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Is it worth it to take Qatar’s flagship “Qsuite” business class during the current Covid-19 pandemic? We take a further look in this flight review at the A350 Qsuite. We’ll also cover Qatar’s 787-8 (non-Qsuite) business class as well.
Recently I got the chance to sit down with my friend David Danzeiser who took the same flight combo with Qatar Airways both pre-covid and during covid. This combo was the A350-900 Qsuites on one leg and the 787-8 business class on the other leg. He also got a chance to visit the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan lounge at Doha International Airport on the way into town as well. What was it like taking both the A350 Qsuite and 787-8 during the Coronavirus pandemic and what were the differences in services and amenities? Keep reading to find out!
- What is best way to book Qatar Airways Qsuites Business Class with Points?
- Can you transit through Doha Hamad Airport without permission during covid-19?
- A quick warning on airplane swaps when booking your flight
- Check-in & Security: Flight Review
- Qatar Airways “Al Mourjan” Business Class Lounge Review
- 787-8 Business Class (non-Qsuite) seat review on Qatar Airways
- Qatar Qsuite (A350-900/A350-1000) seat review
- Onboard service (soft product) – Qatar Business Class
- It it worth it to take Qatar 787 Business Class or A350 Qsuite during the Covid-19 Pandemic ?
- Is Qatar Qsuites Business Class as good as First Class?
What is best way to book Qatar Airways Qsuites Business Class with Points?
While Dave booked this flight in cash for about $5,000USD, there are plenty of ways to book Qatar Qsuites with points with both alliance and non alliance partners. Generally the best deal you can get is with American Airlines AAdvantage points, though in some cases JAL Mileagebank or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles offer the best deal if booking round trip. The section on how to book Qatar Airways Qsuites with points got so long, I ended up splintering it off into its own article so checkout more details there!
Long story short you can book most Qatar Airways flights including the A350 Qsuites, the 787 Business Class or any Qatar Airways product using most One World alliance partners. Generally American Airlines provides the best deal for a one way flight with the lowest taxes and the least amount of points. For those with American Express or Chase points, British Airways provides an acceptable deal albeit with sometimes high taxes. You can also try Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific), but booking is a PITA you’ll need to call them multiple times to sort out availability, transfer the points, call them again etc. Personally i’d rather just pay a little extra to British Airways and be on with it. For our Australian readers you can also book Qatar airways with Qantas points at a somewhat-high-but-still-acceptable rate. Speaking of Qantas their search tool is a great way to find availability regardless of where you’ll transfer your points.
Read More: How to Book Qatar Qsuite with points
Can you transit through Doha Hamad Airport without permission during covid-19?
Yes, the vast majority of passport holders can TRANSIT at Hamad International Airport (also known as Doha International Airport) without a transit visa. However, if your nationality needed a transit visa for Qatar pre-covid, you may still need to acquire one. However, this would be limited to very few countries. As a matter of fact with many borders closed even for transit, Qatar Airways with a stop in Doha presents one of the best ways to get from A to B while avoiding having to get a transit visa for those with weaker passports. This is true both pre-covid and during covid as well.
Just keep in mind your full ticket must be on the same reservation, meaning you cannot book 2 separate flights one to Qatar and then another from Qatar to your final destination. The reason for this is if you had 2 tickets you’d need to recheck your bag. To do that you’d need to get through immigration to get your bag and re-check it, and without special permission to enter the country, you’d be denied entry. Please don’t try this!
What are the Covid-19 requirements to fly with Qatar Airways?
Qatar Airways requires a Covid PCR-RT test no older than 72 hours in order to fly with them as of the time of this writing. There is also a requirement by Hamad International Airport to fill out a health form, even if you are just transiting. Also there may be further testing, paperwork and quarantine requirements at your destination. Keep in mind some countries such as Australia, New Zealand are not allowing their citizens to leave the country for tourism purposes. By the time you’re reading this the information could be outdated. Country and airline requirements to fly are constantly changing due to the covid-19 pandemic and will continue to do so.
A quick warning on airplane swaps when booking your flight
Before we get started with this flight review, if you’re a newbie to the points and miles game theres 2 things you need to know:
Firstly, Not all A350-900’s are equipped with Qatar’s Qsuites (though all A350-1000’s are) so you’ll need to check first. There are a few ways to do it. The first is to go through the process of buying a ticket on Qatar’s website until you get to the seat selection screen to see if the layout is Qatar’s Qsuites or not. Another way to check is using ExpertFlyer or a similar tool that can show you the seat layout. Qatar Airways is also retrofitting some of their 777s with Qatar Qsuites as well, but the process is taking time. As time goes on it will be easier to take the Qatar Qsuite on either an A350 or their 777s. This leads to a lot of confusion since the A350-900 and 777 could either be Qatar Qsuites or not.
