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Qatar Airways has a great business class product on its A350. I recently flew on it from Doha to the Maldives and it was a great flight though a bit on the shorter side. Here’s a review of the Qatar Airways A350 business class.
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Our entire Qatar itinerary was CDG->DOH->MLE. Availability from CDG to DOH was actually pretty good in first class and so it wasn’t that difficult to find award seats to Doha. However, I could only find economy award seats from DOH to MLE so I originally just settled for those.
Tickets cancelled without notice
Booking these seats almost became a disaster on multiple occasions.
I had to call in to the Australian AA center to book but they did not process my payment in the local currency (Australian dollars). This led to my tickets being stuck in limbo and eventually cancelled. To make matters worse, I wasn’t even notified about the cancellation!
Luckily, I caught that it happened a few days later. And I actually got even luckier, business class seats had opened up so I was able to change my booking from economy to business class to the Maldives without having to pay any change fees.
But the drama wasn’t over there.
Trouble in the Maldives
Several Middle Eastern countries cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar in June 2017 and the Maldives joined in on that. These countries were banning flights from Qatar so I was really nervous that my booking would be cancelled.
I was very close to routing through Colombo, Sri Lanka but luckily flights continued between Qatar and the Maldives and I could breathe once again… or at least I could until the Maldives declared a state of emergency a couple of weeks before our trip (it actually wasn’t bad at all).
One last twist occurred before our trip as the aircraft between Doha and Male was swapped from an A330 to an A350. I much preferred the A350 1-2-1 layout in business class to the A330’s 2-2-2 so this was a welcomed change.
This flight was part of our mega round the world trip and was toward the middle of trip.
We started this particular segment of our trip in Paris after staying two nights at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, which was an interesting experience for me. It’s not a horrible hotel but considering this is a flagship Hyatt property, my experience there left a bit to be desired in the service department….
After that we made our way to the Qatar first/business lounge at CDG, which was very nice. It had some beautiful decor and some pretty solid dining options to choose from. I also thought the outdoor terrace was really cool (I didn’t get to experience it because of the weather).
We then flew out first class on the Qatar A380 from Paris to Doha on what was a great first class flight. The first class cabin is very open but yet still felt very private and the dining and service was on point. I was also a really, really big fan of the on-board bar/lounge pictured below.
After touching down in Doha, we were luckily allowed to experience the amazing Al Safwa First Class Lounge after initially getting a little bit of resistance due to the timing of our flight. That lounge is one of the most stunning first class lounges that I’ve visited.
It’s a huge lounge that resembles a museum in many respects and has some impressive water features.
I really liked the mini hotel rooms that it has where you can get some sleep, shower, and even watch some TV just like you would at an ordinary hotel.
The food and service were also great in the lounge in as well.
After spending the night at the lounge we were refreshed and ready to make our way from Doha down to the warm Maldives.
We were among the first passengers to board and took our seats on 1A and 2A.
The Qatar A350 business class cabin
The cabin on the A350 looked very fresh and new.
The Qatar A350 business cabin is divided up with eight rows in one cabin and then a mini-cabin with three rows. There’s a small mini-bar area in-between the cabins but since this was a shorter flight they didn’t set up the bar area to my disappointment.
It was still a nice area to wander to during the flight and get some stretching done, and I noticed a few other passengers congregated there during the flight.
The seats, which are B/E Aerospace Super Diamonds, are 22 inches wide according to SeatGuru, which is two inches wider than the business class seats on the Cathay Pacific A350. I thought the seats were very comfortable and I could definitely see myself riding in these on a long-haul flight.
The Qatar business class seats are very similar to the Cathay Pacific business class seats on the A350, although Cathay Pacific seats have a the privacy shield, which makes the flying experience feel much more private.
The first thing I immediately noticed was that the bulkhead seat, 1A, has much more legroom than seat 2A. Since this was a shorter flight that didn’t matter that much, but it’s something that I would definitely want to consider if I were on a long-haul flight.
There’s a fair amount of privacy for the middle seats as they are spaced pretty far apart.
You can also raise a middle partition for additional privacy, which you can see below.
The business class seats come with a nice amount of counter space with two tiers to work with.
The top counter space is pretty wide and comes with a water bottle in a holder as well as a lamp.
The in-flight entertainment controller is built into the side of the counter and I found it to be very responsive.
There’s also a panel for the seat controls with many different types of configurations to choose from. The arm rests can be raised or lowered to your liking.
There’s a nice storage compartment on the side of the seat, next to where you can find the power outlet.
The amenity kits came in these bags with cool designs. Inside, they had an eye mask, lip balm, and socks, which wasn’t bad for a short-haul flight.
The headphones were not quite Bose but not bad at all.
Overall, it’s a pretty impressive business class seat. Yes, it could be a tad more private and perhaps even a little bit more leg room (more on that below) but these seats are reportedly wider than those on other products like the Cathay Pacific A350.
After checking out the seat we were ready to take off down to the Maldives. We caught a fantastic view of the Doha skyline as we departed that made a lasting impression on me.
Qatar business class dining
I started off with the signature Qatar drink which is the lemon-mint beverage. This drink is a must on any Qatar flight in my opinion as I could drink on that stuff all day.
For an appetizer, I just kept it simple and went with fresh fruit which was very fresh and juicy.
Next came out some bread and croissants.
For the main dish, I went with the Arabian breakfast. I’d already had a pretty hearty American breakfast very early in the morning at the lounge so I wasn’t that hungry. However, I still managed to scarf some of this stuff down and it was all very refreshing.
After that I tried out a refreshing smoothie-type drink which was pretty good though I didn’t have the tatse buds to finish it off.
This was a shorter flight so I didn’t get the full Qatar business class dining which I’ve heard a lot of great things about. However, I can tell that Qatar knows what they are doing based on the quality of the food.
I’d also point out that the service on this flight was top-notch.
The level of attention on the flight felt pretty close to a first class experience to be honest. When the cabin manager found out we were going to be cutting it really close to connecting with our puddle jumper flight, they took extra time to explain to me how immigration should work and what I should do about answering some important questions on my immigration card.
Due to the short length of the trip, I wasn’t able to try out the bed properly. However, I did put the seat all the way down and tested it out. I liked that the arm rest and the padding on top of the side storage compartment made the lying experience feel a little more spacious.
However, when compared to the business class seat on the Cathay Pacific A350, I think I prefer the Cathay Pacific A350 since it has a wider area for your legs that you can see in the photo below.
Flying into the Maldives is a lot of fun because the views are simply stunning. While we were flying as a couple and tempted to take the middle seats, we decided it’d be better to go for the window seats on this flight. And I’m 100% happy that we made that decision.
Watching these beautiful turquoise atolls, reefs, and islands pop up left and right as you approach Male is mesmerizing. I’d honestly never seen anything quite like it before.
You can spot several of the resorts from the sky but I wasn’t able to recognize any of them from up in the air. I will say that there were many more resorts than I had imagined before heading to the Maldives.
We caught a great view of the city of Male, too, which was one of the most densely populated cities I’ve seen.
After landing we were able to get through immigrations and customs very quickly and we were escorted to the Hilton Conrad Lounge where we awaited to be taken to our retreat water villa at the Conrad (which was a fantastic stay).
Qatar has a very solid business class product on the A350. It’s comfortable, open, and a great way to spend time in the sky. It does have some cons compared to other similar products, but I would be very happy to fly this business class product in the future (though I’d be very interested in the Q-Suites).
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.