Wednesday newslettersÂ always feature aÂ hotelÂ and/orÂ flightÂ review.
I recently enjoyed a sublime holiday in the Seychelles, an astonishingly beautiful island archipelago in the Indian Ocean. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Qatar Airways A350 QSuites from Frankfurt to Doha (today)
- Review: Qatar Airways A330 Business Class from Doha to the Seychelles
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles (Mahe island)
- Review: Raffles Seychelles Resort (Praslin island)
- Review: Banyan Tree Resort Seychelles (Mahe island)
- Review: Maia Luxury Resort & Spa (Mahe island)
- Review: Constance Ephelia Resort (Mahe island)
- Review: British Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class Seychelles to London
Today (April 10, 2019): Trip report: Qatar Airways Airbus A350 Qsuite from Frankfurt to Doha.
I recently flew Business Class in a Qatar Airways Airbus A350-1000 aircraft from Frankfurt Airport (Germany) to Doha’s Hamad International Airport (Qatar). The aircraft was fitted with Qatar Airways’ revolutionary new Business Class seat, called the Qsuite, which features sliding doors for total privacy. Adjustable panels and movable TV monitors on the center seats also allow colleagues, friends or families traveling together to transform their space into a shared suite with double bed or even a four person suite for working, dining and socializing together. “First in Businessâ is how Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker described the Qsuite at its launch in 2017, and after experiencing the product myself, I have to agree. The Qsuite lived up to all of the hype and I was extremely impressed with everything about it, from its genius layout and exceptional privacy to its luxurious design details.
Qatar Airways features in my top 10 lists of theÂ best airlines for longhaul Business Class, theÂ most delicious airline food,Â theÂ worldâs best airport Business Class lounges,Â andÂ theÂ best Business Class amenity kits.
If youâve flown Qsuites, how did you like the experience? Leave a comment.
- Trip:Â FRA-DOH
- Airline:Â Qatar Airways (QA)
- Aircraft type: Airbus A350-1000
- Aircraft registration number: A7-ANC (delivered in 2018)
- Flight Number:Â QR70
- On time departure: yes (11 am)
- On time arrival: yes (6 pm)
- Miles:Â 2850
- Flight time: 6Â hours
- Seat: 5K
- Class: Business Class (Qsuite)
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip &Â slideshow):
- Cost of my ticket
- Air Canada Maple Leaf lounge at Frankfurt Airport
- Facts about the Airbus A350-1000
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class Qsuite (+ best & worst suites)
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences (crew, lavatory & views)
- My verdict (score)
Click to view slideshow.
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1. COST OF MY TICKET
I booked this one-way Business Class ticket from Frankfurt to Doha for 42,500 AAdvantage miles + $ 117 USD taxes, fees and carrier charges. AAdvantage is the frequent flyer program of American Airlines, which is aÂ One World partner of Qatar Airways. You can read my review of AAdvantage, with pros & cons, here.
2. AIR CANADA MAPLE LEAF LOUNGE AT FRANKFURT AIRPORT
As Qatar Airways doesn’t have its own lounge at Frankfurt, it gives its Business Class passengers access to Air Canada’s Maple Leaf lounge in Terminal 1 (departures area B). It’s a smart choice because the Air Canada lounge – which opened in 2013 – is a gorgeous space that feels more sophisticated and serene compared to the often over-crowded Lufthansa Business Class lounges nearby (which I reviewed here). The lounge is also open to Air Canada’s premium passengers and Star Alliance Gold members.
Located a level up from the main concourse, the lounge’s stylish entrance is clad in slats of Canadian maple wood and has a large Air Canada B787 Dreamliner model on display. It leads to the main lounge space which is centered around a visually dramatic room. The latter features comfortable seating around a glass sculpture resembling a fireplace, with backlit walls lined by cross-cut slabs of Ontario Eramosa marble. This room is surrounded on all sides by more seating areas that come in different layouts and with different types of designer chairs. Most seating areas are equipped with plenty of universal power ports. Floor-to-ceiling windows on one side of the lounge let in plenty of natural light and also offer a view of the airport apron. Overall, the contemporary and airy decor of the lounge is a celebration of Canadian design, artistry and craftsmanship. There’s even a rotating display of artworks by Canadian artists.
