Review of Qatar Airways flight Houston Doha in Business

Airline Qatar Airways
Flight QR714
Class Business
Seat 5K
Aircraft Boeing 777-200LR
Flight time 16:20
Take-off 01 Dec 18, 15:55
Arrival at 01 Dec 18, 17:15
QR   #7 out of 124 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 462 reviews
socalnow
By GOLD 1135
Published on 11th January 2019
Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I was about 13 years old when I flew in International Business Class for the first time. It was 1987 and it was an L-1011-250 flying from ATL-LGW. My memory of the cabin is somewhat faded but I think it was a 2x4x2 and only slightly more pitch and recline than Y. I remember the amenity kit rather well, a brown leatherette pouch, since I had never seen such a thing before. I remember collecting a few that were left behind by other passengers. The reason I mention this 30+ year old memory is that travel in Business Class has come a LONG way since then. That brings me to the nexus for this adventure. Qatar Airways is a renowned carrier for excellence in Business Class. The latest generation of their J product, known as the Q-Suite, is a evolution in terms of space, privacy, comfort, and entertainment. The goal of this trip was to take a Q-Suite on a test drive.
American Advantage is a great program for redeeming miles for QR Business Class so that's where I went. Long story short I booked the round-the-world adventure on 3 tickets, 70k AA miles for LAX-IAH-DOH in QR J, 50k miles for DOH-SIN-KUL-NRT in QR J, MH J, and MH F, and finally 87, 520 Lifemiles for NRT-SFO-SNA in NH F and UA Y.

Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:



American Airlines, LAX-IAH, 737-800, First, Flagship Lounge, AAdvantage Miles

Qatar Airways, IAH-DOH, 777-200LR, Business, American Express Centurion Lounge, AAdvantage Miles (This Report)
Qatar Airways, DOH-SIN, A350-1000, Business, Al Mourjan Business Lounge, AAdvantage Miles (Coming Soon)
Malaysia Airlines, SIN-KUL, 737-800, Business, British Airways and Qantas Lounges, AAdvantage Miles (Coming Soon)
Malaysia Airlines, KUL-NRT, A350-900, First, Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge(s), AAdvantage Miles (Coming Soon)
All Nippon Airlines (ANA) , NRT-SFO, 777-300ER, First, ANA Suite Lounge, Lifemiles, (Coming Soon)
United Airlines, SFO-SNA, 737-800, Economy, American Express Centurion Lounge, Priority Pass Restaurants, Lifemiles, (No Report)

American Express Centurion Lounge - IAH



After a brief visit to a newly refreshed Admirals Club I made the trip over to Terminal D.



The elevator to the Amex lounge is sort of hidden behind the Duty Free store.



The Amex Centurion Lounges all have very similar aesthetic and are well designed comfortable spaces. As such they are quite popular. This lounge was rather crowded for my entire stay so picture taking was difficult. The crowd didn't distract from excellent service and quality food and beverage.

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The tended bar a cocktail list.

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My selection was the desert oasis and it was a well crafted cocktail. The salty sour rim glass was an excellent touch.

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The view from my seat.

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The buffet is adjacent to the bar. There is a nice selection of cold dishes, fresh salads, and a several hot items.



The only item I enjoyed from the buffet was the soup. It was so delicious I had two bowls. It was so savory, and balanced with lime and cilantro and enhanced with some Tabasco. I could have enjoyed a third serving but in a rare moment of restraint I moved on.

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I was really blown away by the service in the lounge. Not only would the staff constantly clear service items but tehy would actively offer refills or solicit orders from the bar. I've not experienced this level of service at any other Centurion Lounge. This is quite the opposite of SFO, for example, where there is an air of "you're lucky we granted you access to our lounge."

As boarding time approached I enjoyed a coffee and left to walk about.

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I walked down past the gate in an effort to obtain a picture of the aircraft but she was well hidden by the jet way.

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I spotted LH and SQ as well.



QR714 IAH-DOH



Boarding started on time and was underway when I arrived at the gate.

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As Reward Flying noted in his recent QSuites review of ORD-DOH the cabin is difficult for photos. The evening light outside coupled with low mood lighting in the cabin isn't ideal to convey the beauty of the scene. Right away you know you're somewhere special. The dark tones and variety of textures are really striking.

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I selected seat 5k specifically for the wing and engine views and I was not disappointed, it's a phenomenal seat for an avgeek.



