- Date of flight: December 25, 2020
- Where: Los Angeles International Airport (“LAX”) to Hamad International Airport (“DOH”)
- Flight time: 15 hours 45 minutes
- Departure / arrival time: 2:55pm – 5:40pm
- Flight #: QR740
- Aircraft: Airbus A350-1000
- Seat: 7E
- Paid flight / points: Paid
Back in May 2020 Qatar Airways launched a generous 5,000 mile flight re-booking option. Due to the pandemic Qatar Airways allowed several options if you didn’t want to take your original flight. You had the option to accept miles, a boosted voucher or rebook to another destination within 5,000 miles of your original destination. The last option was amazing!
Was there a risk Qatar wouldn’t honor the promotion? Yes, but I’m a betting giraffe so I booked two business class tickets from John F. Kennedy International Airport (“JFK”) to Kyiv Boryspil International Airport (“KBP”) for $1,657 each. While still expensive, given the promotion it was a true bargain for Qatar’s Qsuite business class.
Although I’ve heard Kiev is lovely in December I immediately called Qatar Airways and rebooked my destination to Zanzibar, an autonomous region of Tanzania. I was able to change both the origin and destination of my flight at no additional cost. My new flight departed from Los Angeles International Airport (“LAX”) and arrived into Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (“ZNZ”).
I’m happy to report that Qatar Airways takes COVID-19 seriously. They require passengers to wear a face mask at all times on board, except when eating or drinking. Face shields are distributed at the airport and are required be worn when boarding and disembarking. Economy Class are required to wear them on board, except when eating or drinking. Business Class passengers are asked to wear them at their own discretion You can read more about their safety precautions here.
Qatar Airway’s Airbus A350-1000 cabin is spectacular. During COVID-19 times air filtration is something I look for when flying. The A350-1000 is equipped with the latest industrial-sized HEPA filters that remove 99.97% of viral and bacterial contaminants from re-circulated air.
The overhead bins are the largest you’ll find on any commercial aircraft so you don’t have to worry about fighting for space to put your oversized bag.
Qatar Airway’s signature burgundy and grey color scheme is present throughout the cabin. The aircraft has LED mood lighting that mimics a natural sunrise and sunset to help reduce the effects of jet lag. How cool is that?
The business class cabin of the A350-1000 features Qatar Airways award winning Qsuite. There’s 9 rows of suites in the forward cabin and 2 rows in the smaller aft cabin.
The cabin offers both aft and forward-facing seats, which allows passengers to create a quad cabin if they’re traveling with friends or family. If you’re traveling with a loved one and are seated in an even numbered row in the center (seats E and F) you have the option of converting your suite into a fully lie-flat double bed. Qatar Airways is the only airline to offer this feature in Business Class.
When flying Qatar Airways A350-1000 in Business Class, First Class Giraffe recommends these seats:
- Traveling solo: 1, 3, 5, 7 A or K
- Traveling with a friend or partner: 2, 4, 6, 8 E and F
Pro-tip: Avoid seats 1E, 1F, 9A, 9D, 9G, 9K, 11A, 11E, 11F and 11K due to the proximity to the restrooms and galley
The Qsuite seats have a pitch of 103 inches and are 21.5 inches wide. On longer flights like LAX-DOH turn down service is offered with pillows, a quilted mattress and a soft, plush duvet.
The Qsuite features a door that easily opens and closes. It’s not like the Emirates first class door that goes up to the ceiling, but the it still adds a substantial amount of privacy. You can even set a Do Not Disturb indicator, but since dining is à la carte the flight attendants wont be waking you for breakfast.
There’s ample storage for your cell phone, kindle and laptop in the side storage compartment. I highly recommend storing your phone in here while sleeping so it doesn’t get lost under the seat.
Each seat has a large 22″ in flight entertainment screen with Oryx One. You can preview what tv shows and movies are available by visiting this website.
