Hamad International Airport (HIA) is a combination of sleek architecture and world-class facilities, a destination in itself! It’s a huge and ultramodern airport with gleaming surfaces and spotless amenities, it’s 11:00 PM and it feels like an early evening rush in a big shopping mall. Arriving and departing passengers flock to the multitude of shops for last minute gifts and necessities, restaurants and bars full of people waiting for flight announcements or passing layover time. With less than two hours to spare, my first priority was to get to the business lounge area via the duty free shop and continue to experience what Qatar Airways has to offer.
Airline: Qatar Airways QR 021
Doha – Manchester
Business Class Seat No. 3A
Aircraft: Airbus 350-900
Flight Duration : 7 H 25 M
QATAR AIRWAYS BUSINESS LOUNGE
The Al Mourjan Business Lounge is accessible by escalator or lift, staff will verify your boarding pass before you trundle on up. This is the biggest business lounge that I’ve ever been to, taking up a huge mezzanine floor. There are two restaurants, lots of seating in different styles, business centre, quite rooms, family space, game area, smoking area, prayer rooms, parents and shower rooms. A calming water feature adds a relaxing touch and coolness while you sip a beverage, sort your stuff and contemplate life.
To fully experience the facilities, I first went to have a quick shower to freshen up. Any business lounge that offers a shower facility is a big thumbs up for me. Thankfully there was no queue at the male shower area so I was taken through. The shower room is modern, it has hand held and overhead shower units coupled with everything you need like towels and toiletries.
Opposite the shower reception is the Men’s quiet area, Ladies is separate. These are calm individual cubicles, softly-lit creating a relaxing ambience furnished with comfortable seating and recliners. To avail one of these cubicles, you need to list your name at the reception. Blankets and pillows are available on request for that serious power nap!
Dining areas were busy with lots of people coming and going. The food on offer was designed around midnight light bites and served in small bowls, with a full selection of beverages and sweet treats. I’m still full from the last meal I had on board, so I settled for a noodle salad and a glass of white wine. The salad had a chilli kick and wine was refreshing with hints of fruity notes.
Staff were very polite and attentive, I was asked several times if there was anything else I needed after I had finished my meal. When I checked my watch it had crept ever closer to boarding, so time to leave the dining area and roam around the lounge and admire its design before proceeding to the gate. Boarding was on time at 12:55 AM.
CABIN / SEAT / AMENITIES
A very warm welcome from the crew as I showed my boarding pass. Seat 3A is a single seat on the window isle. Business class seating has 36 flat beds with a configuration of 1-2-1. I read on Qatar Airways’ website when I booked my tickets about their new upgraded business class QSuiets on some A350’s unfortunately this aircraft was not one of them.
A blanket and pillow with Qatar Airways signature design and colour palette was neatly placed on top of my seat. The semi-private seat is a lot narrower than the previous Boing 777-300ER seat, but the overall space is better proportioned and utilised. Cabin lights were softly illuminated with the calming anti jet lag pinkish-purple hue. The crew let me settle in prior to a pre take-off hot towel and a choice of drink prior to our departure.
For my drink, I settled with their signature lime and mint mocktail, a very refreshing palate cleanser. A complimentary pyjama by The White Company London with slippers was provided along with a BRIC’S square pouch amenity kit, inside are skin care products by Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio eye mask, ear plugs, socks and luggage tag which was a nice touch.
I must say there was plenty of storage around my seat. Inside the armrest you’ll find the headset and once removed it can be used as additional storage. Bottled water is place in a holder next to the magazine rack above the console along with a lovely reading light. Below the console you’ll find a USB port, charger, seat positioning buttons and IFE remote control.
Windows are large on the A350 900, easily controlled by pressing the up or down button, ranging from bright and clear to an extreme darkened state or a comfortable level in between. Seat controls are very self explanatory, just press the button for desired positions and features. Sturdy tray table extends from under the IFE screen. We took off on time and I was glued watching the live images on my screen from the tail and other fuselage mounted cameras. The noise level inside the cabin is subdued and fairly quiet, it felt stable and smooth as we reached and maintained our cruising altitude, totally loved it.
FOOD / BEVERAGES
Menu selections were all tempting but I was still feeling full, mind you it’s 2:30 am on the current time zone and almost midday in Australia, body clock is getting confused. Anyway it’s ‘Dine on Demand’ so I can order anytime.
Whilst I was going through the Duty Free sections on the screen, the cabin manager came up and introduced himself and suggested I might wish to try the soup. He explained the ingredients, sweet potato and fresh cream, which all sounded very appealing so I ordered a bowl. He set up my tray table nicely with a white cloth, arranged the salt and pepper, candle and soup spoon. Thank goodness I decided to follow his suggestion, it was light and very palatable. He also explained about the bar which is open throughout the flight for drinks and snacks should I wish to visit it later.
After my meal, I had a little media time before deciding it was time to check out the bar. A very well set up and neat bar area greeted me so a glass of Pommery Champagne was in order. Crew were on hand so I had a great chat with them. I ended up having another champagne top up before returning to my seat to decide on the movie.
ORYX IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
Before settling down, I changed into my sleeping wear. Good sized lavatory, spotless and well-lit with a large mirror and useable sink. Complementary toothbrush, shavers and toiletries were made available for use, it felt luxe.
One thing I’ve noticed since the beginning of my flight in Manila, that the crew quickly clean and check the toilet after each passenger use. How good is that! No waders needed on this flight.
Back to my seat, and I pressed the bed button and voila, my seat turned into a flat bed. Pillow and duvet were soft and comfy.
I scrolled the newly released movies through the remote but I’m getting the sleep call from my disturbed body clock. Qatar Airways audio-video on-demand service allows you to choose up to 4,000 entertainment options, 560 movies in more than 30 languages. The IFE can be operated by touch screen as well, perhaps I’ll catch a film later.
No one sleeps with out updating their social media, well me anyway! The 30 minute Wi-fi cap was enough for me to send messages and update my socials to family and friends, now it’s sleeping time.
PRE – MANCHESTER ARRIVAL
I woke up with the cabin gently half-lit, crew were starting to hand out hot towels for a freshen up and that familiar waft of breakfast and coffee. My tray was set up once I had got myself into a seating position. For breakfast I started with a warm croissant, rolls and orange juice followed by omelette and sausage selection. Both were on point. I ordered a latte but I was informed that the machine had a problem, so I opted for the brewed coffee instead.
After breakfast, I changed back to my traveling outfit and when I went back to my seat, like my previous flight from Manila to Doha, the cabin crew manager came to thank me personally for choosing to fly with Qatar Airways. We landed in Manchester right on time to clear skies and pleasing temperatures for the time of year.
Qatar Airways A350-900 is a beautiful aircraft, I really like the subdued sound and stability. Although this one was not fitted out with QSuites the overall experience was still impressive. My only criticism with this cabin is again privacy. I love the 1×1 but as the seat is placed away from the window at an angle, you sit facing towards the window from the aisle side in clear view of the traffic that travels along it, the sleeping position feels even more exposed with your head in the isle, pity they are not orientated differently as this would have been an absolute top cabin, I would be interested to see how the QSuites stack up. The plus for this herringbone style configuration is that everyone has their own access to the aisle. I only wish that I could have flown during the day so I could really enjoy all of the services offered onboard. The crew were very proactive and generally present in the cabin all the time. This year they again collected the most prestigious Airline of the Year by UK’s Travel Award, the 4th time, it’s not hard to see why. So next time go Qatar Airways!
E_deliciou_S paid for this flight.