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:
I arrived at Hamad International Airport via Uber just before midnight. The first and business class check in was clearly marked.
The entrance is quite striking.
I veer left for the Al Mourjan Business check in. The area is quite spacious with a variety of seating. Unfortunately only few of the check in positions were staffed.
The check in was excruciatingly time consuming. There was no order as to where to wait. Passengers with checked luggage were entering with a porter and seemingly skipping the line. I finally tried to use a self check in machine and after many screens it failed and indicated I had to see and agent. It was a very non-premium experience. They need a queuing system where the next guest is served by the next available agent. I was eventually checked in and issued boarding passes for the 3 segments on this ticket. Security screening was without a wait.
Al Mourjan Business Lounge
Now air side I follow the signage to the Al Mourjan lounge.
The lounge is overwhelmingly huge and very crowded. It takes me a while to get my bearings. perhpas I should leave a trail of white pebbles Hansel style so I might find my way back. Luckily food and beverage is dispersed throughout the lounge in case one needs to bed down for the night and continue the journey at first light. I am delightfully oblivious to what predators lurk.
I make a lap around the lower level and find every imaginable configuration of seating and a beautiful water feature. Resetting your watch as you pass through various time zones is a bit cumbersome as is donning and doffing your overcoat as necessitated by the various micro climates. I'm trying to express that this is a large lounge, you see.
I decide to opt for a bite to eat in the cafe. It's the restaurant on the lower level offering made to order sandwiches and panini. Table service is offered here as well. It's quite busy at this time in the QR hub as a large bank of flights leaves at +/- 02:00. I have no trouble finding a seat however and am promptly approached by a friendly server who is well composed despite he demanding workload of this time of morning.
The menu is already present on the table. I request a glass of water, a glass of Champagne, and the roast beef sandwich. The server replied that he would place my order and be right back with teh drinks. He was true to his word.
My handsome boarding pass folder that contains all three flights on this ticket.
The sandwich arrived fairly promptly and was of decent quality.
Fortified for a longer foray into the great lounge under I heartily thank the industrious server and continue with my journey. It's approaching 1am and the light is lower than one would expect inside a busy public space. I find it also very hushed as I expect many travelers are in that foggy place when they otherwise would be sleeping or have just come off long haul flights and have a certain walking dead air to them.
I really should travel with a cartographer fro these types of missions but I am only so posh. A map of my lounge exploration would be handy. I pass a game room and an extensive area of semi-private family rooms with seating and TV. It's dark at this hour so any picture taking was futile but what a great space for those seeking some additional privacy.
I've decided now it my chance to make the summit and I venture to the second level (via the lift). It a large dining room and quite full. So full in fact all tables are occupied and most of the positions at the bar.
There is a buffet here with hot and cold items. It's swarmed over like flies to a camel carcass in the Rub’ al Khali. I pull a couple of cold dishes and find a spot at the bar. The barman is attentive even tough I'm on the back side of the bar. I request a martini and some water and he quickly has his shaker oscillating and emitting the mouth watering sound of gin en route. The tabbouleh and hummus are both excellent but there is no pita or cracker in sight to enjoy. I locate a stale roll near the soup but after noting the texture it is only a plate decoration.
I have a flight to board so it's time to mount an expedition to the gate. There is a train in the terminal but I prefer an invigorating walk to gate B7. There's a distinct spring in my step attributed to the excitement of boarding the A350-1000 for the first time. It's a beautiful machine from the outside and I have no doubt the QR team have fitted out the inside in equal splendor.
I approached seat selection on this Q Suite flight in the same manner as the inbound. Criteria was window seat with great view of wing and nacelle. Seat 9K was the optimal choice. An even darker cabin than in IAH so please excuse the sub-optimal pictures. A7-ANC, delivered in September 2018, is taking us on the voyage today.
The cabin lighting is set to "go to sleep, fools!" The lack of bins in the center is quite noticeable and give a great space effect.
The suite on the A350-1k was very similar. Rewardflying determined that is is in fact slightly more narrow than the 777 which stands to reason based on fuselage circumference. The welcome amenities were placed on the side table including the plush duvet, slogan pillow (Paint the sky, make it yours), and amenity kit.
The other design elements that make the Q Suite so great are present including storage space, versatile reading light (it has ambient and spotlight capability), logical controls, gasper vents, and slick window shades. There are subtle differences in the IFE controller and the IFE selection and interface to the 777. Perhaps on account of this being the absolute latest generation of the product.
