Airline check: Qatar Airways B777-200LR business class04/10/2012
CHECK IN I flew from Dubai to Doha onboard QR927 for the inaugural 0830 flight to Montreal. The check-in counter at Qatar Airways, positioned at terminal two in Dubai, was fast and efficient with only one passenger in the queue and several desks opened. Arriving in Doha after a one-hour flight, all business class passengers were directed up the escalator to the spacious Premium Terminal lounge.
THE LOUNGE The 10,000sqm lounge on the first floor can be accessed by a lift or escalator and immediately, despite its size, the trickling water features and piped chirping birds put me at ease. Although the lounge was busy, it didn’t feel crowded and queues were kept to a minimum in the dining area, which features a live cooking station with chefs dishing up fresh pasta plates. Alternative options included fresh salads, Middle Eastern and international hot dishes and cheese platters.
The conference room and meeting rooms with secretarial services are available free to business passengers along with free Internet access. A major draw is the spa offering guests a chance to refresh and revive prior to their flight with an option of massage rooms and shower facilities. A spa, Jacuzzi and sauna are also available.
BOARDING About 40 minutes before take-off, I made my way to the departure gate to board the airport bus. First and business class passengers were given priority. As it was a full flight, I had a 10-minute wait to board before being directed to my seat, whereupon I was offered a selection of newspapers and magazines along with refreshments. A senior member of staff also personally welcomed me onboard and offered assistance throughout the flight.
THE SEAT The three-a-week Montreal route (Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays) is served by Qatar Airways’ long-haul flagship aircraft, the Boeing 777-20LR which has 259 seats – 42 seats in business class (2-2-2 configuration) and 217 seats in economy class in a (3-3-3). Although I had requested a window seat, it was unavailable as I had found difficulties trying to check in online – and instead was offered an aisle seat near the emergency exit, which offered plenty of extra legroom.
The seats are comfortable with burgundy chenille material custom made for the business class section. Passengers are offered a generous pitch of 78 inches and TV screens measuring 17 inches. The seat reclined to a fully flat bed, which you’ll appreciate given it’s a 13-hour flight, and for those who find it hard to sleep, a fully interactive audio and video entertainment system offered 900 programmes, including blockbusters in English and Arabic.
THE FLIGHT The cabin crew were extremely welcoming to passengers and eager to make the journey as comfortable as possible. After refreshments, I was given an amenity pack containing Molton Brown beauty products including soothing eye cream, lip balm, toothbrush and cologne. Passengers were also given a soft cotton sleeper suit for the flight along with a menu detailing the food and beverage selection. Hot perfumed towels were handed out and the Captain welcomed passengers onboard the inaugural flight, which departed on time.
A drinks service followed with a range of French, New Zealand and German white wines along with red wines from Bordeaux, Spain, Australia and 20-year- old Taylor’s Port from Portugal.
The menu was ideal for passengers who like to have the option to eat whenever they feel hungry. There is the main meal a la carte menu or a choice from the indulgence menu, which can be ordered anytime.
Lunch comprised a palate pleaser of cucumber and crab meat crepe with a mango chilli salsa followed by a chicken and cilantro cream soup. A seafood cocktail and classic Arabic mezze was also served. Main course options were a grilled beefsteak with smoked butter, a chicken kapsa with almond and raisin rice or risotto with roasted pine nuts and button mushrooms. Dessert featured a warm caramelized pineapple in filo pastry topped with orange mascarpone and fried ginger.
A delicious cheese platter followed with a selection of Canadian blue cheese, mature cheddar and dried fruit. Tea and coffee were offered along with alcohol options and chocolates.
A very popular option was the indulgence menu on this flight which included a selection of juices, tagliatelle and lighter options such as, Cajun chicken salad, warm toasted panini bread with roast beef and mozzarella along with several breakfast options.
As it was a long haul flight, much of the cabin was in darkness but a light for reading could be accessed by a button on the right hand side console.
ARRIVAL The flight landed on time at Pierre Elliot Trudeau International Airport at 1450. As it was an inaugural flight, a delegation of VIPs including Montreal City Mayor Gerald Tremblay welcomed passengers at a reception, which included a traditional water salute. The luggage arrived after a 15-minute wait at the carousel and the queue through immigration was extremely fast.
VERDICT The flight was comfortable and on time – the standout feature was the service by the cabin crew, who were very accommodating of any requests.
PLANE TYPE B777-200LR
SEAT CONFIGURATION 2-2-2
SEAT PITCH 78 in
PRICE Return business class flights cost QR14,950 (inclusive of 5% service charge and taxes)