Secondly, please remember airlines can swap out planes and routing and are under no obligation to put you in the business class seat and plane of your preference! As a matter of fact when I took an award flight with Qatar Airways from Budapest to Bangkok with a stop in Qatar in 2019, thats exactly what happened! The first 5 hour leg that was supposed to be on their 787 business class layflat seat and got switched out at the very last minute for a very old 737 with a recliner seat. Basically, there is no way to guarantee you’ll get the A350 or 777 Qatar Qsuites on your routing once you purchase your ticket either with points or in cash.
Watch out! Due to Covid-19 equipment and route swaps are happening now more than ever!
The good news is usually if there is what they call an “equipment swap” (they changed the plane type on your route), you will have plenty of notice to change the flight time and routing to a plane that has the configuration you’re looking for. You can always take a look at websites like FlightAware.com to see how often equipment swaps occur on a route. Unfortunately, right now due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic, plane swaps are happening at a much higher rate then usual. The good news is if you’re given at least 2-3 days heads up you can usually change award tickets or even get a refund for a free or a nominal fee.
Check-in & Security: Flight Review
Dave told me that check-in for all his flights was easy, fast and without hassle. He said there was no difference in the check-in process whether he was taking the 787 business class product or the a350 qsuite. He said one time there was a slight mix up where a gate agent said his bag was overweight, only to realize he was flying business class. He informed me that security was also fast at both Lisbon where his first flight originated, and in Bali as well.
Qatar Airways “Al Mourjan” Business Class Lounge Review
In Lisbon Qatar doesn’t have a lounge and outsources the access to a 3rd party lounge. Dave had checked out the business lounge in Lisbon included with the Qatar ticket but has no photos and says it was “nothing special” or “priority pass level”
He did get to use Qatar Airways’s famous “Al Mourjan” transit lounge at Doha Airport. He said most amenities were functioning but some buffets were closed, and he did not have a chance to use the showers so isn’t sure if they are open or not. (Sorry for the low quality of the photos of the lounge, the video clips on the youtube video provide better detail)
The lounge itself is an architectural marvel with stunning high ceilings, a spacy and airy furniture layout and minimalist design aimed at soothing the nerves of travelers. My apologies that the images we posted here don’t do the lounge justice!
There are many different self service buffets. You can also order off a menu during certain times of the day. There is also a sleeping room where you can rest your head on a day bed. It’s a shame Dave missed using the showers because I have used the showers at Qatar’s Al Mourjan lounge in 2019 and was not disappointed.
Check LoungeBuddy.com for the latest updates on Qatar Airways Lounges at Doha Airport
Due to covid-19 the situation on lounge and amenities is constantly changing. A quick check on LoungeBuddy.com shows that many of Qatar Airways’s lounges have been closed and are now consolidated into the main business class lounge. If you are flying first class or wish to use a secondary lounge please check to make sure its open, most likely you will be routed into the main “Al Mourjan” lounge.
Boarding Process – Qatar A350 Qsuites and 787-8 business class
Dave said business class passengers were welcome to board at anytime during the general boarding process, for both the 787-8 business class and during the A350-900 Qsuite. He didn’t see any difference in the boarding process based on the type of plane or pre or post-covid. Most likely economy boarding has, however changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, going from back to front, though we haven’t been able to confirm this.
787-8 Business Class (non-Qsuite) seat review on Qatar Airways
For half of the flight Dave took the 787-8 business class reverse herringbone seat. These seats will eventually be replaced with the same seats on the A350 Qsuite but Qatar Airways still has a long way to go. While the seat isn’t state of the art like the Qsuite seat, it still is a very solid seat. Dave said he was very comfortable in the seat and it wasn’t too firm or too soft and that he slept well. I’ve taken Qatar’s A380 business class before and from the photos the seats seem identical to the 787.
He was also happy with the IFE (entertainment system) screen size, and said it was the same system and movie selection as the A350 Qsuite only with a smaller screen. While the Qsuite makes AV geeks like this author drool, their 787-8 seat is no slouch and a great way to redeem your credit card and airline points as well. The seat looks very similar to Qatar Airways A380 business class seat (minus the A380’s onboard lounge and bar of course).
