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As most of us still can’t travel internationally and as it’s nice to be able to dream of visiting great places (and briefly forget about what’s going on around us), I’ve been taking a look through some old trips and publishing pictures and flight reviews.
So far, I’ve resurrected some pictures of a trip I took to Budapest and a review of an American Airlines A321 Business Class transcon flight, and today I’m looking back at a trip taken in one of the best Business Class cabins in the world – the Qatar Airways Qsuites. Note: This flight was pre-Covid.
Qatar Airways A350-1000 Qsuite Cabin
As with most modern Business Class cabins, the Qatar Airways Qsuites are arranged in a 1-2-1 layout across the aircraft so each suite offers its occupant direct access to one of the aircraft’s two aisles, but that’s where the Qsuite’s similarity to most other Business Class cabins ends.
This is a Business Class cabin that offers a variety of seating options and knowing exactly what those options are (and choosing the right one) is key to ensuring that you get the best possible experience on board.
The Central Qsuites
In the center section of the aircraft the Qsuites come in two different layouts:
- There are seat pairs where the seats face rearwards and where the seats are quite close together (the odd-numbered rows on the A350-1000).
- There are seat pairs where the seats face forwards and where the seats are relatively well separated (the even-numbered rows on the A350-1000).
The central seats that are closest together are mostly going to appeal to couples traveling together but, even if you find yourself in one of these seats and next to a complete stranger, a suitably high central divider can be raised to give you a lot of privacy.
Another difference to note is that the center seats that are close together (odd-numbered rows) are set away from the Qsuite door (a fixed table fills the area between the seat and the door)…
…while the central seats with a degree of separation between them (even-numbered rows) are positioned next to the suite door (the fixed table is positioned between the two seats):
A solo traveler with only central seats to choose from will need to decide if they prefer to have their seat close to the central divider or close to the suite door – I would choose the latter.
If you happen to be traveling in a group of four (and if the necessary seats are available) the Qsuite Business Class cabin has a party trick that will probably appeal – 4 Qsuites can be opened up to form one large suite for the whole traveling party:
The Window Qsuites
Just as with the central Qsuites, there are notable differences between the Qsuites found on either side of the aircraft cabin.
On the A350-1000, the window seats in the odd-numbered rows face rearwards and are positioned up against the hull of the aircraft (with a fixed table between the seat and the suite door)…
…while the seats in the even-numbered rows face forwards, are positioned away from the windows, and are closer to the suite door:
It is easier to look out of the windows if you’re seated in a Qsuite which is located further from the suite door but as long as you’re not bothered whether you fly facing forward or backward, there’s no big difference between the experience that both seat configurations offer.
Inside A Qsuite
The Qsuite that I had booked was 7K. It faced rearwards and the seat was away from the suite door and close to the aircraft windows.
Directly ahead of the seat is the fixed in-flight entertainment screen…
…underneath which are one set of IFE controls an HDMI input and a USB port…
…as well as the Qsuite’s tray table, the footwell, and the ottoman which helps complete the bed when the seat is in lie-flat mode.
Next to the seat (between the seat and the Qsuite door) is what looks like a small stool…
…but which in fact is a large armrest (it can be raised and lowered) which doubles as a storage cubby:
This is where the airline stores its headsets and where flyers will find the seat instructions, safety cards, and bottled water.
This isn’t spacious enough to store a large (15″) laptop, although it will probably take tablets/kindles and possibly even small laptops (11″).
To the right of the IFE screen and next to the suite door (for this particular seat type) are two table areas one above the other:
Below these tables is where you’ll find the suite’s universal power outlet and another USB port.
This makes the tables a great place to store and charge devices while keeping them out of the way but still close to hand (the top table is easily big enough to store a 15″ MacBook):
This area is also where you’ll find the Qsuite’s seat controls and, essentially, they allow passengers to adjust their seat to any angle they want to or to turn it into a lie-flat bed.
One of the criticisms of the Qsuite that I’ve heard a few people mention is that the door on the Qsuite doesn’t really offer much privacy. Based on my experience I have no idea where they got that impression.
When I stand up in the Qsuite the door comes up to the middle of my chest (I’m 6ft tall) so yes, if someone walks by and chooses to peer in over the door then clearly they’ll be able to see what the suite occupant is doing, but they have to make an actual effort to see inside the suite…and who does that?
The fact is that the Qsuite door offers quite a bit of privacy from casual passers-by and it offers complete privacy from other seated passengers.
It’s also worth pointing out that the door on the Qsuite isn’t all about privacy – it’s also about insulating the passenger inside the Qsuite from whatever other passengers are doing elsewhere on the aircraft.
On a lot of aircraft (like the Qatar Airways A380), some seats get a full view of their neighbor’s IFE screen and for those of us who don’t like wearing an eye mask, this can be a huge distraction when trying to get some sleep – this is a non-issue with the Qsuites and it makes a big difference.
Overall, the Qsuites are not cramped, tight, or claustrophobic but they’re not incredibly spacious either.
I’ve flown in a few Business Class cabins where the seats felt tight and claustrophobic (some of the Business Class seats on the American Airlines 787-8 can feel like a coffin) and the Qsuite is nothing like any of those, but it would be wrong to portray it as the perfect Business Class seat. It’s not.
The biggest issue with the Qsuite comes with the sleeping position because as comfortable as the seat is when you’re working, relaxing, watching a show, or reading a book (and it’s very comfortable in all those situations) the sleeping position is the Qsuite’s Achilles heel.
