If you have not read my article about my outbound journey, read that here first as this will make a lot more sense.
As you know, for this trip, I have booked outbound in Economy and return in Business Class from London to Dubai, via Doha. So now I was going to experience the full luxury of Qatar Business Class for the first time in long haul.
Dubai check-in experience
I’ll be honest, it did not start in a very luxurious way. Check-in was very similar to London, but without the nice check-in area for premium customers, i.e., a long queue for Economy. I headed straight past that to find an express bag drop area and next to it a priority check-in queue for First, Business and frequent fliers with the appropriate status. It was interesting that the express bag drop area was empty, so even if I was pure Economy with no status, I still could have skipped the queue by checking in online. The priority area was also quiet, and I was checked in swiftly with an invite to the Ahlan First Class Lounge. Remember that on this short leg from Dubai to Doha they only offer First and Economy, so I was in First Class. It does seem that apart from sitting in Business Class seats, this First Class is a real First Class, with all the privileges of First. I found this out two days after I first arrived in Dubai when my tier points appeared on my BA Exec Club account, full First points! Which was funny because for a 1-hour flight it was almost double the points I earned for the previous 6-hour flight in Economy.
Dubai airport does not offer any fast-track option in Terminal 1, so I was herded off with everyone else to the departures area. Most people leaving Dubai can use the automated gates, so the queue does move quite quick, still it was a long queue. As soon as I reached the gate itself, I didn’t even show my passport, it recognised me on facial recognition, and I was through to the security area. Again, nothing special here, but there were plenty of machines open and I was through reasonably quickly.
Terminal 1 at DXB is split into two parts, the actual departures building is a separate building surrounded by aircraft gates on 3 sides. It contains all the shops, restaurants and airline lounges. The other building nearest the road is where you do all your documentation, security etc.
Once through security you head straight to the transit for a 5-minute ride to the departures building. Upon arrival you pass through duty free into the main concourse of shops and restaurants. You would now be forgiven for thinking you’re in a British airport given not one place to eat or shop here would look out of place on a UK high street.
Dubai lounge experience
The airline lounges are all upstairs, so I headed up there to find my lounge. It turned out that it was not well signposted and I walked up to the wrong side and ended up walking round the building to find the lounge.
I was suitably impressed with the Ahlan First lounge, having been to the BA lounge (see my report here), this was a significant step up. I had walked past the Ahlan Business lounge, so this was definitely a First Class lounge.
The lounge was broken into 3 separate areas; the main dining area with tables and chairs, a relaxing area with armchairs and loungers and a bar area with small tables and armchairs.
I selected a nice armchair in the bar area as it was pretty quiet, but not too quiet (the lounging area felt too quiet, but great if you needed a little nap).
Ahlan First Class Lounge Dubai Airport
For food there was a buffet and an ‘á la carte’ menu with table service. I wondered around the buffet which had a good selection of hot and cold food, breads, fruit and sweet treats. For drinks there was a selection of hot and cold drinks to help yourself to, there bar was separate and also offered table service. I decided to order at my seat from the menu, I went for champagne, sparkling water and a chicken tikka wrap. The lounge was big, but with plenty of staff, so you felt like you got a good personal service and it wasn’t crowded. It was clean and well maintained, much nicer than the BA lounge. Flights were announced so you could relax without checking the boards. I left 10 minutes early to stretch my legs before the flight.
Ahlan First Class Lounge Menu
Dubai boarding experience
It turned out they had started boarding early as it was a bus gate, so I was immediately led onto a busy bus, and we headed to our 777. Once on board this is where the luxury treatment began and it didn’t end until I landed in London.
Short hop Dubai to Doha onboard experience
Whilst it was an aircraft change from an A350 to a 777, I was still in the same seat and it was a Q-Suite. Much like the outbound I was offered a choice of champagne, a towel and a menu on sitting down. This time, given it was late at night and I had eaten in the lounge, I decided not to order food, just another drink and warm nuts. The flight itself was very pleasant, more offers of top ups if I wanted and we landed slightly early in Doha. This was still a bus gate, but with one big difference, a ridiculously over spec’d First Class bus for us!
