My memory of a long-haul flight is 14 hours at the back of economy, legs cramped up to my chest as I try to catch a snooze next to a snoring stranger after forcing down a mediocre quiche and apple juice.
So when I was recently offered the opportunity to fly business class with Qatar Airways for their inaugural Doha to Lisbon flight, I couldn’t whip out my passport quick enough as I fantasised of being transported to Europe in promised luxury.
Here’s what it was like travelling business class:
The first stretch of my travel was actually from Sydney to Doha, and because it was a 15-hour flight, I got the chance to experience Qatar Airways’ Q-suite business class service.
The Q-suite is different to a lot of business class experiences offered by other airlines, because travellers actually get their own private suite with doors for privacy.
I had a lie-flat bed which was brilliant, because getting a good sleep during the international flight was high up on my flying checklist.
There was also the option to recline the seat to various angles and extend the leg space, and there was a storage space for shoes and other belongings. Complimentary pyjamas, slippers, blanket and pillow were provided, making for a cosy sleep.
In-flight entertainment featured an array of films, television shows and games, with a basic headphone set and two ways to flick through channels - either through the switches on the side of your seat, or with the remote.
The second flight from Doha to Lisbon was Qatar Airways’ usual business class service without the Q-suite features. The seats themselves are rather comparable, with again the lie-flat bed, extended leg room and complimentary pillow, blanket and pyjamas. The in-flight entertainment facilities were the same. A difference I noticed was a little less storage space at the side of the seat, and of course, no doors to ensure privacy like the Q-suite experience.
Upon boarding both flights I was offered a complimentary drink as we awaited take-off. I tried the airlines’ signature lime and mint cocktail that the air hostess promised was their best. It was refreshing, but one must be in the mood for some serious tang to sip on this one before a long flight.
Before take-off I was also given the business class menu, which had been designed to feature dishes that reflect the cultural cuisine of the flying destination.
From Sydney to Doha, there was a Snack Platters menu that featured Chermoula lamb, grilled octopus with paprika, and mini chocolate cake to name a few. I actually didn’t end up ordering from that menu, because there were so many attractive options in the main A la carte menu as well.
I opted for the grilled beef tenderloin with dauphinoise potato and thyme veal jus for dinner, with the juicy meat quite comparable to restaurant standards.
For breakfast I tried the buttermilk pancakes with poached apple wedges.
A selection of warm artisan breads with a range of oils was also served with dinner, while a bakery basket was served with breakfast.
What I liked was the fact that I could inform airline staff of when I’d like each meal to be served, which worked perfectly with my sleeping plans.
If you’re hungry in between, you can alert the air hostess and order anything off the menu and they’ll endeavour to serve it up in a timely fashion.
For the flight from Doha to Lisbon, I ordered the omelette with ricotta cheese and grilled merguez sausage. I usually have a no-egg policy when flying due to many scrambled egg and quiche orders in the past leaving me running for the bathroom.
But this was the first time I experienced a pleasantly-tasting egg dish on a flight, with no overpowering aftertaste or intense smell which is important when you’re stuck in the air.
I was very impressed with the hospitality on both flights, and I think this is a real element that can make or break the traveller’s experience. If the staff aren’t friendly and helpful, it doesn’t matter how nice the seats and food are. You remember stepping off that plane with an air hostess’ snarky remark replaying in your head.
From the moment I stepped onto the aircraft, till when I left, the air hostess dedicated to my seat was a joy to speak with. Given this was my first time flying such a great distance in business class, she helped me plan when I should fit my meals into my sleeping agenda. She then happily woke me up at the times I asked, and when I actually woke up early on one flight and requested my food to come earlier, she happily gave the kitchen a heads up.
I also noticed that staff gave the toilets a quick clean in between each person using them, which I haven’t seen on other flights.
Qatar Airways was recently given the 2019 Skytrax World Airline Awards and 2019 TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Award, and it’s not hard to see why. In terms of improvements, there’s the opportunity for tweaks like providing customers with noise-cancelling headphones and more TV episodes per show (because once you start watching Kim’s Convenience on a 15-hour flight, you want to get through that whole season).
Yahoo Lifestyle was a guest of Qatar Airways.
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