Reviews

Review: Qatar Airways Airbus A350 business class (Adelaide-Doha)

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, May 20 2016
Qatar Airways Airbus A350 business class (Adelaide-Doha)
Route

Adelaide - Doha

Aircraft Type

Airbus A350-900

Airline

Qatar Airways

Flight

QR915

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

1A

Notes
The Good
  • Fully-flat, 80-inch beds
  • Dine on demand service
  • Champagne, and a choice of it
The Bad
  • Domestic-side lounge in Adelaide
X-Factor
  • Australia's first A350 flight
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

Qatar Airways firmly planted its flag in South Australia this month with the launch of Australia's first Airbus A350 flights, zipping daily between Adelaide and the Qatari capital of Doha.

The service allows business class travellers to sleep on lengthy fully-flat beds and dine when they wish before continuing their journey onwards to major destinations such as London, Paris, Frankfurt and Rome.

Australian Business Traveller hopped aboard Qatar Airways to bring you this exclusive first review of the country's first Airbus A350 service and newest international route.

Check-in

  • Frequent flyer scheme: Qatar Airways Privilege Club. Australians can also choose to earn points and status credits via Qantas Frequent Flyer and other Oneworld programs on eligible fares.
  • Priority check-in, boarding: Dedicated and clearly-signed lanes meant no time spent queuing, although the 'Express Path' concept doesn't exist at Adelaide Airport for security and passport control.
  • Checked baggage allowance: 40kg, plus 10kg for Privilege Club Silver, 15kg for Privilege Club Gold and 20kg for Privilege Club Platinum members and other Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers including Qantas Platinum and above.
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x112cm bags up to a total combined weight of 15kg, plus selected personal items.

Lounge

As both domestic and international flights depart from the same terminal at Adelaide Airport, Qatar Airways business class passengers can visit the domestic Qantas Club lounge: also used by Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and Malaysia Airlines before their international flights.

Located beyond the first security checkpoint but before clearing international passport control, you'll find full cafe and bar facilities with barista coffee, wines, beers and spirits all on the menu...

... plus ample spaces to work with supplied iMac computers or desks for using (and recharging) your own laptop or tablet, along with free WiFi plus private shower suites to freshen up before the long flight ahead.

The terminal layout also gives Qantas Chairmans Lounge members easy access to their private lounge before clearing passport control, and on arrival in Doha, all business class travellers can stop by Qatar Airways' arrivals lounge.

With private shower suites of its own and an a la carte restaurant, you can maximise your sleep on board before enjoying a full breakfast and heading straight to your first meeting, or to you hotel once check-in opens.

Just a hint: you'll clear Qatari passport control in a private room that looks like the arrivals lounge, but this space has limited facilities. The 'real' lounge is found after passport control and customs.

Flight

For most business travellers, the type of aircraft you're flying on is much less relevant than the seat, service and hospitality enjoyed on board, but the Airbus A350 is the exception to that rule.

It begins as you board a mood-lit aircraft with a large welcome dome, and feel the spaciousness of the cabin which comes without central overhead lockers at the pointy end for a much more open feel:

A higher cabin pressure and lower effective cabin altitude also takes some of the dryness out of the air to help smack down jet lag, while the aircraft's computers automatically tweak the plane to reduce the effects of any turbulence for a smoother ride.

And hey, you'll also find funky and modern touches like a colour screen where you'd expect to find the seatbelt sign...

... plus a central area with snacks and a place to mingle during the flight underneath the dome area:

It's not a full bar, of course, but the crew are happy to serve drinks here whenever the seatbelt sign is off.

Seat

If you've previously flown Qatar Airways from Sydney, Melbourne or Perth which adopt the airline's older business class seats, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find all-new seats on the A350s from Adelaide...

... configured in a 1-2-1 layout to offer direct aisle access for all and extending into an 80-inch, 203cm fully-flat bed:

The wrap-around shell of your seat gives you a little extra privacy when in bed mode without being in the way when sitting upright...