Food and Beverage
Qatar Airways is currently serving Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut Champagne in business class. It retails for $71 per bottle, which is an impressive price point for business class. I think it tastes fantastic, but don’t just take my word for it; it was awarded a score of 93/100 by Wine Spectator.
I was pleasantly surprised to see the Laurent-Perrier offered as a pre-departure beverage (“PDB”) option at LAX. Some airlines don’t offer the good stuff until you’re in the air due to tax levies. Like a lot of giraffes, I just love having PDB champagne in a proper glass champagne flute. My friendly flight attendant offered me a refill and I couldn’t refuse. Due to COVID-19 hot towels are no longer offered. a pre-packaged refreshing towel is offered instead.
I was flying on Christmas Day so I got to experience Qatar Airway’s “Festive Season menu”. Is it just me or is the menu lacking any traditional holiday dishes?
The food options were limited compared to what was offered pre-pandemic. To be honest not that much on the menu was particularly appealing to me so I decided to have a few light snacks instead of gorging myself on this flight, which giraffes are known to do in business class.
Prior to takeoff the flight attendant asked when I would like to eat and took my food and drink orders. Since there weren’t any lounges open at LAX I was getting kind of peckish so I decided to have a snack soon after takeoff.
Some airlines drastically reduced their alcohol selection due to COIVD-19, but Qatar Airways still does a really good job with their business class wine program during the pandemic. Options included:
- Pommery Brut Royal Champagne – $40 per bottle / 3.9 out of 5 rating
- Laurent-Perrier Cuvee Rose Brut Champagne $71 per bottle / 4.3 out of 5 rating
- DuMol Russian River Valley Chardonnay 2015 $79 per bottle / 4.2 out of 5 rating
- Mohua Sauvignon Blanc 2018 $12 per bottle / 4.0 out of 5 rating
- Leyda Lot 8 Syrah 2013 $43 per bottle / 4.1 out of 5 rating
- Albert Bichot Moulin-a-Vent $39 per bottle / 3.7 out of 5 rating
- Furore IDA Trockenbeeranauslese Noble Reserve 4.0 out of 5 rating
- Dow’s 1996 Colheita Port $53 per bottle / 4.2 out of 5 rating
Shortly after takeoff the flight attendant came around with my Gin and Tonic and some mixed nuts served in a ceramic ramekin. They weren’t warm mixed nuts like you used to find in American Airlines First Class pre-pandemic, but they were still tasty.
For my first snack I got the Signature Arabic mezze with hummus, moutabel, tabouleh and pita bread. It was delicious. You can’t go wrong with the Signature Arabic mezze. After having several glasses of sparkling water and watching a few movies I asked for my seat to be made into a bed and slept for 8 hours.
Pro-tip: Don’t forget to drink lots of water on ultra long haul flights. One of the best ways to beat jet lag is to stay hydrated.
After a lovely sleep I woke up hungry. I hit the flight attendant call button and 30 seconds later the friendly flight attendant appeared and I ordered the cheese plate. The flight attendant insisted that I have a glass of champagne to accompany it so I agreed. It wasn’t the largest selection of cheeses, but it hit the spot and it was perfect to tide me over until I had dinner at the Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge in Doha.
Qatar Airways regularly changes their business class amenity kits. The current offering is from BRIC’S, an Italian luxury luggage brand. It features all natural Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio skin care products. The range includes lip balm, hydrating facial mist and anti-aging moisturizer. Earplugs, an eye mask and socks complete the package.
Pro-tip: If you’re traveling during the winter bring your own hand moisturizer. The small tube in the amenity kit does’t cut it for a 15+ hour flight
First Class Giraffe Approved
This was my first long haul flight since the start of COVID-19. I truly felt safe every step of the journey with Qatar Airways. The food wasn’t the best I’ve had in a premium cabin, but it was very good and exceeded my expectations in terms of what would be offered during the pandemic. The Airbus A350-1000’s excellent cabin air quality, sound insulation and ambient lighting made it easy to get quality sleep. To top it off the flight attendants went out of their way to make sure I had an excellent flight.