As I am gleefully absorbing my surroundings I am introduced to Nina from Bosnia ( I suppose it's technically Bosnia and Herzegovina). She's young, very pretty, and has a wonderful enthusiasm and playful way whilst remaining professional and efficient. It's clear from the off that I have won the FA lottery two flights in a row. There is maybe a 50% load in J this morning so Nina is able to provide more personal and engaged service, I imagine. She takes me through the seat features and i don't stop her to interject that i am familiar. Upon offer I request a glass of Champagne and water. They are quickly provisioned, along with the specified cold towel. Nina also provisions the lounge wear for the flight.
Taking a peek at the center seats is easier with the low occupancy. They appear to have more space than the window in the form of a larger storage ottoman.
Here we are.
Nina brings the menus and explains the dine on demand nature of the service. I peruse the offerings. Again there was a "Snack Platters" selection but i failed to capture the selections. The wine list was the same as the inbound so I didn't document it again.
Our departure is on schedule and we depart to the north. I retrieve the noise canceling headphones from the side storage compartment to enjoy a film.
As the seat belt sign is turned off I make a trip to the lavatory for a wardrobe change. It's a good size and outfitted with a bevy of amenities, and a window!
As the crew sets up for service I observe the lighting changes.
Nina pays me a visit to offer the bar service. I opt for a dry gin martini this time around and it's served with a nut mix that's heavy on pistachios, yum! I let Nina know that I will simply enjoy the cocktail for now. My snacking in the lounge was sufficient for any meal needs but as a professional Flight Reporter I'll have a go at a snack in a bit. The martini is perfect and well presented.
Nina makes her rounds periodically and I do indeed request a glass of wine and a selection of snacks. The wine will be a crisp Argentinian Torrontes that is presented properly with a tasting pour. A box of chocolate is also provisioned on my table.
To snack: a stuffed potato, an octopus brochette, and a vegetable brochette. The brochettes are served with a beautiful and lively pesto type dipping sauce. The potato was more or less a flavorless starch so I didn't need to finish it. Both brochettes and the pest were lovely bites. The sauce had a wonderful herbal note to go with the acidity. Well seasoned too. I can't say enough about how great the menu concept is. Being able to assemble an interesting group of small bites to enjoy with a glass of wine at this unusual hour is a major perk to me. There is little waste as i don't have to order large portions only to have a taste.
While viewing the moving map I am reminded periodically about safe praying practices.
Nina clears the plate and offers dessert and/or additional bites or drinks but i simply request the turn down of the bed.
We're flying into the sunrise at this point so I am able to open the window shade without flooding the cabin with light. I take a peek before turning in for a nap. Lights out as we approach Mumbai.
I'm awake again over the Nicobar Islands and approaching the Malacca Straits.
I enounter Nina on the way to freshen up in the lav and she asks if I would like the bed stowed. I agree to this and when I'm back at the seat we discuss meal plans. I request the Balik "Style" salmon plate followed by the beef congee. A cappuccino is also indicated.
The table is laid for meal service with great detail. A cold towel is provisioned.
The salmon dish is presented and consistent with Mark's (Rewardflying) experience the dish is both beautiful and flavorful. I really could go for two more of these, it's that good.
The cappuccino is hot and rich.
The congee is up next and it's perfect. How could you go wrong with a porridge on an airplane.
Soon after breakfast the female First Officer is announcing that we're landing shortly and the crew prepares the cabin. It's a great time to be in 9K for the views into Changi.
I try to convey a heartfelt thank you to Nina for the thoughtful service and it's off into the terminal. We park adjacent to one of the outdoor gardens at Changi so it affords me an opportunity to gaze at the Airbus one more time. Yes, that's a rather bitchin' A320 in the foreground too.
Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Lounge
Doha - DOH
Singapore - SIN
Apologies for the delay between installments. You'll never guess where I was. ;)
The Ground Service: N/A although the transit security was quick and painless.
The Lounge: It's a vast space that could easily house a Costco if things change for Qatar. The amenities are impressive for a J lounge. The food offering was somewhat mediocre but it was 1:00am. The crowding was an issue, especially in the food service areas. I found the service to be exceptional.
The Cabin: It's a thing of beauty. I'll echo my last report in noting the colors, textures, and lighting options make for an rich and elegant experience. The slightly narrorwer suite v.s 777 is virtually imperceptible. the privacy is unrivaled in Business Class and the bed and bedding allow for quality rest.
The Crew: Nina is ++ as they say in baseball. I think she and Al should start a family of super flight attendants.
The Food and Beverage: Being an overnight flight I didn't take a full meal other than breakfast, and that was light. I was satisfied with all of the dishes I sampled. The salmon plate stood out among them. It's the selection and ability to customize the experience that make it really great.
Overall: This J thing isn't all that bad. ;)
Thank you for reading and happy flying.
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