This is a continuation of my Asia Trip Spring 2018.
Luang Prabang, Laos
Review: Qatar Airways 777-300ER Q Suites Doha to New York JFK
Qatar Airways Q-Suites
Airline and flight: Qatar Airways flight QR 701 DOH-JFK
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER registered A7-BED, the first with Q-Suites
Seat: Q Suites business class seat 10A
Duration: 13 Hours 40 Minutes, dept. 8:59AM, arr.: 3:37PM
Distance: 6698 miles
As I mentioned before, the whole reason I voluntarily flew 15 flights in 12 days, 5 of which was to get me back from Asia to the United States, was because I gave into a deal for a $1700 roundtrip Q-Suites fare on Qatar Airways. I saw OneMileAtATime post about it and it looked like a great deal exit Muscat. Ever since the Q-Suites launched in October 2017 I have been wanting to fly the revolutionary “First In Business” product. And so, I was glad no equipment swaps happened and I was able to experience the incredible Q-Suites which truly are in a league of their own in the business class world. This may not be my #1 flight to date, that would be the Etihad First Class Apartments, but it certainly is now my favorite business class product.
Check-in, Al-Mourjan Business Class Lounge
Hopping off my flight from Muscat, we were bused to the terminal where I proceeded to get my boarding pass at the premium transfer desk (I already had my boarding pass but wanted my official Qatar branded one for keepsake purposes). I then proceeded through security, many lanes open so not many lines and I didnt bother looking or asking for a premium lane if one existed.
From there I tried my luck with the famed Al Swafa First Class Lounge but as I have read and predicted, I was denied as my inbound First Class flight was regional and my outbound was in business class. However, I confirmed that on my return to Muscat I would be eligible to use the lounge as my outbound Doha flight would be in First. I am very much looking forward to that.
I then went downstairs to departures level and across the main atrium where the $6 Million bear sits before heading up to the Al- Mourjan Business Class Lounge.
The lounge is quite extra, as is the entire airport. It is among the nicest business class lounges I have been to but not my favorite. There are multiple sections, including an upstairs buffet dining room, open atrium a-la-carte dining area, sleeping and rest booths, two shower areas, single and family style seating areas. As well as a large water pond and spiral staircase with chandelier. Coffee, water and small bites are lined across the varied seating areas as well as magazine and newspaper racks, some areas come with iPads displaying flight info as well as lounge map and information. The main food options are the dining buffet on the second floor or a la carte area. There is also a game room, prayer area, smoking lounge and business center. It is open, airy, refined, and relaxing. However it is also quite big, compact in some ways in regards to seating, and I do not like how the only main food options are either the buffet dining restaurant or the a la carte area.
The showers are nice, and have the highest level of personalized service at any lounge shower I have been to. An attendant will walk you to your shower, show you the features and ask if you require additional amenities, they will also walk you out and follow up with your shower experience. Which is a little much but so great at the same time.
The food was not bad, nothing over the top. I only had a caprese sandwich at the a la carte area given the fact that I ate on my prior flight and was saving room for the main event on Q-Suites.
Hamad Airport is a quiet airport meaning they dont make any announcements, so you are on your own to get to the gate on time. For North America flights arrive more than an hour before your flight if you are flying with ANY kind of electronics including cameras. There is an extra security check where they swab your electronics, place into a sealed bag before you proceed through x-ray check and enter the gate area, at which point you are allowed to remove your electronics from the sealed bag and use them.
My friend and I found a seat amongst the labelled priority seating area. 10 minutes behind schedule they announced pre-boarding followed by priority boarding. Once again to ensure we had time to enjoy the seat and take pictures we rushed forward. We boarded through door 1 despite having seats in the mini-cabin behind door 2 to really take in the entire Q-Suites cabin and design. I was thrilled to the see the Q-Suites Qatar paneling as I walked towards the plane to know that we did not get a last minute swap to the old seats. The cabin is stunning. Hues of dark leather, white marble, and the signature Qatar purple fill the interiors. With bursts of pop from the fun and little pillows on each seat (which are your’s to keep!) and the colorful BRIC Amenity kits.
Soon I approached my rear-facing window seat 10A, the rear-facing seats are closer to the window while forward facing seats are closer to the aisle. I was amazed. It looks narrow, and cramped from the pictures but I was surprised by just how spacious it actually is and every detail and storage space is thoughtfully designed. Granted none of my carry-ons could fit anywhere in the seat, but each passenger basically has 1 over head bin to themselves.
Being in the mini-cabin is always a little hectic during boarding as flight attendants try to balance the premium cabin service with allowing economy class passengers to walk through to their seats and speed up boarding. It took a while for my flight attendant to get to me to which she apologized but I totally understood and was fine with it. She introduced herself as Cha and while did not address me by name right off, she did so later on and the rest of the flight. This was because she said she was unaware this seat was occupied and hence not having amenity kit or water bottle in my seat, to which she apologized and promptly brought over. The flight attendants will walk each first time Q-Suite flyer through the seat functions and amenities as well as the flight duration and services to be offered. Furthermore, in addition to the regular safety card, there is a Q-Suite specific one detailing how to open the suite doors during an emergency and the proper brace positions in the suite. Once Cha completed this she offered me my pre-departure beverage choices and I ordered some Brut and Lime-Mint as well as hot-towel (featured image on left). She returned with promptly and also came back again with the beverage and dining menus. The purser also came by to introduce himself. Qatar Airways business class is completely a-la-carte and dine-on-demand, which I love. I had told Cha I was extremely excited to finally fly Q-Suites and when asked if she could take a picture of me in my suite, she more than happily obliged and said to let her know at anytime if I wanted more shots haha!
