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The best known Qatar Airways Business Class seat is the Qsuite that you’ll find on the airline’s A350 and 777 aircraft, but because the 787-9 isn’t wide enough to accommodate the Qsuite in a 1-2-1 layout, some of the newest aircraft in the Qatar Airways long-haul fleet have an entirely different seat. They have the Ascent seat from Adient Aerospace. and that’s the seat that you’ll see in this review.
On this trip, I was flying between Oslo and Doha in the middle of winter, and this is what things looked like in Oslo:
Check-in & ground experience
I took a positioning flight to Oslo to catch my Qatar Airways flight to Doha, so in an ideal world I would have checked in online and used my mobile boarding pass to avoid having to head landside and deal with the standard check-in desks.
This isn’t, however, an ideal world, so as the Qatar Airways app wouldn’t issue me with a boarding pass, I ended up checking in just as anyone starting their trip in Oslo would check-in.
I contemplated taking the risk that the Qatar Airways gate agents would be able to check me in, but as I had time on my hands, I decided to play it safe and I headed landside.
Tip: If you’re going to take a positioning flight to a foreign country, always build in enough time to:
- Clear customs and immigration after arrival.
- Pick up your checked luggage (if you have any).
- Physically check in at a desk with an agent.
- Clear security and immigration as you head airside.
You may not end up having to do all of that, but if you assume that you’ll have to, you’re less likely to find yourself in a mess if you encounter a delay.
There were no lines at the Qatar Airways check-in desks so my progress was smooth, but because the airline (like so many others) allows anyone who has even the faintest whiff of airline status to check in using the Business Class lanes, things may slow down at busier times.
This was my first visit to Oslo airport and the one thing that really struck me about it is that it seems to have been built to cope with considerably more passengers that it actually sees. At least, that how things felt landside.
Qatar Airways Business class flyers get to use the Fast Track security lines …
… and as those were relatively quiet, I was soon heading to the lounge.
The OSL lounge in Oslo is currently undergoing refurbishment and only part of it is open, so it seemed a little pointless to take any pictures. So, I didn’t.
But if you happen to be visiting any time soon, get to the airport early if you want a seat in the lounge because space is at a premium.
At this point, I’m going to move away from discussing the rest of my ground experience at Oslo because, frankly, it was a mess and I’ve written about it elsewhere.
If you’d like to know what happened, you can read about it the article published yesterday called My day to forget as Qatar Airways service standards hit a new low (a 3-part saga!). If you don’t have time to read it, the title should tell you all that you need to know.
The 787-9 Business Class cabin & seat
The Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class cabin has 30 seats set out in a 1-2-1 layout (sort of).
And this is what that looks like in practice:
The seats are arranged in a herringbone layout which mean that two seats in the center of the aircraft are angled away from each other (I always think that couples sitting here look like they’ve just had a massive argument and are refusing to face one another).
If you’re a solo traveler that ends up in one of these seats, you can ignore the person next to you even more by raising the partition that’s located between the two seats.
The single seats on either side of the aircraft look like this…
… and most have access to two of the aircraft’s windows.
All the seats have a moveable armrest that has to be down for take-off and landing, but which can be raised at all other times for a bit of added comfort.
Most of the single seats in the cabin are identical as are most of the double seats, but there is one key difference between the seats in row 1 and the seats in the rest of the cabin – the row 1 seats offer more space for a passenger’s feet when the seat is in lie-flat more.
The area for a passenger’s feet looks like this in rows 2 through 8 …
…and this is what the same space looks like in row 1:
That may not look significant, but for some people it could be the difference between a comfortable rest and an uncomfortable few hours.
As far as storage space goes, there’s very little of it that isn’t open to the cabin.
There’s a small cubicle above the fixed table/console where Qatar Airways puts a bottle of water and the complimentary headphones …
… but a laptop definitely doesn’t fit in here and while I didn’t get around to trying, I’m reasonably sure that a standard-size iPad won’t fit in here either.
If you have a laptop that you need to keep within easy reach, your only real option is to keep it on the fixed table/console under the window (between the seat and the aisle in the case of the center seats) …
… and as this is also where you’ll find the seat’s universal power outlet and USB-A port, your laptop can charge while it sits here.
The only other place where you may be able to put something that you need to keep close to you is on the small ledge at the end of the console …
… but that’s not going to be much good for anything larger than a smartphone and if the aircraft encounters turbulence, not much is going to stay in place on a ledge this small.
