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Recently, I flew business class with Qatar Airways for a trip to Barcelona, Spain with a stopover at Doha, Qatar.
Qatar Airways is the national airline of the State of Qatar and is currently one of the fastest growing airlines in the world. No surprise here because the state itself is developing rapidly, despite having a population of just 2.1 million. Qatar currently has the world’s third largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves in excess of 25 billion barrels, which have fueled Qatar to become the world’s richest country per capita and achieve the highest human development in the Arab World and 36th highest globally.
Think Singapore and Singapore Airlines on steroid if we have natural resources. That’s Qatar and Qatar Airways.
Qatar Airways operations began in 1994 when the airline was a small regional carrier serving a handful of routes. The airline was relaunched in 1997 under the mandate of the country’s leader His Highness The Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who outlined a vision to turn Qatar Airways into a leading international airline with the highest standards of service and excellence. The current CEO Akbar Al Baker who was appointed in 1996 worked tirelessly to turn the vision into a reality. Qatar Airways has been experiencing unprecedented expansion since, averaging double digit growth year on year.
In April 2011, Qatar Airways reached a milestone reaching 100 destinations in its global route map. Two months later, the airline achieved a remarkable feat, just 14 years after its relaunch, being named Airline of the Year 2011 and again in 2012 at the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards.
Recently, Qatar Airways was presented with three honours at the annual Skytrax 2013 World Airline Awards. The airline was awarded World’s Best Business Class, World’s Best Business Class Lounge and, for the second consecutive year, Best Airline Staff Service in the Middle East.
Impressive isn’t it?
Now in its 17th year of operations, Qatar Airways has a modern fleet of 131 aircraft flying to 138 key business and leisure destinations across six continents.
From Singapore alone, Qatar Airways offer 37 long-haul destinations, including Barcelona, Paris, Oslo, Chicago, Houston, Washington D.C., Istanbul and Geneva. On October 30, 2013, Qatar Airways joined the oneworld Alliance, becoming the first Gulf carrier to join a global airline alliance.
For my flight from Singapore to Doha and from Doha back to Singapore, I got to experience the Business Class cabin and service on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Qatar Airways was the Middle East launch customer for the 787 Dreamliner.
What is so special about the Qatar Airways 787 Dreamliner?
Beyond the introduction of advanced technologies, unique features include larger windows, reduced cabin noise and cleaner cabin air.
Cabin air on the Dreamliner is cleaner than other commercial airplanes. Fresh air is introduced into the cabin via air scoops on the side of the fuselage. Newly introduced on the 787 Dreamliner, an additional gaseous filtration system also removes odours, irritants and gaseous contaminants, some of the primary contributors to throat, eye and nose irritation for passengers. The system results in fewer complaints of dizziness, headache, eye irritation and dryness.
The Qatar Airways 787 cabin is pressurised to a new maximum level of 6,000 feet – 2,000 feet lower than most other aircraft. Altitude chamber tests show that because the body absorbs 8% more oxygen into the blood at this altitude, passengers experience fewer headaches and less dizziness and fatigue.
In addition the windows block 100 % of UV radiation regardless of dimming level.
These are not mumbo-jumbo marketing speaks. They really made a very big difference for me! I have a very sensitive ear-nose-throat sensory due to an inborn condition. Usually on flights, I have to have earplugs or headphones on during ascend and descend, but it didn’t pose that much of a problem on the Dreamliner. No blocked ears, sniffy nose and parched throat.
Fly with Qatar Airways on their 787 Dreamliner for your next long-haul travel and experience the difference yourself. You will be convinced.
A lot of attention is placed on lighting.
When boarding the Qatar Airways 787 Dreamliner, the spacious look and feel of the cabin is enhanced by dynamic mood lighting: more than 20 specially tailored scenes to help your body clock adjust to crossing different time zones using the latest LED technology for leisure, work and rest in both business and economy class. The lighting system is engineered to simulate a full flying day for longer flights. The ceilings are also designed higher, making you feel less constricted.
Natural light and the view outside have been built into the Dreamliner passenger experience. The aircraft features large dimmable windows, more than 30 percent larger than other similarly sized airplanes and larger than anything offered by any other aircraft.
The overall interior design, specifically custom-made for Qatar Airways, ensures that passengers not seated at a window can take in the window view.
An electrochromic dimming system allows passengers to change the tint of the window from fully transparent to completely dimmed. The windows are not built with conventional shades but instead, passengers can regulate the intensity of light coming through their windows with the touch of a button all contributing to an advanced flying experience. Even with the overall cabin lighting completely dimmed, passengers can enjoy the view through a deeply tinted window without disturbing others who may be sleeping or watching a film.
