Aircraft Type: A380-800
Class: First Class
Date: 10th October 2014, (Inaugural flight)
Best for: International business class travellers looking for luxury with one-stop connections
Most likely to sit next to: local Qatar people with an interest in international business
Business or pleasure: This is an airline all about business. The carrier offers free wi-fi in First Class and large tables to work from, power and USB sockets and an absolutely amazing onboard lounge to meet other interesting travellers.
Routes: Qatar is one of the leading ‘five star’ airlines and is growing quickly. It connects the world via Doha (with every habitable continent) with a really young and hi-tech fleet.
Frequent Flyer Programme: Qatar Airways Privelige Club or choose your favorite oneworld Frequent Flyer programme for earning and using miles
Best bits: Seat, Service and the Lounge
Worst bits: At this time, only the huge business Class Lounge at Hammad International airport is open (Not the First Class lounge), it’s huge, but could get crowded during the late evening and early morning
Qatar Airways A380-800 First Class Report
By Sven Hennig | I belong to the lucky few who travelled on the long expected flight on the new A380. First flights for airlines and passengers alike are still part of something special. As this inaugural flight had been put back a couple of times due to the scheduled delivery date slipping, we were really happy to be on it on this very special day.
On the ground
As I had arrived back from Cairo the day before and stayed overnight in the transit hotel at the airport, I wouldn’t have to check-in and go through security again at the brand new Hamad International Airport in Doha. So I immediately went to Qatar Airways’ new business class lounge, since the first class lounge is still under construction.
In the lounge it is easy to find a nice spot amongst the two restaurants, uncountable seating opportunities, as well as the TV and smoking rooms.
Wanting to be one of the first to board, I went to the gate shortly before boarding was announced. The gate is located only a few steps away from the lounge and set up over two floors. The lower entrance is for passengers of economy class, the upper one for premium cabins.
Already before being at the gate we were approached by friendly ladies in an elegant wine-red uniform and got roses before entering the plane. From here you’d have a beautiful sight on the wating “beauty of the air”. Another employee of the airline introduced herself as personal assistant and accompanied us onboard. Before us, the door opened for pre-boarding and we were ushered into the first class of the new A380. Access for us was though a seperate bridge. At the aircraft door we were welcomed by another smiling flight assistant that brought us to our seats.
The pictures that we had seen on the internet prior to the delivery didn’t overpromise: the small cabin, situated on the top deck, of first class contains eight luxurious suites and convinces with sophisticated design, high-class material and an impressive gadgets and functionality. Since no shelves were built in, the front upper deck of the plane contains special a cupboard in which passengers can stow their luggage.
The seats are ordered in two rows of a 1-2-1 configuration, so four passengers can opt to sit by the windows and four in the middle. The middle seats are especially suited for people travelling together, but can also be seperated by a small electronically raised partition.
In width as well as length the seats in the best cabin are impressive. Each of the window seats has three big electrically adjustable windows. They can be darkened in two steps, so you can either darken completely or just block the sun. The advantage, compared to electric one in other dreamliners of Boeing, is a better alignment in the cabin. When all windows are darkened you can sleep just perfectly, even though the sun is shining outside.
Because of the great work put into sound dampening (due to all the soft finishes used) and the fact it is a small cabin it becomes a very quiet space in the aircraft. It is quiet enough to talk to someone and if you perhaps fell asleep before take off, when you wake you may just think you’re still on the ground.
In the front section of the cabin you will find two big shelves showcasing beverages and snacks for those wanting to serve themselves. In the same area there are two big bathrooms, which have the aesthetic of being part of a luxurius hotel. The restrooms/changing rooms, like the whole cabin are dominated by strong and harmonic color tones. The impression of luxury and high class finishes is underlined by the use of high-quality Rituals amenities in the bathroom too.
On settling in, I immediately noticed the big screen providing a never ending entertaining programme. It’s bigger than in most hotel rooms, provides a crystal clear picture and can be seen well even with light streaming in from the windows.
