Qatar Airways A350 Business Class Review (DOH to MLE)

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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Finding availability

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 used 62,500 AA miles per person to book the flight and paid $153 in fees for each person, which is one of the top uses for AA miles.

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).

Aircraft swap

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.

Circuitous routing due to airspace restrictions.

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The journey

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….

The Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme.

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).

Qatar business class lounge at CDG.

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.

Qatar first class bar on the A380.

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.

Al Safwa First Class Lounge.

It’s a huge lounge that resembles a museum in many respects and has some impressive water features.

Al Safwa First Class Lounge.

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.

Al Safwa First Class Lounge.

The food and service were also great in the lounge in as well.

Al Safwa First Class Lounge.

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.

Qatar A350 business class cabin.

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 mini bar/rest area.

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.

Qatar A350 business class window seat.

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.

Cathay Pacific A350 business class.

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.

The bulkhead seat, 1A.
A normal seat, 2A.

There’s a fair amount of privacy for the middle seats as they are spaced pretty far apart.

Qatar A350 business class middle seats.

You can also raise a middle partition for additional privacy, which you can see below.

Qatar A350 business class middle seats.
Qatar A350 business class middle seats.

The business class seats come with a nice amount of counter space with two tiers to work with.

Qatar A350 business class seat counter space.

The top counter space is pretty wide and comes with a water bottle in a holder as well as a lamp.

Qatar A350 business class seat counter space.

The in-flight entertainment controller is built into the side of the counter and I found it to be very responsive.

Qatar A350 business class in-flight controller.

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.

Qatar A350 business class seat controls.

There’s a nice storage compartment on the side of the seat, next to where you can find the power outlet.

Qatar A350 business class storage compartment.

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.

Qatar A350 business class amenity kit.
Qatar A350 business class amenity kit.

The headphones were not quite Bose but not bad at all.

Qatar A350 business class headphones.

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.

Qatar A350 business class seat.

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.

View of the Doha skyline.

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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.

The bedding

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.

Qatar A350 lie-flat seat.
Qatar A350 lie-flat seat.

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.

Maldives views

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.

View of the Maldives approaching Male.
View of the Maldives approaching Male.

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.

Random Maldives resort.
View of the Maldives approaching Male.
View of the Maldives approaching Male.

We caught a great view of the city of Male, too, which was one of the most densely populated cities I’ve seen.

The city of Male.

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).

Conrad Maldives retreat water villa.

Final word

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).

What Is the Proper Qatar Pronunciation?

Qatar Airways has become one of my favorite airlines to fly with due to its luxurious hard product and great dining and service. The only problem was, I realized I didn’t know what the proper Qatar pronunciation was and found myself constantly pronouncing it differently. After a while, I decided it was time to clear up some of the confusion and find out exactly how to pronounce Qatar.

The quest for the proper Qatar pronunciation

I’ve actually been curious about how to pronounce Qatar since I was in college. I went to Texas A&M University for undergrad, which has a campus in Qatar. I would hear people around campus pronounce it like “cutter” but also like “cuh-TAR” and so I never realized which was correct.

Fast forward a few years to when I got deep into the miles and points game.

I called American Airlines’ call center in Australia to book a Qatar flight with AA miles and I initially told them I was calling about booking “cutter” flights. The Aussie AA agents responded with a confused “huh?” so I then went with the kuh-TAR pronunciation and they immediately recognized what I was talking about and proceeded to book my flight.

I found that it wasn’t just the AA agents who would get confused by my cutter pronunciation. Most of my friends and family members would also scratch their heads a bit when I would talk about the state of things in “cutter” and I’d have to quickly clear it up with a “oh, you know, the country, kuh-TAR.”

So I started to lean towards kuh-TAR as the chosen way to pronounce Qatar and it seemed to be working fine for me.

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Doha (pronounced Do-ha), Qatar.

Leaning towards Cutter

But then I started to do some research. I came across other blogs that posed the question. I learned there were even more ways to pronounce Qatar, like the UK/British Qatar pronunciation “Cuh-tah.”