... and finding the perfect position is easy with separate controls for every element of the seat and pre-sets for the most common modes.

We also like that you can hold the pre-set keys for a few seconds and then release while the seat continues to move until it's reached the spot you'd selected.

Nearby you'll find plenty of storage space to use throughout the flight, beginning with a literature pocket large enough to house tablets too, adjacent to a bench space for bigger laptops:

There's more room on the floor for shoes and laptop bags which can slip underneath the footrest, later forming part of your fully-flat bed...

... within the aisle-side armrest where you'll find your headphones and a bottle of water stashed away...

... directly below the bench and seat controls in all but the bulkhead seats...

(This nook is unavailable in 1A, but can be used in most other seats...)
(This nook is unavailable in 1A, but can be used in most other seats...)

... and then on top of that lid: a great place for the slippers and pyjamas you'll receive until you're ready to get changed:

(The lid space is available to all travellers, including those at the bulkhead seats...)
(The lid space is available to all travellers, including those at the bulkhead seats...)

The seat's tray table also comes sturdy when deployed (below), but even when folded away still provides a small cocktail shelf that's ideal for your welcome drink, amenity kit or smartphone:

Of course, each seat also comes with an AC and USB power outlet – conveniently located near where you'd store your devices for easy charging...

... plus electronic shade controls for those in the window seats.

They're of little use on our entirely-overnight flight, but would come in handy on the journey back to Australia.

Meal

The service begins with drinks before take-off and a second round once airborne, including a choice between the Billecart-Salmon Brut NV (white Champagne) and the Champagne Drappier Brut Rosé for something different.

Then at chow time, Qatar Airways lets you dine as you wish: whether that's a full meal after take-off, dishes of your choice throughout the flight or breakfast as soon as you awake.

For tradition's sake we order as usual, but do appreciate having the option to settle in, get some work done and then have a bite to eat when it suits our schedule, rather than the airline's.

We follow our rule that you can't go wrong ordering a traditional Arabic mezze plate on a Middle Eastern airline and weren't left wanting, with Qatar's mix pleasingly including hummus, tabouleh, feta salad and Arabic bread...

... followed by a choice of the following mains:

  • Seared fillet of snapper with lemon and spring vegetable sauce with sautéed potatoes and confit cherry tomatoes
  • Chicken kapsa with golden fried onions, vegetable saloona and cucumber raita
  • Sweet potato gnocchi in wild mushroom cream sauce with confit tomatoes and balsamic glazed onions (selected)

The gnocchi came perfectly cooked, incredibly flavourful and well-balanced with its sauce, despite our photo perhaps not doing it justice.

Pair this with the 2003 Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux (Loire, France)...
Pair this with the 2003 Domaine Huet Vouvray Le Haut-Lieu Moelleux (Loire, France)...

Dessert proves an easy choice and we're not disappointed with our white chocolate and ginger cheesecake with strawberry coulis, served with a glass of the 2010 Château de Fesles Bonnezeaux Sweet Chenin Blanc.

You could also end your meal with a nip of Dow's 10-year Tawny Port or a selection of liqueurs including Baileys, Cointreau and Kahlua, while whisky lovers will appreciate having the choice between Chivas Regal 18yr, Glenfiddich 15yr and a simple whiskey in the Jack Daniel's.

After a comfortable and uninterrupted eight-hour rest, we awake to breakfast, beginning with a latte...

... and make a selection from the incredibly extensive brekky menu:

  • Beef brasola with potato and chive salad, cherry tomatoes and grain mustard dressing
  • Orange compote, Greek yoghurt and toasted granola with nuts
  • Bircher muesli: rolled oats bound with yoghurt, fruits, almond and cinnamon
  • Choice of breakfast cereals
  • Traditional Arabic breakfast: labneh with za'atar, feta cheese, cucumber, tomato and mixed olives served with four medames and Arabic bread
  • Salt beef potato cake with cheese omelette and béarnaise sauce
  • Sautéed red onion, leek and potato with scrambled egg, horseradish and crème fraîche
  • Buttermilk pancakes with caramalised banana, maple syrup, crème fraîche and walnuts

It's a hard choice, but we opt for the pancakes which prove significantly better than your typical airline breakfast, and almost what you'd expect on the ground when made from scratch.

