Review: Qatar Airways brand new First Class on the A380 inaugural flight
For a long, long time Qatar had to wait for it and I don’t even want to speculate what the cause was. In fact it started the today, the rise of the beauty of the air, the new Qatar Airways A380 on ist first flight from Doha to London. While I write this blog post we’re somewhere above Turkey and I enjoy the big bed and silence on board.
Opposed to other A380s, for example by British Airways, the cabin is very silent and you can talk without disturbing others. But let’s put one foot in front of the other. It started for me in the early morning in Doha. Arrival was short, since I slept in the new transit airport hotel and only had to walk over to the gate. Before I met the “King of Travel Blogging“, Mr. @onemileatatime , we had a coffee and went to the gate.
Dota has two levels for gates: the upper one for business and fist class, the lower one for economy. The upper level has its own entrance.
Arriving at the gate we were welcomed by friendly personnel, a drawer with the A380 and everyone got a rose, since it’s the first flight and this is always special. The lady at the counter was shocked by realizing she didn’t pick us up, but we found the gate ourselves.
So there it is, the beauty of the air, which will bring us as QR 003 to Londong on a 7 hour flight. It could be longer.
While pre boarding started one level below us, the doors opened and we entered the plane first. We were welcomed with smiling faces and guided to our seats. Long I ago I already picked window seat 1K, Ben was on 2A and my companion on 1F. It looks like a relaxing journey.
Different to other Airlines like British Airways or Qantas, Qatar offers only eight seats in first class. They are located on the upper deck of the A380, directly in fron of the cabin, followed by the business class (one huge cabin), the Lounge and the economy class. The seats in first are in a 1-2-1 configuration. If you traveling alone, try to take the windows seats. If you traveling together with your wife, fried, husband, the middle seats could be nicer. Only two rows in a cabin let it looks like a living room, than an airplane.
As you can clearly see on the pictures, the whole cabin is designed in subtle colors, mostly those that match the understanding of luxury for Qatar. Behind thick and sound dampening curtains you find two wonderful bathrooms.
Equipped with a whole bunch of amenities much space and an usual feeling for airplane toilets, you would find them in a good hotel. The probability to wait is also quite low with 8 passengers.
You also find a shelf with glasses, beverages and snacks in the front area of the cabin. You can drink or eat something, if the menu is not enough for you, or if you just want some chips, nuts or such.
”WOW” would be the right description, because the seat is one of the best you can have in first class after my opinion. I’m a big fan of the
First by British Airways in the A380 or theCathay in the 777, but this one is simply gigantic.
Let’s start with the front, where you find a huge screen I mostly use for the air show. Besides it you find a small lamp that could be found in a hotel as well. It can be dimmed like any lightening in the plane. You can use the touch screen to adjust it like the rest of the seat and the light above. This let’s you work, sleep and eat in the way you want. If the seat is transformed into a bed, you’d find another switch to adjust it without moving too much.
If you like to dine twosome, you can use the big table for two. The ottoman provides enough space, maybe not for several hours, but it’s especially helpful when you want to discuss something with your neighbor or just eat something.
The seat itself can be adjusted in many ways. There is a switch for pre-defined positions: sleep, eat or relax. You can also customize the seat’s position, which should be something for everyone. On the right side you find a switch to bring the chair in a kind of lounge position, in which the bed is slightly raised and you can use the inflight entertainment system even better.
Especially when you want to work you carry a lot of stuff with you, at least I do. Helpful for that is the small table on the side, which is fixed and doesn’t have to be folded. You can put drinks there or even a notebook. Especially when having a window seat it provides a lot of space. You can put newspapers and magazines there, your pajamas, amenity kit or such. And if it should be a little unsteady in the cabin, you can still put it in the shelves. In the left armrest you’d find another storage space for magazines, one for the dampening headphones, USB port, headphones port and an extra socket for iPods. The other rest is reserved for the water bottle you get when you board.
Every seat in first class comes with a closet and holders. You can hang up clothes, shoes and find another shelf in the door for slippers and the amenity kit.
All together the seat is quite sophisticated, since it provides a lot of storage you wouldn’t find in the cabin. There is a closet for every guest in the corridor that even provides enough space for my big Rimowa trolley. The allocation makes the cabin way brighter and comfortable. Nobody has to lift his bag. I like the shelf concept that Lufthansa uses, too.
Food and beverage
… is needed by everyone. Qatar uses the approach “Eat when and what you like” and therefore doesn’t provide a menu. Independently of the time you can sleep and work when you want and order flexibly.
Shortly after the start I decided to take in breakfast. With all the flying in the recent days you can only it so much, therefore I just had some Yoghurt, an omelet and a espresso, that’s it. It’s just a seven hours flight and early in the day, plus I’ll get something to eat in New York.
That’s why I took a picture of this part of the menu, I just couldn’t eat more.
Later on, before landing in London, I had a steak sandwich that was quite delicious and enough as a snack for me today.
The lounge on board
Food and beverages on your seat is great and something you can have in first class whenever you want, just a switch away. Because of the design of the seat you can eat together, but especially on long flights it’s nice to get up and walk around. This is why Qatar built in the lounge into the A380. From my point of view this is the most beautiful lounge ever in a plane. It’s located on the upper deck at the end of the business class cabin, more precise between business and first class.
Every passenger of first and business class has access to it, but it’s separated from economy class by thick and dampening curtains. When entering the lounge before take-off (before something was even offered or loaded) it made a nice impression. On the right and left as well as in the center you find big and comfortable bar chairs, which can be use by 12 people even with seat belt.
I personally would have preferred the bar to be located between business and first class. Because of the noises by other passengers it was put a little offset by purpose. If you’re in economy class and sensitive to noise, you should definitely chose seats in the lower deck and back area.
Qatar provides a special edition of the amnity kit, which was created just for the A380. I got one from business class, too, for you and a charity event, so I can provide pictures of both versions.
They were designed by Giorgio Armani and come in a soft, velvet black. The kit of first class is a little bigger and differently equipped, other than that they are pretty similar.
The pajamas are new, too, coming in grey like on other flights. They were designed in partnership with MISSONI and are covered by blue-gray stripes on neck and sleeves. Amenity kit and pajamas both come in a high-quality version and I like them way better than previous ones. Whether they will be used in the future for every flight will be revealed, but I would wish that.
In flight Entertainment
As known from other flights with Qatar and to be read in my review for the business class in the 787,
Qatar offers one of the most sophisticated entertainment systems on board. You can choose from many languages via touch pad in the remote control and customize it your way. You can see the flight map on the big screen or on the remote control. You can trace the flight at any time without e.g. being disturbed watching a nice movie.
Regarding movies and the selection of games I want to point at the review of the business class in the 787, because the systems are identical. If I was to decide I wouldn’t need TV either, but for many it’s an important factor.
The price is connected to the needed amount of data. You can buy three packages and one for 3 hours.
With the long expected introduction of the new first class in the A380, Qatar has opened a new chapter. Different than with many other airlines that count on separated suites, the seats are open. You can use separation walls to create more privacy and sleep better.
What’s obvious in the cabin, like in the A380 by British Airways, is the low noise in the cabin. You can talk easy and relax without “annoying” background noise, except for when you have a snoring neighbor.
The first machine will be used regularly on the way from Doha to London, as soon as the next one is available (hopefully December) it will be Doha – New York. This will be a comfortable distance.
We’re circulating a little so everyone can see the new A380 ;-).