On Reddit’s TIL (Today I Learned) subreddit, I found time and time, and time again, that others (including the Merriam-Webster Dictionary) would state cutter or a version very close to that like “kä-tər” was proper.

In addition, apparently a lot of people who spent time in the country of Qatar said that locals mainly used cutter while kuh-TAR was a pronunciation used by people from the West. (Some even implied kuh-TAR was of a derogatory nature but I don’t think that’s the case.)

I dug deeper into it and came across videos like this, which explain that neither cutter or kuh-TAR are correct but that cutter is closer to the Arabic pronunciation.

But that video is just made by a dude who (allegedly) knows Arabic so I decided to look for more “official” sources like Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani, the former prime minister of Qatar. In the video below at around 0:23 he clearly pronounces it as kuh-ter, which is a little different from cutter which some people pronounce like butter but a lot different from kuh-TAR.

At this point, I started to think that the true Qatar pronunciation was somewhere much closer to cutter than kuh-TAR.

Is everybody is right?

So on board my recent first class A380 flight from Paris to Doha (read about that amazing flight here), I decided I would put a flight attendant on the spot. So I asked the cabin manager what the proper pronunciation was. And the she told me….

Either pronunciation is correct!

She said I could go with cutter or kuh-TAR. That definitely was not the clarity I was looking for. I was hoping this would be a black and white issue. But it did feel good to at least hear that from an employee of Qatar Airways since it gave me a little bit of closure. This was also in line with other sources that stated that even Qataris differ on how they pronounce it depending on where in Qatar they are from.

Qatar Airways bar and lounge.

Leaning towards kuh-TAR?

So it sounded like either version would fly. But I wondered how people within my niche would pronounce it. These people are well-traveled and cultured, and I figured that I could rely on them for guidance here.

After my Qatar flight, I decided this would be a perfect question to put in an Instagram poll. So I set up the poll and after a couple of hundred votes, the results came in overwhelmingly in favor of kuh-TAR! 

Qatar Pronunciation

Final word on the Qatar pronunciation

In the end, I came to the following conclusions about Qatar pronunciation:

  • It is generally acceptable to say pronounce Qatar as kuh-TAR or cutter
  • The most authentic version of pronouncing Qatar in Arabic is probably closer to kuh-ter (with the right emphasis/inflection)
  • Most people in the West, even frequent travelers, likely use kuh-TAR and better recognize that Qatar pronunciation
  • There are several other variations to pronouncing Qatar beyond cutter and kuh-TAR

I think for the sake of making my life easier I’m going to use kuh-TAR since when I try to use cutter I end up having to use kuh-TAR to clarify what I’m talking about. But deep down inside, I think I’ll always be on team cutter since it seems closer to the most authentic way to pronounce Qatar in Arabic.

Qatar Airways A380 First Class Review (CDG to DOH)

Qatar is known mostly for its great business class product which is even more so the case now that they have the new Q-suites. However, their first class product is still one of the best first class experiences in the sky if you ask me. Here’s my full Qatar Airways A380 first class review from my recent flight from CDG to DOH.

Qatar A380 routes

Qatar only has nine A380 aircraft, as they mostly fly versions of the 777 (50), 787 (30), and A350/A320 (60).

These A380s are only used on a hand full of routes, most of which are shorter at around 6 to 7 hours. Here are all of the Qatar A380 routes from Doha according to iflyA380:

  • Bangkok
  • Guangzhou
  • London
  • Paris
  • Sydney
Qatar Airways A380 route map.

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Booking Qatar Airways first class

Finding availability

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 used 62,500 AA miles per person to book the flight and paid $153 in fees for each person. 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.

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).

The Conrad Maldives.

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.

The lounge experience

We’d just finished a stay at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme and first made our way into the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at CDG. That lounge was fantastic. It’s stunning, spacious, and offers some solid dining options along with an outdoor terrace where you have Eiffel Tower views. You can read my full review of the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge here.