To really put Qatar Airways to the test, you might have noticed every dish ordered on today's flight was actually the vegetarian option: a meal type often overlooked by airlines in creativity and which my travelling vegetarian friends confirm usually involves the same pastas, risottos and salads.

However, the vege options presented on our flight from Adelaide were enough to satisfy even this meat-eating writer, for which Qatar Airways deserves to be commended.

Entertainment & Service

Each business class seat offers a 17-inch high definition screen with noise-cancelling headphones...

... jam packed with a huge range of movies and TV shows spanning recent releases, library favourites and even complete series, allowing us to finally watch the last instalment of Harry Potter, which had been on our to-do list for some time.

The system is controlled by touch but is much easier to navigate using the screen on your remote control, which also proves useful by allowing you to call up the moving map without disturbing your movie, or to play a game separate to what's happening on the big screen.

The Airbus A350 also comes with a tail camera – as you'd expect of the larger Airbus A380 – which means you can watch the take-off from Adelaide Airport or your arrival into Doha:

You won't see much from the camera during the overnight flight, though...
You won't see much from the camera during the overnight flight, though...

Service on today's flight was pleasingly perfect: the crew introduced themselves to each passenger and addressed each by name, never forgot a request and appeared quickly when the call bell was pressed.

Brief conversation was also customised to every person without becoming intrusive or invasive, and when we were enjoying a movie or getting some rest, we were naturally left undisturbed.

That is, except when Giorgio Armani Acqua di Gio amenity kits are delivered, filled with a generous portion of after shave balm, plus lip balm, eau de toilette, an eye mask, ear plugs and socks...

(Sealed shaving and dental kits can be found in the restrooms...)
(Sealed shaving and dental kits can be found in the restrooms...)

... and Qatar Airways slippers and branded business class pyjamas which are yours to keep:

All things considered, this new Doha-Adelaide service proves a great way for South Australians to travel to the Middle East and beyond, beginning with a good night's sleep on the A350 on the well-timed overnight flight.

Our only criticism? The pre-flight lounge being in the domestic area of Adelaide Airport rather than on the international side, but as far as the flight experience goes, this is business class just as it should be.

Also reviewed: Qatar Airways A380 business class, Doha-London-Doha

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Doha as a guest of Qatar Airways.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Chris_PER

Chris_PER

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

Catering looks exceptional...

bm7500

bm7500

04 Oct 2011

Total posts 25

The perfect Business experience by the looks; goes to show why Qatar are considered the best in the world.

undertheradar Banned

undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 662

the 'snack' bar where the 'welcome dome' is located is open to the seating cabins forward and aft.. Is the snack bar completely dark during night flights so no light can flow through the cabins? Not to mention pax just milling around this area night and day in full view of the the cabin...not a very 'premium'/private experience...in my opinion.

Karl

Karl

10 Apr 2016

Total posts 13

From my experience you don't have people milling around. They don't place drinks here other than a bottle of champagne.  The fruit is dry and the snacks in the photo are never there.  This to me looks like a Qatar supplied photo and not the Writers 

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

Hi Karl, as I've also noted below, all of the photos included in this review were taken by me, with the exception of the featured image.

undertheradar Banned

undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 662

...and the toilets also are visible/open to the whole 'premium' cabin.

Matt_01

Matt_01

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Feb 2016

Total posts 44

Looks nice. I was planning to book with QR to NY early next year, then came the QF DSC promotion and booked with QF.

Karl

Karl

10 Apr 2016

Total posts 13

Have flown Qatar business several times and would disagree with several points made. 