A small table lamp besides the screen can be dimmed and creates the right atmosphere when watching TV or trying to catch some sleep.
Qatar has put great effort on details when designing the cabin. There are a lot of detailed finishes situated around the seat, such as a golden metallic bar which has been embellished quite beautifully.
The areas around the seat are covered with warm, soft leather and fit harmoniously with the design of the cabin. There is a seperate small table for beverages and small utensils that’s also decorated in warm hues.
Once sat, you can sense there is a lot of space to put stuff down in and around the seat, so you can store newspapers and magazines, There are also storage areas one headphones, a water bottle and other personal pieces.
The big table provides an experience like in a restaurant with its big white cloth. Below is an example of how the seat turns into a bed.
One of the highlights and signature experiences on board of the A380 is clearly the bar. Behind the large business class cabin on the upper deck, seperated by the thick, sound dampening curtain from economy class, Qatar Airways provides the probably best bar of all planes. As well as being very large, It has twelve seats with seat belts so you can continue to drink in the lounge when the seatbelt sign is switched on, and when it’s not, there is plenty of standing space too.
Even before the take off, there is a very sophisticated impression of the cabin: A luxurius chandelier shines light onto comfortable seats and at the bar there is an amazing wealth of snacks and beverages.
Once only just airborne, we decided to approach the bar once again. In contrast to the empty shelves before, the well equipped bar could also have been a permanent fixture on the ground. You can’t help but be impressed by the well-trained personnel who offers cocktails, beverages and canapés. If you don’t want to feel confined to your seat, it’s the perfect spot to have a drink with other passengers or just be by yourself.
Probably the best answer of a steward to my question why Krug champagne was offered to business class, was : ”We don’t put price tags on things that we offer for our customers.” This attitude is reflected in the whole aircraft product and all areas including economy. I have hardly every seen such a luxurius cabin, it’s one of the best products on the market.
Compared to the rest of the Qatar fleet, (apart from the 787) the entertainment on board is on a higher level. There is an uncountable entertainment selection of movies, games, reports and multi-language TV channels and of course an advanced airshow. I was amazed by the amount of detail the airshow provides. For those budding pilots, an external camera let’s you see what happens outside live.
For passengers who like to work during the flight, there is an internet connection. Qatar follows a similar route by other airlines of differentiating between the cabins. First class had complimentary internet, even though the connection speed is lacking a little.
For some time this Middle Eastern airline has been standing a little bit prouder when it comes to food. While other airlines refer to the concept of “restaurant service”, the service on board the Qatar Airways A380 in First Class is comparable to a fine dining restaurant. Exceptional porcelain, beautifully formed glasses and silver cutlery make eating on board a true gastronomic experience.
Since I was on a day flight, I started with a small breakfast. In first class you can now order from a menu without following a certain structure – dine on demand. So I ordered yoghurt with honey, warm pastry and jelly. After that I tried the omelet with cheese and sausage.
On the flight I also had a steak sandwich, fresh fruit an a piece of A380 cake, which was created especially for this first flight.
Just for the new generation of airplanes (A380 and 787), Qatar has designed new amenity kits in collaboration with Armani. It comes in velvet black bag and contains socks, eye mask and a selection of cosmetics by Armani. You can well spot the differences between business and first class, like size and contents, but both follow the same approach.
A lovely addition were the very exclusive Missoni pyjamas which were re-designed and come in a beautifully soft cotton in blue-gray.
The new first class in the A380 of Qatar Airways sets new standards for premium cabins. Compared to other airlines it’s one of the most high-class products you can find up in the air. It’s currently used on flights between Doha and London, but London-Paris will follow in December and there will be a connection to New York, on which you can experience this adventure for a truly wonderful 12 hours.
TheDesignAir Guest Reporter
Sven Hennig is a Consultant and passionate travel blogger who travels more than 200.000 miles per year. He reviewes more than 50th airline and hotel products on his travelblog http://www.svenbloggt.de in german and english