A large part of the lounge is reserved for the buffet and the adjoining dining room. The latter features red chairs and a blue wall decorated by a permanent art installation (TransformationsÂ byÂ Toronto design firm Moss & Lam). At the time of my visit (early morning), a full continental breakfast buffet was on display, similar to what you would find in a decent city hotel: it comprised an extensive assortment of breads (e.g. Danish pastries, donuts, croissants, muffins, etc …), cereals, yoghurt, salads, fresh fruits, muesli, cold meats and cheese. Around the corner of the buffet station is a self-serve bar with a great selection of complimentary beverages (including German and Canadian wines, beer & spirits).
The lounge also offers several other facilities:
- A quiet zone featuring six reclining pods equipped with personal satellite-fed TV screens, USB ports and Sony noise-cancelling headsets.
- A spa-inspired shower area featuring showers with large rain-shower heads, ambient music and Canadian Escents spa products.
- A business center equipped with individual flat-screen Dell PCs, colour laser printing and scanning.
4. FACTS ABOUT THE AIRBUS A350-1000
Here are some facts about the A350-1000 as provided by Qatar Airways:
- A350-1000 cabin details:
- The widest cabin body of any class with vertical sidewalls and larger windows creating an extra spacious feel
- The largest overhead bins of any aircraft for maximum storage
- A flat cabin floor without any obstructions for extra legroom
- The widest seats of any jetliner in its category, with generous room within all classes
- A350-1000 passenger experience:
- Advanced air system technology which delivers optimal cabin air quality, renewing air every two-to-three minutes for more comfort and less fatigue
- A draft-free air circulation system resulting in a low ambient cabin noise level for a more peaceful journey
- LED mood lighting (with 16.7 million colours) which mimic a natural sunrise and sunset to help reduce the effects of jet lag
- The quietest cabin of any twin-aisle aircraft and the lightest 350-plus capacity passenger aircraft, placing it at the cutting edge of air travel
- A350-1000 design & performance:
- Made from 53% composite material, which allows for lower fuel consumption and carbon emissions per passenger
- The most advanced fully integrated wing design sporting highly distinctive and super-efficient winglets for greater aerodynamic efficiency
- An advanced flight control system, which constantly adapts to minimise gust-induced wing loading
- An active humidification system in First and Business Class that replicates a private jet flying experience
- A350-1000 technological advancements:
- The first aircraft to systematically offer internet connectivity, providing passengers with a global broadband connection
- High-bandwidth fibre optics delivering high-definition video to passengers
- Cameras installed on the tail and belly of the aircraft that provide passengers with a 360Â° outside view throughout the flight
- Advanced design technologies that contribute to fuel consumption which is 25% lower than other aircraft in the same category
4. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
Qatar Airways’ A350-1000s feature 46 fully enclosed Business Class seats (called ‘Qsuites’) which are spread over two cabins:Â the larger forward cabin contains the bulk of the Qsuites (38 seats in total), while the rear mini-cabin features only two rows of eight Qsuites (and thus feels more private). The two cabins are split by a small galley with one lavatory while the Business Classâ main galley with two more lavatories is located at the front of the aircraft (behind the cockpit).
The Qsuites are arranged in a staggered 1-2-1 layout, offering each passenger direct aisle access. There are different types of seating configurations, with odd-numbered rows featuring rear-facing seats and even-numbered rows having forward facing ones. This may sound similar to British Airways’ odd Ying/Yang seat plan, but the Qsuites layout is in a different league
- The window seats – which are the best choice for solo travelers – alternate between forward- and rear-facing seats. The rear-facing Qsuites in rows 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 & 11 are closer to the window (since they have their console with control panel on the aisle side); these seats feel more private and make it easier to look out of the window during the flight, and are thus my first pick if flying alone in a Qsuite. The forward-facing Qsuites in rows 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 & 12 are closer to the aisle, since their console is located on the window side; these are still excellent suites but may feel more claustrophobic because you are seated right next to the suite wall.
- The center seats also alternate between forward- and rear-facing seats. The rear-facing seats have their consoles on the aisle side and are thus located close together, while the forward-facing seats have their consoles in the middle and thus farther apart. These center Qsuites are fully private spaces, but they feature movable panels and TV screens, allowing to transform some of these Qsuites in unique multi-person spaces:
- Rear-facing center seats in the odd-numbered rows are set close together and can be converted into a shared suite with a double bed for couples or friends traveling together.