Qatar lounge at Paris CDG 34
Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at CDG.
Qatar lounge at Paris CDG 45
Qatar Airways Premium Lounge at CDG.
Qatar A380 First Class 1
Qatar first class boarding passes.


After making our way through security at the gate we approached the boarding area and would end up being the first passengers to board.

Qatar A380 First Class 2
Boarding area for our flight.

Boarding started on time and we were directed to the first class cabin found in the front of the upper deck of the A380.

Heading up the jet bridge.

The first class cabin

When we entered, the crew helped us to our seats and tended to our luggage. There’s a storage closet up front where they stored our carry-on luggage, as there are no overhead bins.

Upon seeing the first class cabin for the first time, I was surprised by how extremely elegant the cabin looked.

Qatar A380 First Class 4
Qatar A380 first class cabin.
Qatar A380 First Class 13
Qatar A380 first class cabin.
Qatar A380 First Class 11
Qatar A380 first class cabin.

I liked the contrasting tones used in the wood and seat cushions and accented mood lighting. The layout reminded me of the Korean Air A380 first class cabin except much more elegant and private, with only eight total suites.

The only thing that I wasn’t crazy about was that the seats were cloth. I prefer the look of leather found in other first class seats and think leather seats would’ve looked better. The cloth material is still quality though so this is hardly an issue.

Qatar A380 First Class 5
Qatar A380 first class cabin.

There’s a small area at the front of either side of the first class cabin where you can pick up snacks and drinks, such as water and juices. While there’s no bar in this section like Emirates, it’s still a gorgeous area that nicely welcomes you into the first class cabin.

Qatar A380 First Class 6
Qatar A380 first class cabin.
Qatar A380 First Class 8
Qatar A380 first class cabin snacks.
Qatar A380 First Class 7
Qatar A380 first class cabin.

This is also where you’ll find the two lavatories which were very nice and spacious on the inside.

Qatar A380 First Class 63
Qatar A380 first class lavatory.

The Qatar Airways A380 suites

These suites are actually much more private (and bigger) than I originally thought.

Qatar A380 First Class suite
Qatar A380 first class suite with high partitions.

While it’s still very odd to me that Qatar has fully enclosed suites in their business class product and open suites in first, I honestly didn’t feel like these suites needed a door. Would a fully enclosed suite be nice? Sure, but the partitions are very tall and protrude far out so privacy never felt like an issue to me.

Even the middle seats have high levels of privacy.

Qatar A380 First Class 10
Qatar A380 first class cabin middle seats.
Qatar A380 First Class 14
Qatar A380 first class cabin middle seats.

However, I still think that the window seats offer much more privacy as is usually the case in any cabin.

Qatar A380 First Class 12
Qatar A380 first class cabin window seat.

I went with seat 1A which I loved although I don’t think there’s really a bad seat in Qatar’s A380 first class cabin. The seats come with two pillows and there’s a blanket on the ottoman. They are very wide at 23 inches between armrests but feel even wider due to the extra-wide back cushion.

Qatar A380 First Class 15
Qatar A380 first class seat, 1A.

The suite itself felt very spacious and private. There’s a decent amount of functional counter space and a tray-like table built in to the seat’s counter, which was perfect for setting down drinks, snacks, or even electronics.

Qatar A380 First Class suite.
Qatar A380 first class suite.

You can get a sense of how private the seats are below. I guess the one drawback is that there’s no partition extending from the front of the suite so it’s easy for people to see what you’re watching and your feet feel a bit exposed.

Qatar A380 First Class 17
My view from seat 1A.

Other first class cabins like Korean Air’s A380 (pictured below) provide more privacy for your in-flight entertainment viewing (at least from those sitting next to you) and offer more privacy to keep your feet from being exposed.

Personally, I’m not ashamed that sometimes I resort to watching Pixar movies on planes and don’t mind showing off my fresh socks so I don’t really care but it’s something I thought was worth pointing out.