I am quickly greeted by Al, the flight attendant for 5K and surrounds. He's from Slovenia and he introduces himself as "Al, Like Al Pacino." His English is fantastic and he's a warm engaging person with an infectious smile from the start. I apologize for any negative publicity his country may have received as a result of the current US President. He's also all hustle but knows how to slow it down when appropriate. He gives me a thorough tour of the Q-Suite and solicits a per-departure beverage order. I opt for my usual Champagne and a special juice on offer. Al offers the Rose or the Brut and I select the latter. I'm also asked if I prefer a cold or hot towel. Al excuses himself to greet other passengers and returns after a few minutes with beverages and hot towel.

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Let's have a look at the seat features. I'm quite impressed by the look and feel of everything in the suite. The textures of the surfaces and function of the controls all feel premium.

The seat controls are well placed and intuitive to operate. Genius to add the extra storage shelf here for small devices, etc. The storage box to the right of the seat has room for water bottle, headphones, amenity kit, and more. I will say teh IFE controller was difficult to eject from the holder and would usually require so much force that it would end up on the floor and I'd have to reel it in.



The foot well is sufficient and the bed length is good. The seemingly odd armrest looking pad by your calf becomes part of the bed and adds to the width.

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Tray table is ample.

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The screen resolution is dazzling.

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Amenities were pre-positioned at the seat including an amenity kit, blanket, and pillow with a fitting slogan, "This is my happy place." The slogan was written in Arabic on the reverse side. Al mentioned that I was welcome to take the pillow with me.



There are noise canceling headphones of good quality in the storage area to the right of the seat.

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I'm offered lounge wear and slippers as well. I change into the lounge wear prior to takeoff.



Al drops by with the menu and wine list for the flight and lets me know that the dining is "whatever you want, whenever you want." The food and beverage choices are impressive including an insert in the food menu with additional "snack platter" options. This is going to be fun!

The wines and other alcoholic beverages.



Snack platters.

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Food and non-alcoholic beverage choices.



Service items are collected and we push off the gate about 7 minutes behind schedule. I wasn't able to turn off the reading lamps in my suite consistently at first so there was a terrible glare on the window. As a result I don't have any usable pictures of taxi and takeoff.

Once we were airborne there was some bumpy air so the service start was delayed. In fact I think we had reached the intial cruising altitude before drink orders were taken. I asked Al for a dry martini and sparking water with ice.

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The cocktail was served in a great little stemless up (martini) glass along with some warm mixed nuts. The water was omitted. It was a darn good cocktail for an airplane.

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Now above the weather it's possible to see the thunderstorms that caused the bumpy ride.

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I decided to test the dine on demand system and not take a meal straight away. Rather I asked Al for a couple of items from the snack menu: the smoked salmon blini and the kibbeh. Each item is one piece so Al asked how many of each I would prefer and I asked for two of each.

I selected the film Crazy Rich Asians and rather enjoyed watching it. Especially the scenes in familiar parts of Singapore.

Al eventually came to set the table and laid the table linen. He spotted a hair on the linen and quickly removed it and came back with another. I was impressed with his level of attention to detail. I certainly didn't notice it until he did.

The salt and pepper grinders look familiar…

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For the snack service I opt for a glass of the Atair Champagne Etoile Brut Rose, an enjoyable wine. The water is served too, after a third request.

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The kibbeh and salmon canapes are quite tasty and perfect little bites. The kibbeh is warm and has a crisp exterior and soft texture inside. Aside from advertising salmon roe as caviar the salmon is perfectly fine and the buckwheat blini has a very nice chew. The construction is so delicate I have to think they are assembled on the aircraft. If that's the case then kudos to whomever is in the kitchen because they're beautiful. Al refills the Champagne as needed and all is well.



I'm still a little peckish so when Al comes to check I ask for the mezze and to my surprise they have all been distributed. I request a minute to reformulate my game plan and Al clears the dish from the canapes. I look to the "light options" section of the menu and decide on the mini sliders: beef and chicken burgers with melting cheese served with crispy onion rings. Also requested is the Château Batailley Pauillac (Grand Cru Classé) 2012. Reading Reward Flying's raves about this wine I knew I was in for a treat.

Here is the trade off of the DOD vs. set meal time service models. It takes a long time for each request to be fulfilled. Al might have 10 people all wanting something different at around the same time and the staffing is not such where that can ever be prompt. I was in no hurry, and like the pillow slogan, I was very much in my happy place. We have 15 hours in this tin can, let's snack, drink, and repeat.

Kudos to Al for bringing the wine promptly and managing the expectations for when the food would be out. Absolutely splendid service technique.