Firstly, their movie library is lousy.  Having recently done a Singapore Doha New York return and now in the middle of a Singapore Doha Cape Town trip I was unable to find anything that I haven't watched at least twice.  Other airlines now have 500 per so titles but would be surprised if Qatar has any more than 50. In my recent flight it took 3 hours into the flight to get the screen working, had a thick black line through the screen, headphones changed as the connection faulty, etc.  Also the staff only resolved my in seat power just before landing. 

The snacks in what appears to be a Qatar supplied photo are not the same in flight. They tend to leave fruit that is dried out and not appetising.  

For the amenities kit they supply an after shave cream.  Wouldn't it be better to supply a face cream like other airlines.  

For the food there is not much choice and no separate list of items to have as and when during the flight.  

If it was not for their membership of One World then I would not fly this airline.  Also I am not sure why OneWorld allow them to remain when they appear to apply different rules.  As a Platinum / Emerald you expect to be given access to their First Class lounge in Doha.  Good luck with this.  Oh and this time I was flying with my Wife.  I was flying business but she was economy.  They wouldn't let her into the business lounge so we had to settle for their other lounge that they put OneWorld gold platinum members if they do not fly business.  If you end up in this I would suggest not to bother.  

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

Hi Karl, thanks for sharing your experience with Qatar.

The movie library on this flight was far larger than 50 titles, but there were a large number of categories to browse through which means you do need to look into them all to see everything that's on offer (Hollywood and New Releases are separate categories, for example, as is Comedy and so on).

Also to clarify, the snack photo was taken by me on-board – the only photograph used in this review that was provided by Qatar Airways was the featured photograph of the crew member standing under the dome, which we've used before.

Re: food options during the flight, as we mentioned you're able to order any dish from the entire menu at any time throughout the flight, so a separate 'any time' menu would be redundant. A few 'light options' were also on the menu for those with smaller appetites but not included within our review, as we looked at the main service. :)

bl812

bl812

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 184

for some people even the good is not good enough and always find something that is not suitable to their taste you are a good example-if you don't like this airline don't fly with them but Qatar is truly a 5 star airline instead of complaining pay a busniess class airfare to your wife and she could use the same facilities!

Chris_PER

Chris_PER

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

Chris, were there many pax aboard this flight?  I've heard the numbers are pretty abysmal, but then again it is early days....

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

This flight appeared full in business class.

BevanMcBevan

BevanMcBevan

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 135

Great review Chris, many thanks. And...at least the South Australian's get a first for once. 

robwillett

robwillett

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Nov 2010

Total posts 20

Great article and extremely accurate.

I haven't flown from Australia as yet but have used them extensively in the past 12 months gaining Platinum with QR. The airline is far superior to anything I have ever been on, especially coming from your neck of the woods Australia. ( Although, I was just in LAX QF F lounge and have used QF F lounge in SYD which I rate both very highly ).

I particulalry like the dining on demand service ( compared to SQ where it always seems like a mad dash for them to get the passengers fed as quickly as possible ). I hate it.

The movie selection is fantastic. The service is brilliant, the food superb and the on-ground lounges are the best. If QR doesn't have a lounge I go to the One World F lounges with the Emerald status.

After flying with QF for years, I received none of these benefits. They lag badly behind QR in tis respect. Very badly. The FF progam is generous to say the least. 

Some people will never be happy. If anyone finds fault with QR, I guess they will never be happy. Take a Bex and have a good lie down Karl, mate.

GregXL

GregXL

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 401

Rob, re your comments about using One World F lounges due to being QR Platinum, but not receiving these benfits when flying QF.  Maybe you didn't make Emerald status while flying QF.  QF is known for looking after its high status FFs.