Korean Air A380 First Class 10
Korean Air first class.

In-suite features

Each suite features an ottoman with space below to store a small to medium sized bag like a back pack. From the take-off position, I could just barely touch the ottoman to rest my feet (I’m 6′ 1″). This distance works out if you’re trying to share a meal at your seat though since it gives your partner plenty of room to sit.

Qatar A380 First Class 20
Qatar A380 First Class.

There’s a wardrobe built into the suite wall behind the ottoman/TV which is actually pretty spacious.

Qatar A380 First Class 22
Qatar A380 first class wardrobe.

The TV is pretty big at 26 inches and it’s also a touch screen. Directly to the left of the TV is a power outlet and lamp. I personally liked how they integrated the monitor into the wood grain panel with the touch of the lamp for additional elegance.

Qatar A380 First Class 21
26-inch TV screen.

The Oryx One in-flight entertainment had a good selection of TV shows and movies (you can check on current listings for your flight here).

I had issues with my in-flight entertainment since I could not pause movies — only stop them. This made it very tedious to take a break during movies so that was one of the negatives during the flight.

The seat and lighting controls are pretty standard and very intuitive. You’ll find some on the left, where you’ll also find a compartment holding the in-flight controller and a bottle of water.

Qatar A380 First Class 23
Seat and lighting controls.
Qatar A380 First Class 24
IFE controller and bottled water.

On the right side are the standard seat controls and within the compartment on that side you’ll find the privacy controls and the headphones, which I thought were high quality although not quite Bose quality.

Qatar A380 First Class 25
Seat controls.
Qatar A380 First Class 26
Compartment with headphones.
Qatar A380 First Class 27
Headphone bag.
Qatar A380 First Class 28
Qatar A380 first class headphones.

There’s also a tablet which you can use to control the lighting and the privacy of your suite. I had my privacy partitions up the entire time and I was never asked to put them down during take off or landing so that was nice. (It’s not always clear which airlines will make you do that.)

Qatar A380 First Class 29
Touch screen privacy and lighting controls.

The amenity kit is issued by Brics, which is an Italian company known for high quality luggage.

Qatar A380 First Class 30
Qatar A380 first class amenity kit.

The kit contains an eye shield, socks, lip balm, anti-aging moisturizers, and hydrating facial mist. It also comes with a Bric’s leather luggage tag that I loved but would feel odd using it on non-Bric’s luggage.

Qatar A380 First Class 33
Qatar A380 first class amenity kit.
Qatar A380 First Class 31
Qatar A380 first class amenity kit.

The moisturizers are from Castello Monte Vibiano.

Qatar A380 First Class 32
Qatar A380 first class amenity kit.

The bar serving up the champagne hadn’t opened yet so I requested for the lemon mint drink, which is a signature drink of Qatar Airways. It was very refreshing and it’s such a great starter drink (with no alcohol).

Qatar A380 First Class 34
Qatar’s lemon mint drink.

They also offered some olives and other snacks, such as an individually wrapped date.

Qatar A380 First Class 35
Pre-departure Qatar first class snacks.
Qatar A380 First Class 36
Pre-departure Qatar first class snacks.

With olives and a the fresh minty drink, I was all settled and ready for take off.

Qatar A380 First Class 18

Once we got up in the air they started pouring the Krug, which I consider to be on par with Dom.

Qatar A380 First Class 39
Qatar A380 First Class champagne.

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The Qatar Airways A380 first class dining experience

When it came time to eat, they pulled out a massive tray table and covered with with a heavy tablecloth. The tray table slides pretty far away from you so you should be able to slip out of your seat if needed.

Qatar A380 First Class 43

The first item they brought out was the soup, which was a mushroom soup with sautéed morels. I actually declined the soup but Brad gave it a shot. He liked the flavor but thought that the mushrooms had an unusually dry texture.

Qatar A380 First Class 51
Mushroom soup with sautéed morels.

