Review: On the inaugural flight with the first A350 ever… Qatar Airways Business Class, A350 XWB
(Deutsche Version- KLICK) We all had to wait for this day on which the Airbus A350, the most quit plane in the word, had its first flight. First client of this new model and therefore first airline at all that uses the A350 is Qatar Airways. As announced, Frankfurt was chosen as first target. Probably not without reason, as Akbar Al Baker said on the press conference. Frankfurt is the hub of competitor Lufthansa.
The many pushbacks of the Qatar A380 are know, but as a coincidence this appointment fit very well. I just returned from Hawaii and instead of flying home from London, I made a trip to Cairo and booked a cheap flight from CAI-DOH-FRA and back in February. I just want you let you know so you can understand the price in the end.
On the night before January 15th 2014, we landed at about 10PM with the QR1302 from Cairo and met the first group of people in the lounge, who will be on the flight, after all we know each other from other first time flights. Afterwards I got a couple of hours of sleep in the Airport Hotel in the transit area (CLICK for review), because especially after coming from Hawaii and therefore another time zone of -11 up to +2 hours, a little sleep does the body well.
Early in the morning, at 5:15, the alarm went off, because we all agreed to meet for breakfast. There I’ve met @onemileatatime, @kellydaoud and of course Gino (sein Review) (first guest in the EY residence), so it was a illustrious round for our first time flight.
After breakfast in the Lounge we went on to the gate (A3), which was the same as for thefirst time flight of the A380 (review
CLICK!) a couple of weeks ago. Qatar did some preparations and decorated the gate accordingly.
We were ready to go. Just a short check of boarding ticket and passport and then through the balloons into the waiting area of the gate. We got a first drink there. Additionally every guest got a bag with an airplane model and a certificate of participation.
The ball pen was later given to us on board together with a letter of first flight participation and the amenity kit, but more later and on the pictures. Then we saw the beauty of the air at the gate, ready to take us to the destination. I already saw and flew it on the Airbus press event on 12/22 in Toulouse but this was my first commercial flight
Besides passengers, Qaar press and PR people, we had other important people on board: the “boss” of the airline, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, Fabrice Bregier from Airbus and…Richard Quest
from CNN. Therefore the first flight was treated in the show Quest Means Business and in the Business Traveller Magazine. We began boarding, but before Richard made a picture of the travellers and published it on Twitter: https://twitter.com/richardquest/status/555570922879348737
The cabin is equipped with identical seats that Qatar also used in the Boeing 787 and in a 1-2-1 constellation. If you are travelling twosome, the middle seats suit you well, otherwise you can pull up a board as separator. But if you travel alone you should strive for window seats, which are seats A in the cabin.
The first section of business class is located in row 1 to 7, followed by a smaller cabin behind the counter, with the rows 7, 8 and 9. Especially the back rows are very quiet and restrooms don’t even bother in row 7, since there also is the emergency exit and another barrier.
I decided for seat 7K beforehand, because I like to sit at the window, but also because it’s the first row in the little cabin. The disadvantage is that everyone has to pass you when boarding. The view of rows 8 and 9 are mostly concentrated on the wings, so if that’s important to you, don’t go above row 7. There is enough space up in the trays, so I was able to put away my bag, backpack and the luggage of my guest.
The seat is almost identical to the one of theBoeing 787. Here you find the complete review: CLICK!
Designed in grey fabrics and topped with red stitches it makes a high-class impression, which is supported by the dark red design of the shelves. Also the shelf below the screen, foot rest or below gives you the opportunity to put away smaller stuff.
You find space for your water bottle or headphones in the armrest. The seat can be adjusted with a panel in the armrest on the right respectively left. You already find positions like “sleep”, eat or read. If you hit the button shortly, the seat automatically gets into position with all the adjustments. Holding the button is not necessary anymore, which is very comfortable.
You can also well reach the USB plug and power socket to connect your devices or watch a movie.
The new screen above the seats does not only show the “no smoking” sign or “fasten your seatbelt”, but also information about mobile phone usage or WIFI connection. Unfortunately Qatar uses Onair.com, which didn’t really work on our flight to Frankfurt, at least in a reasonable speed. It would have also made sense to give a free voucher to use WIFI during the whole flight. If you want to buy a data package, you can now acquire a time based one and find prices here
We start with breakfast (take-off 7:40) for which you can pull out the table under the screen to get enough space to eat. When it’s folded in, you still find enough space around the shelves to put down a cup or so.
I got some salmon followed by fruit and omelet with mushrooms, which tasted delicious and could have been served in a hotel.
Even though it’s around noon I took a nap, since I haven’t had a lot of sleep recently. Something new: there is a layer for the bed, which evens it out like a mattress and allows you to sleep better. According to Mr. Al Baker you can get these on all Qatar flights on request. I either wasn’t asked or didn’t recognize, since I didn’t get it either in the A330, nor 787 or 777, therefore I’ll explicitly ask for it next time.
The seat itself becomes a long bed with warm sheets, of which you can get another one without problems. I got another one since I’m always cold and can’t sleep like that. So I was only a button press away from a good potion of sleep.
I got two hours of good sleep in. Even though it doesn’t look like on the picture, the space between seat and screen is big enough to place your feet there.
If you don’t want to sleep, you might want to have a look at the inflight entertainment. You can control it via touch panel that owns its own screen. So you can look at the map or camera while watching a movie. It’s one of the highlights of the system. One camera is located on top of the plane, of below it and another one at the undercarriage. Everyone agreed they deliver great pictures and you can switch between all three of them at any time.
Even for passenger sitting in the middle it’s possible to get a good view. The IFE comes up with a good selection of movies, games and other entertainment options. For take-off we got the amenity kit with sleeping clothes, which you can get here (Spendenaktion Flugfans für einen guten Zweck-KLICK!). Like in other machines of Qatar it’s kept in grey and is comfortable, even though the pants have the size of a tent.
On the first time flight we got a special amenity kit. It’s about to be seen whether it will be kept on upcoming A350 flights. On the A380 it was changed over time. Even the socks and and eye mask have their own A350 logo. Have a look:
It was extremely comprehensive and coming with a bag made of fabrics for the small stuff. Shaver and tooth brush can always be found in the restrooms at Qatar, but in sufficient amount. What I missed were slippers, but I had some with me. Since press was on board there was an interview with the airbus manager.
It’s the quietest airplane you can imagine. Even without earplugs you can sleep well and talking in the cabin over the corridor is possible without a problem. If Qatar now solves the Internet problem and Onair is able to provide a fast connection (which is not better at other airlines), it’s perfect. I was able to eat, sleep and relax, so working wasn’t an option.
Finally two selfies, even though I usually don’t do them: one with Richard Quest and another one with Akbar Al Baker, which was extremely approachable and everyone was excited about this presence.
Thanks go out to Qatar and all participants for a very pleasant flight. We got to Frankfurt on time, where everybody was expecting the A350.