Qatar/LATAM A359 Business Class Review Colombo (CMB) to Doha (DOH)
Qatar is operating a number of LATAM A359 airplanes to and from Colombo, Barcelona, and Vienna. These come in LATAM livery and seat confirmation but with an interior that is branded with Qatar Airways. This way I could try out LATAM's Business Class seat by flying (and enjoying) Qatar's signature service.
Leaving Colombo is quite an ordeal. Last time I was in time it took three hours to reach the airport and I got the ‘holding cell treatment' and almost missed my flight. This time the Uber ride to the airport was ‘just' 1.5 hours but after two long security checks to get to check-in the check-in area was just teeming with people.
Once I finally cleared check-in and immigration it was just about 1.5 hours before take-off and my visit to the Lotus lounge was rather short (not that I was especially hungry or thirsty).
There is a final security check at the gate which had long lines (there was another flight using the same security checkpoint, making matters worse). In theory, there is a priority line for Business Class passengers but the security staff would not want to hear about it. Another 30 minutes of lining up.
I understand Qatar has limited control over the ground experience in Colombo but with four daily flights and with Sri Lankan as an alliance partner you'd assume they make life easier for passengers - especially for premium passengers.
Once aboard I was surprised that both Business and Economy would be almost 100% full. The cabin seemed sparkling clean and shiny in Qatar colors. However, the seats are entirely different than Qatar's A359 since this place was a LATAM place after all. It is a staggered 2-2-2 configuration and provides zero privacy. The good news, however, is that the seat is much wider than on an A330 and it is also longer.
Takeoff was at 3 AM body time and while I tried hard to stay awake for dinner - I was just swept up into dreamland after a few minutes of flying. Apparently, the flight attendants made an effort to wake me - to no avail.
We landed right on time at 5.30 AM into Doha and parked on the other end of the airport. The buses showed up late and the ride to the terminal took at least 15 minutes with another security check waiting or me inside.