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The wine is as stunning as advertised. The sliders were not. They were mostly bread and lettuce to the point that I couldn't discern which was beef and which was chicken. The onion rings were soggy and greasy. How could they be any other way on an airplane?



Al was concerned when the dish was mostly intact upon his return. I let him know is wasn't suiting me but i was quite confident that the cheese plate would. The Batailley Pauillac and the cheese were fast friends. Sure it's not the most exciting cheese selection but he presentation was lovely and the scrumptious wine was in plentiful supply.



I accepted Al's offer of a sweet and went with the lemon orange cake. A tart citrus hit was the perfect foil to the rich, savory combination of wine and cheese. The Glenfiddich also made an appearance shortly after.

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We're well over the Atlantic at this point so I hit the lav to scrub my teeth and request a turn down of the bed. There are 8 hours and 40 minutes remaining in the journey. I will say that the moving map had a habit of changing to Arabic. Not just for on "cycle" of the maps but for prolonged periods.




I enjoy a useful nap and feel refreshed after. It's certainly not a full night of sleep but that's OK, I wasn't to enjoy the flight. I've only scratched the surface of the menu and wine list. Once I decide I"m awake I set my chair upright but leave the mattress pad on in case I want to go horizontal again. I note our location, over the Black Sea and consult the meal and beverage lists for my next move(s).

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I ring the call button and Al arrives quickly, having already enjoyed his nap time as well. We talk about what's available and I express my interest in the lamb dish and the Pommery. Al informs me he will check on the lamb and return with the Champagne and water. True to his word the bubbly was delivered and he let me know the lamb is warming.

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The table is set, curiously the breakfast bread is provided, and the lamb is presented. The lamb is very flavorful and, despite the long journey it has undertaken, it's still quite tender. Al brought a variety of sauces because, well, he's just a thoughtful person. The Dijon was superb.



Dining over Iraq.

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After breakfast(?) the table was cleared and I was brought a cold towel and box of chocolate. I wonder if the service protocol is to stick with the towel selection made at the beginning of the flight? that seems to be the case on this flight.

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It's dusk as we shoot our approach into Hamad International Airport. This is why I selected 5K!

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Our arrival was about 30 minutes behind schedule and we were on a gate quickly.

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This appeared to be an immigration checkpoint for J and F but the agent manning the entrance said I was not entitled to use it. Perhaps no award tickiets?

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I waited in a business class line in the general area and was through in about 15 minutes. I summoned an Uber and was at the Doubletree Hotel in Old Town within 10 minutes. Nap time.
See more

Verdict

Qatar Airways

8.4/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment9.0
Meal/catering7.5

AMEX Centurion Lounge

7.9/10
Comfort8.0
Meal/catering8.0
Entertainment8.0
Services7.5

Houston - IAH

7.5/10
Efficiency7.5
Access7.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness7.5

Doha - DOH

8.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

The Ground Service: No services offered.

The Lounge: The American Express Centurion Lougne IAH is a good example of the type. It suffers from the popularity of all Centurion lounges in that it's always crowded. There is only 1 shower and the wait was too long by the time I inquired. The food selection is good and the soup was excellent. The cocktail game is really where the Amex lounges excel to me. The Executive Lounge that QR uses is an awful, crowded, mess with questionable food and beverage offerings.

The Cabin: It's stunning in the aesthetics and the functional details. The F / J line is blurred by the Q Suite concept.

The Crew: Al is a sensational flight attendant. He has an infectious enthusiasm that is on display from the moment he engages the guest. The other FAs that subben in on various tasks were far closer to the mean where Al is an outlier. He made my first Q Suite flight even more memorable. DOD is a great concept but the execution falls short. The crew was in major hustle mode from what I observed and still wait times were excessive. I don't see how it could be any other way at the passenger / FA ratio.

The Food and Beverage: The selection is great and the additional snack menu was fantastic. The food ranged from great (kibbeh, salmon canapes) to good (lamb and cheese plate) to bad (sliders and onion rings). All of that said it was still above expectation for a business class dining experience.

Overall: QR J is a fantastic way to travel. Having Al along for the ride set the bar even higher.

Thank you for reading and happy flying.

Related

11 Comments

  • Comment 483544 by
    YGeorgeW 26 Comments

    Thanks for a great flight report Socalnow!

    “Amenities were pre-positioned at the seat including an amenity kit, blanket, and pillow with a fitting slogan, "This is my happy place." The slogan was written in Arabic on the reverse side. Al mentioned that I was welcome to take the pillow with me.”
    -What a contrast with Polaris where you have to request all the good stuff and (I’m fairly certain) you cannot keep the pillow.

