HomeFlight ReviewsReview: Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class (non-Qsuite time-travel edition)

Review: Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class (non-Qsuite time-travel edition)


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The famous Qatar Airways Qsuite is probably the best-known Business Class seat in the world, and it was a seat that was originally introduced on the airline’s 777 aircraft a number of years ago. In this article, however, the Qatar Airways 777 that’s being reviewed has not had the Qsuite installed so, a little surprisingly, I was given a trip back in time.

Check-in

I wasn’t supposed to have stayed in Doha long enough to have entered the country, but as that’s exactly what ended up happening due to a missed connection, this flight started with an arrival at Doha’s Hamad International Airport and a walk through the Business Class check-in area.

a flower bed in a room with a white wall and a roof
Premium cabin check-in at Hamad International Airport
a sign on a wall
Business Class check-in at Hamad International Airport

I had been given my boarding pass for this flight when I had arrived in Doha some 12 hour earlier, so I had no need to physically check-in with an agent.

Had I need to see anyone, however, there were plenty of desks at which I could have been assisted and there wasn’t another passenger in sight.

a row of white desks in a building
No shortage of desks at Business Class check-in.

Just past these desks is an automated immigration point – you scan your passport and an set of electronic gates opens for you – followed by the premium security line which, just like the Business Class check-in area, was free of any other passengers. It was wonderful!

From arrival to clearing security took no longer than 5 minutes and I was soon on my way to the Qatar Airways Platinum Lounge South to get some work done before my flight.

When the time came, it was a short walk to my gate and after a short 10-minute wait, boarding was called with Business Class asked to board first.

A quick bit of background

On this flight I was traveling between Doha and Bangkok with a departure time of 20:20. I was supposed to have been flying on the 02:20 flight earlier that same day, but I missed that connection.

On that (missed) flight, I was supposed to be flying in a 777-300ER and sitting in seat 3K which was a Qsuite.

When I was issued with my new boarding pass for the flight being reviewed here, I was also assigned seat 3K (I was impressed that the airline had managed to keep me in my original seat), and when I checked the schedule, the aircraft operating the route was a 777-300ER.

I thought nothing more of it, and I looked forward to seeing what I thought of the Qsuite almost 5 years to the day since I had last traveled in it.

The 777 Business Class cabin

That little bit of background was necessary to help explain the surprised expression that (I assume) I had on my face when I walked onboard and saw the Business Class cabin for this flight.

This was not a Qsuite cabin. It wasn’t even the slightly older Super Diamond or Cirrus cabin.

This was the oldest long-haul Business Class cabin that Qatar Airways has, and it comes with seats set out in a 2-2-2 layout.

a close-up of a plane
Archive picture.

I knew this cabin was flying just before the pandemic (I flew in this cabin January 2020), but it had never occurred to me that 4 years later, it may still be part of the Qatar Airways fleet.

In a cabin with a 2-2-2 layout, the best seats to have are the two seats in the center of the cabin because with those, both you and the person sitting next to you have direct access to an aisle.

a group of people standing around a row of seats with screens on the side
The center seats both have access to an aisle in this layout.

My seat, 3K, was a window seat and that meant that should I want to get up at any point, I’d have to move past the person sitting next to me or, if they had put their seat into angle-flat mode (these seats don’t offer a true lie-flat bed), I would have to clamber over them in a rather undignified way.

a row of seats in an airplane
The ‘K’ seats are window seats.

a seat on a plane

The truth is, however, that despite their age, these seats can be quite good.

The fact that they only offer an ‘angle-flat’ sleeping position and that not all seats have direct access to an aisle are clear negatives, but there are quite a few positives that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Firstly, despite being set out in a 2-2-2 layout, these seats feel like they give a passenger plenty of space.

The amount of legroom on offer is so huge that there’s absolutely no chance of a passenger being able to touch the seat in front while sitting down …

a seat with two monitors on the side
This is a seriously impressive amount of legroom.

