- Flying All 3 Big Gulf Carrier Airbus A380s in First Class on a Single Trip
- Check-in and Houston Airport Executive Club
- Air France and KLM Lounges
- Emirates First Class, Houston – Dubai
- Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai – B Concourse
- Emirates First Class A380, Dubai – Bangkok
- St. Regis Bangkok
- Street Food, Fine Dining, and Custom Suits in Bangkok
- Thai Airways E Concourse First Class Lounge
I was super excited for this Qatar Airways flight because it’s an aircraft and a first class I hadn’t ever flown before. This would be the second of three Gulf carrier Airbus A380s I’d get to sample on this trip, which was exciting in itself for me. It wasn’t just one airline, it was all three of the Gulf carriers and sampling literally the best of what each had to offer over the course of about a week.
This would be the shortest of the flights, costing 45,000 miles and $22.35 in taxes apiece. Bangkok – Doha is less than seven hours. Qatar Airways only offers first class on their A380, and has only regularly scheduled the plane on medium-haul routes like London and Paris in the past. (There’s a Qatar Airways A380 scheduled to Sydney starting in mid-September, but Melbourne and Auckland remain on Boeing 777s and US routes are either on 777s or Airbus A350s.)
We left the Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge on the E concourse and made our way to gate E4 for our Qatar Airways first class departure.
Heading down the ramp to the departure level there was a sea of people, but no line to speak of in the business/first class boarding queue so we proceeded to the front and made our way onboard.
At the entrance to the aircraft a flight attendant was checking boarding passes. On seeing we were seated in first class she escorted us to our seats.
We were informed that we would be alone in first class for today’s flight.
I was struck by the gorgeous cabin. The seats are in 1-2-1 configuration. There are two rows of seats. The cabin is spacious. The only negative is that they really aren’t very private. Of course you’re flying relatively short distances on the aircraft (except for the Sydney flight which will be new with the aircraft) so suites aren’t really needed.
Menus were distributed: (Click to enlarge)
I gladly accepted some Taittinger.
And I had a look around the seat.
I decided to get up and have a look around the cabin. From my seat I could see a setup of drinks and reading materials between first class and the lavatories.
At the front of the cabin between the two lavatories stairs led down from the upper to the lower deck.
I have to say that while Qatar doesn’t have onboard showers like their two big Gulf counterparts Emirates and Etihad on their A380s, and while I think that Emirates first class has an amazingly gorgeous bathroom/shower spa, I think that Qatar has the best looking first class bathroom of any airline in the world (including better than Lufthansa’s A380).
I returned to my seat and Arabic coffee and dates were distributed. Rather than fresh dates in a box, we were given shrink wrapped dates. That didn’t impress. On the other hand complimentary inflight internet as a first class passenger did.
Meal service began quickly after departure. Qatar does an impressive job with high quality food items (even in business class and even short haul) so I was thrilled with the meal on a six hour flight.
I opened up my amenity kit to have a look at the contents. A bountiful Armani kit on a medium-haul flight is an impressive bounty.
Then with my meal complete and a good bead on the product upfront I decided to head back through business class to check out the bar. There weren’t any passengers around, just a bartender.
Qatar has the biggest, most impressive bar in the sky. It’s gorgeous and it’s spacious. You can easily hang out at the bar itself or seated to the side.
And they were serving Krug. At the bar. Open to business class. So I decided to follow up my earlier first class Taittinger with Krug.
The bartender turned out to be a really cool aviation geek so we talked for awhile about how the different airlines configure their A380s. There was a bit of turbulence, and no other passengers around, so I had a seat to wait it out.
With some good champagne and a meal behind me I decided I’d have a nap for a couple of hours before arriving in Doha. The first class flight attendants were quick to make my bed.
I got up perhaps 40 minutes prior to landing and enjoyed the ambiance of the spacious cabin and caught up on a few minutes of email. We held for a bit prior to landing but taxied quickly to our gate once on the ground. And there was a surprise on arrival — I didn’t realize that Qatar offered ground escorts for long haul first class passengers. A woman was waiting on the jetway holding a sign with my name on it. She guided us through the airport.
There’s a business and first class immigration lounge with light refreshments and plenty of seating. Qatar does require visa formalities for US passport holders, which are available on arrival at the Doha airport. Our escort took our passports to the immigration desk and got that set up while we waited. Then she brought us over to the immigration booth where I paid for our visas, and she guided us to baggage claim where she got a porter for our bags. We then bid her adieu.
I enjoyed Qatar Airways’ first class product very much — but because the seat lacked the privacy of real suites, it doesn’t compare in my view to either Etihad or Emirates first class even on their other aircraft. Still, I prefer it over Lufthansa, Swiss, and British Airways between Europe and the Gulf, and I prefer it over US airlines of course.