Hello Flight-Report #Avgeeks. I've been away for awhile, mostly making changes to this RTW adventure I'll be sharing over the coming days. Planning for this trip began back in 2017 when the schedule opened for reward tickets to be used in August 2018. The destination was Australia. I was waiting for a specific flight going west to Australia to become available when the schedule hit 331 days out. At that time Qatar had just introduced their Q-Suite business class seat. It was only being flown on Paris and London routes to Doha. On a whim I searched for CDG to Sydney. Bingo, Q-Suites to Doha and A380 service in first class to Sydney. Going east now. (BTW: the westbound flight opened but this was more fun!)
Numerous changes were made, what else is new, but in the end it was an
Qatar DOH-SYD A380 First Class / DOH Al Safwa First Class Lounge - this report
Qantas SYD-CNS B738 Business Class - to come Virgin Australia CNS-BNE B737 Business Class - to come Qantas BNE-MEL B787-9 Business Class - to come Qantas MEL-SYD A300-2 Business Class / MEL 2nd day open Business Class Lounge - to come Singapore Airlines SYD-SIN Suites Class / SYD Krisflyer First Class Lounge - to come Singapore Airlines SIN-PEK First Class / SIN Private Room - to come Lufthansa PEK-MUC First Class - to come Lufthansa MUC-FRA A321 Business Class / MUC First Class Lounge - to come Singapore Airlines FRA-JFK Suites Class - to come JetBlue JFK-ORD E190 Economy Class - no report
Apologies for a long report. Let's start with the Al Safwa First Class Lounge. While Hamad International Airport is a spectacular facility to explore and appreciate the architecture, I had other plans.
It is a grand entrance up the massive escalator to an open lobby seemingly without a ceiling. The entrance itself depicts the opulence of this one of a kind first class lounge.
After admittance off to the right is a duty free shop area that I wouldn’t be able to pay the duty, let alone buy whatever is in there.
So I entered the lounge. This lounge is something you have to see to fully appreciate.
Space wise it is probably the largest lounge I’ve ever been in, but with the fewest chairs and most open space.
When you enter if you turn left there is the bar and dining room where you can order off a menu as well as this water feature.
There were more dining tables off to the right.
Even though I said fewest chairs, that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of chairs. It’s just the place is so big.
Throughout the lounge are attendees who ask if you need anything, want to eat or visit the spa. They aren’t intrusive, just there to help.
Off to the right is the Spa as well as a game room and kid’s area.
Most of the spa treatments are at a cost. The spa attendant gave me a tour. There were various massage rooms.
This is the jacuzzi room which I opted for. There is no charge for this. No duck though! What I found strange about this room is there are 2 showers opposite the jacuzzi but no toilet in the room.
The spa was very tranquil with the sounds of this gentle flowing stream of water.
After the jacuzzi I continued my tour of the facility in search of food. Tucked away in the back of the lounge is a typical lounge buffet style area for a quick bite in case you don’t have time to for a sit down meal.
But I had time so I headed to the dining room. There was only one other person in the room, a lady at the bar who was headed to Sydney as well.
This Saint Julien is not something you will find in a typical lounge.
Not wanting to eat anything too heavy I opted for the vegetable tart. It was delicious.
And the waiter recommended the Pistachio cake.
This is a magnificent lounge. If you are flying first class on Qatar do your best to either arrive very early or have a long layover. I’d put this lounge on par with Lufthansa’s FCT, minus the ensuing walk to end of C concourse to catch QR908.
Hamad International Airport is a magnificent facility. It reminds you more of a high end shopping mall and entertainment center with its expensive stores and massive advertising billboards.
And then there is the the Lamp Bear which seems totally out of place.
After my visit to the lounge it was off to the end of Concourse C to board the A380 for a 14 hour flight to Sydney.
My seat was 2A. Qatar’s A380 first class cabin is on the upper deck.
There are 8 first class seats, 2 rows of 1x2x1. Today’s load would be 3 people. Two in row 1 and me in row 2.
As on the 777, boarding lights were mood lighting. This made for dark pictures. Apologies in advance.
A view of the seat next to me when boarding.
An view of the seat next to me with light on arrival.
The seat is an open suite with a privacy partition that is electronically controlled.
