We’re back with another exciting inside look at an aviation first. On February 21st, 2018, Airbus delivered its very first Airbus A350-1000. As was also the case for the -900 version of the A350, Qatar Airways was the launch customer.
The stretched Airbus A350-1000 is 7 meters longer than the A350-900. The extra length allows Qatar Airways to offer an additional 10 seats in Business class and 34 more seats in Economy class.
Flight-Report had the opportunity to participate in the historic delivery ceremony and ride on board the delivery flight to Doha where we able to review the highly praised Qsuite Business class cabin.
Toulouse (TLS) – Doha (DOH) | A350-1000 | Qsuite
On the eve of the delivery flight, the delivery festivities are due to take place at Airbus’ Toulouse-Blagnac Delivery Center.
The carpet and lighting have all the makings of a Hollywood Premiere—there is no doubt that this is a special event!
The delivery center has been transformed into a gala hall for 250 people; each guest is escorted personally to his or her table.
The show begins with a surprising light show projected right onto the tables.
Then comes the food!
Starting with Lobster ravioli
The menu is projected directly on the table.
“Mosaic” Bass on Green Vegetables Smoother mashed citrus potatoes and oil pearls
Chocolate and blackcurrant dessert commemorating 20 years of Qatar Airways
While the show on the plates is lovely, the real show is about to begin! Outside in the dark, the 1st A350-1000 is about to be revealed in a fantastic show of light and sound.
The beautiful bird then bathed in light
The curves of the A350 are gorgeous and its Zorro mask makes it very recognizeable.
After a short night, we are back at the Airbus Delivery Center for an early morning departure to Doha.
The Delivery center has a check-in area, where there is a dedicated Media queue for QR3351.
A nicely presented breakfast buffet was available at the gate.
It's time to board the new Qatar A350-100! (Note that some photos below were taken during the tour of the aircraft the previous afternoon)
Due to the configuration of cabins with the Qsuite and an emphasis on privacy, Qatar Airways hve redesigned the entryway at doors 2 without the dome that can be seen on other aircraft. Instead, Qatar have opted for a more traditional entryway with a galley, nevertheless it is obvious that some thought has gone into the aesthetics of the design elements with decorative ceiling patterns and tasteful panels.
And a lovely backlit Qatar logo.
Let’s begin with a visit of the Economy cabin. The new A350-100 can accommodate 271 passengers in a comfortable 3-3-3 configuration with 18” wide seats.
The seats are the Recaro CL3710 model, which can also be found on the airline’s 777-300ER fleet.
The large in-flight entertainment screens are 11” wide (diagonally).
Paintings adorn the partitions in each cabin, again showing that Qatar have put a good amount of thought into the interior design.
In business class we find the acclaimed new Qsuite. The revolutionary seats were developed by Rockwell Collins (previously B/E Aerospace) exclusively for Qatar Airways, who hold a patent for the design.
The configuration is staggered with half of the seats in the cabin facing forward and the other half facing the rear. Window seats and central double “honeymoon”-type seats face backwards.
For families or those traveling in groups, the second business class cabin is very private with only 8 seats in two rows.
The Qsuite seat in detail
We’ll be in 11F for this flight.
These are backwards-facing honeymoon seats, but in the event that you don’t know your neighbor, there is a nice high partition.
The seat controls include a "DND" (do not disturb) button.
The remote control is the latest generation of the Thales Top Series system.
Aside from a universal power outlet, there is also a USB port. To the left are a three-pronged headphone jack and an NFC (Near Field Contact) panel which allows content from personal devices (photos, videos, music) to be played on the IFE system.
On the shelf above the seat controls, we fine a pillow, cover, and a special commemorative amenity kit.
The 20” IFE screens are the largest in the business class market.
The rather large ottoman are not restrictive at the foot level.
Each seat also has an individual reading light and coat hook.
This large box next to the seat …
… is in fact an adjustable armrest…
which is also a convenient storage space on the inside.
Despite the early hour, it is a historic flight, so let’s celebrate with champagne!
It is interesting to note that, unlike delivery flights on most other carriers where the onboard service items are provided by the manufacturer or sponsors, Qatar Airways make the effort to bring all standard service items to Toulouse in order to have a true Qatar Airways in-flight experience, as one would have on a normal commercial flight, from the very first delivery flight.
The on-board service follows standard Qatar Airways protocol with a choice of hot or cold towel during boarding.
QR have really thought of every detail with special commemorative menus and wine lists for this flight.
Let’s take a quick peek at the flight deck.
As the cabin isn’t completely full, it is possible to move to a window seat for better views on take-off.
Push back with a view of new baby airbii :-)
Startup of the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 with a take-off thrust of 432 kN
The Airbus team who made this flight possible are seeing us off.
During taxi we catch a glimpse of A7-ALY, which is the first -900 to be equipped with the Qsuite cabin—it was delivered the very same day.
Qatar Airways took the option of having outdoor cameras on their A350s allowing passengers to watch the takeoff from a forward-facing perspective positioned in different areas of the aircraft.
4 Airbus test aircraft representing the aircraft's top-sellers in the long-haul market: A330-900 neo, A350-900 and A350-1000.
Ligning up on Runway 32
And here we go for a 6.5 hour flight to Doha
Nice morning light on takeoff
As the IFE is a Thales system, the air show is branded "GeoFusion".
Some information taken from the cockpit instruments.
That beautiful A350 winglet is just so photogenic
Two photos of the economy cabin in flight
The content of the amenity kit is simple, but being a commemorative limited edition with only 1000 made, the AvGeek value is high :-)
Let's have a look at the wine list of the flight.
A champagne selection is a pleasant surprise as these bottles are normally served in First class.
