POST 15 – April 7th 2019 – Travel lifestyle

Travelling in style to Asia with Qatar Airways...

Qatar Airways Economy class MCT-DOH / Business class DOH-SIN + PrimeClass lounge MCT airport and Al Mourjan lounge DOH

My 5 days in Oman were fantastic and I wish I would have stayed some more time… But the world is big and my (vacation) time is relatively short so after 5 days, I was back in Muscat airport to go to the Asian continent…

The summary of my adventures in Oman is available on this blog (www.boardingnow.net/post14)

Also, this post is an adjusted version of my FlyerTalk trip report you can find here : https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports/1936917-travelling-world-6-months-my-sabbatical-leave-experience.html

I managed to book using some British Airways Avios (the name of BA miles) a one-way ticket to Singapore on Qatar airways, via Doha, with the “feeder” flight to Doha (DOH) in Economy and the long-haul flight to Singapore (SIN) in Business class. Considering this was a multi-class itinerary, I had to phone British Airways Executive Club to have it booked, and I paid 64500 Avios + 192 Euros of « taxes », which are for most of it, hefty fuel surcharges asked by Qatar Airways. A one-way ticket on this itinerary, or other destinations in the region, would have costed about 800 to 1000 Euros more, so this was a relatively good use of Avios in my opinion as like most of the other miles I have, I value 1 BA Avios to about 1 Euro cent… When I booked this, all the 3 daily flights between Doha and Singapore were operated on an Airbus A350-900, which is, together with the upper deck of the 747 and, to some lower extent maybe the A380, my favorite aircraft to fly on. About a month later, I noticed that one of the daily departures had an equipment change to their brand new Airbus 350-1000, with the particularity all those birds feature their signature Q-Suites business class product, which I never flown before. However, the timing of this departure was inconvenient as it was departing Doha in the Morning to land in the evening in Singapore, which would mean an entire day « wasted » . So I decided to stick with my original idea to fly overnight with a morning landing in Singapore, which was still onboard Qatar’s very comfortable business class…

It was not my first time on Qatar Airways and I already had the chance to experience it several times during my two previous trips with them, to Japan and Australia. Those experiences were also reported on FlyerTalk and those reports contain additional pictures, especially from the lounge in Doha. I choose to fly with Qatar rather than their direct competitors Emirates (Dubai), Etihad (Abu Dhabi) or Oman Air as they are not part of one of the 3 global airlines alliances around. Qatar being a member of OneWorld, I can enjoy additional benefits when flying with them due to my status with British Airways. I personally believe than out of the 3 alliances, OneWorld is the best, and the emerald status offers the most solid and guaranteed benefits alliance-wide.

Trip report featuring Qatar Airways business class to Australia (Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Airbus 380-800 and Airbus A350-900) : https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports/1900748-10-countries-16-flights-5-airlines-15-days-qr-j-qf-789-333-j-ci-359-j.html

Trip report featuring Qatar Airways business class to Japan, and also my first time flying this airline (Boeing 787 dreamliner and Boeing 777-200/300 “old” business class) : https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/trip-reports/1851220-week-end-japan-ams-doh-hnd-nrt-doh-ams-qr-j-773-772-787-hnd-cts-jl-f-772-a.html 

Qatar Airways Airbus A350-900 A7-ALC (Photo credits : Ralf Drews)
Qatar Business class seat on Airbus 350-900
Qatar Airways Business class configuration Airbus A350-900

Checking-in Muscat new airport was a breeze, and I used the regular « economy class » Qatar airways counters to do so. I discovered later that a business class check-in area was available for all the airlines at the other side of the terminal. The check-in agent was very friendly and we chatted a bit about my trip as he asked me for details of my onward journey after Singapore (some airlines typically ask you this when having a one-way ticket).

I really like the design of Muscat new airport, and from what I understood from fellow travellers, it is certainly a real improvement compared to the old airport !

Clearing security and immigration was done in no time and I then headed to the Primeclass lounge that most airlines, besides Oman Air is using. This lounge is operated by the Turkish company T.A.V and you can see advertisements inside the lounge for Turkish Airlines and the new Istanbul airport. Note that Priority Pass cardholders, (which can be obtained for example with an American Express Platinum credit card) are eligible to enter this lounge, but I gained access to it thanks to my British Airways Gold (equivalent to OneWorld Emerald) status which Qatar Airways fully recognizes.

