Qatar Airways has, for better or worse, one of the most diverse fleets when it comes to the types of business class seats used. Ranging from standard recliners on some of its narrowbody aircraft, through older full-flat seats and reverse herringbone seats on some of its widebody aircraft, all the way to one of the best business class seats – the QSuites, the airline has it all.
The most recent addition to that collection of seat types is are the suites featured on Qatar Airways’ Boeing 787-9s. Being a combination of reverse herringbone and standard herringbone, the product is different from what most other airlines offer. As such, I was excited to have a chance to try the product when I received an upgrade offer (about 460 USD per person) for a flight my wife and I took from Doha to Vienna back in January.
Continue reading this review to see what the new product is like and what the flight was like overall.
Check-in, Lounge & Boarding at Doha Airport
After arriving in Doha from Tokyo on a Qatar Airways 777-300ER in economy class, we headed through transfer security’s dedicated business class lane which was a breeze. Back in the departures area, we made our way to Al Mourjan Lounge. Even though Qatar Airways’ upgrades do not come with lounge access, I thought we could enter it using my Finnair Plus Gold status.
It turned out, however, that access to the lounge is once again limited only to business class passengers eligible for lounge access (like it was before the pandemic) and we were sent into the recently opened Qatar Airways Silver Lounge – South in concourse B instead.
We left the lounge around 7:15AM and headed to gate A1 where our flight was scheduled to depart from at 8:30AM. When we got to the gate, boarding was not in progress yet. However, passengers were having their boarding passes scanned and being let into the gate’s holding area. The boarding itself started around 7:50AM.
Around the same time that a Qatar Airways A350 in Oneworld livery pushed back from one of the gates visible through our gate’s holding area’s windows. That gave me a chance to get a few photos of the A350 before heading down the jetway onto the 787-9 that would take us to Vienna.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Cabin & Seat
At this point, all of Qatar Airways’ Boeing 787-9s are in the same two-class configuration. In addition to one large cabin between the first two pairs of doors which features 30 business class seats, the 787-9s feature 281 economy class seats spread across two cabins and arranged in a 3-3-3 layout.
Being a fan of Qatar Airways’ attention to detail when it comes to the design of their cabins and seats as well as of its burgundy color scheme, I found the business class cabin on the 787-9 to be beautiful. At the cabin’s back, there was an entryway with a textured wall featuring Qatar Airways’ logo on one side and a narrow counter on the other.
Shortly after take-off, a bouquet of roses in a silver vase was placed on the counter.
The business class seats, or rather suites considering that they were equipped with doors, were arranged in a 1-2- layout. Interestingly, while the single seats next to the windows were facing toward the windows (i.e. they were reverse herringbone), the pairs of seats in the middle were facing toward the aisles (i.e. they were standard herringbone).
I found this configuration to be much friendlier toward people traveling together than the standard reverse herringbone layout (like on the Finnair A350 for example) as having the seatbacks closer to each other makes talking easier.
As such, when choosing our seats, we decided to go with one of the pairs of seats in the middle of the cabin. While I sat on the left-hand side, in 6E, my wife sat on the right-hand side, in 6F. It’s also worth noting here that between each pair of seats in the middle of the cabin, there was a sturdy and high partition to provide privacy in case of two strangers sitting next to each other.
The partition was electronically-operated and to be lowered, the “down” buttons on both sides of the partition had to be pressed simultaneously. That served as a mechanism to avoid the partition’s lowering by only one of the two strangers sitting next to each other. Raising the partition, on the other hand, was possible by pressing the “up” button on either side of the partition.
Inside my suite, to the left of the comfortable seat, was a console table. While not as large as on some other seats, it was perfect for a couple of glasses of drinks or even for a laptop.
Above the console was a panel that housed an in-flight entertainment controller with a small screen, a power outlet, a USB-A port, and the audio output. There were also two lights – a larger one with a few different brightness settings and a smaller pop-up reading one, a small enclosed storage compartment, and a wireless phone charger.
It was my first time to see a wireless charger on a plane and I liked it. Not only did it provide for a nice place to store my phone but also got it charged in the meantime.
The door of the enclosed storage compartment was equipped with a mirror on the inside.
Seat controls could be found under the console. In addition to the standard upright, lounging, and sleeping presets, there were buttons for raising and lowering the leg rest too. No other individual seat control options were provided. That said, there was a “do not disturb” button that turned the seat number light on the outside of the suite red.
On the seatback in front was a large high-resolution touchscreen and under it, there was a footwell. There was also a seat pocket with safety cards (a regular one and one about the detailed instructions for the suite), a waste bag, and menus.
The tray table slid out from below the screen and was sturdy and fairly large. It swiveled 90 degrees making it potentially possible to get out even with the table in use.
