When looking for flights to Europe a couple of weeks back, the cheapest one-way option was Qatar Airways. Not having flown the airline for quite a while, I decided to book the flight from Tokyo Narita to Vienna via Doha. Little did I know at the time of booking that it would give me the chance to fly in the airline’s excellent QSuites business class.
Right after I finalized the booking, I was offered an upgrade on the longer segment to Doha for about 520 USD. While that was slightly more than the economy class fare of 400 USD itself, I thought it was an excellent deal. Yet, I hesitated a bit as flights out of Japan have extremely low loads nowadays, guaranteeing enough comfort even in economy class. With the upgrade fee dropping to about 460 USD a couple of days later and a bit of persuasion from my friend, I eventually took up Qatar Airways’ offer and paid for the upgrade.
With the QSuites flight from Doha to New York I took back in 2018 being one of my favorite flights ever, I was excited to try the product again. I was also excited to fly on an aircraft variant I hadn’t flown on before, the A350-1000. Continue reading to see what the flight was like.
Check-in and Boarding at Narita Airport
I arrived at Narita airport’s terminal 2 around 7:45PM, almost three hours before my flight’s scheduled departure time of 10:30PM. As sometimes happens with late-night flights out of Narita, though, the flight information displays were showing an early departure time of 10:10PM.
Five minutes later, I got to Qatar Airways’ check-in counters. While there was no line, all of the counters were occupied and so it took a few minutes until it was my time to check-in.
When going to Slovakia last year, it took me a good half-hour to convince the check-in staff that I only needed to meet Slovakia’s entry requirements even though I was technically entering Austria. This time, both thanks to Austria having eased its restrictions a bit and me having a vaccine passport to show, things went much smoother and I had my boarding passes in no time.
With the international passenger numbers at Narita and in Japan in general still being abysmal, there was no line at security and immigration. Airside, since the upgrade didn’t include lounge access, I spent some time taking photos of aircraft before having a quick meeting. The entire terminal was deserted and stores were closed.
After the meeting, which I did at one of the deserted gates, I headed to my flight’s departure gate, gate 68. There, outside the window, the A350-1000 (reg. A7-ANP) was almost ready for the flight. Inside, there were a couple of dozen passengers waiting for boarding to start.
Business class passengers were, at 9:28PM, the first ones to be called to board and I was the first passenger to get on the plane.
Qatar Airways A350-1000 QSuites Business Class Seat
Qatar Airways A350-1000s are equipped with a total of 327 seats in two classes. Business class features 46 QSuites in a 1-2-1 configuration spread across two cabins. The larger of the two business class cabins has 42 seats and is located between the aircraft’s first and second pair of doors. The smaller cabin features just one row of four seats. Economy class is in a 3-3-3 configuration.
The single seats on either side of the business class cabins alternate between being closer to the window/rearward-facing and being further from the window/forward-facing. In the middle section, odd-numbered rows include two seats close to each other and facing rearward. Even-numbered rows feature two front-facing seats further apart from each other.
While I had flown QSuites on a 777-300ER before, stepping onboard the A350-1000, I was once again amazed by how nicely the QSuites cabin is designed. The combination of burgundy, grey, and lighter tones with nice textures on the suite walls gave the cabin a modern and luxurious look.
My seat, 7K, was a rearward-facing “true” window QSuite in the larger cabin. The suite, in addition to the seat itself and a small storage compartment to the side of it, included a large IFE screen (with USB and HDMI ports under it) in front of the seat with a console next to it. Inside the storage compartment, there was a waste bag, a bottle of water, and a noise-canceling headset.
The storage space inside that compartment itself was quite limited and so, for suitcases and larger bags, the overhead bins were the only option.
Under the console which was large enough to hold my cameras, laptop, and a cup of tea among other things, there was a small shelf. Further down, on the console’s side panel, there were the in-flight entertainment controller, seat controls, a power outlet, a USB charging port, audio output, and an NFC reader. Another set of seat controls (limited to the “upright” button and light switch) could be found next to the seat, easily accessible in lie-flat mode.
The IFE controller was quite light and small, and definitely not as nice as the one on the 777-300ER. In fact, the layout of the panel which included the controller was one of the more noticeable differences between the QSuites on the 777 and A350.
Two safety cards, a general one and a QSuites-specific one, could be found on the side of the console as well.
In addition to the individual air vents and reading lights placed on the overhead panel, reading light and a coat hook could also be found next to the seat. The leather part of the seat that they were placed on was decorated with beautiful stitching.
