Wednesday newslettersÂ always feature aÂ hotelÂ and/orÂ flightÂ review.
I recently enjoyed a sublime holiday in one of my favorite destinations in the world, 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 (world’s best Business Class)
- Review: Qatar Airways A330 Business Class from Doha to the Seychelles (today)
- Review: Four Seasons Resort Seychelles (Mahe island)
- Review: Raffles Seychelles Resort (Praslin island)
- Review: Anse Source D’Argent, word’s most beautiful beach (La Digue 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 18, 2019): Trip report: Qatar Airways Airbus A330 Business Class from Doha to the Seychelles.
A few weeks ago, I flew Business Class in an Airbus A330 of Qatar Airways (QA) from Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Qatar to Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) on Mahe Island, the Seychelles’ main island. QA offers several types of Business Class products on its A330 fleet, with some aircraft featuring the old seats (that don’t fully recline) and some other featuring the updated product (with fully flat-bed seats). Fortunately, this particular flight was flown by an A330-200 aircraft featuring the new product. However, although still comfortable, QA’s A330 Business Class product in a 2-2-2 layout is inferior to the 1-2-1 seat arrangement that the carrier installed on its other widebody aircraft (e.g. A350, B787, and A380). That said, I was impressed that QA still offered an amenity kit and full meal service (late dinner + light breakfast) on this rather short flight. Normally, the flight time from Doha to the Seychelles is around 4 hours, but the flight took one hour longer due to the huge detour we had to make around the United Arab Emirates, which has closed its airspace to Qatari aircraft following a diplomatic crisis in 2017.
QA features in my top 10 lists of the best airlines for longhaul Business Class, theÂ most delicious airline food,Â theÂ worldâs best airline Business Class lounges, the best inflight videos of all time, andÂ theÂ best Business Class amenity kits.
- Trip:Â DOH-SEZ
- Airline:Â Qatar Airways (QA)
- Aircraft type: Airbus A330-200
- Aircraft registration number: A7-ACM (delivered in 2007)
- Flight Number:Â QR678
- On time departure: yes (2 am)
- On time arrival: yes (9 am)
- Miles:Â 2080
- Flight time:Â 5 hours
- Seat:Â 3K
- Class: Business Class (D)
In this review (more information & photos below my Youtube clip &Â slideshow):
- Cost of my ticket
- Al Mourjan Business Class lounge at Hamad International Airport
- Business Class cabin
- Business Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences (crew, bar, 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 Doha to the Seychelles for 37,500 Avios + â¬ 92,18 EUR taxes, fees and carrier charges. Avios is the mileage currency of Executive Club, the frequent flyer program ofÂ British Airways, which is aÂ One World partner of QA.
2. AL MOURJAN BUSINESS CLASS LOUNGE AT HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
QA’s Al Mourjan Business Lounge, located on level 3Â at Hamad International Airport, is currently the best Business Class lounge in the world. It simply outclasses all the competition out there and redefines the world standard in airport lounge experiences.
From the moment you enter the physically stunning, rectangular shaped lounge with its incredibly high ceilings, you are treated to a refreshing zen-like ambience. The massive space â about 10 times the size of an Olympic-size swimming pool â features a minimalist design and is adorned with exclusive marbles, designer furniture, and bronze walls with traditional Arab calligraphy. In many ways, the lounge feels more like a futuristic museum of modern art than an airport environment. The central part of the lounge is an elevated platform, which features several very comfortable lounge chairs, two self-service bars, and a small indoor garden. There are dozens of other seating areas located around this central platform, with each seat having its own power outlet and touchscreen monitor with airport information. One side of the lounge features an esthetically stunning, black-tiled water pond and large floor-to-ceiling windows with great views of the airport apron. The lounge has several side rooms, such as a prayer room, shower rooms, a game room (with a Formula 1 simulator) and a quiet room with several cubicles for taking a nap.
The lounge has two dining areas. The main restaurant is located up a spiral staircase besides the water pond, boasting a chic marble bar and nice views of the lounge’s mezzanine floor. This restaurant used to offer an a la carte menu, but now its offerings are ‘limited’ to two very extensive buffet spreads. You find a great variety of cold appetizers (e.g. beef pasta, tabbouleh, moutabel, halloumi with orange and mint salad, roast chicken potato and tomato salad), soups, and several hot dishes (e.g. curries and pastas). At the other end of the central lounge space is another eatery, which is more of a deli and offers sandwiches in addition to some small bites and a dessert buffet.
3. BUSINESS CLASS CABIN
QA operates several versions of the Airbus A330s. This flight was operated by a two cabin A330-200, seating 24 passengers in Business Class and 236 in Economy Class. This particular A330 plane was also equipped with the refurbished Business Class cabin (QA still has several A330 flying around that feature the old Business Class product with seats that recline to a maximum of 165 degree).
The Business Class cabin on QA’s refurbished A330s feels elegant and times, with dark grey seat covers, wood trimmed decor touches, and QA’s brand pink color displayed on the entertainment screens. Nevertheless, its design and layout is inferior to the Business Class product offered on QA’s A350s, A380s and B787s. The Business Class cabin features 4 rows of 6 fully flat-bed seats arranged in a traditional 2-2-2 configuration (in comparison: QA’s A330-300 aircraft feature 5 rows of seats). All seats face forward and have aisle access, except for the window seats (where you have to climb over the legs of your neighbor to get to the aisle). Two paired seats don’t completely line up and are staggered by a few inches (cm), so you sit either a little more to the front or back as compared to your neighbor. This is not much of a deal when you travel with a companion, but it does create an extra level of privacy when you are seated next to a stranger (there’s also a large, sliding screen divider between paired seats).