The area above the ottoman (where a passenger’s feet go when the seat is in lie-flat mode) is tight…
…and when the seat is lying completely flat there isn’t much room on either side – this can be an issue depending on a passenger’s preferred sleeping position.
If you sleep on your back you’re likely to be fine but I suspect that anyone who sleeps on their side or their front may need to experiment with a few different positions before they get comfortable enough for a good night’s sleep.
It’s worth bearing in mind that I was trying out this Qsuite on a daytime flight so, although I made an effort to try out the seat in different sleeping positions, I didn’t actually get to sleep so it would be wrong to draw too many conclusions from my experience. Still, I’m not convinced that I was as comfortable lying down in the Qsuite as I’ve been in some other Business Class seats.
Qatar Airways issues Bric’s amenity kits in its Business Class cabins and the color of the kit that customers find at their seats varies depending on if they’re male or female.
On this particular flight, Joanna was issued with this bright red amenity kit…
…while I was given a more toned-down black and light blue kit:
Here’s what you get inside:
Qatar Airways doesn’t offer pajamas on daytime Business Class flights (even though the cabins are often placed into near-total darkness), but there’s always a good quality pillow waiting on the seat when passengers board…
…and there’s also always an excellent blanket on offer too.
Dining & Service
Qatar Airways crews are, in my experience, among the best in the business and once again they didn’t disappoint.
I was offered a drink and my choice of a hot or cold towel almost as soon as I reached my seat and, 5 minutes later, I was presented with both and shown around my Qsuite.
A further 5 minutes later a flight attendant brought me the food and drinks menus as well as a “snack platter menu” which I hadn’t seen on Qatar Airways before.
Qatar Airways Business Class Dining Menus
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Qatar Airways Business Class Champagne, Wine & Spirits Menus
Click to enlarge
Approximately half an hour after take-off the cabin crew came through the cabin with drinks and warm nuts…
…and I put in my request to have my meal a couple of hours before we landed (Qatar Airways offers a dine-on-demand service on all their long-haul Business Class flights).
Part-way through the flight I found myself hungrier than I expected to be (and still almost two hours away from having the meal I ordered) so I used the flight attendant call button (yes, they encourage you to use them on Qatar Airways) to order one of the snack platters and a cup of tea.
From left to right:
- Salmon involtini with asparagus
- Feta cheese roulade
- Chicken tandoori
All were very flavorful and, together, just about the right amount to keep me going until the meal arrived.
As always with Qatar Airways, the meal I ordered was delivered at almost exactly the time I asked for it to be served. On this occasion, I hadn’t ordered the traditional Arabic breakfast (as I have done on just about every Qatar Airways Business Class flight I’ve taken), instead I had decided to see what the “light option” afternoon tea was like.
Qatar Airways afternoon tea is a combination of finger sandwiches…
…warm scones with clotted cream and jam (jelly)…
…and miniature French pastries:
It was excellent – there wasn’t a weak item on the tray.
Overall, I didn’t have a lot to eat and drink on this flight but what I had was very nice and was served efficiently and with a smile.
Glasses, plates, and cutlery were all cleared up shortly after I’d finished using them so I never found myself wondering when everything was going to be cleared away, and there’s something nice about knowing that if you use the flight attendant call button you’re not going to be treated as an enemy of the state when the flight attendant arrives – US airlines could learn a lot from this (but they won’t).
- The Qsuite’s seat doesn’t offer much scope for movement when it’s in lie-flat mode and I suspect that some people (especially people of size) will struggle to get completely comfortable when attempting to get to sleep.
- Unlike a number of other Qatar Airways Business Class seats (e.g. the seat on the A380 and the non-Qsuite A350-900) the storage space on offer isn’t great – there’s no drawer for shoes and there no cubby big enough to hold a full-size laptop.
- The seat in the Qsuite is very comfortable when upright (for dining and working) or when reclined (for relaxing, watching some shows, or reading a book)
- The privacy that the Qsuite offers is great and the fact that the doors prevent other passengers’ IFE screens from projecting bright light in your direction when you’re trying to sleep is a big positive.
- Having two USB ports is very nice and having the main power outlet situated in an easy-to-reach place and close to a table where devices can be left to charge out of the way is a good piece of design.
- The position of the fixed table in the Qsuite means that a passenger has somewhere to place a laptop or tablet during mealtimes (when the tray table is in use) and continue watching whatever entertainment they’ve brought with them.
- The crew was excellent – friendly, smiley, and efficient.
- I didn’t have all that much to eat and drink on this flight but what I had was very good – it tasted fresh and all of it was flavorful.
The Qatar Airways Qsuites are undoubtedly an excellent Business Class product, but they’re not the perfect product that some may have you believe.
When you compare just how luxurious Qatar Airways Business Class is to the cabins most people find themselves experiencing, it’s easy to appear a little ungrateful when criticizing an aspect of the Qatar Airways seat or cabin, but that’s still the right thing to do.
The Qsuites are a fantastic place to spend some time relaxing and getting some work done but I’m not convinced they’re a place to get a great night’s sleep.
They’re not cramped or claustrophobic but they also don’t offer much space when the seat is in the lie-flat position and that takes away from what people want when they book a cabin such as this one – I think it will leave a few people a little disappointed.
When compared to the Business Class cabins that most other airlines offer the Qsuites cabin is still head and shoulders above most (when you factor in how great the onboard service almost always is with Qatar Airways it’s even better), but I’m not sure that it’s the best Business Class cabin in the world – that honor may well go to the new ANA Business Class seat called “The Room”…but I’ll have to try that out before I can be sure.