The intuitive design and touch points of the storage bins onboard the plane make them easy for all passengers to open, load and close. Stowage space onboard the Dreamliner is the largest and most convenient in the skies, minimising the need to store bags beneath the seat with more space than any other plane. The bins store up and away rather than cutting into overhead space like conventional stowage bins.
The Business Class capacity is 54 bags (volume 141.26 cu ft.) while the Economy Class capacity is 226 bags (volume 643.14 cu ft.).Business Class offers additional armrest, side, shoe and underneath ottoman stowage while Economy provides seat pocket stowage as part of the custom designed Qatar Airways seats.
The Qatar Airways 787 Dreamliner can accommodate in total 254 passengers. Business Class is configured with 22 seats in a 1-2-1 layout and seats that convert into fully flat horizontal beds, while Economy Class has 232 seats in a 3–3–3 cabin layout.
The interior of the plane is composed of burgundy, pearly white and grey colour themes and each element of the 787 Dreamliner interior was designed to connect passengers with the joy of flying aboard Qatar Airways.
Key features onboard include an award-winning iTouch touch control unit, over 1,000 movie, programming and audio entertainment options, an iPort, USB port, remote data outlet, a custom designed culinary offering, plenty of storage space for personal items and more – all available in both cabin classes.
You can surf Internet while flying. Yes, you read that correctly.
GSM mobile text messaging services and Internet access are available at every seat for use throughout the flight in accordance with Qatar Airways’ standard safety procedures. Internet – Wi-Fi connectivity is offered at the highest speed available in the skies.
For Business Class passengers, the menu is carefully curated by four celebrity chefs (of which three are Michelin star chefs) – Nobu Matsuhisa, Tom Aikens,Ramzi Choueiri and Vineet Bhatia. Airline food cannot get any better than this! Here are some of the stuff I tried:
I am only done with the flight experience. Let’s move on to the Premium Terminal lounge, Qatar Airways’ award-winning World’s Best Business Class Lounge in Doha Airport.
The spacious Premium Terminal lounge offers a quiet and comfortable place to relax before a flight. Located in the heart of the airport with convenient walking distances to all gates, travellers can escape the busy departure hall and enjoy the lounge’s Arabian hospitality. Lounge access to the Premium Terminal is available for all passengers flying First and Business Class with Qatar Airways.
Photos of the lounge:
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5158/14052412115_b7ca3fce14_o.jpg”] Lounge chairs [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5282/14072436483_033d1675ca_o.jpg”] Spacious [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7315/14049210131_c57f34aba1_o.jpg”] Another seating area [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7231/14053348214_873fa3d114_o.jpg”] Waiting for flight in comfort [/image_slider]
Food and drinks:
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7209/14072437353_81fd90aba9_o.jpg”] Beverage counter [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7435/14029281876_5013c0039d_o.jpg”] Dining area [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5189/14049224322_b6b360c915_o.jpg”] Wait staff [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7068/14049703022_4ca9aaba8d_o.jpg”] Cafe-like setting [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7440/14053348774_50a780fedb_o.jpg”] Light bites [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7404/14052866674_3a61b4de26_o.jpg”] Phone booths [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2904/14049218072_a1d2129779_o.jpg”] Games room [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5111/14072432203_e80313b713_o.jpg”] Kids’ room [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7391/14049215662_4530b6e8ef_o.jpg”] Nursery room [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5119/14029278386_bd8c350fd7_o.jpg”] Bedrooms [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2927/14072435713_d22ced7d5f_o.jpg”] Spa and relaxation [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5019/14049223481_37a1b5eebe_o.jpg”] Cloak room [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5266/14072445123_6cde887877_o.jpg”] Male and female prayer rooms [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm3.staticflickr.com/2919/14052423665_fcf48fe1c3_o.jpg”] Discussion tables [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5200/14052424475_61ce8dfe32_o.jpg”] Individual workstations [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7326/14049221411_5c51009924_o.jpg”] Meeting room [/image_slider]
[image_slider link=”http://on.fb.me/1gWHDlH” source=”https://farm8.staticflickr.com/7350/14052426635_eff14054cc_o.jpg”] Lounge [/image_slider]
- Quiet zone
- Free Wi-Fi
- Lockers for storage of hand luggage and duty free shopping
- Conference room
- Business centre and complimentary PC use
- Newspapers and magazines
- Soups, salads, fruits and sandwiches
- Beverages (alcoholic drinks in prescribed hours)
- Washrooms and shower facilities
- Smoking room
- Close proximity to Duty Free outlets
Exclusive to First and Business Class customers flying Qatar Airways, you also get to check-in in style at the unique Premium Terminal service counter at Doha Airport:
Next up, I will be sharing on my sneak peek into the near-complete world-class Hamad International Airport in Doha, scheduled to launch later this year. Stay tuned!