You guys have no idea how much I’d love to start this Qatar Airways review with a badass summarization of my one night layover in Paris. Maybe (if I wasn’t so boring) I could have told an awesome story about how I stayed up all night partying with the entire crew of my Air Tahiti Nui flight from Los Angeles, barely making back to CDG in time to catch this Qatar business class flight down to Doha.
Instead, I’m ashamed to tell you that despite having a 30-hour layover, I stayed at an airport hotel writing blog content. I did go into the city briefly for dinner, but there was no sign of that Air Tahiti Nui crew and I returned to the hotel alone just before 8pm.
Even more embarrassing is that I set my phone alarm to go off at 9am just in case I didn’t wake up before then on my own. Ha! Do you know how exciting of a feeling it is knowing that your next flight is going to be in Qatar Airways business class?
Sleep was impossible, and I was wide awake at 5am packed and ready to go for the 3:30pm flight down to Doha. Yeah, one of these days I’ll be able to write a badass intro about stumbling into an airport with a piercing hangover and ripped clothes, but this isn’t it…
Paris, France (CDG) – Doha, Qatar (DOH)
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Duration: 6 hours 18 minutes
Seat: 17K (business class)
My video review of this Qatar Airways business class flight focuses on the fact that the entire Qatar business experience (both on the ground and in the air) is extremely formal and more like first class than anything else. I even dare to ask the question of whether or not it’s TOO formal.
The entire soundtrack comes from the fine folks over at Epidemic Sound, which is a service I can’t recommend highly enough for YouTubers in need of music for their own videos. There are so many great new tracks added each week, and it’s never difficult finding just the right piece of music for anything I need.
Paris – Charles de Gaulle: the airport I hate to love
I’ve always wondered when and where my first Qatar Airways review would be written, and if I’m being honest, Paris to Doha wouldn’t have even been a wild guess. I was thinking more along the lines of LAX-DOH, or maybe even IAH-DOH, but…CDG-DOH only came about at the very last minute. It was a 40,000 mile American Advantage award I found while looking for something else, so I booked it immediately and then built an entire trip around it.
And now that you know I was up and ready to go at 5am, it shouldn’t be of any real surprise that I had a lot of time to kill after checking in here in Terminal 1.
For those of you who are not familiar with the Paris – Charles de Gaulle Airport, all I can say it that it’s a beautiful mess. Beautiful because of how it just oozes of a funky 60’s retro vibe, and messy because of how tiny and confusing the corridors are. It’s the perfect example of form over function, and as much as I hate to say it, they need to demolish it and start over from the ground up.
But first, a quick stop at the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge
Because no Qatar Airways review would be complete without a look at what the lounge experience is like, I need to spend a few moments showing you how amazing the Premium Lounge is here at CDG. I was going to do a separate blog post on it, but nobody seems interested in my lounge reviews anyway so I’ll just do a brief recap of my experience here in the main Qatar business class review.
There were two things about the Qatar Premium Lounge here at CDG that immediately stood out to me. First, it’s incredibly formal! Almost to the point where I felt uncomfortable with all the staff members hovering around me just waiting to do something (anything) to make my experience more enjoyable. “Just go away“ would have sounded too rude (lol) so, sending them to fetch things like bottled water or a hot towel was what I went with.
Second, I didn’t like the fact that I couldn’t do anything myself. If I wanted any food from the buffet, I had to have a chef prepare it for me. If I wanted something to drink, I had to send a roaming staff member to fetch it for me. I didn’t dare use the bathroom in this place…
I realize what Qatar Airways is trying to achieve with this level of service in their Premium Lounges, but it’s slightly too formal if you ask me. I assume that I’m in the minority, but a self-service style experience such as the Air New Zealand Lounge at SYD is far more my flavor.
The Qatar Airways A380 business class boarding experience
Once I had enough of attempting (really hard) to be on my best behavior in the lounge, I decided it was time to move on to the next really important part of this Qatar Airways review: the boarding process!
Once I cleared security and made it through to the gate area, there was about 45 minutes remaining before the boarding process started. It was really crowded with no place to sit, and unfortunately, I couldn’t leave without having to re-clear security coming back. A total miscalculation on my part, but no matter. Remember how I was saying that I had a love / hate relationship with this airport? This was one of those “hate” moments.
I didn’t realize it until 10 minutes before boarding started, but there was a second queueing area (with a completely separate door) for business and first class passengers. That ended up being especially convenient since the general boarding area was so crowded that it was headache-inducing (a term that I don’t think is used often in a Qatar Airways review).
