Qatar Airways operated their inaugural 787-800 service in December 2012, eventually introducing the revolutionary new aircraft on their Doha to Singapore route in March 2014. With 21 787s in their fleet and another 9 on order, this aircraft is fast becoming a mainstay of Qatar Airways’ fleet.
Featuring their latest business class product (also found on its A380 and A350 fleet), the aircraft has 22 business class seats installed in a 1-2-1, ‘reverse herringbone’ configuration. This allows every passenger in the cabin direct aisle access without disturbing passengers next to you. Upon boarding, we were greeted by a cabin crew member who escorted us to our seat. This sort of personal service seems to be standard for all Qatar Airways flights and is clearly part of their ‘script’ for all cabin crew to follow.
The seat itself is well designed. It allows for ample privacy and plenty on your personal space. The seat controls are clear and easy to access, located on a fixed side table. The meal table is located beneath the IFE screen and folds out simply when required. Headphone and USB ports are located next to the IFE remote. A small storage compartment is located next to the seat (under the space where the blanket is occupying in the picture below). Whilst useful, that compartment is a little hard to access whilst the seat is reclined.
1-2-1 seating is great for solo travellers, but less so for passengers travelling in pairs. Some airlines do it better than others. It’s a tricky balance when trying to give most business travellers some privacy. Eagle-eyed readers will spot two seats on their lonesome at the far rear of the cabin, but more on that later.
There is a small privacy screen between the middle seats that can be raised or lowered so these are definitely the seats to pick if flying with a companion.
On-board the IFE is provided by the Panasonic eX2 system, which is controlled from the IFE remote which makes sense given that the screen isn’t always within touching distance. A large amount of content is available, more than enough to keep us entertained for the 8 hour flight to Doha.
Pandering to an increasingly worrying trend, Qatar Airways do not serve any alcohol on the ground prior to departure from Singapore. Airlines tend to cite taxes as the reason for not serving booze on the ground but we feel that they really should just stump up the cost (although we still prefer the champagne they do ultimately serve in the air, compared to the poor selection of champagne offered by some airlines), surely the tax can’t be too high. In any case, we settled on a lime and mint drink to start with. Also offered were hot or cold face towels.
We ordered a glass of Billecart-Salmon Brut for after take off, which was accompanied by a meagre satay chicken ‘palate pleaser’. Clearly they intended the satay sauce to be a standalone part of the dish.
Next we decided to start with Qatar Airways’ interpretation of an Arabic mezze platter. Served with hummus, tabouleh, muhammara and lahim bil agine served with arabic bread, there was nothing special of note but the hummus was up to their usual standard.
For our main we went with a serving of the ‘Beef fillet with parsley mashed potato -baby carrots, balsamic glazed onions and horseradish jus’. Beef can be hit and miss on airlines but we’ve found that Qatar Airways seem to manage not to dry it out during preparation onboard.
Dessert was a serving of strawberry ice cream, which was delicious.
We covered off some aspects of Qatar Airways service in our review of Qatar Airways’ A380 but it’s definitely worth mentioning again that their ‘dine on demand’ offering is probably the best catering option available in the sky today. It’s exceptionally nice not to be constrained to pre-defined meal times.
Still amusing is that the crew onboard again went through exactly the same motions as our previous flight with Qatar Airways. No other airline we can think of (even Singapore Airlines) manages this sort of consistency.
We mentioned earlier the pair of seats at the far end of the cabin. These were unsurprisingly empty for the duration of our flight. These seats feel very much removed from the rest of the cabin and are right next to the toilets which is never particularly desirable.
Qatar Airways have clearly put a lot of thought into their onboard seating and service, genuinely attempting to stand out from their competition. With some of the best seating, food and consistent service in the sky, we find that this product is very much approaching the first class standard of some airlines and blows many other business class offerings out of the water.