Qatar Airways A380 Flight Review: London to Doha (Business Class)

I had seen the A380 demonstrator when it visited the Philippines a couple of years ago.  I was impressed by it, especially the fact that after walking the length of the huge main deck, I climbed the wide stairs up to another huge deck above it!  This coupled with the fact that I got to sit in the pilot’s seat really impressed me.  I wanted to ride on that big airplane!



Copyright Photo: Qatar Airways A380 / Airliners.net
My chance came late last year when I visited London and flew Qatar Airways.  Just prior to my flight from London to Doha, Qatar Airways had inaugurated A380 service on the route and I made sure to reserve the A380 flight.

After check-in and security, I went to the Qatar Airways Business Class Lounge.  Talk about nice -- the lounge in London is only rivalled by their lounge in the new airport at Doha.  The lounge offers dining service just like a proper restaurant. 

qatar airways business class
Qatar Airways Lounge, London Heathrow.
Copyright Photo: Tamarind Walk/PFN
A waiter gives you the menu and after making your selections, the food is delivered together with whatever you care to drink. The food is good, the service great, and no bill!  Unfortunately, I overdid it in the lounge and had no appetite for what looked like a very respectable in flight meal. 

qatar airways lounge london
Qatar Airways Lounge, London Heathrow
Copyright Photo: Tamarind Walk/PFN
Boarding in the lounge is announced about 30 minutes prior to the flight. It is a simple process, which is made much nicer because the lounge is just across a corridor from the gate used by Qatar Airways.  



qatar airways lounge heathrow
Qatar Airways Lounge, London Heathrow
Copyright Photo: Tamarind Walk/PFN
Business and First classes board through a special air bridge directly to the upper deck of the A380.  The aircraft was all shiny and new, having been in service for only a few weeks.  Believe me -- it is big indeed and very impressive.

qatar airways a380 business class
Copyright Photo: Tamarind Walk/PFN
qatar airways a380 business class
Copyright Photo: Tamarind Walk/PFN
Business Class seating allows for individual, private areas with comfortable 22-inch wide seats that fully recline. 

qatar airways a380 business class
Comfort in the Air: The Qatar A380 Business Class Seat
Copyright Photo: Tamarind Walk/PFN

Qatar Airways' “Oryx” in flight entertainment system is second to none and there is a very wide selection of movies, music, and television programs to help passengers relax and enjoy the flight.

qatar airways a380 business class
Copyright Photo: Tamarind Walk/PFN
I had a window seat overlooking the A380’s massive wing. It is immense and one cannot be blamed for wondering just how such a huge machine can fly!

qatar airways a380 business class
The A380's Massive Wing
Copyright Photo: Tamarind Walk/PFN
Shortly after being seated, pre-take off drinks were offered along with other amenities.  Soon thereafter, the doors were closed and we began push back. Sitting by the window, I was rather transfixed at observing just how ponderously the A380 moves along to its take-off position.  But move-along it does and soon we were lined up on one of Heathrow’s long runways.

Take off was surprisingly normal and the take off run did not seem any longer than that of a Boeing 777. The climb out of London Heathrow was smooth and soon we were cruising along at our assigned altitude, on the way to Doha. One thing that became apparent almost immediately was how strangely quiet the A380 is. Being up and above the engines, their noise dissipates below the wing, rendering the quietest cabin I have flown in to date. The flight was also very smooth.

Truly, the A380 impressed me in almost every way because everything is bigger, or so it seems.  The bathrooms on Qatar Airways A380 are larger than on smaller planes. (I could actually turn around in one and change clothes without difficulty.) But the big surprise is the bar-lounge on the plane -- aft of the business class cabin.  It is large and spacious, providing business and first class passengers with an opportunity to stand up, stretch their legs, have a drink, and socialize as the flight progresses.  

There are seats in the lounge and in case of turbulence, these seats are equipped with seat belts for passengers. I haven’t seen this type of thing since years ago when Continental Airlines had the Backgammon Lounges on its wide body aircraft or Gulf Air had its lounges on its Tri-Star aircraft.  Most lounges were taken out to jam in more seats. For a long haul flight, the lounge is an excellent addition and Qatar Airways' lounge on the A380 is indeed pleasant, relaxing, and fun.  It also lends to passenger health because people can stand and walk around the plane, further reducing the risk of deep vein thrombosis.

qatar airways a380 business class
It is said that the head of Qatar Airways is meticulous about details.  The A380 reflects this.
Copyright Photo: Tamarind Walk/PFN
qatar airways a380 business class
Copyright Photo: Tamarind Walk/PFN
qatar airways a380 business class
Copyright Photo: Tamarind Walk/PFN
Meal service on this flight, as I observed, was right up to Qatar Airways standards of excellence and I am happy to see that although the meals are tasty, the quantity is reasonable – not too much.  But as noted, I passed on the in flight meal, having stuffed myself in the lounge!

The flight into Doha proceeded all too quickly – barely 6 ½ hours. I would have been most happy to fly right on to the Philippines aboard Qatar Airways’ A380.  Arrival was smooth and on time and Doha’s new airport is excellent, spacious and very efficient, indeed. If you can swing it, try to get yourself on an A380 flight.  It is one fine aircraft, indeed!

TRAVELERS’ NOTES FOR LONDON HEATHROW:  

  • For passengers travelling out of London, the security folks are strict with hand carried liquids – even medicines and cosmetics.  These have to be placed in a zip lock type clear plastic bag and shown at security in that plastic bag.  Failing to do so will only create delay because you will be given a bag by security and made to put all your small liquids in it prior to being cleared.  Avoid the hassle and be prepared!
  • Duty free shopping in the U.K. is easy and presents an opportunity to save a considerable sum.  Stores will do some of the work in completing the necessary forms for reimbursement.  However, there are parts of the form that the passenger has to complete.  A word to the wise, complete this paperwork prior to going to the airport.  The lines at the tax refund counters can be long and you will save yourself (and others!) time and grief if you have your papers complete and ready for inspection.  Nothing is more irritating that being behind someone who has multiple forms that are not completed and who holds up everyone else!
Are you travelling to London or Doha? Check out our London hotel promos and Doha hotel promos!

4 comments:

  1. A380 is easily the best plane flying in the sky at the present.
    Quiet with lots of room even in economy. I did read somewhere that the A380 two thirds quieter than a 747. Its just a shame all the penny pinching airlines are going for the cramped and noisy 777'S and 787'S

    ReplyDelete
  2. Qatar Airways have put a lot of thought and flair into their A380. First class today have a new level..here some history http://cheapfirstclass.com/first-class-flights-back-in-the-days/ for those who like aviation

    ReplyDelete
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