- Lowering the sliding panels can transform two pairs of middle Qsuites into a four person suite, perfect for families or groups traveling together.
The design of the two-cabin Business Class section on the A350-1000 was developed by UK-based design firm PriestmanGoode and truly feels a worlds apart from most of Qatar Airways’ Business Class competitors. LED mood-lighting baths the cabin in Qatar Airways’ signature burgundy light, a soothing color palette which is enhanced with elegant and warm rose gold detailing and and even with some marble-finish whites. You better like pink when you fly in Qatar Airways’ Qsuite, but apart from that, the cabin feels extremely luxurious and exclusive.Â Â
For a seat map of QA’s A350-1000, click here.
5. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
I selected Qsuite 5K (a rear-facing window seat) for the 6 hour flight from Frankfurt to Doha.
The Qsuites feature a truly phenomenal and aesthetically pleasing design, with gray upholstery, hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose gold finishing. They all feature the same dimensions: each seat has a width of 21.5 inches (55 cm) which extends to a 79 inches (2m) long bed. While the length of the bed is generous (and above the industry standard), the seat itself isnât that wide, which is probably the only negative aspect I can think of when reviewing the Qsuite product. In comparison, Singapore Airlines’ new Business Class seats on its A380 aircraft are 25 inches (63.5 cm) wide (although these seats are slightly shorter than the Qsuite and don’t allow a four person suite configuration).
Of course, one of the Qsuites most remarkable features is that it can be closed off by a burgundy sliding door (with curved design motifs). The door is operated by hand and needs only a minimal push. Once the door is closed, you enjoy complete privacy and can even activate a ‘do not disturb’ button (similar to a hotel room). The door is ‘only’ 53 inches (135 cm) tall, so it still allow the crew to peer over and check in with you as needed; it also lends the Qsuite an airy and spacious ambience (it doesn’t feel claustrophobic). The latter is further enhanced by the way the Qsuite is configured, with additional storage compartments and consoles placed inside the suite. That said, if you want to leave the door open, you’ll still enjoy a lot of privacy as nobody can look directly inside your suite because of the staggered cabin layout.
In front of the seat is a 22-inch HD in-flight entertainment screen, with the tray table and a footrest underneath the TV. The tray table is very easy to handle: you simply pull it fully towards you and then unfold it. Besides the TV – in the Qsuite’s corner – is a large console with a white marble table (the amenities are placed on this table upon boarding).Â Below this table, within easy reach of the seat, is a storage shelf and an electronic panel that holds the seat and entertainment controls,Â a 110v outlet, two USB ports, and a contactless NFC reader (which allows to transfer a preselected playlist from the Qatar Airways app to the seat with a tap). Next to the seat is an adjustable armrest that doubles as a secure stowage space; it holds a bottle of water, the noise-cancelling headphones, and inflight magazines.
What are the best QsuitesÂ on QA’s A350-1000? Click hereÂ for a seat map.
- As explained above (under the heading ‘Business Class cabin), solo travelers should go for the rear-facing window seats since these seats feel more private. That said, if you end up in another seat as a solo traveler, there is nothing to worry as even the center seats feature movable panels that guarantee a fully enclosed and private space.
- Couples should select one of the six pairs of rear-facing middle seats that can convert into a double bed.
- Families or group of friends should select one of the six blocks of paired rear- and forward-facing middle seats that can convert into a six quad suite.
What are the worst Qsuites on QAâs A350-1000? Click hereÂ for a seat map.
- There are no real bad Qsuites on the A350-1000. However, passengers seated in row 1, 9 and 11 may be bothered by the proximity to the galley and lavatory (with occasional noise disturbance).
I received the following amenities during my Qsuite Business Class flight from Frankfurt to Doha:
- An elegant hard-shell amenity bag, created by stylish Italian luggage brand BRICâS. The bag’s pink color reflected Qatar Airways’ awareness campaign for breast cancer. The kit provided standard items for longhaul travel, such as socks, eyeshades and ear plugs. ItÂ also contained lip balm, hydrating facial mist, and moisturizer from Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio, skincare products which are 100% natural and characterized by actives coming from olive extracts.
- Excellent sleeping amenities, including two pillows and a plush blanket.