Qatar Qsuite (A350-900/A350-1000) seat review
The pictures speak for themselves. This is clearly a international first class level seat in all respects. Each seat has a massive 22″ IFE screen, a bed/seat that is a few inches wider then your typical business class and extra space for your belongings. What really separates this seat from other seats though is it has a sliding door for privacy, something usually reserved for international first class (though many other airlines are now implementing privacy doors in the business class cabin).
Of course what makes Qatar Airways’ A350 Qsuites most famous is the fact you can put 2 seats together to create a full size bed, or even rotate 4 seats in the middle to create a small “room.” This would be ideal for people traveling on business looking to have a meeting on board. Qatar Airway’s A350-900/A350-1000 Qsuite seat truly is state of the art and I hope I get the chance to take it soon. Qatar is retrofitting many planes with the seats, and eventually the majority of business class seats on Qatar Airways will be Qsuites.
Onboard service (soft product) – Qatar Business Class
Dave said after boarding for all flights the flight attendants ask you what level of service you want. Essentially they ask you if you want them to fawn over you, completely leave you alone, or somewhere in between. As hard as it is to believe for us AV geeks, most business class travelers usually just want the bed, turn down a lot of the food, and just want to be left alone to sleep before their important meetings. However, if you’re an enthusiast taking the flight on points most likely you’ll want to get to experience every amenity on offer and the choice is there for you. Dave said the flight attendants were very attentive both pre-covid and post-covid .
Onboard dining review on Qatar Airways (A350 Qsuite and 787 Business Class)
The food is everyone’s favorite part of the flight review, thankfully we have lots of great pictures. Based on my experience taking Qatar’s A380 and Dave’s experience taking the 787 business class and A350-900 Qsuite, there doesn’t appear to be a major difference in food quality or presentation from one widebody jet to another. In all instances they place a focus on presentation, giving you a faux electric candle (similar to Turkish airlines), and fancy real cutlery.
Dave said beyond the traditional meal times that full on demand menu service was available, something that most airlines have done away with during covid in business class (instead giving you one of two or three options like in economy). Dave particularly enjoyed the specialty “mocktails” (alcohol free cocktails) offered on each flight. It doesn’t appear there have been any major cut backs to beverage and dining service during the covid-19 pandemic.
Entertainment System / Screen on Qatar Airways Qsuites (and 787-8 as well)
Dave informed me that the movie, tv show and general media selection was exactly the same on all 4 flights that he took. He said the movie selection was fantastic with tons of movies ranging from so new they aren’t even yet on DVD, to 1990s classics such as “little giants” remastered in HD. There were also a decent selection of games you could play either using the control or the touchscreen to play. The screen size on the Qsuite on the A350-900 particularly stood out to Dave. While the screen on the a350 qsuite is 22″ Dave said it felt bigger. The screen size on the older configuration on the 787 business class wasn’t bad either but he said the screen was noticeably smaller.
Onboard wifi with Qatar
Dave said onboard wifi was available on all flights he took with Qatar (for a fee), but did not get the chance to use it, though he said he would have if he knew he was going to do a flight review. I have heard from other people who have used Qatar’s onboard wifi that it is fast and serviceable. Onboard wifi is available on the majority of Qatar’s flights, (with the exception of some of their smaller single aisle jets).
Amenity Kit – Qsuites A350-900 and 787-8
Unfortunately we forgot to get photos and inventory of the amenity kit abroad Qatar’s A350 Qsuite and their 787 business class, sorry about this! Dave doesn’t remember the details of what was in it other than to say the bag itself and the items in there were on par with other layflat business class flights but nothing special. There weren’t any expensive cosmetics included like in Korean Air or some Asian airlines from what he remembers.
It it worth it to take Qatar 787 Business Class or A350 Qsuite during the Covid-19 Pandemic ?
With most borders closed there isn’t so many places for travelers to go due to the pandemic anyways. But say you do have somewhere to go and you have the points or cash, is it worth it to take the A350 Qsuites or Qatar’s 787 Business Class during the covid-19 pandemic?