Opposite to the seat is a bench that can be used for a dining partner.
The Qatar colors of grey, burgundy along with the faux wood enhance the darkness of the cabin.
The divider between seats nicely acts as your closet.
And this inseat reading light is also a clever design.
One armrest holds a bottle of water.
The other side operates the partition as well as seat controls in the armrest.
This however looks to be an afterthought. The Lufthansa drink tray looks to be part of the suite, this doesn’t.
A mattress pad was provided when time to sleep.
Overall I found the Qatar first class seat to be very comfortable for a long haul flight. With the privacy screen extended I wouldn’t be able to see a neighbor even if I there was one. When the bed was extended it was comfortable as well. The mattress pad was ok. I slept pretty well on the flight.
My take on the first class cabin itself was it lacked any character. The colors blended into the darkness. I also found it odd that the first class cabin didn’t have a Qatar logo or any other identification This is the front of the bulkhead wall at the top of the stairs, which no one walks up anyway.
This is the opposite side or front bulkhead, just plain grey. The back bulkhead was was the same. Overall the cabin isn’t anything like the photos you see on their website.
This part of the plane is gorgeous. And sadly for no one.
There are 2 lavatories in first class, for 8 people. Each are huge.
Qatar of course opted against an onboard shower.
Necessary amenities were plentifully stocked.
Outside the lavatories was a snack bar. I was never told about this, just saw it when using the lav.
Once on board I was welcomed by the first class cabin flight attendant whose name was Jasmine.
I was given a bevy of gifts including a Bric’s amenity kit which includes a luggage tag as well as pajamas and a set of headphones.
The large size pajamas were way big, so she gave me a medium and they were way small. Go figure.
Two champagnes were offered on this flight. I chose the later.
Menus were distributed. Jasmine said you could dine at anytime.
Except after saying I could dine at anytime when she came around for the other 2 orders she also came to get mine. I didn’t argue.
I found the menu rather lackluster for a 14 hour flight leaving at 8PM. On the other hand, caviar was on board. The LARGE table was set, maybe not as precisely as you would find on some other international first class airlines, but it has a candle.
The amuse was smoked salmon and roasted peppers. Meh.
Caviar was served, finally with more than 3 blinis!
More smoke salmon?
Make it 4 blinis.
And did you notice there wasn’t a soup course?
Time to switch to a nice red for dinner.
The Bordeaux did not disappoint.
I ordered the cod simply via elimination.
It was good, nevertheless I was regretting not indulging at the lounge before the flight.
I think I refused dessert. Instead a chocolate was welcomed.
Next it was off to the bar which is located behind the front business class section.
Just a stunning bar. Out of the ME3, this one is hands down the most beautiful.
A young woman from Thailand whose name escapes me, but spoke fluent english from her studies in Boston was in change. We talked for a while. She had the perfect personality for this position.
Having reached my limit it was time for some sleep. I headed back through the business class cabin. With the Super Diamond seats this isn’t a bad way to travel at all.
After probably about 6 hours of sleep it was time to breakfast. I always think it’s so wasteful to fly first class, pay more and sleep.
Breakfast was on tap. I created my own from the menu, everything.
No complaints, other than it took almost 30 minutes to make.
Time to pass some time with the IFE. The monitor is excellent. Not as good as Etihad’s but better than many top shelf first class cabins.
And the A380 cameras are so cool.
Before landing I went for the Afternoon Tea, as it was afternoon at the destination.
Warm scones with clotted cream.
Egg tart, yes please.
Out of the 3 meals the Afternoon Tea was probably my favorite.
With arrival at hand the good news is finally getting some light in the cabin!
Sydney is always a scenic city to fly into. This winter day would be no exception.
Notice the detour Qatar is forced to make with the blockade.
A comment on the crew: They were well intentioned but with little polish or first class experience. Dine on demand, not really. No soup was served. Very polite and friendly, but nothing close to the Savoy trained FA’s on Etihad. And not to nitpick, but more often than not, when the seat next to you is not occupied a seasoned FA will offer to make the empty seat your bed. Not today, even though I was one of four in row two.
For me, a true test of how much I liked the flight is once I land if I am looking to book it again. Sans the first class lounge, this one not so much.
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