Karl

Karl

10 Apr 2016

Total posts 13

I guess I am a fussy flyer Rob as I previously did 100 flights a year but down to about 30 now so yes you did get picky and I am concious of that so don't complain on the flight.  I rate Qatar higher than Emirates but not as good as SQ, Cathay or even Qantas.  My take on the difference between the middle east carriers and the others is that it is very difficult for them to create a culture as most of their staff are foreign workers.  With the likes of SQ however the staff are very proud to be working for their national airline.

James11

James11

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Aug 2015

Total posts 4

Wow.  Seriously a major difference in serverce from my flight.  Yesterday we (my partner and I) flew Qatar from ADL to DOH.

Airport/lounge experience - like a QANTAS Club on steriods - betters but still a club (not Qatar's fault as ADL doesn't havent international lounges; let alone business class segregation - not makes a difference; there was an elderly person swearinf like a trucker, but no because he had appropriate footwear on he was allowed in.

 

On board was great - boarded from front door (not sure how the author managed to board from the main door - but do agree the dome is something to behold!) so had everyone stroling past making comments (which frankly are not needed-we pay for a service and expect a result).  Seat was fabulous, and enjoyed the lower humidity on the A350.

 

The service was not to be expected - too casual and not personal all.

 

Seat great with good food - understated elegance.  But serverce and lounges let them down (yes lounges - am about to post about the Doha experience)...

crosscourt

crosscourt

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer - Chairmans Lounge

01 Sep 2011

Total posts 351

I find QR out does EK for service and some of the finer touches in teh premium cabins 

flatout

flatout

10 Nov 2013

Total posts 14

I do like QR's 1-2-1 J config. 

Davedownunder

Davedownunder

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 52

Classifying Qatar as a five star airline is absolute rubbish, very good marketing. I have Qatans Platinum, and Emirates Gold, used to have Singapore PPS too. I had the chance to finally fly Qatar from Miami to Perth then Singapore Miami.

I needed to change my Business class flight which they wanted an extra $2,000 for the priverledge. The lounge in Miami was the American Airlines lounge hardly five star. The cabin from Miami to Perth was OK but hardly a step up from Emirates. Service no better and agree the video system sucked.

The flight back from Singapore was on the A350, thier lounge was just above one star! parked in a corner of the airport. The A350 was nothing special. Given your rave reviews I think your no longer beinjg subjective. Food no better

I will say their lounge in Doha is good with a good restaurant.

All in all having heard so much hype about them being a "five star airline" I was truly dispointed. Certainly not the best in the World just very good at marketing themselves

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

Hi Dave,

With respect, this is a review of a particular flight and our experience on that flight, not of the airline as a whole. That the airline charged you a change fee/fare difference – likely in line with published fare conditions you agreed to when booking the ticket – is not relevant to this flight review or star rating, nor are the amenities in lounges elsewhere across the globe when reviewing a flight departing from Adelaide. If Qatar Airways doesn't suit your needs on your chosen routes, then by all means take your bookings elsewhere, but those needs don't detract from our objectivity or the flight experience for passengers departing Adelaide.

Davedownunder

Davedownunder

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 52

Chris

The Ausbt web site is a great site and I enjoy reading the articles like the one above. However if you dont like too upset airlines like QR then your not representing your readers feedback.

Lets take the cost difference for changing the ticket. Your absolutly correct about the fare conditions. The conditions I found were: "When voluntary change occurs irrespective of the outbound and inbound flight of the journey the flight will be recalculated applying new fares/rules (adhering to the new AP condition) in effect of the date of the re-issue."

However as a business traveller I was disappointed by the behaviour as it seems like an underhand way of making money. Charging US$2,000 to change the flight for a $7,000 ticket seemed to me to be excessive. If you can find that information out at the time of booking then please send me the information. 

In regards to Qatar not meeting my needs, you missed the point. Qatar advertise themseleves as a Five Star Airline and for that I would have expected five star service. I was looking forward to the opportunity to fly them. In your article you mention that they use Qantas's domestic lounge. It would have been useful to point out if they plan on building their own lounge in the future. Based on my experience with their lounge arrangements in Miami was via American Airlines which are are OK but not what you get from Qantas or Emirates. In Singapore they had a tempory lounge that would make some of the African lounges look positively first class! They get one star at the most. That's three lounges where Qatar offer a sub Five Star experience.