On the right side of the seat, there was an armrest that could either be kept flush with the seat or raised.
The suite’s door was fairly low (at least compared with the QSuite) and it was quite hard to open/close. There was also a small gap between the door and the wall panel when the door was closed.
Overall, it provided a nice extra bit of privacy, though.
Lastly, it is worth noting here that each seat came with an individual air vent on the overhead panel.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Bed
With it being a daytime flight under six hours, I didn’t get the chance to sleep in the new suite. However, I tried turning both a single-window seat as well as a pair of seats in the middle into their full-flat positions.
Overall, both looked comfortable to sleep on. That said, while not as small as on some other seats (Swiss’ 777-300ER, for example), the footwell wasn’t as large as on the QSuite. As such, some might find it difficult to find the perfect position to sleep in. That said, considering that the aircraft’s use is most likely to be limited to relatively short routes, this won’t be a problem in most cases.
The pair of seats looked comfortable when turned into a bed too.
While not forming a proper double bed like is possible on QSuites equipped aircraft, the two seats still turned into sort-of-a-double-bed with heads of the passengers in the seats being next to each other. The bodies would be angled away from each other, though.
Qatar Airways Medium-Haul Business Class Pre-Flight Service
Upon boarding, a bottle of water and noise-canceling headphones were waiting in the suite’s enclosed storage compartment. On the console, there was a scaled-down version of an amenity kit (the airline offers much nicer amenity kits on its long-haul flights) and a “protective kit” with all the things one might need when traveling during COVID-19.
Inside the seat pocket, there were the meal menu and wine list.
On the seat itself, there were two pillows – a larger main pillow and a small throw pillow with a travel quote. While I saw some comments regarding the latter saying its too tacky, personally, I liked having the second pillow and thought it was a nice touch.
There was a thick and nicely heavy blanket too.
As soon as I settled in my seat, one of the flight attendants came to offer me a welcome drink. While as a non-drinker, I usually go for a glass of juice, being on Qatar Airways, I decided to get a glass of So Jennie – alcohol-free bubbles. My wife had a glass of champagne. The drink was served together with a packaged hand towel.
Soon after, the chief purser came to introduce herself and mentioned that all passengers were onboard meaning we could switch our seats if we wanted.
Then, another flight attendant came to introduce some of the seat’s features. Then, another one came to do the same. While that made the crew seem a bit uncoordinated, it wasn’t a big deal. All of the flight attendants were friendly both before departure as well as throughout the flight.
Before departure, one of the flight attendants also came to take my meal order. More on that later, though.
Departing Doha Onboard Qatar Airways Flight 183
Around 8:20AM, one of the pilots made an announcement mentioning that we were expecting a flight time of 5 hours 25 minutes and that we would be cruising at an altitude of 39,000 feet. A few minutes later, a safety video featuring Seth Rogen among others was played.
We were pushed back 12 minutes behind schedule, at 8:42AM, and after a long hold short of runway 34L, we took off at 9:06AM.
I enjoyed the after-take-off views through both a window (although that was quite distant since I wasn’t in a window seat) and the exterior camera. The latter, however, stopped working when I tried switching it from the forward-facing camera to the downward-facing camera.
Qatar Airways Medium-Haul Business Class On-Demand Dining
The seatbelt signs were switched off just five minutes after take-off and another ten minutes later, one of the flight attendants brought me a small bowl of warm nuts together with pineapple juice – the drink I ordered prior to taking off.
After placing those on the console, he closed the door.
As for the meal service itself, even on medium-haul flights, Qatar Airways offers an on-demand dining service that, at least in theory, allows you to eat what you want when you want. The menu itself consisted of a selection of “light” items and a full course lunch.
While some passengers only appeared to eat once during the flight, some including my wife and I chose to have two meals – a light one after take-off as breakfast and a full course lunch before landing and vice-versa.
After take-off, I decided to have a brunch platter.
Below is the full meal menu for reference.
One of the flight attendants came to set up my table about 20 minutes after the nuts were served. At the same time, she took my drink order. I decided to have another glass of So Jennie. She also asked whether I wanted to have still or sparkling water. While I ordered the latter, I ended up being served the former.
Below is the full drink menu for reference.
A few minutes after setting up the table, the brunch platter was served.
It offered a nice mix of sweet and sour items including some cut fruits, pulled beef sandwich, seared tuna tataki, lamb rogan josh pie, omelette with sausage, and raisin almond danish.
While all of those tasted great, I especially enjoyed the sandwich, lamb pie, and danish.
My wife decided to start with a proper meal and finish the flight off with something light instead. After take-off, she got the soup of the day (seafood chili soup) and the braised lamb shank with jus. She enjoyed both items.
