First class travel is always the dream, whether or not it’s actually how you get from Point A to B. You can imagine how thrilled I was to be invited to fly Qatar Airways to experience their first class business from Montreal to Doha. As you probably guessed, it’s not a short flight (13 hours give or take), so a plush flying experience makes a long haul trip like this much less painful. In order to get on this particular non-stop, I had to fly from Toronto to Montreal to make the direct flight (currently Qatar Airways does not fly out of Pearson).
The extra on-off ended up being worth it as I arrived to Montreal’s Trudeau airport with a couple hours to kill in the cozy National Bank World MasterCard Lounge. This is about the time I realized I had caught some bug (let the sniffling and sneezing begin), so I went the responsible route, passing on the complimentary booze for tea and water.
When it finally came time to board, the first business class perk presented itself as I slid past the lineup of antsy passengers to hop on the plane first. Seated in the last row of business class, my recommendation to any picky travellers is to get a seat in the bulkhead or at least in the first few rows, since it means less foot traffic beside your seat while the plane boards.
Flying aboard a Boeing 777, this particular aircraft is simply divided into business and economy — with business class passengers accounting for 42 of the 335 on board. There’s an elevated level of attentiveness that instantly became apparent. The male attendant hurried over to help me lift my carry-on luggage into the overhead bin (it’s hard to reach when you’re only 5’ 2”) and then proceeded to offer me a pre-take off beverage. Looking around at the bubbly I desperately wanted to partake in the fashionable ritual, but admitted to him I was feeling under the weather. He suggested a tea with honey and I responsibly agreed, while longingly staring at my neighbour’s glass of Krug. The airline does offer a wide selection of non-alcoholic drinks, including a non-alcoholic champagne, “So Jennie,” to cater to Muslim passengers, but also a lovely option if you want the bubbly minus the booze factor.
The layout of business class was 2-2-2. There wasn’t tons of privacy between myself and my seat mate, aside from a very low sliding divider. But there was serious legroom! What was particularly beneficial was the extremely comfy seat, which (yippee!) converted into a lay flat bed. The chair itself made me feel like a kid with all of the buttons, some of which turned the chair into a massager. Plus it adjusted into a variety of positions, making it comfortable for lounging watching a movie or sitting up during a meal, but still being able to have a foot rest.
Another detail that was appreciated is their flexibility with food service. They allow you to order whatever you want, whenever you desire during your flight. Feel like a snack and wine with your movie? Done. Want breakfast instead of dinner? Done. As it was an evening flight, a few hours into the flight I opted for dinner and was impressed with the options. The menu was extensive and there were options from celebrity chefs too — such as a leek soup from Nobu and chili prawns from Vineet. Not to mention Ladurée for dessert. For this meal, I ate light, starting with a light soup, and for my entree, a southwestern style salad topped with chicken. I refrained from enjoying a glass of wine, but there was an impressive list, with many of the wines exclusive to the airline. For airplane food, I can honestly say it was not bad at all.
Entertainment-wise it was pretty much impossible to be bored. There was a huge roster of movies, from new releases to Hollywood classics. Best yet? They give you Bose noise-cancelling headphones to use during the flight. Better than my basic in-ear headphones, I even left them on while I read later on, as it really cancelled out all of the ambient noise around me.
You’ll also find some extra goodies hidden in the pouch in front of you that you cannot ignore! The first is a plush mattress pad that I suggest laying out before you get settled (vs. when you’re half asleep anyways and your stuff is everywhere). There’s also a blanket, pillow, set of pjs and a Giorgio Armani amenity kit complete with perfume, hand lotion, lip balm, as well as a eye mask, socks, a foldable comb and ear plugs.
I changed into the pjs right before I was ready to sleep and was happy I did. They were super soft and made it much easier to get shut eye. Surprisingly I managed to get about 6 hours of sleep — the most I’ve ever slept on a plane. Likely thanks to the lay flat bed. I woke up about 1 hour before landing, which was just enough time to squeeze in breakfast. For this meal I went traditional American with scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, potatoes and mushrooms. The sausage was a little dry for my taste, but otherwise a decent morning meal (despite the fact it was approaching dinner in Doha).
As you would expect the first class treatment doesn’t end at the flight. Going through customs is so much easier and faster, as you go through their exclusive lounge at the Hamad International Airport. When we arrived there was no customs lineup, and once we presented our passports, we put our bags through a scanner (they are strict here about what you can bring in). And that was it. It was said and done in 5 minutes flat.
Obviously the return flight was essentially the same (other than I watched different movies and ate different food), but the biggest difference was experiencing the Qatar Airways lounge in Doha prior to the flight. The business class lounge here is like no other. Rivaling the experience of a five-star hotel, the design in itself is stunning (Insta pic!), with plenty of seating in all areas — from pod-like chairs to working tables — the 100,000 square foot space gives you room to breathe even when it’s busy. Highlights of the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge include:
- Luggage storage: Perfect if you have a long layover and want to do a little shopping without having to drag your luggage around
- Multiple restaurants: You’ll find more than one location to enjoy their buffet dining and there’s even the option to order a la carte. The food is good and there are plenty of drinks available as well (yes, Krug can be found at the bar)
- Shower room: There’s a very clean and convenient area to freshen up and they’ve included luxury amenities and linens
- Complimentary Wi-Fi: As you could expect
- Working pods: Business travellers can keep working on one of these private stations that also include private display screens
- Private family areas: There are cozy spots to relax in privacy if you’re travelling with a family and they include a TV too
- Game Room and Nursery: Another bonus for those travelling with little ones, there are places they can play and also nap
Outside of the business lounge, you’ll find some seriously good high-end shopping with brands like Hermès, Burberry, Godiva, Chanel, Harrods and Tiffany & Co. But really that’s pretty much the only reason you’d want to leave the lounge, unless of course you wanted to take a swim or get a spa treatment.
The airport also happens to have a hotel, which connects to their Vitality Wellbeing & Fitness Centre. For a small fee (130 QAR, or about $28 CDN), you get access to their facilities which includes a 82 ft indoor pool, fully equipped fitness facility and hydrotherapy tubs. You can even book yourself in for a massage or play a round of squash (both for an extra charge).
Whether Doha is only a stop in-transit or your final destination, travelling on Qatar Airways is doing it in style.