One last thing worth noting about the suite is that the lighting of the seat number on the suite’s wall changed from blue to red when the do not disturb button was pressed.
Qatar Airways Business Class Pre-Flight Service & Departure
Back to the flight itself, while taking some photos of the cabin before settling in my seat, I was approached by one of the flight attendants who introduced herself before offering me a welcome drink. A minute or two later, she brought me a cup of Coke Zero together with a packaged wet wipe which would have been a hot towel before the pandemic.
As, at that point, I still hadn’t moved the pillow, blanket, amenity kit, and “protective kit” that were waiting on the side table away, the flight attendant pulled out the large tray table instead. The in-flight dining menu and wine list were waiting on the shelf under the side table upon boarding as well.
Not long after that, the flight attendant came back asking whether I had flown in QSuites before. Answering “yes,” she asked me whether I remembered how to operate the QSuites door in case of emergency. Jokingly mentioning that I didn’t really remember as luckily there was no need to use it, she kindly explained the mechanism.
Around 9:45PM, one of the Japanese flight attendants onboard handed me pajamas and slippers. She also mentioned that they can prepare a mattress anytime after take-off and so I should let the crew know once I want it.
Ten minutes later, she came back to take my meal order. More on what was on offer and what I got later, though. Around the same time, the captain welcomed us on board and mentioned that we expected to fly for 10 hours and 50 minutes at a cruising altitude of 40,000 feet.
Boarding was completed at 10:11PM and seven minutes later, the cabin crew armed the doors. At this time, the safety video was played too. While attempting to be original and funny, and featuring some celebrities and sports players including Seth Rogen and Robert Lewandowski, I am not sure I liked the video.
We were pushed back at 10:21PM, nine minutes ahead of schedule (or eleven minutes behind the revised early departure time), and took off from runway 16R at 10:41PM. Just as our wheels left the ground, many passengers’ phone alerts started ringing loudly. After thinking something was wrong with the aircraft for a split second, it turned out that just as we were taking off, there was a strong earthquake that briefly paralyzed transportation.
Qatar Airways Business Class Dine-on-Demand
While Qatar Airways offers a dine-on-demand service allowing passengers to choose any item off the menu at any time, I chose to have a full meal right after take-off as usual. Before talking about that, however, below is the extensive food menu.
The drink menu was extensive as well and, in addition to the typical drinks, also included non-alcoholic sparkling wine and a considerable selection of mocktails. Below is the full drink menu which was included in the main menu booklet and the wine list which came separately.
As mentioned earlier, the meal order was taken before departure. I decided to have some soup, the lobster appetizer, and the salmon main. I also chose pomegranate olive oil from the four choices I was given and asked for a glass of So Jennie, the non-alcoholic sparkling wine.
The meal service started about 25 minutes after take-off while the seatbelt signs were still on. At that time, one of the flight attendants brought me some warm nuts and a glass of So Jennie. After placing those on the side table, she offered to close the suite’s door which I accepted.
It took another ten minutes or so for the seatbelt signs to be turned off at which point, the flight attendant came back to set the table. While nothing major, I was given chili tomato olive oil instead of the ordered pomegranate one. At this point, a piece of bread (or rather three connected pieces of bread) was brought and I was given a choice between sparkling and still water, opting for the former.
Soon after, the soup was brought. While the menu didn’t specify the type, it turned out to be edamame and ginger cream soup and it tasted excellent. Unlike pre-pandemic, instead of being placed directly on the table, the meal items were placed on a tray.
The seafood salad that followed and included a piece of lobster, a scallop, and a piece of smoked salmon was excellent as well.
When I was brought the main, baked herb crusted salmon with olive and tomato sauce, fifteen minutes later or so, I was asked whether I wanted some ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise to go with it. Saying no, the flight attendant told me to enjoy the meal which I surely did. The portion was just right and the taste was great as well.
To finish the meal off, I had the baked matcha green tea cheesecake. I sound like a broken record by this point, but the dessert was excellent too. I had it with a cup of peppermint tea.
While it may sound obvious, it’s worth noting here that after serving each course, the flight attendant closed the suite door which made the entire experience feel even more exclusive.
Qatar Airways Business Class Amenities
Once finished with the meal, I went to one of the three business class lavatories to change into the pajamas I was given before departure. The lavatory’s sink area featured some nice finishes. More importantly, though, the lavatory was also equipped with a window.
As for amenities, in addition to the obligatory hand soap, there were also Rituals hand lotion and body mist. Shaving and dental kits were available as well.