Not long after I was done with the meal, one of the flight attendants came to clear the tray and ask whether I wanted anything else. I decided to get a cup of mint tea which was brought in within a few minutes.
Cruising Onboard a Qatar Airways 787-9
After finishing the meal and tea, I spent some time taking photos of the cabin and seats.
While doing so, I was approached by one of the friendly flight attendants who explained some of the seat’s features to me once again (including how the privacy partition works) and also unlocked some of the doors that have been locked (in their open position) prior to take-off so that I could close them for my photos.
I also paid a visit to the lavatory which, while not as nice as the one in Emirates 777-300ER new economy class, was still nicer than the average lavatory and stocked with some amenities including dental kits.
For the rest of the flight, at least until the pre-landing lunch, I worked on writing a review of Finnair’s relatively new business class lounge. While doing so, I got a cup of Earl Grey tea.
I also watched some in-flight entertainment content.
Qatar Airways 787-9 In-Flight Entertainment System
Speaking of the in-flight entertainment system, as briefly mentioned earlier, the seat was equipped with a high-resolution touchscreen and good quality noise-canceling headphones were provided.
In terms of content, while not as extensive as Emirates’ ICE, Qatar Airways’ system offers more than enough to keep one entertained on a long-haul flight.
There was a large selection of movies (both Hollywood and international), TV shows, and music. As usual, while there were quite a few different TV shows, only a couple of episodes of each were available.
Additionally, there were some games too.
Lastly, there were the in-flight map and external cameras. They could not only be viewed on the main screen but also on the IFE controller’s small screen or in a small frame within the main screen when watching a movie.
Personally, I rarely use in-flight wi-fi and enjoy the fact that planes are still generally an environment where you can completely disconnect. However, some might find the lack of onboard wi-fi on the 787-9 compared to Qatar Airways’ other aircraft types to be an annoyance.
Qatar Airways Medium-Haul Business Class Lunch
Around 10:45AM (about 1 hour 20 minutes before landing), we ordered pre-landing snack/lunch. While my wife decided to have a glass of So Jennie and a cheese plate, I had (against my better judgment and for the sake of this review) the full-course lunch. For drink, I decided to have one of the mocktails – pineapple margarita.
While making the order, the flight attendant mentioned that it would take around 20 minutes to heat the meal up. Nonetheless, the service started within a few minutes with warm nuts and drinks.
Not too long after that, the actual meal was served.
The cheese plate was served with some fruits, grainex, etc. On my side, the seafood chili soup and bread were served first. Instead of a bread basket, it consisted of three connected pieces of different types of bread. The soup was rich in flavor.
Next, I was served an appetizer.
I decided to have Qatar Airways’ signature dish – Arabic mezze. All three of the small dishes – hummus, tabouleh, and muhammara – tasted good.
For the main course, I decided to try herb salmon fillet. It was served with mashed potatoes and some vegetables.
While the fish, sauce, and vegetables were great, the mashed potatoes didn’t look appetizing and were very dry. In fact, the mashed potatoes were the only thing on the flight that I did not finish. It might have worked better if the salmon was served with grilled potatoes or something else instead.
Lastly, I had the classic New York baked cheesecake with strawberry compote for dessert. I asked for a cup of peppermint tea to go with it.
The cake was excellent and was the perfect item to finish off the meal with.
Arrival at Vienna Airport
At 11:35AM, while many of the passengers were still eating their meals, the captain made an announcement that we would be starting our descent in 10 minutes and landing in about 50 minutes. He also mentioned that it was 2 degrees Celsius in Vienna.
Less than 20 minutes later, the cabin crew passed through the cabin to lock the suite doors in their open position. At 11:58AM, the seatbelt signs were switched back on and Godiva pralines were handed out.
About 30 minutes before landing, as we were flying over Hungary, I finally finished my meal. At 12:10PM, the cabin crew was asked to prepare for landing, and at 12:24PM, we landed on Vienna airport’s runway 34.
With the in-flight map going a bit crazy and showing Vienna as being off the western coast of Africa, we reached our arrival gate at 12:31PM – 11 minutes behind schedule.
Qatar Airways 787-9 Business Class Summary
On the short sub-six-hour flight from Doha to Vienna, Qatar Airways provided service worthy of a long-haul business class – if not first class – flight. The seat was excellent (although in terms of comfort, the QSuite is considerably nicer), the cabin felt specious and looked really nice, and the on-demand meal (and drink) service was second to none – both in terms of available options and quality (other than the mashed potatoes).
Last but not least, the crew was friendly and attentive throughout the flight. That’s in spite of having to execute the dine-on-demand service – and serve many passengers two meals – on such a short flight.
All in all, while I think ANA’s The Room is a better seat even than the QSuite, when it comes to the overall experience, Qatar Airways remains at the top of the list for me.