The lounge is very nice and designed « all-in-length ». From one end to another, you will find hotel-type bedrooms at one end of the lounge (I did not enquire the conditions to have one booked), located next to a small buffet section and a relaxation area, some restrooms, lots of seating, and then the staffed-bar counter with the main buffet, which was very well catered. The main lounge entrance lobby and some more seating are available at the center of the lounge. Prayer rooms, a kids buffet (but the adults can also use it :-)), and an entertainment area, with a mini movie-theater, a pool table and some video games are available at the other end of the lounge. WiFi was indeed complimentary and was working very well. 

Just like Muscat airport, I found this brand-new lounge to be a very pleasant place to spend some time before getting on a plane. But eventually, about an hour after I arrived, I had to leave to catch my flight to Doha…

The boarding gate was about 5 minutes away from the lounge and boarding started shortly after I arrived, around 13.00. The gate agents on duty were arguing with a few other passengers to have their carry-on bags checked but I fortunately did not have to experience this.

Qatar Airways QR1139, November 21st 2018
MCT Muscat – 13:45
DOH Doha Hamad Intl – 14:35
Airbus A320 – A7-AHW – Seat 12D, Economy class, Emergency exit, aisle.

This A320 was equipped with lie flat seats, in 2-2 configuration in business class (called « First » class when flying within the middle east). The seats looked similar to the ones used by AA in Business class on their transcontinental service between JFK and SFO or LAX. But this time, that was not for me… I was booked in cattle class… Well, at least I managed to get an emergency exit seat, with some nice legroom.

All seats, including in economy class have in-flight entertainment and towelettes were distributed before departure by the crew, together with some headsets. We took off at 13.50, and we were given a snack (vegetarian or chicken pastry with a chocolate brownie) about 25 minutes later with a choice of drinks.

Because of the embargo on U.A.E and Saudi airspace for Qatari-registered aircrafts, we took the scenic route to go to Doha and basically flew along the Omani coast, but still above the persian sea and took a sharp left turn once we got above Musandan peninsula, towards Doha, adding a significant amount of time to this flight.

We landed in Doha Hamad Intl at 1425 and arrived at the gate slightly ahead of schedule at 1630.

Security clearance in Doha was a breeze as there was no line and I went afterwards to Qatar’s Al Mourjan Business class lounge. The lounge was almost empty of passengers at this time of the day.

The lounge is massive and was reviewed many times on FlyerTalk, including on my 2 last trip reports (links on the first paragraph of this page). However, every time I visit it, I notice a downgrade of the catering options. This time was no different, as the baklavas, this Arabic sweets which go nicely with some tea or coffee were not available anymore ! Come on Qatar !

The lounge is otherwise quite impressive, with the dining areas located at each end of the lounge. I went to the business center as i wanted to work a bit and this was the only place in the lounge, besides the restaurants where you would have a real table to work on. Also, only a conference table, located at the center of the business center had some power plugs available. All other computer stations or tables have no power plugs in the immediate vicinity.
Anyway, since the lounge, and the business center were completely empty at this particular time, I could enjoy a big conference table, just for me !

I used one of the lounge shower suites about 90 minutes before leaving towards my gate and did not have to wait for long before getting one

The dinner options were alright, not as wide and good as the first time as I flew QR a few years ago. Call me picky, but this lounge used to be exceptional, not it’s just… good 🙂

As a side note, the social media team of Qatar airways seems to be « on top », as they commented a post I made on Instagram about the « lack of Baklavas in the lounge » 24 hours after publishing and requested some additional information, which I provided. I later received an email from QR customer service apologizing for this « catering enhancement ».

I left the lounge at 19:20 and this was followed by a 10 minute walk towards the bus gate C27, for my flight to Singapore.

Boarding began a few minutes before I arrived and the agent decided to direct me to the regular bus until I mentioned to him I was eligible to use the business class shuttle, which after checking my boarding pass a second time, confirmed. Qatar uses a small minibus to bring business class passengers to the aircraft when the plane is not connected to the terminal. After a few minutes of drive, we arrived at the door of the A350-900, registered A7-ALC

Qatar Airways QR942, November 21st 2018
DOH Doha Hamad Intl – 20:15
SIN Singapore Changi – 09:15 (+1)
Airbus A350-900 – A7-ALC – Seat 07A, Business class, Bulkhead seat, window.