    “I'm still a little peckish so when Al comes to check I ask for the mezze and to my surprise they have all been distributed.”
    -Maybe this is the other risk of the dine on demand? You have to ask for the favorites early or risk them running out. Did you get a sense of whether other passengers were unable to get their preferred options?

    “There are 8 hours and 40 minutes remaining in the journey.”
    -Perhaps I didn’t get a good sense of it from the way I read it, but your meal service took 7 hours? I’m guessing there were quite a few breaks in between.

    “Al brought a variety of sauces because, well, he's just a thoughtful person.”
    -It sounds like you had a phenomenal flight attendant; can just about say (almost) first class-level service in business.

    Thanks again for the report, looking forward to the next leg.

    • Comment 483946 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 767 Comments

      Hello YGeorgeW and thanks for the note, much appreciated.

      "Maybe this is the other risk of the dine on demand? You have to ask for the favorites early or risk them running out. Did you get a sense of whether other passengers were unable to get their preferred options?"
      -It's an interesting thought. If I ever have a chance to fly Q-Suite again I would think about asking to have a mezze set aside, it's a good idea. Of course that's just another burdonsome layer for the FA's to keep track of, as if DOD wasn't enough work already. I don't know if other passengers experienced such shortages. In these kind of suite cabins I hardly even see other passengers.

      "Perhaps I didn’t get a good sense of it from the way I read it, but your meal service took 7 hours? I’m guessing there were quite a few breaks in between."
      -Sort of. I built in some breaks and combined with the slow service and delayed start due to rough air it was a long time. For example i didn't request the first snack item until we were airborne for over 1:40. It was a slow graze more than a meal service.

      "It sounds like you had a phenomenal flight attendant; can just about say (almost) first class-level service in business."
      -Absolutely. It's such a differentiating experience when you encounter a thoughtful professional, in any industry.

      Thanks again for reading YGeorgeW and happy flying.

  • Comment 483552 by
    dreamweaver888 61 Comments

    What a delightful trip report, wonderfully written and beautifully photographed! The Centurion Lounge looks nice and the Q Suite looks out of this world. What an experience!

  • Comment 483677 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 4545 Comments

    Hi Socalnow, perfection as always!

    Good thing you had access to the Centurion lounge--it's a shame that the Executive Lounge that QR uses is not up to par. You would think QR could just used the BA lounge considering it's in the same terminal. Maybe the BA lounge is overcrowded too.

    "The evening light outside coupled with low mood lighting in the cabin isn't ideal to convey the beauty of the scene."
    - And yet, you got some great shots. I'm sure the cabin is much more beautiful in real life, though

    "He's from Slovenia and he introduces himself as "Al, Like Al Pacino."
    - Hah, nice! You know it's going to be a good flight when the FA has a good personality and sense of humor

    "I'm offered lounge wear and slippers as well."
    - Along with the seat, the above-average catering and wine list, these amenities are much closer to what you'd expect in International First

    Dine on demand is certainly one of those First class-like services, but as you mention, it is difficult for cabin crews to execute in Business, with many more passengers than an Intl F cabin would have.

    All in all a great first experience in the Qsuites!

    • Comment 483952 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 767 Comments

      Greetings Kevin and thanks for the note.

      "Good thing you had access to the Centurion lounge--"
      -EK, LH, QR, and others all use the Executive lounge. Although if you're on LH and you don't go to the Polaris lounge then shame on you. ;)

      'Along with the seat, the above-average catering and wine list, these amenities are much closer to what you'd expect in International First"
      -I agree. They're bending the definition of Business Class in the direction of First.

      "Dine on demand is certainly one of those First class-like services, but as you mention, it is difficult for cabin crews to execute in Business, with many more passengers than an Intl F cabin would have."
      -Love the concept but +/-10 pax to 1 FA makes it difficult to execute. My goodness they work hard to do it too.

      Thanks again for the note and happy flying.

  • Comment 483744 by
    Rewardflying SILVER 409 Comments

    Hi Christian! Awesome report.

    >I selected seat 5k specifically for the wing and engine views and I was not disappointed,
    -Absolutely, row one is not the place to be.

    >Al mentioned that I was welcome to take the pillow with me.
    -Surprising, no such offer on my 2 flights. Good for you!

    >I selected the film Crazy Rich Asians and rather enjoyed watching it. Especially the scenes in familiar parts of Singapore.
    -Ditto on my DOH flight

    >The construction is so delicate I have to think they are assembled
    -Gorgeous pic

    >The wine is as stunning as advertised.
    -Glad you liked it!!