Soon, Cha came back to collect my towel and beverage glasses and to ensure the suite doors were locked. We pushed back and I soaked in the incredible views of the wing and engine as we roared out of Doha.
As we reached 10,000 feet the flight attendants swiftly came through the aisles to unlatch the suite doors. I then closed the doors to see how it felt. Some complain with the door closed it feels compact and tight. I did not find it so. Still spacious, extremely private despite the small opening at the bottom, due to safety and design reasons the door doesnt go all the way down. And it really is your own fully-enclosed little suite in the skies.
Cha then came by to take my first meal order. She noted that I had online pre-ordered the Chicken Maqlooba for my main. I did pre-order, but was not feeling it for my first meal as I wanted to have my heavy meal for “lunch” NYC time. Thus Cha said she would note and save one portion of it for me! The first list was for breakfast items. I chose to have a Lentil Pancake to start followed by the Qatar Steak Sandwich from the “light snack” menu. I paired the pancakes with a 2015 Laroche Chablis Premier Cru white and the sandwich with a 2010 Bordeaux Chateau Haut Condissas Medoc as well as a glass of fresh pressed carrot juice. It was brunch time in Qatar but dinner time in NYC so I went for a hybrid meal. I then followed the meal with Cardamon Karak Chai, a 1992 Grand Cruz Porto and Cha came by with a small box of Godiva Chocolate truffles. The Paneer Masala Lentil Pancakes with the tomato chutney was delicious as was the tender steak sandwich with caramelized onions.
After my meal I changed into my pajamas in the rather large business class lavatories, where extra amenities such as shaving kits and extra dental kits are laid out. Cha noticed I had changed into my PJs on my way back to my seat and promptly asked if I would like turn down service, to which I obviously agreed. She then placed the mattress pad over the seat, covered the main pillow with a pillow case and unrolled the large and thick duvet/blanket and there was my bed in my suite! The bed with the padding and assortment of pillows is comfortable. All armrests come down fully and offer extended shoulder and arm space. The one thing I had to adjust to was how the headrest area tapers in which meant for me not all positions could hold my arms comfortable in place (sometimes my arms fell into the side nooks), nothing major as I still found plenty of comfortable positions and got plenty of sleep on this flight.
For the Q-Suites service, Qatar Airways created a “snack platter” menu. A list of 6 tapas to choose from, you can order all if you please. Halfway through the flight after a 3-4 hour sleep I woke up and ordered a Cream of Carrot Soup as well as three snacks. Although at this stage of the flight it did take the on duty flight attendant a while to attend to my call button ping (I pinged twice), it wasnt Cha so she didnt address me by name, which again is fine because she was equally friendly courteous and addressed me by sir as do all QR crew. She was very amiable and upon clearing my food noticed I was watching “I, Tonya,” and asked if I was enjoying it as it was her favorite film of 2017, I quite like the personalized service from Qatar. I started with Apple Cooler drink with Duck Spring Rolls, Almond stuffed dates. Followed by the soup, and ended with Chicken Shwarma. At first I ordered a glass of 2013 Luigi Bosca de Sangre, but wasnt feeling it after a tasting sip so went for more Bordeaux instead. My favorite I think was the duck spring rolls. The flight attendants will note that some snacks and meals take a few minutes to heat up when you order on demand, and it usually comes faster than they estimate. After finishing my meal, I wrapped up my movie and went back to sleep.
After another 3 or so hours of sleep I woke up about 3 hours prior to landing and ordered my main meal. I ordered Arabic Mezze, followed by the Chicken Maqlooba, and ending with Banoffee Pudding with Creme Anglaise. Paired with some Lime-Mint, water and topping it off with Saffron Karak Chai. I was also given the choice of lemon, chili. regular or garlic olive oil with my bread basket, which I went with the garlic. An amuse-bouche of chili-mango smoked salmon arrived with my beverages followed by the bread basket and mezze platter. The mezze platter was delicious and refreshing and a great appetizer to my Chicken Maqlooba which was flavorful with the chicken tender but leaning on the dry side, nonetheless a great dish. The pudding though, was incredible! After my lunch I laid back down for some more shut-eye before we began our initial descent into JFK. At which point I changed back into my clothes, packed up and just sat in my suite to soak it all in again.
A few minutes behind schedule due to a late departure and some headwinds, we touched down in JFK and pulled into our gate at AA’s Terminal 8. The arrival experience was just your run of the mill United States arrivals, nothing special.
The hype for Qatar Airways Q-Suites is real. It really does feel like First Class in Business, which is exactly the concept of the product. I did get to see what its like in the middle four seats when it is fully open as there was one set of family that went for this on our flight and it opens the space up even more. Every detail from the hard to soft product has been well thought out and catered to the long-haul traveler, both business and leisure. Paired with the consistently excellent service from the Qatar Airways team and you have one of the best if not THE best business class experience out there. Totally worth splurging $1700 for, which for a roundtrip fare, is a fraction of a full business class fare. And as any of the points and miles bloggers will remind us, you can redeem AAdvantage miles on Qatar!
I am very much looking forward to my return to Oman on Q-Suites and to experience the forward-facing window seats to see how it stacks up to the rear-facing seats.
In the meantime,
Enjoy your Wonderful Place in the Skies,