A paradise lost? Qatar Business Class Review B787 Doha (DOH) to Prague (PRG)
After my near-perfect experience with Qatar Airways just a day earlier I was very much looking forward to yet another joyful Qatar Airways flight. Doha airport is often empty but the morning rush hour with lots of parallel departure puts a major strain on the airport from security, immigration, lounges and runway operations. My flight was part of the morning rush. Immigration and Security were quick though as the Business/ First Class lounge had a much smaller crowd than expected. Security was so lax I was sure there would be another check at the gate - but that never happened. I swear you could bring a whole vest of explosives with a bit of distraction through this checkpoint. Since not all of us were in Business Class we wanted to stop by the Priority Pass Al Maha lounge first but that was harder than thought with a massive crowd blocking the entrance. Most passengers had specific bank cards and there was lots of confusion over how much it costs and who should pay for extra guests - this not helping the flow of passengers. The lounge is tiny and demand far exceeded capacity. However, the operator usually gives out passes to other lounges in the airport (and pocketing the $29 per passenger from Priority Pass). I eventually made my way to the Al Mourjan Business Class lounge and wanted to check the 'state of affair's. Nothing had changed from my last visit (and there was not much to fix at all at this jewel of a lounge). Unfortunately, it seems the WiFi situation I still the same. I like the idea of a (fast) central airport WiFi - but at Hamad Airport is slow and there is no alternative (or paid WiFi) to get faster speeds. The only available WiFi is less than 1 MBIT - often much less. Boarding was from a bus gate and was perfectly on-time - more than an hour before departure. The bus ride took a good 20 minutes out to the farthest parking spot with several Dreamliners waiting for in the sun for passengers that day. Qatar Airways got these 787s early on and they are now showing a bit of age. The cabin would fill up to about 50% in Business Class and 80% in Economy Class. The seat clearly shows some wear and tear and the cabin does not look as fresh anymore. It is still a lovely plane but pales in comparison with the newer A350s that also have a new version of the entertainment system installed. Right away it seemed the flight attendant assigned to my seat was just not up to Qatar Airways standards - I felt it was the 'quota Chinese flight attendant' to be on board to speak Mandarin. We had a hard time communicating and there were so many small service missteps that I would expect from other airlines any day but not Qatar. The rest of the crew seemed much better at their job but I did not get a chance to interact with them much. The breakfast service took an awful long two hours to start after departure. That was too long given that most items were cold and needed just minimal preparation and the Business Class cabin was just about half full. By the time my main course appeared it was almost lunchtime! The breakfast items were just ok - the Arabic breakfast seemed to be the healthy choice but somehow I did not like any of the options much. Yes it was edible but no 'wow factor' at this breakfast service at all. Qatar Airways now goes straight north over Iraq instead of Iran and we flew straight towards Baghdad avoiding the capital with just a small turn before going into the Kurdish territories. There was another quick snack service about an hour before landing. I liked the little chocolates served quite a bit. Our landing was 20 minutes late and immigration lines were massive (a Delta flight had just landed before us). In sum, I had high expectations for this flight. The airport experience was good - though not perfect. I felt the cabin crew member was just a letdown and does not represent the high service standards of Qatar Airways usually. I wish the breakfast catering would have been better - it was just ok. Now I'm curious to try the QSuite product that is installed on many 777 planes.