The rest of the menu is more typical of business class, with three white wines on offer: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc
As well as three options of red wines: Merlot & Cabernet, Shiraz and Touriga Nacional
A Sauternes dessert wine and a port are also available.
A decent list of spirits and liqueurs along with 3 types of beers and 8 cocktails.
There is also a wide selection of non-alcoholic drinks including alcohol-free sparkling wine and 5 types of mocktails.
We’ll start off with an exceptional 2006 Comte de Champagne Taittinger
Accompanied by warm nuts
Given the early morning hour, we find breakfast dishes.
The table is set for the meal service. The new table settings are nice and feature an electric candle which is due to be rolled out to the entire system.
Butter, orange marmalade, salt and pepper
Breakfast bakery Croissant, pain au chocolat (chocolate croissant), mini white roll
The chocolate croissant was excellent and served warm.
Greek yogurt, cherry compote, toasted granola and nuts
The next course is beautifully presented and tasty fresh ingredients
Plate of charcuterie and smoked salmon Cheddar cheese, cherry tomatoes, caper berries and boiled egg
Cheddar cheese omelet with grilled asparagus Chicken sausage, sautéed potatoes, baked tomato plum and chestnut mushrooms
Overall the meal was delicious with generous portions.
The Qsuite in bed mode
Of course, the new Qatar Airways Qsuite converts into a perfectly flat bed. Qatar Airways offer an impressive turn-down service, which is rare in Business class, including the installation of a mattress pad and the addition of a larger pillow for sleeping.
The small pillow is a signature of the Qsuite and is available to take home as a souvenir of the flight!
Six pairs of middle seats convert into a true double bed by completely lowering the middle partition.
On night flights, Qatar Airways offer slipper and pajamas from The White Company.
For those wishing for more privacy, the Qsuite is equipped with a door
One of the things that sets Qatar Airways apart is the on-demand onboard service. There is no need to wait for meal times, dishes can be ordered throughout the flight.
Here are some options from the on-demand light-options menu
Lobster macaroni and cheese Mesclun salad and baked crostini
Mini sliders Beef burger with Cheddar cheese and chicken burger with mozzarella cheese
A cute dish, but not as nice as the lobster Mac & Cheese. Fries can get a bit soggy when reheated onboard.
In-flight Entertainment system
For the IFE, Qatar Airways have opted for the full Thales InFly Experience suite of products included the latest ultra-thin touchscreen remote control model.
The noise-cancelling headphones are by Phitek, a common brand used in premium cabins.
The large 20-inch screen offers a choice of 11 languages
The options are varied and the navigation is smooth and intuitive.
Movies by genre
You can also find information on the airline and onboard WiFi.
Qatar Airways offer 20MB of WiFi free to all passengers. On this special flight, the free allowance was upped to 200MB, unfortunately, the connection was quite spotty throughout the flight.
Aside from the other food options we’ve described, one can order from the Snack Platter menu as well. These are small plates which can be shared—a good option for passengers travelling as a group in the center sections of Qsuites that convert into a mini private cabin.
Smoked salmon and cream cheese blini with keta caviar Crudités of carrot, cucumber and asparagus Chicken peri peri skewers Breaded langoustines Sweet potato falafel Mini chocolate brownie
Everything looks great—it is obvious QR take food presentation seriously.
Approach and Arrival
The IFE has a nicely accurate representation of the A350-1000.
Our approach into Hamad International will be anything but direct as we veer off for a low pass over the artificial peninsula known as The Pearl. This is surely for photo opportunities of this special flight from the ground.
We pass the airport to our right…
Before heading back in the direction of the airport with nice views of the Doha skyline.
Then we overfly the airport…
And hang a u-turn
Before ligning up for Runway 34R with a low approach
Then the highlight of the show, a low passage along the corniche of Doha
Our unconventional approach can be seen on the air show.
Qatar Airways Airbus A320
We are welcomed with a traditional water salute.
Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER
Qatar Airways Airbus A320 et A350-900
A last view of our A350-1000 Having arrived safely in its new home, it will soon be ready to start a long career of commercial flying.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION The Qatar Airways Airbus A350-1000 is configured with 281 seats in the economy cabin and 46 in the business cabin, with the famous "Qsuite" seat.
The Qatari flag-carrier has 37 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft on order in addition to its order for 39 Airbus A350-900s, making Qatar Airways the largest operator of the Airbus A350.
Currently, only one Airbus A350-1000 is in service: it is operated exclusively between Doha and London Heathrow on flights QR015 and QR016.
Trip taken by Flavien for Flight-Report.com as a guest of Airbus and Qatar Airways.
Over the years, Qatar Airways have strived to stay ahead of the curve and standing out from the crowd by investing in high quality products, and offering a luxurious experience.
The Qsuite truly is a revolutionary product and may be part of a new trend in premium cabins blurring the lines even more between Business and First class. Currently only Delta Air Lines offer a business class with fully enclosed suites with doors (A350 only); however, Shanghai Airlines will soon introduce a similar product. Only time will tell if buzz words of the past like "full flat" and "full access" will turn into "full enclosed privacy" as a must-have in Business class.
The Airbus A350-1000 is a superb and beautiful aircraft. The silence on board is remarkable. With increased capacity over the -900 and comfortable 18” wide seats in Economy, the A350-1000 will undoubtedly before the new Flagship for many of the world’s carriers.
The Positives :
- Intrinsic quality of the Qsuite seat (feeling of intimacy, nice finishes, spacious, storage space, ergonomics) - Very large 20-inch screen and Oryx entertainment system with great content - On-demand service and elegant service protocol - Dishes, glasses and elegant cutlery
- Long service for a relatively short flight - WiFi connection was spotty
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