    >I've only scratched the surface of the menu and wine list
    -Haha, I'm comatose by this point of the flight!

    >This appeared to be an immigration checkpoint for J and F but the agent manning the entrance said I was not entitled to use it. Perhaps no award tickiets?
    -An agent who doesn't know anything. I passed without issue

    Excellent report Christian. I need lessons! Also I'm glad to see the F to J transition worked, at least on QR.

    I suspect we'll have dueling A350-1K reports very soon. In fact posting mine today.

    Happy Reward Flying

    • Comment 483954 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 767 Comments

      Hi Mark and many thanks for leaving a comment here.

      "Absolutely, row one is not the place to be."
      -I sure think so. You're a row one guy though. Your UA 78K inaugural in 1L.

      "Surprising, no such offer on my 2 flights. Good for you!"
      -I wasn't offered on the DOH-SIN leg but it found a spot in my bag anyhow. Realistically who has space to be toting around pillows. They're also pretty small, like the pillows in domestic F in the USA.

      "Glad you liked it!!"
      -Really a special treat.

      "An agent who doesn't know anything. I passed without issue"
      -Well that's interesting. I thought it was odd.

      "Also I'm glad to see the F to J transition worked, at least on QR. "
      -There was a dusting of PTSD.

      "I suspect we'll have dueling A350-1K reports very soon. In fact posting mine today. "
      -Looking forward to your day time flight to contrast with the night time.

      Thanks again and happy flying.

  • Comment 483968 by
    atco 26 Comments

    Superb report as always!

    When I grow up I want to be as good at writing trips reports as Socalnow :)

    Q-Suites is 1000% on my hit list for the next 24 months. Already saving my AAdvantage miles and you and Rewardflying are making it very, very difficult to wait!

    People like you and many others on here, various bloggers and youtubers inspired me to take action and to experience flights like this for myself. I owe all of you a huge debt of thanks for opening my eyes. I always thought flying like this was for "other" people, but honestly anyone can do it with a bit of focus, work and effort!

    • Comment 484071 by
      socalnow GOLD AUTHOR 767 Comments

      Thanks for the kind words and comment Atco. I think you and I have a similar style to reporting so I'm glad you're here and sharing.

      "Q-Suites is 1000% on my hit list for the next 24 months. Already saving my AAdvantage miles and you and Rewardflying are making it very, very difficult to wait!"
      -I look forward to your thoughts. Read Rewardflying reviews for substance and information you can use. I'll cover the fluff.

      " I always thought flying like this was for "other" people, but honestly anyone can do it with a bit of focus, work and effort!"
      -Same here, still can't believe it, really, but here we are.

      Thanks again Atco and happy flying.

  • Comment 484080 by
    hometoyyz 387 Comments

    Hello, Socal! So excited to read your thoughts on Qsuites!

    “The reason I mention this 30+ year old memory is that travel in Business Class has come a LONG way since then.”
    Ha! That’s an understatement. I was thinking about that as we now turn our noses up at 2-2-2 configuration 777s with flat bed seats.

    As expected, the Centurion Lounge looks great.

    Despite low lighting, the cabin looks very nice. I’m sure it looked even better in person.

    Sounds like All was a delight, leading to great service.

    Is the seat itself actually fairly narrow, or is that just an illusion caused by the tapering of the seat towards the top?

    I love that “Happy Place” pillow, and would have taken All up on his offer to take it home as a memento for sure.

    The menu sounds great, and I love the flexible dine-on-demand approach. Disappointing that the mezze were all gone so quickly, but probably not too surprising since it’s their signature. And doubly disappointing that the sliders didn’t work out too well. But nice service recovery on the cheese plate.

    For a collection of light bites, that first meal turned out to be quite the feast, finished off in sublime style with Glenfiddich. Nicely done.

    The seat looks great in bed mode — a nice mattress pad and a door that closes all the way to boot. Very nice.

    Of course you went with the lamb. You know how I knew you would? Because I would. And great job by Al to bring you such a variety of condiments. But ketchup? Al has a low opinion of North Americans, I fear.

    Lovely dusk shots on descent, too. You were certainly right about the seat location being ideal.

    Looks like a great experience in support of your thesis on the state of business class versus the good old days. The seat looks fantastic, the catering divine, but the real piece de la resistance on this flight had to be the service of Al, who sounds like a total ace.

    A great report as usual — looking forward to the rest of the series.

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