Skytrax and Airlineratings.com are two of the most widely recognized airline ratings services. In 2019, both services declared that Qatar Airways had the world’s best business class. Airlineratings.com and Skytrax agree that Qatar’s Qsuite, a business-class seat with a door, is the best seat in business class. Airlineratings.com also rates Qatar onboard catering as the best in the world while Skytrax ranks it second only to Japan’s ANA.
I haven’t flown every highly rated business class, but I’ve been fortunate enough to experience business class on six of the top 10 from the 2019 list. Based on this Qsuite flight and others including Qatar flights without Qsuites, I agree with these rating services. This post provides analysis and visual evidence to support my belief that Qatar’s business-class service and Qsuite seat are the best in the world for business class. See if you agree.
Oatar Airways Flight QR704
The flight to Doha, Qatar (DOH) was on one of Qatar’s new A350-1000 aircraft, the largest variant of the A350 family. Qatar operates the largest fleet of A350-900s and -1000s (currently 45 aircraft) of any airline. Currently, Qatar Airways operates nine -1000s and has 33 on order.
After a stay in the recently remodeled British Airways First Lounge in Terminal 7, I boarded the flight at Gate 3. Terminal 7 is used by Alaska Airlines and airlines from all three global airline alliances.
JFK and DOH are separated by 6,704 statute miles by great circle route. The captain announced that our route would cover 7,112 miles. He didn’t say, but the longer route was due to Saudi Arabia and some other Arab countries closing their airspace to Qatar Airways flights in 2017 as a result of a diplomatic dispute with the government of Qatar. Our projected flight time was 11 hours and 40 minutes.
Pre-departure service included introductions and thank yous by the flight attendants in business class, hot, moist towels, and a choice of beverages.
Takeoff was on Runway 4 Left. The weather afforded good views of Manhattan and Long Island.
The 4L departure took the flight north over Long Island.
A Qatar A350-1000 has 46 Qsuites in a 1-2-1, all-aisle-access arrangement. Qsuites have 79 inches of pitch. The seat is 21.5 inches wide. Those dimensions are fairly standard for business-class seats. Qsuites, however, are anything but a standard or run-of-the-mill.
Qatar makes Qsuites standout from other business class seats with the look and feel of the seat, an outstanding video monitor and In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system, a unique configuration of the seats in the center, and of course there is a door.
My seat was 3K, a rear-facing window seat on the starboard side. I chose a seat that faces backward because the seat is located next to the window providing distance from the aisle and easy access to outside views.
This seat looks good. I find the color scheme and overall design pleasing and relaxing. No fifty shades of gray which seems to be the color scheme that dominates on U.S. airlines.
Secure storage is plentiful. An illuminated and open but safe place to put articles like the amenity kit, pajamas or pillows is situated on the console above the seat controls. The armrest by the door contains a large enclosed compartment.
The most obvious difference between a Qsuite and other business-class seats is the Qsuite door.
Rear facing seats are far enough from the aisle that these seats would be very private even without a door. A door definitely helps privacy for forward facing single seats that sit right next to the aisle.
To complement the outstanding seat Qatar provides top quality amenities including amenity kit, slippers, pajamas, bottled water two pillows (one to take home), a warm duvet and noise-cancelling headphones.
An important feature for comfort is individually controlled, overhead ventilation. Qsuites next to the window have this feature. I think Qsuites in the middle lack overhead vents because the cabin ceiling is much higher without overhead bins.
So, you ask, what’s not to like about a Qsuite, if anything? Two things, I reply.
- First, ironically is the feature that made Qsuites famous – the unique seating arrangement where four seats in the center are arranged to face each other. I call these seats the “Quad Pods.”
The quad arrangement seems designed for one thing – talking. Qatar videos tout the way the quad arrangement facilitates family gatherings and business discussions. Great. As a solo traveler mostly, other people talking in a voice loud enough to be heard by quadmates would make me want to fly on a different airplane next time. Fortunately, that’s something I’ve never encountered in other Qsuite flights. In fact, Quad Pod seats have been mostly unoccupied on this flight and others I’ve been on.
- Second, Qsuites and just about every other lie-flat business class seat in the sky suffer from the same problem. To stretch out, feet and lower legs must fit into a small space under the console of the seat in front.
The Qsuite cubbyhole is not as restricted as some and there is ventilation; however it is still a cubbyhole.
I changed into pajamas in the lav.
How I Evaluate a Business Class Product
The primary factors I think about are seat size and comfort, storage, bed, technology, and last but not least, service. The biggest and most comfortable seat I’ve experienced in business class is an older seat on a Singapore Airlines 777-200. That seat is an incredible 30 inches wide and legs do not go into a cubbyhole. Seat width means the bed is also wide. Storage capacity is similar to the Qsuite.
In comparison, the Qsuite seat is only 21 inches wide at the hips and narrower than that at the knees. But the technology of the Qsuite Oryx One in-flight entertainment system and the amazing food, beverages and service of Qatar flight attendants (discussed next) together with other awesome Qsuite features make Qatar’s business class number one in my book.
Qatar Business Class Cuisine and Service
Catering is the other category where Skytrax and Airlineratings.com rank Qatar business class as one or two in the world. I must agree especially if catering is defined to include meal presentation and service. Qatar food and beverages in business class is comparable to if not better than what some airlines provide in first class. You get the same outstanding service in business class on Qatar flights without Qsuites.
Menus for meals and beverages and the extensive wine list are displayed below in slideshow format to save space. Qatar offers a wide variety of quality spirits, cocktails and mocktails, cognac and liqueurs, coffees, teas, etc. Click on any image to pause the slideshow.
Business class typically offers one type of champagne or sparkling wine, two reds, two whites, and one dessert wine. Qatar lets passengers in business class choose from two champagnes, three whites, three reds, and two dessert wines. I display Qatar’s selection of fine wine in slide show format below.
Champagne and white wines:
Red and dessert wines
In Qatar business class, great menus are followed by great meals. Thirty minute after takeoff the flight attendant served beverages and warm nuts.
Meals are served at any time and in any order passengers desire. I went with the a la carte meal first.
Qatar sets a table worthy of fine dining. Table linen, stylish silverware, battery-powered candle for atmosphere, and individual bread basket.
First, the attendant served a basket of assorted warm bread followed by an amuse bouche.
Twelve minutes later, she brought the soup course, roasted red pepper and tomato, in a covered bowl.
I selected the salmon appetizer which was delivered next.
From four choices of entree I picked peppercorn beef.
Dessert was ice cream and fresh flavorful berries with rose water syrup plus porto.
Six hours from DOH I requested chicken byriani from the a la carte menu as a snack. The attendant complied without hesitation. The snack was served with warm bread and red pepper tomato soup. I passed on cheesecake.
Breakfast was served 70 minutes before arrival. Instead of a traditional breakfast I tried lobster mac & cheese. Mac & cheese is one of my favorite dishes. I often make it at home.
All dishes tasted great and the presentation was perfect. My only ‘complaint’ involved the lobster mac & cheese. Qatar’s version was light on cheese and therefore failed to measure up to my rigorous standards.
Qatar flight attendants are professional and well trained. They are very careful with the way tables are set and food and beverages are presented. Ringing a call button always gets a prompt and friendly response.
In sum, even though an old Singapore Airlines seat is more comfortable than the Qsuite seat, I rate Qatar’s business class as the best in the world due to Qsuite features, outstanding food and beverages, and very professional in-flight service. Which airline has the best business class in your opinion? What factors do you use in your rating?