The boarding was done using stairs connected to the door #2 Left and the cabin service manager together with one flight attendant were greeting each passengers coming in. My seat, 7A, was the first one of the business class mini-cabin and located right next to the entrance.
Qatar Airways has configured its business class cabin on board the Airbus 350-900 in a 1-2-1 configuration, ensuring that every business class passenger has direct access to the aisle (this is also called « herringbone » configuration). The seats in row 1, just like the ones in row 7, have slightly better legroom and extra storage space as those are the first rows of the two business class sections.
Finally, there is no real divider between the two business class sections and the galley #2 (which is not really a galley per se actually, more the location where some snacks and drinks are available during the flight). I thought this would be a big disadvantage of being seated in row 7, but I have to say this was not, as I still had a bit of privacy towards the galley, and this particular flight was very quiet as most of the passengers slept, not really many people ever visited this snacking area.

The seat, just like most of the business class seats in the market those days had a USB port, a 110V power plug, diverse seated positions with lumbar support and can transform in a full flat bed of almost 2 meters. It did not have an electric massage function though. Wifi was available on board, with the first 15 minutes for free. A reasonable amount os storage was available, next to the seat, and in front of it. More in depth review of this product is available on my previous flyer talk trip report, as the seat used on this Airbus 350-900 was similar to the one used on their Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner and the Airbus 380-800. Shortly before departure, a welcome drink was offered together with a choice of cold or hot towels. The pajamas and sleepers were also provided, with the menus for the food and wines. At the seat upon boarding were already placed the Bric’s amenity kit, the pillow and blanket.

Finally, just like on every QR long haul flight in Business class, the purser, an Italian man in his late 30s came to every passenger to introduce himself and inform us that the flight time to Singapore will be around 8 hours, as scheduled.
He also informed us that another flight attendant, a friendly Korean lady in her early 30s would be servicing this section of the cabin during the flight.

I never really saw again the purser during almost the entire flight, but the Korean FA remained very available and came frequently at the rear section of the cabin to check if everything was alright. We eventually talked a bot about my travels and also the places she got the opportunity to visit at mid-flight.


Together with bringing the pajamas, my welcome drink and the cold towel I ordered, the FA asked me if I wanted to drink anything after take off, and I opted for some rosé champagne.

We took off around 20:30 as I recall and service started shortly after, with my champagne order coming with some nuts.

The champagne, an Ataïr rosé, was ok, but I had some better ones on board other airlines, including QR…

One thing I absolutely love about flying Qatar business class in long haul is that you can pretty much order any food on the menu at anytime (« Dine on demand » concept). I felt a bit hungry after take off so I decided to have my dinner at this stage. 20 minutes after my order, the flight attendant came to dress the table (I love this fake candle they placed !) and brought at the same time a very good shrimp amuse bouche.

The starter later arrived (Salmon gravlax) and it was excellent.

I opted for the sea bass main course and it was also pretty good !

Finally, I choose a healthy option for the dessert and opted for the fresh berries in rose water syrup… It was very good !

It came with a chamomile tea and some Godiva chocolates

I felt pretty tired after the dinner and just had the time to watch a 20-minute episode of a TV series and visit the lavatory to put the pajama on before falling asleep, for a couple hours…
About 3 hours later I woke up and an hour later the crew started to ask the ones awake if they wanted to have some breakfast. I was not very hungry so I opted for the fresh fruits with the granola yogurt. Photos breakfast. All the lights were switched on about an hour before landing and the immigration forms were given about 40 minutes before arrival, which I think is a bit late. I like when the crew gives the forms just after departure so passengers have plenty of time to complete those. Especially considering there were a few turbulences during the descent into Singapore. The approach into Singapore was very scenic and this was one of those days I was happy to have a window seat !
We landed around 09.05 local time and arrived at our gate 5 minutes later, so a few minutes before scheduled arrival time Photos arrival + Total route. Disembarking was smooth and as usual in Singapore, the immigration was painless (you can even get free candies there !). Luggage arrived quite promptly, with my bag being one of the first ones on the belt. Singapore customs were pretty active that morning and my belongings, were requested to be X-ray screened. This was also the case for maybe a third of the other passengers on this flight.
Overall, I think Qatar airways has a very solid business class product, probably one of the best around. Being a OneWorld member airline, it makes the redemptions using miles, but also the miles credit very easy and potentially lucrative for a lot of frequent flyer programs. I personally credited my previous flights to my British Airways account, although this time, I used some BA Avios to purchase those business class tickets from Muscat and paid in total 64500 Miles + 192 Euros of taxes and fees. The same ticket would have easily cost 1000 Euros or more. I just wished I could have tried their new Q Suites business class product… Maybe next time !
Qatar Airways Business class configuration Airbus A350-900
Qatar Airways Business class configuration Airbus A350-900
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