I’m not kidding each bus could probably hold 12 people, each with their own luxury armchair to sit in. As a result, there were 3 buses waiting for us at the aircraft and they made sure all the First customers got to escape quickly into the terminal. Upon arriving the terminal building there was a security check, again there was a nice separate area or Business, First and frequent fliers. I was through there in no time, but with the long taxi to the stand and the bus journey, I really didn’t have time to go to the lounge, so that report will have to wait for another trip.
Qatar Airways First Class Bus Seating
Doha airport experience
Even though I was connecting through Doha, due to the tight connection, I wasn’t able to visit the lounge. So instead, I headed straight to my gate, which was C12, although it wasn’t clear the C12 had two totally separate entrances, one for Economy and one for Business and First. I, of course, went to the wrong one and was immediately directed to the other gate entrance. As I was flying on an A380, there was a lot of people around and the Economy area was packed, but luckily the Business Class section had already boarded, so there was no queue and I headed straight on board.
Qatar A380 experience
What was interesting is how this aircraft is laid out. The entire lower deck is economy, with a very small section of economy at the back of upper deck. The front of the upper deck has first class, but most of it is business, with a little surprise at the back, which I’ll tell you about shortly.
My guess is that all economy passengers board via the lower deck and the very few at the back of the upper deck use the rear stairs, as the business class boarding area led directly to the upper deck and was roped off from the economy passengers.
I arrived at my seat, 11K in this case, right hand side, one row back from the door. This is the old Business Class product from Qatar, not the Q-Suite, but still nothing to be sniffed at. I had a window seat, with full aisle access, a large screen, storage and the ability to recline into a fully flat bed. I was offered a drink, towel and pyjamas upon sitting down.
After take off I was offered food from the menu. There was the option of a tasting menu for lighter bites, a meal or a selection of snacks. I again didn’t want a meal, so I went for the snack option as I settled down with a film.
Once we were comfortably into the cruise I headed to the back of the business class section to find the ‘lounge bar’. This was an amazing space, with loads of room, I think 15 people could have sat in this area, with more standing. There was a bar here with a barman waiting to take my order. There were only 3 people in here, so I ordered a night cap and sat down to relax. Just being able to walk around and sit in a different position was lovely and if this was a flight at another time of day I could imaging this place getting quite busy.
Qatar Airways A380 Bar
After my drink I headed to the toilets to change into my pyjamas and I made my bed up. I was a little surprised that there was no under sheet for the seat, just 2 different sized pillows and a very large and fluffy blanket/thin duvet. I guess you can wrap yourself in the blanket quite easily and wearing pyjamas there’s little need for an under sheet. The choice of pillows was nice as well, so you could really comfortable. My only complaint was (unlike the outbound flight) it was very warm and I found myself pushing the blanket off a few times. My snacks had arrived, so I ate popcorn and chocolate in bed while finishing my film, before going to sleep.
There was of course a full amenity kit, so I put my ear plugs in, pulled down my eye mask and slept for a good 4-5 hours.
Breakfast orders were taken with your dinner order, the choice of wake early for full breakfast or wake late for a drink and a pastry. I opted for the drink and pastry and duly just before final decent my orange juice and a croissant arrived. I felt quite refreshed, but one of the reasons the A380 is my favourite aircraft is how quiet it is upstairs. I do remember some turbulence in the night, but rather oddly, I like that, helps me sleep!
I was very impressed with Qatar, their Business Class service goes way above that of British Airways. The sheer number of staff on the plane and how regularly they were checking in on you to see if you needed anything was amazing. The extras like food on demand, rather than off the trolley when it happens to pass and of course the lounge bar make it even better. I had been told by many people before I flew that Qatar were amazing and they did not disappoint. I have a number Qatar flights booked before the end of the year to and from Asia, all in Business, which I am now really looking forward to.