… and with 3 windows to most rows, there’s not only a feeling of space, but there is *actual* space which a passenger in the window seat can use to get past the person sitting next to them.

a seat in an airplane
3 windows in this row give a real feeling of space.

As I alluded to earlier, this doesn’t work very well when the person in the aisle seat has their seat fully reclined, but in most other circumstances, the space ion offer makes it relatively simple to get past without tripping up or accidentally ending up in the other person’s lap.

Secondly, these seats offer plenty of storage space in which a passenger can keep any items they need close by during the flight.

There’s a large storage area built into the seat in front, together with a shelf (per seat) for shoe storage and a small magazine rack (which can easily hold a tablet).

a grey plastic drawer with a shelf
Lots of storage built into the seat ahead.

a close up of a shelf

There’s a further good-size storage area built into the armrest that divides both seats …

a blue light in a box
More storage space in the side of the armrest.

And there’s a third (smaller) storage area under the armrest. This is where you’ll find the headphone input (for the inflight entertainment) and a USB-A port so it’s a good place to store a smartphone while it charges.

a seat with a hole in the wall
There’s a small storage area under the armrest that’s perfect for a smartphone.
a white wall with a couple of usb ports
An ethernet port shows just exactly how old this cabin is.

There’s also a partially concealed storage hole built into the top of the armrest, but as that’s where Qatar Airways hides away a bottle of water, it’s not really suitable for much more.

a seat on an airplane
What storage in the armrest? …
a seat with a drink and a drink holder
Ahhhhh … that storage in the armrest.

You don’t get this much storage with the Qsuite, and you definitely don’t get this amount of storage with the Ascent seat in the airline’s 787-9 aircraft.

For added privacy, there’s a small divider that can be pulled out (part-way) between the two seats …

a seat on an airplane
The divider can give more privacy, especially when the seats are reclined.

… and if you need a reading light when the cabin is plunged into darkness, once can be found next to the divider.

a close up of a seat

The seat’s tray table is deployed from the side of the armrest (the armrest holds so many different things, it feels like aviation’s answer to the Swiss Army knife) …

seat belt on a seat a laptop on a table a table on a plane

… and to give you an idea of the size of the table, here’s a 16″ MacBook sitting on it.

a laptop on a table

Size-wise, there can be no complaints, but because the table is hinged to one side, it’s not as sturdy as many of the tables that deploy from under the inflight entertainment screens in more modern Business Class seats.

I’ve left one of my favorite facets of this seat to last – the seat controls.

In my review of the 787-9’s Business Class seat, I noted how I found that seat’s controls to be rudimentary and seemingly incapable of small adjustments. That’s not an issue here.

a close up of a seat
I love these seat controls.

These seat controls allow a passenger to place the seat into just about any position they want to put it into (apart from true lie-flat!), and that makes it incredibly easy to get comfortable.

A passenger is not locked-in to using just a few pre-programmed positions, and that can be the difference between a great flight and flight that ends with back ache.

As far as the seat goes, that’s just about it, but I there’s one more thing that I need to point out – the AC power supply.

A well as the USB-A port that I mentioned earlier, these seats offer each passenger a universal AC power outlet at the front of the central armrest where the armrest meets the floor.

a white rectangular object with two rectangular holes
The AC power outlets are hidden under protective flaps that slide up.

The clever thing about these power outlets is that they’re inserted upside down, and this means that anyone using an apple-style laptop charger won’t face the issue of the floor getting in the way of the ‘brick’ that plugs in to the power outlet. That was good thinking from whoever designed this part of the seat.

Amenities

Unlike on my previous flight where a cardboard box was used as an amenity kit, old-style kits were waiting for us at our seats when we boarded – black for men and white for ladies.

a black and white pouches on a wood surface
Black amenity kit for men and a white amenity kit for women.

The black bag was nice enough …

a black leather bag on a white surface
Black Diptyque amenity kit for men.