In regard to taking my business elsewhere, your right I have that choice. Feedback is a gift if you chose to ignore it that is also yours and Qatar's right too!

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2336

Hi Davedownunder: sorry to hear about your drama with change fees but as Chris has said, this is a review of Qatar's Airbus A350 business class experience, and ticket change fees (which all airlines charge) and other aspects of service beyond the A350 business class as reviewed don't enter into this. 

Davedownunder

Davedownunder

19 Aug 2011

Total posts 52

My fllight from Singapore to Doha was on a A350 Business class experience. The lounge was rubbish. A simple case of advertising one thing and delivering another. See Post 14 below. Simply because you got a free flight on a premier airline doesnt meant you have to guild the lilly. If you look at some of John Walton's reviews they tell it how it is.

As a premier airline you need to consider the total experience from leaving home to arriving at you destination. Unforrtunately sitting in airport lounges for many hours is part of that experience. Sitting in a poorly decorated with minimal services just doesnt cut it as an airline that likes to call its self a 5 Star. Some of your customers who might be trying to decide on a flight from Singapore might want to check if you have opened a new lounge.

In regard to ticket change costs perhaps you should look into them since they are important to business costs and ability for buisness people to change plans as required. From my perspective screwing your customers because you can is not a good business model. My ticket was bought and paid for 5 months before I needed it. The airline had the money early too.

It will be up to Qatar to decide if they want to become a budget airline that makes money any way it can honestly, underhand or the world's best.

Just be grateful these comments are buried so no one other than you and me will ever read them!

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

Hi Davedownunder, we've already explained twice that this review covers the A350 journey from Adelaide, not from Singapore.

We'll also remind that the topic here is Qatar's A350 business class experience from Adelaide, and aspects such as fees and fare change costs incurred on other routes and lounges in other ports aren't relevant to the topic here.

We'll leave your posts above as-is, but any further off-topic posts will be removed in line with AusBT's published comment policy.

cooper81

cooper81

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 150

I like Qatar.  Their A350/A380/787 product is great.  The other aircraft vary.  I also like the 777 despite being 'old style' 2x2x2 seating although I dislike their A330 product (even the refurbished fully flat ones).  My biggest issue with Qatar is aircraft substitutions.  I've been caught out more than once with this.  I've specifically booked to fly on a new aircraft type (most recently A350 DOH-FRA) and paid a premium to do so to have the aircraft switched to an A330 on the day (in this case one with angle flat beds on a night flight).  It wouldn't be particulalry bad if the substititions were a rarity but they happen often.  My trip from LHR-DOH was also subbed from an A380 to a 777 some months before.

But here is what I LOVE about them.  I've just booked a return flight from CPH-ADL via PER in March for DKK12900....in Business Class (if you are europe based this fare is still available up til end of MAR).  YUP just over AU$2500  return!!.  It's scheduled as a 787/350 combo but let's face it even if they change the aircraft to whatever I still feel i'm getting incredible value.  My last trip with them cost around the same amount OSL-SYD return.  Add to that their membership of OneWorld (so BA tier points and Avios) and they are unbeatable.  

These kind of fares are often available from various points in europe to OZ in promos.  I won't get into a debate on state subsidies and how the hell they make money given the fares they charge (in my case the taxes alone are around AU900), the regularity of the sales they offer etc but whilst they are out there i'll grab them with both hands!

cooper81

cooper81

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 150

Urgh predictive text.  Should have been CPH - ADL via DOH not PER.

zoomzoom

zoomzoom

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 90

The 350 is my fav metal. Much more comfortable than the 787. Qatar looks to have done a fantastic job with it. 


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Qatar Airways Airbus A350 business class (Adelaide-Doha)