Flying Qatar Airways Business Class

Honestly, I am jealous of my friends in the corporate world who get to jet set when they fly for work. They relax in their flatbed seats while sipping on a glass of champagne served in real crystal glass, while I am squeezed in the economy middle seat for up to 30 hours at a time. As a freelance travel writer, I have to more then often cover my own airfare when going on assignment, which is every month. Usually, I am scrambling for cheap fares, using my miles, or negotiating with airlines for discounts.

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So when I had the opportunity of traveling Business Class on Qatar Airways (QA), I grabbed it!

qatar airways

I booked a round trip flight from Atlanta, GA to Yerevan, Armenia, both of which are new hubs for QA. In May 2016, a launch party featured a private concert by American singer and actress Jennifer Lopez at Atlanta’s historic Fox Theatre, which enraged Atlanta-based Delta Airlines. Grow up Delta! Read more about their reaction to it.

The online booking process was easy. QatarAirways.com website gives several options of flights for each day and shows a calendar of low fares through the week. You can pick any combination of flights based on schedules and prices.

Checking in at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International airport was strange as the attendant at QA counter did not know recognize the city Yerevan, or the country Armenia. He said he worked with the airlines, but perhaps a geography lesson wasn’t included in the training.

I got access to The Club At ATL lounge at Atlanta airport, which is a far cry from any VIP lounges I have seen before. It was crowded, the wifi was slow, and there was hardly anything to eat at the buffet table.

Once I boarded the plane, things got a lot better. An attendant escorted me from the entrance of the flight to my seat and helped me stow my carry on bag. Soon, the cabin attendant addressed me by my name and made polite conversation about my journey. I got a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice right away and was feeling relaxed already.

qatar airways

I was on the 777-200 airplane which featured fully flat horizontal beds in a 2-2-2 configuration. The maroon (official color: Qatari red) leather seats were equipped with massage functions and I had over 6 feet of legroom! Sorry coach people. I had the biggest individual flat screen TV screen I have seen on board (estimating 17 inches) which was programmed with over 3,000 hours of entertainment in 30 languages through the award-winning Oryx One system. Some of the flights also have WiFi but neither of my legs (Atlanta-Doha-Yerevan) did.

qatar airways

Next they brought out amenities – A Giorgio Armani toiletries bag with a perfume and lotion, cozy PJ set (in my size) which contained a long sleeve shirt and pants, along with slippers, fluffy pillow and comforter. Once I changed into my lounging clothes, the attendant asked to make my bed for the night. She flattened the seat to 180 degrees, laid out bedspreads and tucked in the comforter, a left a chocolate flight on my pillow. I felt like I was getting a turndown service at a hotel.

qatar airways

QA business class features a Dine On Demand style of dining, meaning passengers can order whatever food and drinks they want whenever they feel like it. The drink menu had a great selection of wines and champagnes from around the world. One could chose from Australian Shiraz, Spanish Mencia, French Bordeaux, Tawny Port, as well as spirits, cocktails and teas.

The food menu offered a good selection of vegetarian and regional choices.   I had a fresh salad of butternut squash and goat cheese on a bed of arugula; a flavorful paneer tikka masala with herbed rice and lentils; and individual size carrot cake and chocolate tart for dessert. Just before we arrived in Doha, I ordered my breakfast – kadak cardamom chai, kippered salmon with capers, muffin and croissant. The sun shone in from the large windows as I sipped on my strong hot tea and read the morning news.

qatar airways

Another thing I really liked about my QA flight was the attention to the bathrooms. During the 15-hour long service, the toilet was always clean and well equipped with toothbrushes and hand lotion. One of the attendants made sure to clean the toilet after every single use.

If you have a 4 hours or more layover in Doha, Qatar Airways offers free city tours. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to avail this opportunity. The airport does have a hotel, art displays, spa, lots of shopping and dining, as well as VIP lounges.

Doha

Qatar Airways is commitment to giving back to the community. You will see some of their projects featured during the in-flight entertainment and  announcements are made on board asking for contributions. Read more about QA social projects here

Would I fly QA again? Absolutely! In my opinion, QA delivers a lot more than it’s counterparts when it comes to seat comfort, food and entertainment, making it an overall much better flight experience. And the best part is, you would probably end up paying a lot less for a business class ticket on Qatar Airways versus some of the US-based airlines.

