Review: Qatar Airways Airbus A380 First Class, Bangkok – Doha

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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.

Qatar Airways A380 first class Bangkok-Doha

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.

Qatar Airways A380 first class Bangkok-Doha boarding

Qatar Airways A380 first class Bangkok-Doha boarding

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.

Qatar Airways A380 first class cabin Bangkok-Doha

We were informed that we would be alone in first class for today’s flight.

Qatar Airways A380 first class cabin Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class cabin Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class seat Bangkok-Doha

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)

Qatar Airways A380 first class menu Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class menu Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class menu Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class menu Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class menu Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class menu Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class menu Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class menu Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class menu Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class menu Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class menu Bangkok-Doha

I gladly accepted some Taittinger.

Qatar Airways A380 first class champagne Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class champagne Bangkok-Doha

And I had a look around the seat.

Qatar Airways A380 first class seat Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class seat Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class seat Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class seat Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class seat Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class seat Bangkok-Doha

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.

Qatar Airways A380 first class galley Bangkok-Doha

At the front of the cabin between the two lavatories stairs led down from the upper to the lower deck.

Qatar Airways A380 first class stairs Bangkok-Doha

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).

Qatar Airways A380 first class bathroom Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bathroom Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bathroom Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bathroom Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bathroom Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bathroom Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bathroom Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bathroom Bangkok-Doha

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.

Qatar Airways A380 first class seat Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class seat Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class Bangkok-Doha coffee and dates

Qatar Airways A380 first class Bangkok-Doha free wifi

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.

Qatar Airways A380 first class meal service Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class meal service Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class meal service Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class meal service Bangkok-Doha

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.

Qatar Airways A380 first class amenity kit Bangkok-Doha

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 Airways A380 first class bar Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bar Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bar Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bar Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bar Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bar Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bar Bangkok-Doha

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.

Qatar Airways A380 first class bar Krug Bangkok-Doha

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.

Qatar Airways A380 first class bed Bangkok-Doha

Qatar Airways A380 first class bed Bangkok-Doha

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.

Qatar Airways A380 first class Bangkok-Doha guided escort

Qatar Airways A380 first class Bangkok-Doha guided escort

Qatar Airways A380 first class Bangkok-Doha guided escort

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.

Qatar Airways A380 first class Doha immigration lounge

Qatar Airways A380 first class Doha immigration lounge

Qatar Airways A380 first class Doha immigration lounge

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Considering this is the same flying time as a transAtlantic flight from the east coast of North America, I am not sure why you are so taken aback by the amenities provided. Yes, it’s not a uber-long haul like DXB/DOH-SYD, but it is a pretty common distance and flying time so one would expect the same level of soft product provided across the QR system. Would you expect to not receive a full amenity kit or PJs on an overnight F flight on any airline ex-JFK to LHR, FRA, CDG or any other European destination? I suspect not.

  2. To redeem that sector using QANTAS points is 78,000 plus the equivalent of 230 USD, reflecting just how mean and miserable the QF program is ( and has been for 5 years or more). Nearly double the miles and almost 10 times the ‘taxes’/charges

  3. What I’m about to write isn’t a slam but just my thoughts. I remember you telling me that your wife doesn’t want photos taken of her, I respect that, however, I’m not too sure why you can’t mention that you are traveling with your wife. Your reports are very disconnected as you mix “I” and “us” in the report. Your reports seem to be written strictly as a business report, just the facts you are traveling with your wife, would be nice to hear her perceptions of the flight.

  4. I flew Qatar A380 on first yesterday from London to Doha and loved it… Maybe because I’ve never flown first on either Etihad or Emirates… I thought the service was brilliant.

    Liked the lounge in Doha too… Had only 30 minutes or so there because I had a connecting flight.

    Definitely better than Lufthansa and BA!

  5. You mention the flight ‘ costing 45,000 miles and $22.35 in taxes apiece’ – which airline redemtion scheme was this booked in?

  6. A friend and I are flying business class DFW DOH and exiting the airport for a 34-hour layover. I have friends flying coach from IAD and ATL to DOH. We arrive within about an hour of each other and planned to meet in the gate area and all of us going through passport control together. From reading your review, it seems that we won’t even see each other in passport control and that we should perhaps meet in baggage claim. Your thoughts, please.

  7. “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.” Oh, I didn’t know you flew The Residence with Etihad on this trip. That is literally the best on offer, right? (a little bit of Friday humor)

  8. @Lesylee you could meet up before passport control, but will use a different passport control, I’d meet at baggage claim for an easy central identifying location

  9. Thank you, Gary. BTW, we are all flying RT DOH BKK on the A380. EXCITED!! It will be the first time for any of us to fly on the A380. Again, two of us are in business class with the other three in coach. I wonder if they’ll be able to come up and visit?

  10. Emirates have let me bring a friend up from economy to the onboard bar before, when it hasn’t been busy. I’d hope that QR would offer the same Lesylee. Although 3 might be pushing it a bit really.

    Have you flown & did they ?

  11. Gallagher, you can get Amex UK MR points into AA but its convoluted & you lose out quite a lot in the conversions.
    I think (never done it myself) you’d need 120k MR points for 50k AA miles.
    Transfer into SPG at terrible 3:1 rate then from SPG to AA at 1:1.25.
    I think this is correct !!

  12. You must try Garuda Indonesia’s first class. even its not better facilities than Qatar,Emirates, or Etihad. but, they served with heart

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