All-business class airline services have had a mixed history, with many falling by the wayside after promising starts. I was, therefore, intrigued when I got the chance to fly to Doha on Qatar Airways Business One service from London Heathrow which is such a service. It leaves at a business-friendly time of around 10pm and lands there at 6:40am. Making it an efficient schedule for people looking to maximise meeting and work times.
Check-in and pre-flight
The trip starts with a quiet and easy check-in at Heathrow Terminal Four as this is Qatar’s last flight of the day. The security lines are lengthy and slow, as many long haul flights are due to leave, but as it is a business class service I could use the Fast Track, which was fairly swift and efficient. The lounge for First and Business Class passengers is near to Gate One. It is on the site of an old British Airways lounge before they moved to Terminal Five. It is, though, totally unrecognisable and transformed into a calm and very contemporary area with white decor and incredible stations of food. It also has a business centre, free Wi-Fi and large bathrooms where you can also shower.
There is the ability to order a full sit-down meal from a menu offering various international dishes. You can also select food from the self-service which includes canapes, sushi and small individual desserts – all of which are mini works of art. Qatar is a “dry” country and alcohol is only available in venues like international hotels, so while served in the lounge there was a remarkable alcohol-free champagne from Le Manoir des Scares which was delicious. Tasting a bit sweet like a Kir Royal cocktail.
Close to departure one of the lounge hosts called and shown us to the plane which was near by. This is where you start to feel like you are travelling on a private jet as the service is so personal – and you are not being hassled and herded on to the plane.
The plane has just 40 seats in two cabins and uses a modern Airbus A319 plane. It feels open and spacious and the seats are in a 2-2 configuration which are large and comfortable and turn into flat beds. The person sitting by the window does have to climb over the aisle passenger when sleeping, which is a bit cumbersome but not a major issue considering the benefits of flying in an exclusive service.
There are large screens, sleeper suits, noise-cancelling BOSE headphones, amenity bags with Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries and regular style plug and USB sockets to charge personal electronic items.Making it a comfortable six and a half hours trip.
There was a fair-sized menu with choice and the food was served promptly and efficiently just after landing and before arrival to maximise time for people to sleep. The lights in the cabin kept low from take-off if anyone wanted to sleep immediately.
It was a unique and calm way to travel. This was a combination of the small numbers, space and as the passengers were mostly business travellers it was quiet with everyone focused on getting the most relaxation and rest. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and it was the first time for decades that I did not feel like a number and hassled through the flying process. It made flying feel glamorous and refined!!
Declaration: I travelled as a guest of Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways Information
Qatar Airways has seen rapid growth in just 17 years of operation, to the point where today it is flying a modern fleet of 137 aircraft to 144 key business and leisure destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and South America.