When we arrived to Bangkok and the Emirates plane started its third seven-hour leg to Sydney, I turned to my other half, whose dream was to get there once, and let him know that I tend to travel there, though it is a pain in the neck to me, with one condition: We either spend one night in a proper hotel along the route, or fly business, because I doubt I could board the plane voluntarily for the third leg. Since neither options were cheap or easy to solve, I felt this to be an unlikely travel for a while. Then Qatar Airways kindly sorted it out to us…
Qatar Airways celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2017 by spreading low-cost economy and business class tickets across October and November. With my other half we started to browse the possible destinations immediately, then after a short thinking (I knew it was a stupid act) I told him to use this option to travel to Australia because this business class reduction would not be likely soon, maximum on the 25th anniversary, and it would be silly to waste this to any other (closer) destinations.
However it was massively reduced, the “cheap” business tickets still cost two and a half times the economy ticket, so we both were dropping tears while paying. I mean the credit card and I, my other half was just smiling AF. Furthermore, Qatar Airways would have been silly to reduce the tickets from London, so we had to pick Oslo as an origin. So, additional BA tickets plus a night in Oslo were added to the costs immediately. Those who had visited Sweden may remember how expensive everything is. Due to its distance from the city, the travel prices and the fact we had been to Oslo two years before, we decided to stay in the airport hotel. Even when later we realised we must stay two nights in the hotel.
Happened so far, that a blizzard from Russia (so-called “beast from the East”) decided to smash Europe at the same week as our travel start was planned. I was particularly apprehensive because the two bookings (London-Oslo and Olso-Sydney) were not linked at all so missing the check-in at Oslo due to the flight cancellations would have meant losing the business tickets without any compensation. This was politely confirmed by the lovely Qatar Airways customer service too. In London there was hundred millimetres snow altogether, making the Brits visioning darker than dark end of the world scenarios, but not making them shovelling snow from the runways. Since we had a ticket for the last flight on the night before the Qatar flight early in the morning, we realised that cancellation means we have no other options to get to Oslo in time. This made us booking another ticket one day earlier. Due to the weather conditions the ticket was a bargain and I bet we were the only crazy ones buying ticket at British Airways for that week.
I have never been so delighted. when our plane landed at Oslo. We spent the following day in the hotel chilling and checking the flights departing from London calmly. At the end our original flight departed three and a half hours late, so we could have made it, but I am pretty sure that by that time I would have had multiple nervous breakdowns and heart attacks.
In the morning of our great flight we got up early and marched through check-in and security check smoothly. We headed towards the OSL lounge for a light breakfast then the gate for boarding. After a short wait we finally boarded the Boeing 787 at the second door and took the left turn for the business cabin.
At the door a showy on-board bar is installed instead of an ordinary galley, making the entree quite impressive. This area serves as an actual on-board bar during the flight where passengers may stretch a bit while having some nibbles and champagne. The lack of overhead lockers above the middle seats makes the business class cabin more spacious. Having the business passengers seated, the boarding of the economy class started.
Qatar Airways is one of the not so many five star airlines – according to the industry-wide recognized Skytrax consultancy questionnaires. Furthermore, their business class product keeps winning by the votes of the passengers the last four years.
The competition is tough, the other Middle and Far East airlines offer excellent service too. The European and American airlines seems fail to keep up with them, in terms of both the cabin products and the service quality. This is supported by the fact that only one non-Asian or Middle Eastern airline (Lufthansa) has five stars and they have only been holding it since the last voting.
After occupying the seats, the flight attendants make an introduction to the passengers, give out the menus, headsets and a bottle of water. Of course a welcome drink is offered and against other airlines that offer water, orange juice or prosecco, any drinks can be chosen from the menu. If the passenger intended to drink a cappuccino, that would arrive without batting an eye. I ordered the lime mint lemonade signature drink.
Qatar Airways is one of the airlines that have on-demand service in the first and business cabins. It means premium passengers can eat and drink whenever, whatever and no matter how much they wish. Furthermore, via the website passengers, fourteen days prior to departure, can order extra meals that are not available on-board. Of course if they change their minds on-board, they can still choose the menu items and the pre-order meal lands in the bin, again, without batting an eye. The flight attendants take the orders before take-off and at the pre-agreed time they lay the table and serve the meals.
After boarding I got to know the features of the seat. The cabin had a 1-2-1 reversed herringbone layout. It means the seats are slightly rotated, the middle ones towards each other and the window seats towards the windows, the exact opposite way than the Virgin Atlantic herringbone arrangement. This seating position is a bit strange during take-off and landing because the force presses the people slightly to the side. But thanks to the arrangement all seats have direct aisle access.
All parts of the seat can be adjusted electrically via the control buttons, including the armrest and the stiffness of the lumbar support that has a massage function by inflating and deflating the air balloon. This latter function is not too powerful, so more for the advertisement than actual use. Of course the seat can be converted to a full lie-flat bed and it has a lot of storage compartments around, even one for the shoes. It is equipped with a universal socket, a USB port and some other types for different headsets. The provided noise cancelling headsets effectively reduce the engine noise. The tray table is enormous and adjustable, letting you leave your seat during the meals.
After watching a movie and having a second breakfast we made our way to the on-board lounge and had a chat with some fellow passengers. I talk about the on-board entertainment system in the next part.
We soon started our decent to Doha where we had the chance to check-out the worldwide known Al Mourjan business class lounge.
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