Flying in comfort on the long journey to Europe can make all the difference to your holiday.
The benefits of flying business class are obvious, and in an increasingly competitive field, airlines need to go the extra mile to win the custom of discerning guests.
Qatar Airways made its inaugural Sydney - Doha flight in March 2016, a route that offers Australians an additional option for connecting to Europe. I was fortunate enough to recently travel to Geneva flying Qatar Business Class, where I got to sample premium air travel at its finest.
Route: Sydney - Doha - Geneva // Paris - Doha - Sydney
Aircraft: Airbus A380 and Airbus A350
Duration: Sydney to Doha: 14 hours 55 mins, Doha to Geneva: 6 hours 25 minutes
Checked baggage: 32kg, two bags allowed.
Check-in with Qatar was a delightfully smooth process. There were 18 of us travelling to Europe and the group check in was seamless. We cruised straight up to Priority Check-in, where the Qatar ground staff liaised with our co-ordinator and gave us express passes through customs, which is an attractive perk for all Business Class travellers.
On the Doha end of things, we were able to flash our Business Class boarding passes and zoom straight to the front of the security line, another big queue which I was thrilled to bypass.
In Sydney, Qatar Business Class passengers are offered access to the Qantas international business class lounge thanks to a shared Oneworld alliance.
Once in Doha, we were able to access the Qatar Airways First and Business Class Lounge. It was well signed and easy to find, and there’s a lot of room so you don’t feel crammed in with other guests - there’s an abundance of comfortable seating choices where you can happily spend a few hours between flights.
There were a lot of quiet little nooks where you could have a peaceful nap, as well as a wonderful array of hot and cold food and a fully stocked bar. The shower facilities were spotless and spacious, and had fluffy towels and quality amenities.
I loved how you could customise the Qatar Business Class seats to the nth degree. I prefer to have a bit of an incline rather than just a lay-flat bed, and these beds provided whatever angle suited you best.
The Qatar experience is very much about what you want, when you want it, so there was no turn down service - you were free to stretch out whenever you started feeling sleepy.
The hard case amenities kits definitely made us feel special. They contained an eye mask and socks, as well as lip balm and moisturiser from L’Occitane, although there were products from Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio on different legs.
In the bathrooms there were toothbrushes, toothpaste and shavers to use, and the area was pleasant and well maintained.
Wine and dine
In the past I have found that “dine on demand” doesn’t always mean on demand, but that is not the case with Qatar Business Class. Rather than circulating to ask if you’d like to order anything for dinner, they wait until you are ready.
I slept straight through one meal service and then ordered a three course dinner for the next because I was ravenous, and it was more than okay with the staff. There’s a choice of light options and a more robust menu, so you can order according to your mood. They make up your table with white linen and silverware and you feel like you’re in your own private, gourmet restaurant.
The range on offer is wonderful, and I appreciated the regional specialties. There were Western favourites like eggs, bacon and sausages for the morning meal, but there were also more traditional options. I always like to try something different, so I enjoyed an extremely tasty curry for breakfast.
The cocktail menu was deliciously funky, and there was an excellent choice of wine. When they present you with your glass of vino, it comes accompanied with a serving of warm, roasted nuts. There were other lovely little surprises along the way - on one leg the chef presented us with a fresh prawn cocktail as a pre-dinner appetiser.
The bar at the back of Business Class was beautifully laid out, and offered a nice option to stretch your legs and have a chat and a drink.
From the moment we stepped onboard the staff made every effort to ensure our comfort and enjoyment. The staff in Business Class started by serving us a drink prior to take off and chatting to us about the dining on demand options.
Nothing is too much trouble, and everything is set up so you can tailor it to fit your tastes - all you have to do is ask.
Qatar’s in-flight entertainment system is known as Oryx One, and they have a decent selection of movies, TV series, games and music albums on demand.
The noise cancelling headphones were great - I don’t know how I am going to fly without them in the future! It was a lovely experience to sit back with a glass of quality cab sauv and watch a movie in total comfort.
Overall I had an amazing experience flying Qatar Business Class. I’d happily fly with them again, and I’ll definitely be recommending them to my clients! I think it’s even worth flying down to Sydney or Melbourne to catch a Qatar flight if you’re based elsewhere. It really is a first-rate choice for long haul to Europe.