Then came the caviar with additional condiments. I’ve seen better presentations before but for me it’s all about the flavor, which was fantastic. I still can’t believe Etihad doesn’t offer caviar while so many other top first class products do.

Qatar A380 First Class 44
Qatar A380 first class caviar.

Along with the caviar we were given both crispy and soft crackers. I prefer crispy crackers with caviar so it’s nice that Qatar gave us different choices.

Qatar A380 First Class 45
Qatar A380 first class caviar.

Then came the breads along with specially selected oil/dressing.

Qatar A380 First Class 47
Qatar A380 first class breads.
Qatar A380 First Class 48
Qatar A380 first class breads and oil.

The next dish was a small shrimp dish which I wasn’t very crazy about.

Qatar A380 First Class 49
Qatar A380 first class dining.

Right about this time we were flying over the Alps, and I was very thankful that we’d decided to take window seats. This was my first time flying over the Alps in the day time and the views were unbelievable.

Qatar A380 First Class 41
The Alps!

The windows on the A380 upper deck are quite small and it’s hard to get photos but you can still appreciate the views. I think flying over snowy mountain ranges will always blow me away no matter how many times I do it.

Qatar A380 First Class 42
Beautiful views of the Alps.

Then came the main dish which was the grilled cod on potato puree. Both the cod and puree had wonderful texture and flavor which was brought out fully with the sauce. I love getting an unexpectedly hearty meal on a plane so I felt like I made a great choice.

Qatar A380 First Class meal
Grilled cod on potato puree.

Brad went with the French trimmed lamb cutlets.

Qatar A380 First Class meal.
French trimmed lamb cutlets.

I was so preoccupied with getting to the bar before it got crowded that I did something I never do and skipped dessert! I meant to go back and try it out but I completely blanked so I can’t report on what usually is my favorite part of plane dining. (In reality we did 20+ flights on this trip so skipping dessert one time was probably my best move.)

Here’s a pic of the menu main items but you can check out my entire photo album for the full dining and wine menus.

Qatar A380 First Class 86
Qatar Airways first class menu.

Qatar Airways A380 first class service

Overall, the service was very solid on this flight. From the moment we stepped in, we were given a lot of attention and everyone in the crew was very warm and personable. I also loved how —  like other Middle Eastern carriers — the crew was very diverse. I’d read mixed reviews about Qatar’s service but this flight left me with overwhelmingly positive feelings about them.

Qatar Airways A380 bar — “The Lounge”

After dinner, it was time to check out the famed Qatar Airways A380 bar, officially known as “The Lounge.” Out of all of the different carriers with on-board bars and lounges, I think Qatar is clearly the winner for best overall bar.

First, the bar area is absolutely stunning.

Qatar A380 First Class 61
Qatar A380 first class bar.

It’s also a spacious area with sofas incorporated seamlessly into the design so that several people can find room to sit and easily socialize.

Qatar A380 First Class 62
Qatar A380 first class bar.

The spirits at the bar aren’t quite as premium as those found on board Emirates but there is still a good selection.

Qatar A380 First Class lounge
Qatar A380 first class bar.

They also serve different types of snacks at the bar as well.

Qatar A380 First Class lounge
Qatar A380 first class bar snacks.

With the mood lighting set, I thought the bar looked like a work of art.

Qatar A380 First Class 53
Beautiful lighting at the Qatar A380 bar and lounge.
Qatar A380 First Class 57
Qatar A380 first class bar.

The bar area can get quite crowded though. I really struggled to get photos without any people because everyone wanted to hang out at the lounge (understandably so). Luckily, the crew let me get a few minutes in towards the end of the light which I was very grateful for.

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Having a good time at the bar.

The sleeping experience

I rarely sleep on planes and when we’re talking about a 6 hour 20 min flight, it’s hard for me to justify sleeping because I’d rather experience the product and get footage. But this was especially true here where I knew that I’d be able to get some rest later on at the first class lounge in Doha.

Nevertheless, I decided to try out the seat in its lie-flat position.