By far and away the best element to the entire seat is the cordless charging station built into the seat wall next to the small cubicle.
The bar that sits across the charging panel can extend (and spring back), so most smartphones should fit without much trouble.
My antique (iPhone 12 Pro) fitted easily and charged without any issues, and this is a considerably better charging solution than the cordless chargers you’ll find in JetBlue’s Mint studio on its A321neo aircraft.
The seat controls are built into the console wall and are, at best, basic. At worst, annoying.
Unlike the seat controls you’ll find on every other type of Qatar Airways business class seat (including the seats that are now over 20 years old), these controls do not make it easy to make small adjustments to the seat’s position – one press (of any kind) and the seat keeps moving until it reaches the position shown on the button. At least that was my experience with seat 2A on this aircraft.
To get to a position between the ones shown in the images on the buttons, I worked out that I had to ‘confuse’ the seat by pressing a button that causes it to move in the opposite direction to the one in which it was already moving, and that made the seat stop where it was.
The seat’s tray table is stored under the entertainment screen …
… and can be made to adopt 2 or 3 positions.
To give you an idea of the size of this table, here’s a 16″ MacBook sitting on it.
While nowhere near as big as the tray table in the Qsuite, this is still going to be a big enough table for most people’s needs and after having used it as a workstation for quite a few hours, I can confirm that it’s sturdy as well.
The last thing that I should probably mention is that all the seats in the 787-9 Business Class cabin come with their own privacy door which allows them to be referred to as a ‘suite’.
If, however, you book one of these seats with the expectation that it will feel like a Qsuite when you close the door, you’re going to be disappointed.
Essentially, this is a standard Business Class seat (of a type that has been around for years) that has had a door put on it, so what Qatar Airways has done here is similar to what British Airways has done with its Club World suites except that BA started out with a considerably better seat.
The entertainment screen that sits above the tray table isn’t particularly big, but like the tray table, it should be big enough for most people.
The Qatar Airways Oryx entertainment system is one of the better systems around and with the airline boasting that it offers ‘over 7,000 options’ (I think it must be counting individual music tracks to get to that number), there is a lot to keep people entertained onboard.
I didn’t watch any of the entertainment provided (you can use this link to see the latest offerings from Qatar Airways) and I didn’t use the very average (but acceptable) headphones that are provided.
I did, however, check out the aircraft’s exterior cameras a few times and even ended up watching the ground staff trying to get the aircraft ready in the Oslo snow (they had my heartfelt sympathies).
The Qatar Airways 787-9 comes equipped with the better of two wi-fi systems that the airline operates, and Privilege Club members get 1 hour free.
I paid $10 for full flight internet (which seemed very reasonable), and apart from a few patches as we left the Mediterranean and headed south, the service was good.
Uploads and downloads were not particularly fast, but the speeds were better than what I’ve experienced on a lot of my transatlantic flights and the reliability of the connection was better too (probably because a lot of this flight was over land).
For my purposes, the wi-fi was actually pretty good.
This was supposed to be an ‘evening flight’, and Qatar Airways only loads pajamas on ‘night flights’ so even though we ended up arriving in Doha just a few hours before sunrise, pajamas were nowhere to be seen.
Each seat in the cabin had a blanket, a pillow, and pointless smaller pillow waiting for passengers when we boarded, and I’m pleased to report that the blankets are as excellent as ever – I don’t think there’s a larger or more substantial blanket offered anywhere else.
The amenity kit on this flight was a cardboard box from Diptyque …
…and while the gentlemen had a black box waiting for them, the ladies had a white one at their seats.
Both boxes, however, contained exactly the same products.
- Eye mask
- Diptyque Lip balm
- Diptyque Body lotion
- Diptyque Face cream
- Diptyque Eau de toilette
I’m not going to pass comment on the fact that boxes instead of toiletry bags are now being supplied (because I can’t be bothered dealing with the inevitable outpouring of sanctimonious comments that are bound to come my way), but I will say that this isn’t standard practice just yet.
Boxes were also offered on my Bangkok – Doha flight, but standard toiletry bags were on offer from Doha to Bangkok and from Doha to Brussels. That makes me wonder if boxes are kept at outstations while toiletry bags are kept in Doha.
The kits don’t contain toothbrushes or toothpaste because they, as well as razors and shaving cream, are provided in the lavatories.