… but the white kit was the big winner in this cabin 🙂

a white bag with a black cross on it a white and black pouch

The color and design of the bags were the only differences between the two kits as the contents were identical.

  • Eye mask
  • Socks
  • Diptyque lip balm
  • Diptyque body lotion
  • Diptyque face cream
  • Diptyque eau de toilette
a group of white and black objects
The men’s and women’s amenity kits contain the same exact products.
a group of white containers with black labels
Diptyque lip balm, Diptyque body lotion, Diptyque face cream, Diptyque eau de toilette.

The Qatar Airways amenity kits don’t contain toothpaste or toothbrushes because those are offered in the aircraft lavatories.

a drawer with toothbrushes and toothpaste inside
You’ll find toothbrushes, toothpaste, razors, and shaving cream in the lavatories.

As this was a night flight, a bag containing pajamas and slippers, was also offered.

a plastic bag with a logo on it
Pajamas and slippers from The White Company.

The pajamas were made by The White Company which is the same company that supplies British Airways with its amenity kits, bedding, and First Class pajamas, so as Qatar Airways owns 10% of BA’s parent company, I wonder if this is an example of BA and Qatar Airlines using their combined size to get a better deal?

Dining

Drinks were offered shortly after boarding has started, and the dinner menu and the wine menu were handed out as well.

Dinner and drinks menu

a menu with text and images
Dinner menu

a menu of drinks with black textWine & spirits menu

 

Qatar Airways offers dining-on-demand in all of its long-haul Business Class cabins and as I wanted to get the meal service finished as quickly as possible (so that I could finish of some work and then get some rest), I asked for my meal to be served as soon after take off as possible.

Before the dinner service started, a second round of drinks was poured and served with the traditional warm nuts.

a glass of wine on a table with a bowl of nuts and a television
Champagne and nuts after take-off.

Dinner was served promptly, and after the amuse bouche (which was a little hard) …

a plate of food on a table
Amuse bouche.

… I had:

  • Seared yellowfin tuna with lemon vinaigrette, kalamata olives, egg, tomatoes, French beans, and potato.
  • Chilli soya glazed Chilean sea bass, wok fried rice, lotus root, baby aubergine, shitake, and pak choi.
  • Black sesame cheesecake with crème Anglaise, red plum, fresh berries, and white chocolate crumble.
a plate of food on a table
Seared yellowfin tuna with lemon vinaigrette, kalamata olives, egg, tomatoes, French beans, and potato.
a plate of food on a table
Chilli soya glazed Chilean sea bass, wok fried rice, lotus root, baby aubergine, shitake, and pak choi.
a plate of dessert on a table
Black sesame cheesecake with crème Anglaise, red plum, fresh berries, and white chocolate crumble.

By a lot of Business Class meal standards, this was pretty good, but by Qatar Airways standards, it was average.

The seared tuna was too hard and not very flavorful, the sea bass was ok but I wouldn’t rush to order it again (I should have had the Qatari chicken which, as I found out on my previous flight, is excellent), and the dessert had too much going on.

To be fair, I should have noticed that the dessert I chose was going to have too much going on from its description, so I’m at least partly to blame here.

Dinner ended with Swiss chocolates, and a Diptyque ‘refreshing towel’.

a white box with gold text on it a box of chocolates a white package with black text

The dinner service was of the usual high standard that can be expected from most Qatar Airways cabin crew – they have this incredible ability to be attentive when you need them to be, but to also be nowhere in sight when you want to be left alone. It’s like magic.

Speaking of wanting to be left alone…

I asked the crew not to disturb me for breakfast (which was only 5 hours away) as I wanted to get as much rest as possible before we landed, but I have a picture of what was being served anyway:

a plate of food on a tray

Breakfast was: Seasonal fruits, a croissant with a preserve, yoghurt & pistachio granola, and an orange juice.

Other

As far as I’m aware the aircraft offered wi-fi and there were movies, tv shows and more to enjoy on the inflight entertainment screens …

a screens on a board

… but as I didn’t use any of these, I can’t really comment on them.