Certainly this is a great question to ask as its a shame to use a big stash of your points on a business or first class experience only to find that service and amenities are severely reduced. In this case it’s most certainly worth it to take Qatar A350 Qsuites during the pandemic if you need to travel. The service is essentially the same pre-covid and post-covid. Based on talking with Dave who took the first flight in early February 2020, and the next flight out in August 2020, its pretty clear that Qatar Airways has retained virtually 100% of their service offerings. However, there are some changes due to Coronavirus. Here are the differences Dave noticed between his first flight pre-covid and his 2nd flight during covid. Please remember flying requirements and amenities are changing frequently and this information could become quickly outdated!
1. You needed to get a Covid test before boarding
This is actually a requirement from Qatar Airways for all flights right now, regardless of whether the destination country requires a test as well. Most countries are demanding a test to enter the country anyways so this requirement isn’t really a big deal. I believe the test must be PCR-RT and not just an antigen (aka Rapid or Abott) test, someone could perhaps confirm this in the comments.
2. You must wear a mask at all times during the flight except while eating and drinking.
Again, this is pretty standard across virtually all airlines. Come to think of it as of January 2021 I don’t think there is any commercial flight on the entire planet that lets you step aboard without a mask.
3. Some amenities in the Qatar lounge such as buffets and showers were closed.
Dave reported that some buffets in the Qatar lounge were not currently operating. I have received reports from other flyers that the showers were also temporarily closed but seemed to have been reopened as of January 2021. Many of the auxiliary Qatar Airways lounges in Doha have been temporarily closed and consolidated, but when transiting you should find at least the main lounge open as of December 2020. Again, please check the latest information as the situation regarding Qatar Airways lounge service changes frequently. A great place to do that is this lounge buddy page. If more lounges in Doha Aiport have opened or the showers are now open feel free to let us know in the comments.
4. If your departing flight isn’t from Doha Airport (most likely), you may or may not have access to a business lounge
Qatar Airways, like most airlines, doesn’t have its own branded lounge in most airports and must partner up with other airlines, usually those in the “One World” alliance. Whether these partner lounges are open or not is outside of the control of the airline. Many, if not most lounges remain closed as of January 2021. If Qatar cannot offer you an open lounge with your business class ticket check your priority pass or Amex platinum cards if you have either of these and see if there are options there.
5. Certain items on the flight menu are unavailable but the majority of catering remains, and on demand service remains
Unlike many airlines that have switched out menu service in business class for a more economy style “Pick one of three options” level of service, Qatar Airways has kept their menu service intact in both the A350 Qsuites and the 787 business class. However, certain items may not be available.
Is Qatar Airways A380 onboard bar / lounge closed?
While this flight review doesn’t cover the Airbus A380, many readers may be curious if Qatar Airways has shut its onboard lounge on the A380 or not. While Emirates has opened their onboard A380 lounge in a limited capacity (you must go back to your seat after ordering), Qatar isn’t even flying any if its very limited A380 fleet, and doesn’t expect to until 2022. Most AV geeks speculate that Qatar’s A380 fleet will never fly again, so this is a moot point. If you want an onboard lounge you’ll have to go with another airline as Qatar’s Qsuites does not offer one, neither on their A350 or their 777 configuration.
Flight Review Rating: Qatar Business Class (A350 Qsuite and 787-8) during the Pandemic
- Purchasing/ticketing process: 100/100 – Dave booked the ticket in cash and said he had no problem doing so. American Airlines generally offers the most hassle free way to book Qatar’s Qsuite with points, where with Asia Miles and JAL you usually have to call in.
- Pricing: 90/100 – Dave paid over $5,000 for his flight on Qatar’s A350 Qsuite and 787-8 business class from Lisbon to Bali via Doha and return flight from Bali to Los Angeles via Doha. In my opinion he overpaid and could have found a similar flight and level of service for half that price. If he had booked on points American Airlines or British Airways would have both offered acceptable deals at saver rates.
- Check-in: 90/100 – There was one slight mixup when checking in Bali where they chased Dave down after check-in to say his bag was overweight only to realize he was a business class customer! Other than that he said Check-in and security was a breeze.
- Boarding Process: 100/100 – He said business class passengers were allowed to board anytime during general boarding and there was little delay.
- Amenities: 95/100 – I’ve taken many flights and done a few flight reviews since Covid and lets be honest, the airlines have been using it as an excuse to take away amenities that have nothing to do with safety. Its clear Qatar Airways has not gone down this path. Other than certain buffets and showers being closed in the Qatar Al Mourjan lounge in Doha Hamad Airport, essentially you can expect all the same amenities as you would have had pre-covid. Especially impressive is that Qatar Airways did not get rid of on-demand menu service during covid-19 for business class passengers, whether it was on the 787 or their A350 Qsuite.