Dining and service
Drinks were offered before departure …
… and drinks were brought around again after take off. Warm nuts and menus were also provided.
The dining menu:
The drinks menu:
Both champagnes were good. The rosé was best.
I didn’t try any other of the other alcoholic drinks, but the the list looks ok to me (if not as good as I remember from my pre-pandemic flights).
The best drink of all the drinks served onboard (and not mentioned on any menu) is the ‘signature mint and lemon’ drink that is a ‘must try’ (if you haven’t already tried it).
Ignore what it looks like in the image above and just take my word for it – this is a fantastically refreshing drink and, for some reason, it’s made better onboard than in the Platinum lounge in Doha.
One of the best bit of the service on board Qatar Airways is that you can ask to have your meal whenever you want it. Qatar Airways has this strange philosophy that the service should suit the passengers and not the crew and as someone who mainly travels with ‘western’ airlines, that continues to blow my mind 🙂
I chose to have my meal a couple of hours before we landed, and this is how it went:
There was a prawn and horseradish (I think) amuse bouche:
That was followed by the starter that I order on at least 80% of all my Qatar Airways flights – the Arabic mezze with pita bread.
For my main course I chose the Qatari chicken mashkool with daqoos sauce, braised aubergine, potato, and sultanas.
And for dessert, I ordered the sea salted caramel and chocolate mousse with vanilla mascarpone and berries.
The food was excellent and the highlight (even though the picture doesn’t do it justice) was the Qatari chicken.
I have no idea what makes the chicken Qatari, but whatever it is, it works, and the world needs more of it.
The Arabic Mezze was, as always, very good, and even though I keep hearing that salted caramel has had its day, the dessert was very good too.
After dinner had been cleared, I ordered a cardamom chai and immediately wondered why I hadn’t ordered this on the dozens of other Qatar Airways flights I’ve taken.
This was the perfect warming, post meal evening drink and I ended up ordering two more on this flight and then countless more on the other three flights I took in the following days.
To end the meal service (which the crew did superbly), chocolates were offered …
… as well as a Diptyque ‘refreshing towel’.
Overall, great service from the crew and a very nice meal as well.
I realise that I’m almost certainly going to be in a minority here (I’ve seen other reviews), but I’m going to say it anyway – I don’t like this seat.
Actually, my feelings about this seat are stronger than simply ‘not liking’ it. I really dislike it.
I didn’t get to try it out in full bed mode as I was working for most of the flight, but in upright mode it gave me back ache, and the controls were so unrefined that trying to find a comfortable seating position made cracking cold fusion look comparatively easy.
The lack of storage space around the seat is annoying, the door is needless and makes the seat area feel even more cramped than it already does, and because this cabin has overhead storage above the centre seats as well as the window seats (unlike the Business Class cabin in the smaller 787-8), there is absolutely no sense of space.
Everything feels cramped and confining, and that’s a statement coming from someone who has no issues with, for example, the British Airways Club suite which, as I pointed out a little earlier, is also a standard seat to which someone has added a door.
This really isn’t a good seat. It’s only real redeeming feature is the clever wireless charging point that works brilliantly, so I think Qatar Airways has made its first big miss-step here.
As bad as the seat was, I have to say that everything else about the onboard experience was very good.
The crew were friendly, helpful and attentive (and yet not overly attentive – a trick few other airline crews can pull off), the internet was priced well and worked, the food was great (and I could eat when I wanted to eat and not when someone else wanted me to eat), and the blanket was as large, heavy and comfortable as I had remembered.
This part of my trip was a tale of wildly varying experiences – the ground experience was terrible and I really, really didn’t like the new(ish) Business Class seat … but the food, the crew and the internet were all very good.
The best way to sum up my thoughts on the seat and cabin would be to say that while I wouldn’t avoid Qatar Airways just to avoid the 787-9, I would actively choose to take a different aircraft if the option was there.
The best way to sum up my thoughts on the rest of the onboard experience would be to say that it was as good as I remembered it to be, and that went a little way to make up for a lot of other negative things that surrounded this flight.
Qatar Airways needs to sort out its ground experience and it needs to make sure that the Business Class seat in the 787-9 remains only in the 787-9 as it’s the worst Business Class seat in the airline (yes, I mean that, and my next review will prove that).
What the airline definitely doesn’t have to sort out is its flight attendants because, as they have been for some time, they’re among the very best.