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
  • Conclusions

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

qatar flight plan

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.

qatar jetway
I chuckled to myself with the walls asking, “What are you thinking?” because I knew exactly what I was thinking as I stepped onto this beautiful bird.

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 olives and cheese
Paul Sees A Glass Of Krug.  Served with a semi hard cheese and green olives.  Beautiful.

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.

qatar first

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.

qatar 2f seat
My gorgeous seat 2F.  The partition had to be lowered for take off and landing but otherwise it was raised to allow for more privacy.
qatar 2f screen
My seat looking at the 26 inch monitor.
qatar 2f view
Looking across the cabin.


Qatar Seat
Window seat 2k.

The seat is controlled through any of 5 presets or through a touch screen control panel.

qatar seat adjustments
Seat presets if you do not want to go through the touchscreen.
qatar seat presets
Touch screen controls
Qatar a380 stairwell
Stairwell from the upper deck down to the village (economy class).
qatar a380 snack
A mini snack bar in the front of the first class cabin.

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.

qatar bathroom full

Qatar Airlines A380 Bathroom

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.

do not stand while praying

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 a380 bar aft
Qatar’s 380 lounge early in the flight before the party really got started.  Food was regularly brought out.   Drinks were kept full.  The service continued to be impeccable but a bit looser in the lounge. I wore my Qatar 1st class pajamas there.  Why not?
Qatar a380 bar bottles
Bar offerings
Qatar a380 roses
Fresh roses added a classy ambiance (and smelled great).
Qatar A380 Bar
I talked to this beautiful couple from Germany for maybe an hour, maybe more – both of them impressive people.  If these two young people are the world’s future, my confidence in humanity goes up a big step.  (And they were fun to drink with).
Qatar a380 bar table
Keeping it classy at our table with high end drinks.

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.

Food Menu

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
  • Appetizers
    • Oscientra caviar
    • Arabic mezze
    • Beef tenderloin with caramelized onions
    • Panko crusted snow fish with egg noodle salad
  • Mains
    • 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
  • Dessert
    • 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
  • Bread
  • 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 arabic coffee and date
Arabic coffee and dates (could have skipped the plastic wrap on the dates but I’ll offer forgiveness for that ha ha)
Qatar caviar service
Qatar’s caviar service (the Ossetra Russian sturgeon caviar) with mother-of-pearl spoon.  Seriously, how much better can life get?
Qatar Ice Cream Service
Qatar’s ice cream is REALLY GOOD.  And it paired beautifully with the 2008 Chateau Leoville Poyferre Bordeaux. (And yes I look pretty buzzed in this picture).


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.

bar list 11

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 krug
The way to my heart and many compliments.

Qatar’s amenity kit features Monte Vibiano product.

Qatar amenities kit

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.

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