I am pretty much back in the swing of things after two months of galavanting about in the Philippines, Europe and Qatar. I can’t say that living out of a suitcase was easy, it seemed to become heavier each pack despite all the stuff I lost! That’s part of the rich tapestry of travel I suppose, some great highs and a few lows but plenty of fun along the way. If you’re planning a trip for an extended time like I did, carefully plan your entire trip taking into account layover times, local facilities and connections, if necessary have a Plan B as a contingency.
This trip, I had the opportunity to experience the award winning Business Class service onboard Qatar Airways from Manila to Manchester with a two hour layover in Doha. Since 2010, this airline had garnered numerous award including Best Business Class and the most coveted Airline of the Year by UK’s Business Travellers Award. For the record they have won four times including this year. So let’s check it out!
Airline: Qatar Airways QR 933
Manila – Doha
Business Class Seat No. 3K
Aircraft: Boing 777-300ER
Flight Duration : 9 H 40M
(Please note that as much as I wanted to take many photos inside the cabin, I chose to maintain my respect for the crew and fellow passengers and kept it to a minimum.)
Qatar Airways departs from Ninoy Aquino International at Terminal 3. When I arrived at the check in area there were only a few passengers queueing at the designated Business Class counter. Check in was a breeze, ground crew were very polite and very customer focused. I was given three boarding passes, Manila – Doha and Doha – Manchester, the third was the pass for lounge entry.
The business lounge in Manila is located at the PAGSS Lounge on Level 3. It wasn’t busy when I arrived but all the single pod chairs were taken so I decided on a window seat which formed part of a long table with direct runway views.
Once settled in the lounge, I perused the hot and cold buffet style offerings and alcoholic/non alcoholic drinks, juices, tea and coffee. Wifi is provided and there is a small business centre and smoking space. I spent about an hour a half there and it gave me enough time to make a few phone calls, check e-mails, update my socials and check all my forward bookings. With a nice plate of Filipino inspired nibbles and red wine consumed, boarding time quickly came around for the next leg of my journey.
CABIN / SEAT / AMENITIES
Qatar Airways Boing 777-300ER seating configuration is 2-2-2, wide seats that recline 180 degrees into fully flat beds. Seat 3K is a window seat. Large pillows, duvet, a medium size but quite accomodating comfortable pyjama set by The White Company London along with a pair of slippers.
Amenity bag contained products from Castello Monte Vibiano Vechio, which included lip balm, hydrating facial mist and anti-ageing moisturiser, eye mask, ear plugs and socks, all in all a smart little kit.
Since it’s a night flight, the ambience inside the cabin was enhanced by a pinkish-purple hue, a mood lighting theme designed to relax passengers. Cabin crew welcome was warm and sincere, they addressed me by my name and welcomed me to my seat. Hot towels for a freshen up and a pre-departure drinkie were offered immediately upon my seating. I opted for a glass of Pommery Brut Royale Champagne to sip while the rest of the passengers continued to board.
Despite the aeroplane being ready for push back, a ground delay beyond the control of the Captain meant a 30 minute wait before we could take up our new slot time for departure, this was due to air congestion in Manila. The captain made an announcement that our flight should arrived in Doha on time, thank goodness because I timed a shorter layover to catch my connecting flight to Manchester, which arrives early morning so I can hit the ground running and get where I need to be in good time and then rest.
As I settled in, I had the chance to check out my seat and space. Tray table is located under the armrest, there’s bottled water, head set, side reading light and seat controls on the right, an in-chair massage helped pass the time while we waited on the ground. OnAir mobile service, laptop power and USB plugs are also available. Between the seats in front are two small shoe compartment and magazine racks. Seat dividers are a bit low, so you don’t have much privacy when your seat is in the upright position, only when you press the seat control into a more reclined or bed position will it give you your privacy.
FOOD / BEVERAGES
The concept of dine at anytime really works for me. Since I had a snack in the lounge, I really wasn’t ready to head into a multi-course meal despite all the temptations on offer. I decided for another glass of champagne in the mean time, switching to Joseph Perrier Champagne matched with a bowl of warm mixed nuts.
After a couple of hours or so airborne I was ready for my dinner. The cabin crew set up my tray table with white cloth, cutlery, condiments and a battery operated candle, it looked clean, sharp and luxurious.
Dinner started with an amuse bouche paired with a glass of white wine, Castro Martin from Spain then followed by their signature Arabic Mezze.
For my main, I opted for the Chicken Biryani which was very flavoursome paired with Chateau Larrivat Haut-Brion red wine from Bordeaux.
For dessert, I settled for the luscious salted caramel bread pudding with a dainty box of Godiva chocolates, fine dining indeed at 35000+ feet!
ORYX IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
Qatar Airways audio-video on-demand service allows you to choose up to 4,000 entertainment options, 560 movies in more than 30 languages. I managed to watched one full movie and some TV episodes before calling it a night. I was also able to send some messages on my Whatsapp with the free 30 minutes Wi-Fi access, once updated I set up my bed which was easy enough, perhaps not neat hospital corners, but snug so it was goodnight from me!
PRE- ARRIVAL IN DOHA
If there was any turbulence during the flight I didn’t feel or remember any, I managed a good solid 4 – 5 hours sleep. The flat bed was comfortable and I could easily turn my body right or left with the seat belt on and visable to the crew. Temperature inside the cabin was consistent too, I cannot stand hot cabins which so many airlines seem to have. As the cabin lights grew brighter later in the flight, it signified that we were an hour or so from our destination coupled with the waft of refreshments and hot towels.
I chose a light option of mixed salad and smoked chicken sandwich with basil pesto, orange juice and coffee, all of which were most enjoyable and immaculately presented by the crew.
After the meal, I thought it best to head to the lavatory to take the opportunity to freshen up and clean the old teeth, I also changed out of my PJ’s. When I returned to my seat, the cabin crew manager came to me and thanking me personally for flying with Qatar Airways. What a wonderful gesture, can I just stay onboard and never leave?
It’s time to sum this experience up, the business class seats on this Boeing 777-300ER feel a little bit dated in terms of look, arrangement and functionality compared to the latest business class cabins with other major airlines. The problem with this type of cabin configuration is the access to and from your seat, having to pass or be passed by your fellow passenger. Talking from a solo perspective, if you are a night owl or your neighbour is, you will be distracted by their screen or they by yours, not everyone likes eye shades and combined with a dark cabin the flashing images will certainly disturb, also eating and drinking out of sync with your lights on can also be very disturbing. Herringbone patterns like onboard the Upper Class cabin of Virgin Atlantics Airbuses that used to fly to Australia via Hong Kong or the stepped seating like Etihad’s A380 eliminates this intrusion providing a level of increased privacy and seclusion.
Service wise, it was impeccable and sincere from both ground and onboard staff from start to finish, it only goes to prove why they have been voted the Airline of the Year four times and earned numerous awards. With food, I was very satisfied overall, gourmet presentation and consistent crew standards made it feel like a multi star restaurant, just in the sky. Top Notch selection of champagne and wines. Other airlines that just trade on a name or ageing images need to lift their game big time. We made up some time in the air and landed pretty much to schedule. After a quick duty free shop, it was off to the lounge for a coffee, next stop Manchester, my beloved City.
To be continued Doha to Manchester……
E_deliciou_S paid for this flight.