Qatar A380 First Class 64
Qatar A380 first class bed.

With the seat in the lie-flat position, the bed width is a whopping 33 inches and the length is 81 inches. I would imagine that with any sort of bedding, you’d be able to easily find a comfortable position given how much space you have to contort your body in just about any position.

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Qatar A380 first class bed.

One thing I noticed was that the staff didn’t ask me if I wanted turn down service even when I had clearly put my seat in the sleep position and pulled out the blanket. I actually didn’t want turn down service since this was a medium-haul flight, but I thought it was odd they didn’t ask when Etihad had offered it on an even shorter flight from MLE to AUH.

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Qatar A380 first class bed.

After trying out the bed, we got closer to landing and some relaxing red mood lights kicked on.

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Qatar A380 first class mood lighting.
Qatar A380 First Class 69

And then we finally arrived and were off to experience the first class Al Sawfa Lounge for close to nine hours!

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Arriving at Doha.

Final word on the Qatar A380 first class experience

The Qatar first class experience was better than I had expected. The suites were more luxurious and private than I had imagined and the service was on point (for the most part). I also had a great dining experience and it’s always great to be served caviar along with free-flowing Krug. And while I didn’t make a proper bed, there’s a ton of sleeping such that I think it’d be very easy to get into a comfortable position. I think Qatar easily rates among the best first class flights I’ve had to date and I would happily fly with them again.

How to Book Qatar Awards With American Airline AAdvantage Miles

While the AAdvantage program catches a continuous and mostly (well-deserved) flogging from the miles and points community due to lack of award seats on many routes, AAdvantage miles still hold exceptional value for partner awards. One of these partners is Qatar Airways.

Qatar (pronunciation debated) is one of the big three Middle Eastern carriers known for its exceptional product. In particular, it’s known for having one of the best business class products and also an amazing bar and lounge on board its A380. It also recently announced the launch of its new Q-Suites in business class that many are fawning over.

Qatar flies to a lot of places as you can tell by the map below.

  • To play around Qatar routing and destinations on the map click here.

What I really like about Qatar is that I’ve never really struggled to find open award seats when searching far out in advance. And I haven’t had experiences with phantom awards or anything of that nature — It’s always been a (mostly) smooth searching and booking process for me.

Search for awards on British Airways

To find open award seats search on British Airways’s (BA) website. If you’re not familiar with the website, go to Click on Executive Club and then spend Avios. Scroll down to book an award flight and it should take you to the following screen after you log-in (so make sure you have an account with British Airways).

If there’s availability, you’ll see the Qatar logo along with the number of open seats left.

As always, with BA you want to search for flights by segment (no connections) because the BA search results either won’t show you open seats or you increase the odds for showing the dreaded “phantom availability” (or award seats that aren’t actually open).

This means that your searches will almost always be to or from the main Qatar hub DOH in Doha, Qatar. 

Once you locate open award seats it’s time to call AAdvantage to book. Sometimes this can get tricky since different call centers sometimes have access to different awards.

For example, I’ve had to call the AA Australian center to book Etihad awards since the American agents couldn’t find it. At the same time, the Australian agents could not spot the open Qatar seats I found on BA’s website but the American agents could see them and book them. So be sure to check with both centers if one tells you they can’t see anything.

Note: When booking AA partners with an overseas call center, be sure they are processing your payment in the local currency. If they don’t do that, they might cancel your booking later on!

Fees should be pretty reasonable often only around $100-$150 even for a premium seat flying out of an airport like CDG.

The AA agents were able to select my seats for me so that’s probably easiest (although you’re also given a Qatar reference number).

Award availability

In my searches for Qatar seats, I’ve found awards show up after a bit of patience. Thus, if you had to book one segment in business or first and another segment in economy, I’d check availability on BA’s website everyday because you never know what might pop up. I recently checked a route every day for about 10 days and then finally 6 seats opened up one morning — so don’t give up!

