In the early 1970s, some airlines turned the upper deck of their 747s into experiences that are legend for air flight enthusiasts like myself. Qantas had the Captain Cook Lounge which occupied the entire upper deck. Pan Am had its “Restaurant in the Sky” on the upper deck. And pretty much every major airline that flew 747s put some kind of groovy cocktail lounge or funky pub upstairs.
And then there was American Airlines which expanded the concept on its 747s beyond premium class and put a piano bar on the main deck for economy class customers. A piano bar on an airplane! In economy class! Google it if you don’t believe me. I guess I was born a few decades too late! (What ever happened to that American Airlines?)
But my dear readers, do not feel sad for me for missing out. Because a (very) few airlines today still offer a taste of the wonderful and social on-board lounge. My first epic experience with Emirates on-board lounge was on a couple of 14 hour or so flights that made me want more.
Taking nothing away from Emirates because the are amazing, the lounge on Qatar Airways A380 is honestly bigger and better – a great social space, classy in decorum, with abundant top-shelf drink and food. (In the picture below Qatar’s bar is on the left and Emirates’ bar is on the right).
Both Emirates and Qatar welcome first and business class passengers to their lounges. Was this a highlight of my Qatar Airways first class experience? It was one of so many highlights.
In this post, I will share a few including:
- Qatar Airways QR 833 Flight Basics
- Boarding Qatar First Class
- The First Class Cabin
- The A380 Lounge
- First Class Food and Beverages
- Amazing Service
Qatar Airways QR 833 Flight Basics
- Route: Bangkok to Doha, Qatar
- Flight duration: 7 hrs 25 min
- Departure time: 19:30 (7:30 PM)
- Arrival time: 22:55 (10:55 PM on time)
- Equipment: A380 (3 classes)
- Seat: 2F
Boarding Qatar First Class
I went to the gate about an hour before boarding. Being an A380 there were a lot of people at the gate – this looked like a mostly full flight. But premium passengers had their own lane and I had no real wait to board.
As I stepped onto the airplane, the flight attendant immediately saw my first class ticket jacket, introduced herself, and asked if she might escort me to my seat.
“Thank you very much,” I said as we crossed the galley and turned left. (Any time you board and airplane and turn left, it is always to a much better place than turning right.)
She suggested champagne and offered a choice of Krug Brut or Taittinger Rose Champagne. She said she would let me get settled in, get my champagne, then introduce me to the suite. Her cadence was perfect for my comfort.
Qatar’s First Class A380 Cabin
Qatar’s First Class A380 cabin seats 8 passengers in two rows at the front of the upper deck and it is just stunning.
The first class suite is almost 7 feet long (83 inch pitch to be specific) and the seat 23 inches in width and beyond comfortable with a couple pillows. The suite lighting is well thought out. The monitor is a large 26 inches. A large privacy partition can be raised between seats with a simple push of a button.
The seat is controlled through any of 5 presets or through a touch screen control panel.
Qatar offers wifi onboard and has an extensive selection of movies. I watched one movie, but did not use the wifi, though I was told it was a bit slow.
First Class Bathroom
I wouldn’t normally dedicate a section to a bathroom, but much like Emirates first with its shower, Qatar’s first class bathroom is a site to itself. It is huge, has a long bench in it, the toilet is not visible, and its appointed with many fresh flowers.
Prayer On Board
Things you never see on any US carriers. Whatever your faith, I am big fan of the power of prayer, so it was really cool to me to see an airline acknowledge (albeit for safety reasons) that people pray.
Qatar’s A380 Lounge
As I mentioned in the intro to this post, the lounge was a highlight of this flight. I probably spent 3 hours of this 7 hour flight in the lounge. It is well designed, fun, friendly, and allows for ready socializing.
Qatar’s First Class Food and Beverages
Like many international airlines, Qatar offers a la carte, on-demand dining in first class – in other words, pick anything you want off the menu in any order you want whenever you want.
A great many choices. If you are interested in the details of the dishes, please click the thumbnails below the choices.
- Soup: Creamy tomato soup with basil
- Oscientra caviar
- Arabic mezze
- Beef tenderloin with caramelized onions
- Panko crusted snow fish with egg noodle salad
- Grilled stuffed chicken breast with wild mushrooms
- Stir fried thai noodles with prawn
- Lamb bamia with kabsa rice
- Vegetable fried rice with tofu and cashew nut sauce
- Cheese plate
- Chocolate and ginger tart with cinnamon creme anglais
- Gourmet ice cream
- Fresh fruit
- Light options
- Selection of hot Arabic mezze
- Pomelo pimento salad with smoked salad
- Grilled chicken sandwich
- Selection of sweet and savory assortments
- Selection of infused olive oils
I sort of grazed throughout the flight, both at my seat and at the bar. I with a little neglectful on taking food pictures worthy of this post. I guess I’ll have the fly Qatar first to remedy that, but here are a few:
Qatar’s wine offering was equally well thought out – with pictures of the bottles. Again click on a thumbnail if you are interested in the selection.
And of course the cocktail and bar list.
I will comment on the Camus XO Elegance which is a cognac but in my opinion was quiet a bit different than most other cognacs I’ve had (even beyond the fact that taste changes in a pressurized cabin). It had complex herbal undertones and fruity highlights, and a whole lot of other things going on (exceptionally complicated for a cognac).
I was curious enough that I looked it up upon my return and it is in fact a bit different than other cognacs. If you have ever tried I would be curious what you thought. Feel free to let us know in the comments.
Qatar’s Amazing Service
I’ve read other reviews of the service in Qatar’s first class and the majority are positive with some amount of inconsistency. My experience was the service was brilliant, attentive, friendly, helpful, confident, personal, and made me feel special. The first class cabin was full on my flight, but based on the service, I’d have thought I was the one and only passenger. I can keep going on superlatives, but I think I made my point.
And of course, once my glass of Krug was empty it seemed to be instantly refreshed.
Qatar’s amenity kit features Monte Vibiano product.
Once airborne, a refreshingly pleasant St Clair Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand was perfect for the ascent, along with some mixed nuts.
To say that the journey is sometimes the experience rings true when flying Qatar Airways first class. Being on an A380 with its onboard lounge made it even better.
But for any airline, the people who work for the airline and the service they offer can make or break any experience regardless of the perks or the hard product. Qatar’s staff and the service they offered exceeded my expectations in every way. I am thankful to have been able to experience the people that work for this amazing airline.
In a previous post, I compared flying first class on three One-World airlines: Cathay Pacific, British Airways, and Qatar Airways (see my post Which International First Class is Best: Cathay Pacific, Qatar, or British Airways?) All three were wonderful. Any of the three I would fly first class again, but overall best – considering both the soft product and the hard product – was in fact Qatar Airways.
Coming up next:
- Flying Qatar First out of Bangkok
- Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge Review
Great report! In the early 80s, I flew a lot on Continental Airlines DC-10s mostly between LAX and IAH. It had the Pub, a bar that was open to economy as well as first class. Of course in those days there was no charge for booze for anyone. The Pub was introduced during regulation of the industry when Bob Six ran the airline. Then Frank Lorenzo and deregulation things went downhill fast. I’m not arguing for re-regulation b/t/w/, but the Lorenzo mentality began to take over and neat stuff like the Pub and American’s piano bar began to disappear.
I’ve flown the Etihad A380 first class with the First Class Apartments, shower and bar (not as nice as Qatar’s). With the struggles of the A380, I’m wondering how long airlines will keep great amenities like bars and showers on it versus cram in more seats.