Qatar Q Suite A350-1000 busi­ness class, Doha to Lon­don

DOHA-LON­DON

Business Traveller - - CONTENTS - Tom Ot­ley

If you are trav­el­ling with your part­ner, it’s worth not­ing that the back­ward-fac­ing cen­tre seats can be made into a dou­ble bed

BACK­GROUND Qatar Air­ways’ new busi­ness class is the Q Suite (or “Qsuite”, as Qatar styles it). It is grad­u­ally be­ing in­tro­duced on the car­rier’s long-haul fleet, and is cur­rently on some of the B777-300ER fleet and this A350-1000 air­craft, which is the larger vari­ant of the A350-900. (We have pre­vi­ously re­viewed the A350-900 with the “old” busi­ness class seat – see busi­nesstrav­eller.com for that re­view. You can also watch a video of this Q Suite flight on our You Tube chan­nel.)

BOARD­ING We ar­rived at Ha­mad In­ter­na­tional air­port in Doha at 1000 for QR001 de­part­ing at 1225, a flight of some six-and-a-half hours. This is a quiet time at Ha­mad In­ter­na­tional. There were no other pas­sen­gers at premium check-in, and I was quickly through se­cu­rity.

THE LOUNGE I’ve been through the Al Mour­jan Lounge many times, mostly in the mid­dle of the night or early hours of the morn­ing, when it is very busy. At 1030 it was a dif­fer­ent place, and I wan­dered around for an hour mak­ing a video, which will be avail­able on our You Tube chan­nel. At 1130 I made my way to Gate C1.

BOARD­ING There was no queue to board, though there was a fur­ther se­cu­rity check.

TH­ESE AT The Q Suite set-up is very dif­fer­ent from nor­mal busi­ness class cab­ins. There are 46 suites in to­tal: 38 in the main cabin, with nine rows at the side and ten rows in the mid­dle, in a 1-2-1 con­fig­u­ra­tion; and then eight seats in a sec­ond, smaller cabin.

The seats are also for­war­dand back­ward-fac­ing. So the front row, row 1, has four back­ward-fac­ing seats, and then row 2 has four for­ward­fac­ing seats. For the cen­tre seats, that means they can make a four (the flight at­ten­dants call it a “quad”) if the cen­tral di­vider is dropped be­tween the seats and then the fore and aft di­vider is op­er­ated.

The cen­tre di­vider is re­leased by the pas­sen­ger us­ing a catch, but the fore and aft di­vider is op­er­ated by the flight at­ten­dants. In ad­di­tion, each seat has a slid­ing door that is locked open via a de­vice sim­i­lar to an Allen key for take-off and land­ing, and then is re­leased for the rest of the flight.

The seat has a type of padded shelf next to it that can be raised to be­come a large arm­rest, or low­ered to give you more room around the shoul­ders. The lid of this lifts, and in­side is stor­age space with a bot­tle of wa­ter and noise­can­celling head­phones. At the seat is a Bric’s branded amenity kit and a pil­low bear­ing the words, “The sky is a won­der­ful place to be”.

There is a large touch­screen that’s close enough to eas­ily reach, and a hand­set re­cessed into the side of the seat. The amount of sur­face space is re­ally im­pres­sive, and I could move my lap­top onto the up­per ta­ble and have the whole of the large and very firm ta­ble folded out for din­ing with­out even us­ing the padded shelf.

The seat re­clines so that your feet meet the footrest be­neath the IFE screen. The seat also al­lows you to rest your feet on the floor even when the seat is re­clined, so there are many op­tions. There are nu­mer­ous seat con­trols with pre­sets.

BEST SEAT A for­ward­fac­ing win­dows eat will suit in­di­vid­ual trav­ellers, but in th­ese seats the over­head lock­ers are im­me­di­ately above you; you could po­ten­tially bang your head if some­one opens one as you are stand­ing up. If you have a back­ward-fac­ing win­dow

seat, then you are closer to the busy aisle be­cause of the stag­gered na­ture of the seat­ing.

Cen­tre seats will also suit in­di­vid­ual trav­ellers, but make sure you have a for­ward-fac­ing one, such as D or G. Th­ese share the dis­ad­van­tage of be­ing closer to the aisle, but the cen­tre con­sole is be­tween you and the per­son sit­ting in the other cen­tre seat, which is prefer­able if you don’t know them. If you are trav­el­ling com­pan­ions, then per­haps go for the ones closer to­gether (E and F, for in­stance).

If you are trav­el­ling with your part­ner, it’s worth not­ing that the back­ward-fac­ing cen­tre seats can be made into a dou­ble bed.

With the di­vider up, a for­ward­fac­ing cen­tre seat can be a good choice – I went for 4D.

THEFLIGHT On board­ing, I was wel­comed, my jacket taken and I was of­fered a choice of drinks, in­clud­ing cham­pagne. Be­fore take-off, menus were handed around and or­ders taken, al­though it was made clear we could or­der meals at any time. Qatar has also in­tro­duced on­line pre-or­der din­ing, and is cur­rently in­tro­duc­ing other im­prove­ments to the ca­ter­ing.

My meal was good, start­ing with soup of the day (white onion), which I de­clined, and a choice of ap­pe­tis­ers: I had the meze of hum­mus, tab­bouleh and baba ganoush served with Ara­bic flat­bread. For the main course I chose veg­etable jal­frezi, cumin pu­lao rice and chana dal. I thought the food was much tastier than on the flight leav­ing Lon­don (in­clud­ing the meze), which made me won­der whether this was be­cause it was made in Doha, not Lon­don.

The dessert op­tions in­cluded banof­fee pie with crème anglaise; fresh berries with al­mond syrup; or a choice of ice creams. The wine se­lec­tion was ex­ten­sive and in­cluded two cham­pagnes, white or rosé – Pom­mery Brut Royal, or Drap­pier Brut Rose de Saignee.

I have read about the new Q Suite hav­ing teething prob­lems, but there were no prob­lems on this flight. On board­ing there was no in-seat power in the cabin, but the flight at­ten­dants re­booted it and af­ter that there were no fur­ther is­sues.

I worked for a while and then re­clined the seat. There was no full bed­ding on of­fer since this was a day flight, but there was a proper pil­low and a good blan­ket, so I had no prob­lem get­ting com­fort­able. If you put down the arm­rest you also have more room. I used the eye mask and earplugs to sleep for about 90 min­utes.

When I awoke I or­dered some tea and one of the snacks (the steak sand­wich with melted cheese, pic­tured above), which was de­li­cious.

AR­RIVAL We ex­pe­ri­enced no tur­bu­lence and ar­rived at Heathrow slightly early, only to cir­cle around the air­port for 20 min­utes and then spend a fur­ther 15 min­utes wait­ing to get to our stand. Once there, we were quickly off the plane. I had no checked lug­gage and so was soon land­side to be­gin the jour­ney into cen­tral Lon­don.

VER­DICT Qatar Air­ways al­ready has an out­stand­ing busi­ness class seat, but the Q Suite is an at­tempt to do some­thing even more spe­cial

– to add a touch of first class com­fort to the busi­ness cabin. At the mo­ment the Q Suite is not widely avail­able – you will know if you are book­ing one from the seat­ing plan, and the Q Suite sur­charge. Some pas­sen­gers will be con­fused by the un­ortho­dox lay­out; but in time the Q Suite will be recog­nised as a unique prod­uct. As on the out­bound flight, the ser­vice this re­turn leg was ex­em­plary, and the food and wine, plus their pre­sen­ta­tion, were all top class.

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