Good Advice Tried and Tested

Qatar Airways A330-300 business class

04/10/2012

CHECK-IN I arrived at Doha International airport by taxi, at the entrance to Qatar Airways’ premium terminal at 1445. I was greeted by staff, and my luggage was transported to the check-in desk for me – which was just opposite the entrance. There were no queues and no other passengers in sight. I was seated at check-in, where I dropped my luggage, and my boarding pass was printed. Security was just to the left of check-in – again, there were no queues so I was through in seconds.

THE LOUNGE Directly after security, there was a range of luxury duty-free shops. I travelled up an escalator to reach Qatar Airways’ business lounge. A member of staff greeted me at the top, and led me to a cloakroom, where I left my coat and hand luggage. A GP clinic and a crèche/kids’ play area with Playstation 3 arcade stations were just outside the business lounge entrance.

The vast lounge was mostly empty and very serene. It had cream marble floors with tan and chocolate leather armchairs and potted palm trees. There was a window wall lined with cosy-looking lounger chairs, and there was a wide selection of international newspapers and magazines. I chose one and took a seat, shortly after which I was offered a drink from the bar (there were lots of members of staff on hand at different areas of the lounge). The lounge has three restaurants, a bar, washrooms and showers and free wifi throughout.

BOARDING The last call for my flight was at 1640. I took the escalator down from the lounge and the gate was at the bottom. We boarded a shuttle bus, which was a five-minute journey from the plane. Once I was onboard, I was greeted warmly and shown to my seat, 10F.

However, there was a mix-up, as there appeared to be a passenger with the same seat number as me. I double checked my boarding pass, and found that it had this passenger’s name on instead of my own. I told a member of cabin crew – she was extremely apologetic and directed me to another seat, 11B, where I waited, and after ten minutes, the problem was solved, and I was told that this was the seat I should have been assigned, so I remained here.

THE SEAT Business class was configured 2-2-2. Seat 11B was the aisle seat in the front row of the three rows in my section – there was another row in the other section of business class (in front, separated by toilets and a food preparation area). [See the outbound journey review here for details of the seat’s design and measurements.]

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? While the toilets were directly in front of me, I didn’t feel too disrupted during the flight, and, being in the front row of the section, there seemed to be a little more leg room, so perhaps opting for window seats in this row would be best.  

Having originally sat in row ten for a very short while, this front section of business class just one row, and was separated from the rest of business class by toilets. Therefore, for extra privacy and less fellow passengers, this section (row 10) would be the one to go for. For a seatplan of this A330-300 aircraft, click here.

THE FLIGHT Before take-off, I was offered a pre-flight drink, a paper, and asked if I’d like my coat to be hung up. Hot towels and Molton Brown amenity kits were given to passengers, and we took off at 1720, 15 minutes early. About 20 minutes into the flight, I was asked if I’d like a meal and another drink. I ordered a glass of champagne (Lanson Brut, 1998. The wine list was the same as my inbound flight).  

The food arrived shortly after I’d ordered. An aperitif of foie de volaille and foie gras parfait with onion marmalade was served before my starter, which was an “individual buffet” of smoked salmon, beetroot salmon and gravalax with red onion jam and toasted brioche. Other starters on the menu were a classic Arab mezze and honey-roasted parsnip soup. For my main, I chose grilled chicken breast with citrus tomato chutney, which was served with rice.

Other options were pasta parcels of sautéed monkfish with nutmeg cream sauce, and a filo wrap of bean curd and green soya beans. A cheese plate followed, and for dessert there was a choice of a plum and almond slice with vanilla sauce, vanilla and mango ice cream or a selection of seasonal fresh fruits.

After I’d eaten, I reclined my chair and watched two films. The cabin lights were dimmed and I rested, but didn’t sleep. I was offered a drink two hours before we reached London, which I declined. During the flight, cabin crew were very friendly and polite, taking the time to chat with passengers when appropriate.

ARRIVAL At 2045 (UK time) we began our descent. We landed slightly later than scheduled at 2130, and began to disembark at 2140. Passengers disembarked from both the front and the back of the section, so being in the front row, I was among the first passengers to leave the plane. A five-minute walk brought us to passport control, where there was no queue at the desks. However, ironically a queue did form at the express queue where all the business passengers headed to, and it felt as if it probably would have been quicker to use regular passport control.

I waited for just under ten minutes before I was through, and then headed down an escalator to baggage reclaim where my luggage was waiting. I headed to the Heathrow Express train platform, where I bought a ticket, and was on a train by 2205.

VERDICT A smooth flight with high-quality service. The check-in service at Qatar Airways’ premium terminal was a pleasant start to my journey.

FACTFILE

Rose Dykins