At this point, it is also worth briefly talking about the content of the Bric’s amenity kit and the “protective kit” that were provided at the beginning of the flight.
The former included an eyemask, socks, earplugs, lip balm, moisturizer, and facial mist. While the contents were the same as those of the amenity kits I received when flying Qatar Airways business class back in 2018, the pouch itself was different.
The latter included all the things one might need when flying during a pandemic: a facemask, hand sanitizer, and rubber gloves.
Sleeping in the A350-1000 QSuites Bed
By the time I got back to my seat, the bed was ready with a mattress pad placed on the seat and the blanket nicely folded on top of it. A wet wipe was placed on the side table as well.
Once one of the flight attendants saw that I was back at my seat, she came to ask whether I wanted to be woken up a certain amount of time before landing. I asked to be woken up two hours before landing and also got a cup of peppermint tea to have before going to sleep.
I did some work and played around with the in-flight entertainment system a bit.
I went to sleep at 8:20PM or so Doha time, and woke up about five horus later, at 1:30AM. At that point, we were somewhere between Pakistan and the Arabian Peninsula, and we had less than two hours left in the flight, at least according to the in-flight map.
While the QSuites bed is spacy, I found it to be a bit too hard, even with the provided mattress pad.
Qatar Airways A350-1000 In-Flight Entertainment
Let’s briefly stop and talk about in-flight entertainment. There was no shortage of content to choose from and watch on the nice high-resolution screen and listen to using the decent noise-canceling headset.
There was a selection of dozens of movies (both Hollywood and international) and TV shows. Unfortunately, like with most other airlines, only a couple of episodes rather than entire seasons of each of the TV shows were available.
A good selection of music and some games were available as well.
Lastly, the IFE system was, of course, also equipped with an in-flight map. As is fairly standard nowadays, one could freely zoom in and out, switch between the views, and so on.
In addition to the IFE system, the aircraft was also equipped with wi-fi. More specifically, it was equipped with Qatar Airways’s “Super Wi-Fi” available on the airline’s select A350s and 777s. This one is not only faster but also cheaper compared to the wi-fi available on other aircraft in Qatar’s fleet.
Qatar Airways’ Privilege Club members (free to register) got one hour of wi-fi for free and it cost just $10 to use for the entire flight. In fact, it was even possible to pre-purchase access for even cheaper before the flight.
Qatar Airways Long-Haul Business Class Breakfast
About ten minutes after I woke up, one of the Japanese flight attendants approached me to take my breakfast order. I asked for a smoothie, yogurt, fruits, and scrambled eggs with ketchup and mayonnaise.
Shortly after, the smoothie was served, and I was asked whether I wanted strawberry jam, orange marmalade (my choice), or honey with the bread that was about to come. While waiting for the the meal to be served, I watched Young Sheldon and got some work done.
By the time the flight attendant came to set up the table, I was done with the mixed berry smoothie. Considering that it was excellent, I didn’t hesitate to say yes when she asked if I wanted another one.
The second smoothie and the rest of the meal were served just a couple of minutes later. At that time, I was asked again whether I wanted any ketchup or mayonnaise to go with the scrambled eggs.
Both the scrambled eggs and the side dishes were good. Once I was finished and the flight attendant cleared the table, I asked for another cup of peppermint tea. It was brought together with some Smint mints and a couple of wet wipes.
Arriving at Doha Hamad International Airport
Not too long after the breakfast, it was time for the flight to come to an end. At 2:36AM, the captain made an announcement that we were expecting to land in 40 minutes, that the skies in Doha were clear, and that we would be commencing our descend soon.
Fifteen minutes after that, the flight attendants went through the cabin to hand out Godiva pralines and collect the mattress pads.
Another five minutes later, the seatbelt signs were turned on and purple mood lighting was turned on. Around the same time, one of the flight attendants came to ask me how I enjoyed the flight.
We landed at Doha Hamad International airport at 3:22AM. Eight minutes later, at 3:30AM (half an hour ahead of schedule), we parked at our arrival gate.
Qatar Airways A350-1000 QSuites Business Class Summary
While initially, I wasn’t sure whether the upgrade would be worth it considering the light loads overall, in the end, I was very happy to have taken the opportunity. Qatar Airways offers, without a doubt, one of the best if not the best business class experiences in the world (I consider ANA’s The Room suite itself to be slightly better, although not the service).
The fact that I even noticed very small mishaps like being asked whether I wanted mayonnaise twice or not being woken up as agreed is a testament to how enjoyable and exceptional the flight was overall.