What I will say, however, is that the last time I flew in this cabin, the wifi on offer was the older of the two versions that Qatar Airways now offers, so it’s likely that this remains the case today (and that would make it a little unreliable).

Overall thoughts

After my initial surprise of being faced with a Business Class cabin from the stone age, I ended up having a pretty good flight.

While the angle-flat bed mean that what sleep I managed to get wasn’t quite as good as the better sleeps that I sometimes get on a spacious lie-flat seat, the seat itself (when being used as a seat and not a bed) was very comfortable.

It was considerably more comfortable than the much, newer Ascent seat found on the Qatar Airways 787-9.

It felt more spacious, there was no sense of confinement, there was more storage space, and the seat didn’t give me a backache so, believe it or not, I prefer this seat (with all of its old-fashioned faults) to the Ascent seat that you’ll find on the 787-9s.

To further clarity that point: I’ve flown in this cabin and in this seat on the longest flight that Qatar Airways offers – the Auckland to Doha route – so I know what it can be like to sit in and lie in for 17+ hours, and I have no real issue with it.

Given the choice of one of these seats in the center of the aircraft of the ultra-modern seat on the 787-9, I would choose this one every time- newer isn’t always better.

As for rest of the offering…

The food was average but passable, the champagne (the 1 glass I had) was very nice, the crew members were all friendly and efficient, and the ladies’ amenity kit should get a smile out of Joanna when I get home, so things were, overall, ok.

Bottom line

A lot of people seem to be fixated with the idea that a modern Business Class seat has to have a privacy door or it isn’t really ‘top of the line’, but the fact is that’s simply not true.

The seat in this review is clearly not top of the line (far from it), but it’s more comfortable than at least one of the more modern seats that Qatar Airways offers, so no one should be put off from booking this cabin just because of the seat.

Sure, if you have a choice of the Qsuite or this, or the Super Diamond seat or this, the more modern seat is the choice to go with every time, but don’t let anyone tell you that this is a ‘bad’ seat that you should avoid at all costs because I’ve sat in a lot of bad Business Class seats, and this isn’t one of them.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. These certainly are spacious cabins. The lack of walls is OK for a daytime flight when you wouldn’t change into pajamas. The IFE has less movies than other aircraft and the screen is smaller so that’s a drawback.

  2. Have been downgraded from a Qsuite to this type of aircraft several times last year. Despite having paid a premium for the Qsuite, no compensation offered. In fact, there was just a longwinded and pre-fabricated response from Qatar they are not obliged to any compensation if it’s caused by „operational“ reasons.
    Booking and paying for a Qsuite is always like a lottery.

  3. I’d say you got lucky! I got Qatar’ed recently and encountered one of these old 777 instead of the QSuite I booked.
    My seat (as well as 3-4 others in tbe biz cabin) no longer fully reclined, the foot section was drooping about 20d. The cabin was sold out, no available seats and the crew couldn’t do more than say sorry. I didn’t get any sleep and had back pain for 3 days…
    Qatar is flying these old planes and not maintaining them properly. They should have been long retired, but Qatar decided to pick a fight with Airbus and didn’t accept new A350 for several years…
    Don’t be blinded by the handful of premium seats Qatar or Emirates offer, when you can end up in one of many sub-standard seats. I’ll take the consistency of SQ over this anytime..

  4. I actually prefer these seats over Qsuites for sleeping. They are close enough to lie-flat that it’s a minimal difference for me. And the amount of room is far greater. Overall, Qsuites wins, but for sleeping these are the best IMO.

  5. I flew this seat several years ago and hated it and now I avoid it at all costs. Maybe they have improved the storage because on my flight there was no-where to put anything. What I hate most is the silly divider as I was flying solo. It didn’t shield me from the person next to me at all and I felt no privacy whatsoever. I never want to fly this configuration again.

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