My One Major Reservation for the Qatar Q Suite: the Double Bed

On March 8, at the ITB travel exhibition in Germany, Qatar Airways announced its new Q Suite business class product. I wrote about the new changes and came away thoroughly impressed with the photos and features described in reports, and I even stated that this was a “game changing” product. After reading more into the product, though, there’s one feature that I’m not sure I’m sold on yet: the “double bed”

The Q Suite “double bed”

The more I look at photos of the “double bed” in the Q Suite, the less I think of it as a double bed.

Take a look at my photo from my Singapore Suites experience, the first true double bed that rolled out almost ten years ago. It’s long, wide, and there’s room on either side of the bed and the cabin doors. That, my friend, is a true double bed.

Singapore Suites First Class A380
Singapore Suites double bed.

Now take a look at China Eastern’s first class double bed, the only other major commercial airline besides Singapore Airlines offering such a feature. Again, there’s no restricted space on the bed, besides the negligible indentions in the middle where the partition would otherwise come out.

China Easter double bed.

Finally, let’s take a look at the bed found on the Etihad Apartment.

While not a true double bed because of the partition, it’s still nearly there. The major feature that I’d like to point out is that once again, your lower body is not restricted. Yes, there’s a giant partition in the middle but there’s no cubby for footwell that restricts your leg movement. To me, that makes a world of a difference since it’s much easier to get comfortable like you would in a normal bed because you can rest in just about any natural position (unless you’re one of those diagonal sleepers).

Etihad First Class Apartment
Etihad Apartment bed.

Now take a look at the Qatar Q Suite’s “double bed.”

It looks like a much tighter fit and what worries me the most is the potential for restricted legroom in a cubby. I think this could make it much more difficult to find a comfortable position on this so-called double bed.

I know that it’s not fair to compare a business class cabin to a first class cabin, but I’m not trying to make the comparison to show one is more superior than the other. I’m just trying to show that the “double bed” feature in Singapore Suites and others works and is special because of the space you’re afforded, which lends itself to a truer “I’m sleeping on an actual double bed on a plane” feeling.

I don’t suspect that will be the case on the Q Suites.

Instead, I think the experience is going to be like a condensed version of the Etihad Apartment bed only with restricted space for your legs. For the Q Suites, the partition looks like it doesn’t intrude as much as it does on Etihad’s Apartment, but I still wonder about how the restricted lower leg room will affect the “double bed experience.”

Enough space?

The space issue especially worries me because Qatar has not reduced the number of business class seats in this new cabin that will be installed on the new 777s and eventually A350s. This makes me wonder how spacious these suites can truly be. Suites work wonderfully in first class because there’s plenty of room to allow them to work, and at a certain point, I think suites can become confining if they aren’t spacious enough.

I don’t think that will necessarily be the case with the Qatar Q Suites, but for purposes of the “double bed,” I am skeptical about the comfort that some will experience.

This may just be my personal preference, though.

I’m already not a fan of middle section business class seats that are all-but conjoined. I flew on these so-called “honeymoon” seats (reviewed in full here) from Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi and it was a huge mistake!

Brad and I both agreed the seats were way too confining and the picture below shows how easy it is to rub elbows in such seats. It’s similar to economy, actually. (I am leaning in a bit in the photo but it it’s not far off from how it felt the entire ride.)

And while it looks like the Q Suites middle section seats will have a little more space between them, it still could be a tighter fit than desired (especially for two grown men like me and Brad).

So now when I think about sleeping in the “double bed” on the Qatar Q Suite, I honestly don’t know that I would enjoy it.  I think that it would be a very different sleeping experience from a true “double bed” due to space restrictions of the footwell, and I also think that Brad and I would be too close to each other (snuggling in a tight space for 6 hours straight doesn’t appeal to us). For smaller folks, this probably won’t be an issue but for us, I have my doubts.

Now, I could be completely wrong about all of this and will only be able to tell when I see the product in person, but for that reason I think I would go with the window suites if flying these on a long-haul flight for the first time.

