class. I started with apple juice followed by fresh fruit.
The flight attendant had a difficult time performing the service. Because the short passageway from the door to the seat was so narrow, she had to stand outside the door facing me while setting the table and delivering each course. It was awkward for her but she pulled it off perfectly while remaining pleasant and cheerful.
I chose an omelette for the breakfast entrée. It was served with Lyonnaise potatoes and chicken sausage. Normally I find that eggs on a plane are disappointing. This time breakfast was delicious especially the chicken sausage. After breakfast it was time to settle in and enjoy a movie in the comfort of the Qsuite. Qatar has a wide selection of new and classic entertainment from around the world including movies, TV shows, and audio entertainment. Having seen many of the new releases, I picked one of the classics, the 1960 version of The Time Machine. Movies play well on the large, high-definition video monitor.
Passengers on flights with Qsuites and certain other Qatar aircraft can use the internet or send text messages above 10,000 feet. Business-class passengers have one hour of free internet. Staying connected for the whole flight was only $10.
After the movie I tried something from the snack menu before resting. Passengers are free to select any combination of items from the a la carte menus at any time and in any order. I started with a 2015 Albert Bichot Pouilly-Fuisse and nuts. The snack consisted of a king prawn cocktail, lamb kofta with sumac onions, and white chocolate and almond dates.
I asked for the arrival meal as we approached Goose Bay, Canada. The meal started with a salmon amuse bouche that was not on the menu and soup that was prepared on board from fresh ingredients. The name of the soup I’ve forgotten but it was good. The meal was accompanied by a basket of warm artesian bread and Bordeaux and Primivito wine.
The appetizer was a tiger prawn salad.My entrée was grilled beef tenderloin with crushed new potatoes, asparagus spears and baby vegetables.
A delightful fruit and cheese plate was dessert. A glass of Porto and a basket of crackers rounded out dessert.
Although the beef was prepared medium not medium rare as I asked, it was still flavorful and juicy. The whole meal was very satisfying.
After the meal there was plenty of time to visit the bathroom and prepare for landing.
New York Arrival
About 40 minutes out, the flight attendant offered Godiva chocolates, water, a final glass of wine and a moist towel.
We touched down at JFK at 15:19 and arrived at the gate at Terminal 8 at 15:35. From gate to gate, the flight lasted 13 hours and 34 minutes.
Wow! I’ve flown quite a few airlines in business class and first class and my view is that Qatar does indeed merit being named the world’s best business class for 2018. The service, table setting, and food were comparable to first class on a good airline. On the other hand, Qsuite seats will not be confused with first class. In terms of comfort, the Qsuite is not a leap forward. The lack of floor space and the very tight entrance make the “suite” feel a little cramped. There are older business-class seats that are more comfortable. Still, this “suite” has beautiful aesthetics, excellent amenities, and the incomparable service of the Qatar cabin crew.