- Oryx One branded noise-cancelling headphones, which were of mediocre quality as they didn’t completely block out the cabin noise.
It has to be noted that this was a medium-haul day flight. Qatar Airways provides even more amenities on longer or overnight flights:
- A quilted mattress and extra (third) pillow on longhaul flights
- Slippers and pajamas from The White Company on overnight flights (with the exception of regional flight or flights under 5 hours).
Like the hard product of the Qsuite, Qatar Airways’ soft product is also top-notch, beginning with meal service. The carrier offers dine-on-demand service in its Business Class cabins: you can dine at any time of your choosing and order whatever you want from the menu. The menu and extensive wine lists are made out of chic glossy paper.
On this almost six-hour flight, one lunch was offered, but there was also a separate snack menu in case you got hungry again. I choose the following selection from the lunch menu:
- Soup: white courgette cream soup with watercress pesto
- Appetizer: grilled prawns with sweet potato, fennel & carrot salad, lemon oil, and shiso cress
- Main course: chicken kabsa, with fragrant basmatic rice and cucumber raita
- Dessert: apple strudel, served with crÃ¨me anglaise and berries
Each of the dishes was delicious. And not only was the food excellent, it was also very tastefully presented (I loved the quality dishware).
Qatar Airways puts a lot of efforts in its Business Class meal service. For example, an amuse-bouche is served before dinner (on this flight: seared tuna in spicy mango salsa), a beautifully presented bread basket is offered to each passenger, and to top it all off, fine Belgian chocolates are offered after dinner. In fact, Qatar Airways’ food offering in Business Class is as good as what you get in First Class or in a top-notch restaurant on the ground.
8. INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
Called ‘Oryx One’, Qatar Airways’ inflight entertainment system allows you to choose up to 3000 (!!!) entertainment options, with a wide selection of movies, series, TV programs, music, games and reads. You can select your entertainment selection by either directly touching the 22-inch HD screen or with a wired remote controller which has its own small screen. This allows you to watch a movie or TV show on the main screen while you can keep track of the flightâs progress on the wired controller. Both the screen itself and the handheld remote are incredibly responsive. Oryx One is also compatible with your own media device: you can plug it into the HDMI port to play your own entertainment content. There’s even a contactless NFC reader which allows to transfer your preselected playlist from the Qatar Airways app to your screen with a tap. One of Oryx One’s best features are the cameras, which are installed on the A350’s tail and belly; they offer amazingly clear (almost panoramic) outside views during the different phases of the flight. You can combine them with the interactive 3D Voyager flight map to explore the world outside the plane.
9. ONBOARD INTERNET
Qatar Airways’ A350s feature onboard WiFi. You simply need to turn on your computer or smart phone, open a browser window, and follow the onscreen directions. On this flight, the first 30 minutes of WiFi were complimentary. If you liked to use onboard WiFi for longer or you needed more data, you could choose from the following three tariff plans:
- $ 5 USD for up to 30 MB
- $ 10 USD for up to 100 MB
- $ 20 USD for up to 200 MB
I only used the complimentary 30 minutes of WiFi and I was happy with the speed, which seemed consistent and not frustratingly slow.
10. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
#CREW: the young QA cabin crew members on this A350 flight did a great job and were all very friendly. Something I like (and only experience with Middle East and Asian carriers) is that they present themselves individually before take-off, and also thank you in person for choosing QA before landing. It makes you feel very special and welcome. On this flight, I noticed that the crew also guided Business Class passengers to their Qsuites, a perk that is normally only offered in First Class.
# TOILET: there are 3 lavatories for the maximum 46 Business Class passengers onboard Qatar Airways’ A350-1000 aircraft. Two are located behind the cockpit, and one is between the two Business Class cabins. The lavatories are equipped with windows and stocked with skincare products from Rituals (e.g. body mist, hand lotion).
# VIEWS: thanks to the clear weather, we enjoyed some great aerial views of the Alps during the initial phase of the flight.
11. MY VERDICT
- Air Canada lounge (Frankfurt): 8/10
- Cabin design: 10/10
- Seat comfort (upright): 9/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 9/10
- Food (quality):Â 9/10
- Food (quantity): 9/10
- Inflight entertainment : 9/10
- WiFi: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9.2/10
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