I still love the Q Suites

With all of the previous said, I still feel like these seats are game-changers.

For one, I like the fact that Qatar introduced a patented design and innovative seating arrangement. This product feels new and feels like they really did spend their three years of development getting creative. That in and of itself is refreshing and nice to see because that’s what makes cabins like the Etihad Apartment special: they’re different. I think that the trend of reimagining designs and layouts will be what separates products in premium cabins from each other in the future.

However, I think that if and when I fly this new cabin, I’ll definitely be sticking to one the window suites.

New Stunning Qatar Business Class “Q Suite” Revealed!

It’s no secret that suites are what it’s all about these days when it comes to premium cabin innovation, and at the ITB Berlin travel exhibition, Qatar Airways just revealed a game-changing business class product dubbed the “Q Suite.”

The new product, which has been in development for three years, has fully enclosed suites and is expected to bring “a new level of luxury” to business class.

Like many suites coming out these days, the suites are in a 1-2-1 layout. But the design of these suites make them extra special. That’s because the middle seats in some of the suites can be converted into a double bed!

As far as I know, Singapore Suites and China Eastern are the only other commercial airlines to offer a double bed (and those are both in first class). The double bed doesn’t look like it will be quite as roomy as the one on Singapore Suites, but it’s still a pretty spectacular feature to see in business class.

Each of the inside suites will have seats facing both backward and forward, with one pair next to each other and another pair separated by a partition that doesn’t look movable. So there will be lots of different degrees of privacy for your seating, depending on how close you’d like to be to your travel companion.

It seems this was Qatar’s goal as they stated to Future Travel Experience, “What is very important for us is what we’ve designed can cater to everyone, whether it’s a family, business travellers, people going on celebrations like honeymoons and so on, or whether it’s an individual who is travelling alone with us. It has been designed all around the different types of customers we know we have travelling with us in business class.”

I think this was a key concept for Qatar and I also think they nailed it with the Q Suites.

And interestingly, you’ll be able to slide the (very large) television screen panels to the side and face the two passengers right across from you. This presents a unique opportunity where groups of four can essentially share a little private cabin together. To me, this is real innovation and the kind of thing I like to see from airlines leading the industry.

I also love that you’ll likely have room to get up out of your seat since you can place your food on your counter or push your tray away from you. I’m not a fan of being “stuck” under your tray table as dish after dish is rolled out to you and it looks like you might be able to avoid that here.

The suites themselves look perfect to me, especially for solo travelers. I absolutely love business class seats with counter space and large pockets of space to store or just set your large belongings in (like a fancy DSLR camera). Judging by the look of the suites, you’ll have plenty of nook and shelf space.

The walls to the suite will offer a lot privacy, although based on the renderings I’m not sure they’re quite as tall as Singapore Suites. And of course, the cabin will be properly lit with mood lighting.

The Q Suites will fly on the Airbus A350-1000, and they are also expected to see a “rapid rollout” on the Boeing 777 fleet. Business Traveller is reporting the first roll out to begin this June with routes on the 777 to London. Australian Business Traveller states that Qatar Airways will retain first class only on its A380. Also, this seat will not be available on the 787 (although a new product will be).

The soft product is getting upgraded, too.

Business class passengers will be give new amenity kits and pajamas with product from products from Italy’s Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio.

According to Business Traveller, upgrades are also to come to the business class food and beverage experience and will involve “sharing foods,” which look like snacks and treats that can be placed on the tables between conjoined suites.

Also, the in-flight entertainment system is getting an overhaul and passengers will be able to choose from 3,000 entertainment options utilizing “Oryx One” which is said to offer a more user-friendly experience. .

Qatar Airways was already the leader in business class travel but now they’ve stepped up their game even more. I think it’s safe to say that Qatar is pulling away even further in the lead of business class now and hopefully some changes eventually make their way to the first class seats on the A380.

Check out Andy’s Travel Blog for exclusive photos of the Q Suite from ITB.

Watch the video below for more:

H/T: Australian Business Traveller.