This Business Class layout isnât unique to QA as other airlines have installed the same type of Business Class seat (e.g. Ethiopian Airlines B787/A350s;Â KLMâs A330s; andÂ United B787s).
For a seat map of this version of QA’s A330-200, click here.
4. BUSINESS CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
I had pre-selected seat 3K for the medium-haul flight of five hours to the Seychelles.
The QA A330 Business Class seat has a pitch of 60 inches (152 cm) and a width of 21 inches (53 cm). One side of the seat features a reading light at eye level and an a panel for the seat controls in the arm rest. This side of the seats also has a large shared console, which has a table surface on top and holds the moderately sized tray table; the latter needs to be pulled out for any use (after which you are kind of blocked in your seat). On the other side of the seat, behind the headrest, is a small, somewhat difficult to reach fixture, which holds a universal AC power outlet, a USB port and a wired controller for the inflight entertainment (more on that below). Thereâs also a small compartment behind the headrest, where you can store items like your wallet, glasses or smart phone; actually, itâs the only storage space around the seat (you need to store all your carry-on luggage and larger items in the overhead bins).Â
In front of each seat is a large touchscreen high resolution TV in 16:9 format and a small footrest. The seat goes fully flat, but while the seat itself is wide the footrest is very narrow, so it’s not very comfortable for a good night’s rest (and please keep in mind that QA also operates other A330 planes with reclining but not fully flat-bed seats).
What are the best BusinessÂ Class seats on QA’s A330-200? Click hereÂ for a seat map.
- All seats in the cabin, except for the first and last row, are quiet good, especially for couples. Make sure to prebook your seat online (which can be done free of charge) to avoid disappointment since QA’s flights are often fully packed.
What are the worst Business Class seats on QAâs A330-200? Click hereÂ for a seat map.
- The 2-2-2 Business Class layout does not make the cabin very attractive for solo travelers, since you will always end up sitting next to a stranger. There is a movable screen though between adjoining seats for added privacy.
- Window seats donât offer direct aisle access.
- Passengers seated in the first row may be bothered by the noise of the galley and passengers going to or returning from the lavatories.
- I also suggest to avoid the last row of Business Class, which is close to the Economy bassinet seats.
Business Class passengers on QA’s medium-haul routes (such as Doha to the Seychelles) receive the following amenities:
- A light blanket
- A plush pillow
- An amenity kit developed by Indian artisan brand, Nappa Dori, which has gained global recognition for its luxury handcrafted travel and fashion accessories. The kitsâ canvas exteriors feature a series of destination images, including Thailand, the Netherlands, China and Doha. The kit itself contains earplugs, eyeshades, socks, and mints but no skincare products (the latter are only provided on longhaul routes). Toiletries â such as shaving kits, toothbrushes, tooth paste, hand lotion and perfume â are available though in the lavatories.
- Noise-cancelling headphones (since they can only be powered within an aircraft, it does not make sense to take them with you).
Unfortunately, the one thing that was missing for optimal sleep comfort on this flight was a sleeping mattress (which QA does provide on some medium-haul routes, but not on this particular route). Although the seat featured great padding in the seating position, it felt a little too hard in the bed mode; in addition, itâs not very hygienic that you have to sleep on the same cover where many other have slept on before you.
Upon boarding, I was offered a choice of hot or cold towel, and a glass of Champagne, orange juice, water, or QAâs signature drank, lemon mint. I choose some water given the late hour of departure (2 am).
Despite this being a relatively short flight (5 hours), full meal service was offered. In addition, QA offers dining-on-demand, so you can order whatever you want from the menu at any time you like.
I choose the following selection from the late night dining menu:
- Soup of the day: pea soup with mint and balsamic vinegar
- Main course: Malabar prawn massala with green peas pulao and vegetable salad
- Dessert: banoffee pudding with crÃ¨me anglaise
The food tasted great but the portions of the main dish were rather small. I also ordered a platter of seasonal cut fruits prior to landing.
7. INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT
Every Business Class seat on QA’s A330 features a large HD entertainment screen, which is touched enabled. You can also select the entertainment with a touch screen Android technology control unit – located in a pocket besides the headrest – which has a unique dual screen interface allowing you to play games or watch the flight map on the handheld device while enjoying a movie on the large screen. The entertainment system itself (called Oryx One) offers almost 1000 movies, TV programs, music and gaming options in a sophisticated and user-friendly way.
8. ONBOARD INTERNET
This particular A330-200 was equipped with WiFi; however, I did not use it. Note that QA offers WifiÂ on all A380, A350, B787, and select B777, A320, A321, and A330-200 aircraft.
9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
#CREW: The young QA cabin crew members did a great job and were all veryÂ 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.
# BAR: QA’s A330 planes do not feature a bar.
# TOILET: The A330 Business Class cabin features two lavatories, located immediately behind the cockpit. Both of them have a window and are stocked with Ritual skincare products as well as a toothbrushes, toothpaste and disposable razors.
# VIEWS: Due to the clear weather, we enjoyed some great aerial views of the Seychellois archipelago during landing.
10. MY VERDICT
- Al Mourjan lounge (Doha): 10/10
- Cabin design: 8/10
- Seat comfort (upright): 7/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): /10
- Food (quality):Â 8/10
- Food (quantity): 8/10
- Inflight entertainment : 9/10
- WiFi: 9/10
- Service: 9/10
- Overall experience: very good: 8/10
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