- Lounge: 87/100 – From the Lisbon to Qatar flight, Qatar could only offer a small mediocre lounge that only had cold snacks and self serve beverages. At Doha Hamad Airport the lounge had most of the amenities running except for certain buffets and showers. When leaving from Bali to Qatar Dave was not offered any business class lounge. While this is due to the coronavirus pandemic and may have been “outside of Qatar Airways control” they should have still found an arrangement for business class passengers to use an open lounge.
- Qatar Airways attendants friendliness: 100/100 – Dave was asked if he would like attentive service or not before every flight, and since he wanted attentive service they were constantly checking in on him as he asked.
- Taking Covid seriously: 100/100 – Social distancing was encouraged whenever possible, especially during boarding. The flight attendants were also in full PPE gear. Of course having your own “mini cabin” helps reduce the chance of getting or spreading covid on a plane as well. Please be aware Qatar Airways is not blocking middle seats as of 2021 but few airlines are at this point.
Overall rating: 97/100 A+
You may also enjoy: United First Class and Business Class During Covid
Is Qatar Qsuites Business Class as good as First Class?
It’s well known amongst AV geeks and travel hackers that Qatar’s Qsuites are amongst the best business class products in the sky, offering both a true first class level seat (hard product) and service (soft product). I’ve spoken with other travel hackers and points enthusiasts who’ve taken both Qsuites and Qatar Airways First Class product on their A380 and almost all have said the service and seat are pretty close, with the main difference being in both cases you get your own door and “mini cabin” but the A380 first class gives you a relatively wider seat. Qatar even gives you your own pajamas when taking the Qsuite, something usually reserved for first class only! (And yes, Qatar does offer first class, but only on their A380). Anyways, lets presume Qatar’s A380 does fly again in the future, lets see how it stacks up to the A350 Qsuites. This Youtuber sums it up well:
Where Qatar’s A380 First Class is better than the A350/777 Qsuites
- 83″ bed length vs 79″ bed length
- 23″ seat length vs 21.5″ seat length
- 26″ Screen Size (IFE) vs 21.5″ screen
- “First Class” level high quality service and dining
- Access to First Class Lounges (“Al Safwa”)
- Onboard Bar/Lounge (for business class passengers as well)
Where Qatar’s A350/777 Qsuites is better than A380 First Class
- Closed Suite means far more privacy
- You can combine two seats to make a “full size bed” or even four middle seats together to make a “mini cabin”(something that cannot be done on the A380 either in first or business)
- Far more routes to choose from (even if the A380 comes back into service, it will be with very limited routes)
- Far cheaper “first class seat” for business class price.
This follows an ongoing trend where the line between first class and business class is becoming very blurred, with first class offerings becoming harder to find and business class on long haul flights becoming closer to what first class used to be. As of the time of me writing this flight review there is every reason to believe Qatar Airways will not return to offering first class on their A380 (if the A380 even returns at all), essentially making the Qsuite on their A350-1000 and some retrofitted A350-900’s and 777’s their new “first class”
Can you travel to Bali for non-essential travel?
At the time of this writing (January 2021), Bali (or any part of Indonesia) is still not open for international tourists. Dave had arrived to Bali before borders shut. Do not attempt to fly to Bali without permission to enter, you will be denied entry and probably will not even be allowed to board. Even if your nationality doesn’t usually need a visa. All visa on arrival programs have been paused at this time. I have heard from friends there are ways to get into Indonesia on certain education and business visas if you really wanted to go, but its probably not worth your time.
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New “Interview Flight Review” Format
The “Interview flight review” is a new format we are trying at Points Panda where we interview those that have taken a business or first class product, interview them, get as many photos, videos and notes from the passenger as possible and then turn it into a video and article flight review. While obviously this has downsides compared to the traditional way of doing a flight review by having a Points Panda member take a flight, realistically its very hard to take long distance flights because of the covid-19 pandemic and border closures. Therefore we feel this is the best way possible to provide potential passengers with expectations of what to expect in terms of service due to the Coronavirus. What are your thoughts on this article? Ready to try the Qsuites yourself, learn how to book this flight with credit card and airline points! Have requirements and amenities changed due to the pandemic situation (for example have the showers in the lounge opened)? If so help our readers and let us know updates below!