Once boarding had commenced, it was a quick and painless process – other than the fact that my GoPro crapped out on me as I stepped onto the airplane and I lost all that footage. Grrr…
It wasn’t an aircraft equipped with the coveted Qsuite product, but – wow!
Yes, I knew even before booking this flight that it wouldn’t feature the Qsuites. That particular Qatar Airways review will have to wait until another time, but I was still pretty darn excited to give this standard A380 business class layout a try. After all, as long as it’s Qatar Airways, it’s sure to be good.
As expected, these business class seats felt extremely “premium” and I wouldn’t have any issues at all doing 15 hours in one of them. They aren’t as private as I normally prefer in a long haul business class seat, but Qatar Airways did a really nice job with this layout and making it feel especially nice and welcoming.
A very large part of the “premium” feeling came from the cabin crew with their very friendly and attentive service. Interaction with the crew didn’t seem as formal as it did back in the lounge, and for that I was extremely thankful. As previously noted – I do enjoy attentive and friendly service, but not to the point where I feel like I’m being watched like a hawk by an over-eager staff.
So far this Qatar Airways review is starting off with a bang! Will the positive vibes continue once in the air? Good question. Let’s find out…
- Hands down, they offer one of the best airline experiences in the world (in all classes of service).
- Connect in Doha (DOH) - one of the most interesting airports I've ever been to.
- It'll be a flight you remember - every flight I've taken on Qatar Airways has been nothing short of amazing. Even in long haul economy!
The dining experience in Qatar Airways business class
The “dine on demad” meal service in Qatar business class is a feature I quite like. Menu reading and meal selection happened while at the gate back at CDG, as well as choosing a time to eat. I chose to eat immediately after takeoff, and judging how busy this Qatar crew was in the first 15 minutes of flight, it seemed pretty much everyone else chose that option as well.
First up was a beverage and snack service, and I couldn’t resist going with a thing called “Pineapple Punch” I spotted on the menu. It paired perfectly with the warm nuts btw (as if I was culinarily literate enough to say otherwise lol).
Next up was the table setting, which consisted of a huge white linen tablecloth, a condiment dish, bread basket, and a flickering (faux) candle. Then, in true Qatar Airways form, the flight attendant proceeded to place a huge white napkin in my lap – a move I wasn’t quite prepared for, and it had me wincing backwards in my seat as she approached my junk. Hey – it’s been a l o n g time since I’ve been in a fine dining establishment, and I certainly wasn’t expecting this level of service in business class.
Next up in this Qatar Airways review is the presentation of the meal, course-by-course. This particular crew was exemplary and more formal than any other any other business class cabin crew I’ve ever come across. I wasn’t a big fan of the formality, but it was fun to pretend I was Mr. Fancy Pants for a couple hours.
All in all, the meal service here in Qatar business class was better than I ever expected it to be and it made me feel sad when they took my table cloth away.
Was it the best food I’ve ever had on an airplane? Maybe not. My Asiana A380 first class experience from a few years ago still remains at the top of my list.
Other really neat features of Qatar Airways A380 business class
Shortly after dinner, I wandered back to the bar / lounge that is located between the business class and economy class cabins here on the A380. Yes, there are 8 rows of economy class seats here on the upper deck, which seems like an odd configuration if you ask me. You are reading a Qatar Airways A380 business class review though, so I assuming that at least a few of you who are interested in such nerdy facts like that as much as I am.
Another really nice feature of Qatar business class (no matter if it’s the Qsuite product or these standard lie flat seats) is the extremely comfortable blankets and pillows they provide.
Despite the relatively short flight, I did manage at least one full hour of baby-like sleep thanks to being cradled so nicely a comfy seat and warm blanket. I say again – this would be an excellent long haul (12+ hour) experience and I’m actively looking for award space to give it a proper try. A super-duper SANspotter-style try.
My final thoughts on Qatar Airways A380 business class
I couldn’t help but to think that this was an unfortunately short flight as we made the descent into Doha. I wanted to eat more, I wanted to sleep more, and I wasn’t quite ready to end this Qatar Airways review so quickly. More more more!
Another thing I was highly appreciative of was the fact that there was one flight attendant in particular who took the time to give me some really good ideas for things to see and do in Doha. To that FA: If you’re reading this, just know that those tips were perfect and I had a great time exploring the city. Thanks so much!
Finally, is Qatar Airways business class too formal? Maybe. It definitely is for me and my simple tastes, but there’s a reason this airline is consistently rated as having the best business class product year after year. There are apparently a lot of people out there who enjoy having napkins placed in their lap by complete strangers, and luckyily for them, Qatar Airways is happy to oblige.
Now the question is: is Qatar economy class better than the others? That review is next…