Qatar Airways is the national carrier of the State of Qatar. Launched in 1997, QA flys to over 150 destinations worldwide. It was named Airline of the Year by Skytrax in 2015 and Business Class of the Year by Skytrax in 2014.

The Airline That Makes Sense

New York City to Oslo for only $150 round trip! If your first reaction to that is, “Great price, but I’m sure I’ll get what I pay for” you think like me. For years, I have frowned upon discount airlines for fear of the unknown. I would rather pay a few extra bucks to know that my flight will arrive on time, in one piece, my luggage will get there safely, and the ride would be somewhat uneventful.

FAST AND AFFORDABLE

Little did I know that Norwegian Air is not only cheap, it is even better than many of the well known brands in the airline industry. I flew the brand new 787-9 Dreamliner from New York to London in only 5 hours earlier this month! The flight was so quite and smooth that I didn’t even realize when it took off. Normally, I have to wear ear plugs on the plane because of the loud noise, but not on the 787 Dreamliner. The 787-9 Dreamliner is a faster airplane that consumes less fuel. The best part is, Norwegian decided to pass the fuel cost savings to their consumers.

norwegianSTRETCH YOUR LEGS

There are only two classes in Norwegian – economy and premium. The main difference between the two is the number of seats per row, allowing for extra room, as well as superior meal service. The Premium seat (there are only 5 rows) I was in, reclined enough to stretch my legs and each seat had its own charging area with USB and electric outlets. There was also a lot more room in overhead for carry on bags, so there’s no hassle of shoving your bags under the seat.

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SAY NO TO JET LAGS

The interior of plane is designed to reduce jet lag and keep the air well circulated. Clever cabin lighting system changes with the time zone. Electro chromatic window system allows each passenger to control how much light they want to come in. If you wish to take a nap, you can block the sun out completely and make the window appear dark. The viewing area is also 65% more than other planes.

FLAT AND TOUCH SCREENS

Norwegian claims to have state of the art entertainment system, which is somewhat true. Flat screen televisions are touch screen enabled, though the selection of movies and games is very limited. Most other airlines now offer hundreds of hours of inflight entertainment, which also includes many foreign features.

norwegian airlines

HEALTHY MEALS

Food on the flight was decent. I had the vegetarian section which included salad, fruit, rice cracker, and pasta with vegetables. Fresh and healthy, unlike most airplane food that is overloaded with carbs and cheese. Why do you need so many calories when you are not moving about?

There was red and white wine as well, though only one kind each. You need to pre order your food in short haul economy. Snacks were also available for purchase (Visa and MasterCard only) and could be ordered through the tv monitor. norwegian airline

The duty free selection was very limited, offering a few cosmetics and alcohol. The items were displayed on the entertainment system for a short duration of the flight.

FREE WIFI

Perhaps the biggest perk for 21st century travelers. The Norwegian flights within Europe offer free wifi to ALL passengers. I used it on the London-Helsinki leg and had no issues connecting with my iPhone and laptop.

NO FRILLS

Do you feel left out when you pass by the elite business section and trail your way into the back of the plane? Those who normally travel business or first class and look for ultra luxury may be a bit disappointed. There is no champagne on arrival or TUMI amenity kits. You can expect to get a cozy blanket and headphones – thats it. Equality (mostly) for everyone!

CARE FOR THE PLANET
Norwegian Air started in 1993 and is voted the best value environment friendly airline. They are the third largest low-cost carrier in Europe with 5,500 employees and operate over 400 routes to more than 130 destinations across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Thailand, the Caribbean and the US. Norwegian is remarkably dedicated to the environment and focuses on how airlines can contribute to less pollution and emissions by flying new and fuel efficient aircrafts.
Would I fly Norwegian again? In a heartbeat! I believe in 2016, we must support businesses that care about sustaining the planet foremost. On top of that, if you can get there faster, cheaper, safer and without jet lag, then thats the best way to travel.
To learn more or make a reservation on Norwegian Air, click here.