An Epic Flight In “Qatar Pacific” 777 First Class

An Epic Flight In “Qatar Pacific” 777 First Class

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As I’ve written about, Qatar Airways is currently leasing some Cathay Pacific Boeing 777s (or as I like to call them, Qatar Pacific 777s). Yesterday I had the chance to fly one of these from Male (MLE) to Doha (DOH), and it was AWESOME. While I’ll have a full trip report soon, I wanted to post a little teaser.

Flying a Cathay Pacific 777 made me nostalgic

Back in the day I’d fly Cathay Pacific first class all the time, and I’d pass through Hong Kong multiple times per year. That hasn’t happened since the start of the pandemic, and for that matter I fear Hong Kong may never be the same.

Stepping onboard this plane made me so nostalgic…. I was both ridiculously excited, and kind of sad thinking about what has happened to Cathay Pacific.

For what it’s worth, these jets are being dry leased by Qatar Airways on a long term basis, as the planes have been repainted in a quasi-Qatar Airways livery. All the pilots and flight attendants are from Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways 777 (Cathay Pacific lease)

The interior looked familiar, but with some Qatar Airways touches. For example, the cabins have been reupholstered, so there’s a lot more of Qatar Airways’ signature burgundy.

Qatar Airways 777 first class seats (Cathay Pacific lease)
Qatar Airways 777 first class cabin (Cathay Pacific lease)

Most things have been rebranded to reflect Qatar Airways, from the entertainment system to the Wi-Fi. The only sign of Cathay Pacific’s logo was on the seat control monitor next to the entertainment controller… hah.

Qatar Airways 777 first class seat controls (Cathay Pacific lease)

Qatar Airways’ incredible first class soft product

Qatar Airways’ first class soft product is simply unreal. This was a roughly four hour flight departing at 9PM and arriving around 11PM. I challenge anyone to name an airline that offers a comparable soft product on a route like this.

There was full bedding, plus a Diptyque amenity kit at my seat upon boarding.

Qatar Airways first class pillows & blanket
Qatar Airways first class amenity kit

Before departure there were drinks, a warm or cold towel, and a little snack of parmesan and olives.

Qatar Airways first class pre-departure service

After takeoff there was 2004 Krug and some mixed nuts. Yep, just some casual $330+ per bottle champagne

Qatar Airways first class Krug champagne

Then there was a full, beautifully presented caviar service.

Qatar Airways first class caviar service

Then a delicious mushroom and hazelnut soup.

Qatar Airways first class soup

And a traditional Arabic mezze.

Qatar Airways first class Arabic mezze

And a seared salmon and prawn main course.

Qatar Airways first class main course

And a sticky date pudding with vanilla ice cream.

Qatar Airways first class dessert

After a leisurely meal that took about two-thirds of the flight, I was asked if I wanted turndown service and pajamas. Why yes, of course I’d like to change into pajamas for my 45 minute pre-landing nap!

Qatar Airways first class turndown service
Qatar Airways first class pajamas

Seriously, does any airline in the world offer this level of soft product on a four hour first class flight?

Oh, and on top of everything else, we had the entire cabin to ourselves. Yes, this was my best use of 40,000 American AAdvantage miles ever…

Bottom line

Qatar Airways is known for its incredible business class product, but the airline only has a very small first class footprint. At the moment Qatar Airways is leasing some 777s from Cathay Pacific, and what a treat it is to fly these upfront.

Not only did I love getting a little reminder of Hong Kong, but Qatar Airways’ first class soft product is also in a league of its own for a flight of this length. If you have the chance to fly to between Doha and the Maldives, I can’t recommend this experience enough (and there’s plenty of award availability).

Has anyone else had the pleasure of flying one of these leased jets in first class?

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  1. Avgeek dude Guest

    Eh, I'd rather fly Qsuite or take Emirates First Class

  2. Sean Guest

    How far out is Qatar offering First Class from DOH-MLE? I'm not seeing the avalability.

  3. Fed UP Guest

    Why yes, of course I’d like to change into pajamas for my 45 minute pre-landing nap!
    .....

    Oh brother....

  4. BookLvr Member

    WOW, WOW, and WOW. The bedding in particular has me swooning. (I'm a two pillow sleeper at home, and that blanket looks super comfortable.)

    What a very cool experience!

  5. Andy Diamond

    I also considered flying that product ZRH-DOH-MLE and return. But there was no award availablity (through BA) and the price increase compared to the excellent J product of more than 100% was too steep, just for Krug, caviar and some additional avios/TP. I appreciate their ratail price, but you can buy many bottles of Krug and cans of caviar for the difference …

  6. AcesFlyerSFO Guest

    I’m flying this route in a few weeks, but even though there is first available Qatar won’t break my married segment from lhr to mle. Any suggestions- it is an avios ticket. Don’t want to risk losing my lhr-doh in business for a shorter leg in first.

  7. Jamie Guest

    No Arabic coffee pre take off?

  8. Seattle Guy Guest

    I’ve seen the white Qatar bird land in Seattle, certainly not the most premium market I assume. Are J passengers getting upgraded or do you think they are keeping the cabin empty?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Seattle Guy -- Hmm, I don't think they've been flying that jet to Seattle, and looking at flight tracking, I don't see one of those birds having been on the SEA service in the past month. Are you maybe thinking of the Qatar 777 in oneworld livery, which is also white (and does fly to Seattle sometimes)?

  9. Stuart Guest

    I snagged Qatar F on the A380 for two legs from CDG-DOH-BKK in two weeks. 90K AA Miles. It's a sweet spot right now if you can find it. Probably the last bit of Qatar F awards to be around as we all know it's going to go away soon. I'm honestly not expecting much given it's a product that feels like it's lingering reluctantly.

    Also, the Cathay 777 is being used from ZRH to Doha last I checked, and lots of F space available.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Stuart -- Nice, that's a great award! Who knows, maybe the A380 will stick around for some time, given Qatar's aircraft shortage due to the A350 issues, and generally soured relationship with Airbus.

  10. Indopithecus Guest

    Very much the same as J in terms of food (but with a caveat). Recently flew CMB - DOH on J and the only meal served (bkfst) was poor. Although starting from CMB, the three bkfst mains were entirely Indian and meh even then. Why not a Sri Lankan option? I did complain to the chief steward but whether anything will change is a question. This is a lack of respect for Sri Lankan passengers....

    Very much the same as J in terms of food (but with a caveat). Recently flew CMB - DOH on J and the only meal served (bkfst) was poor. Although starting from CMB, the three bkfst mains were entirely Indian and meh even then. Why not a Sri Lankan option? I did complain to the chief steward but whether anything will change is a question. This is a lack of respect for Sri Lankan passengers. Contrast that to all the other meals on QR during the PHL/YYZ/CMB trip all of which were spectacular.

  11. Bruno Guest

    Surprising that this is your best use of 40K AAdvantage miles ever. There were so much better options before the devaluation!

    For that same 40K AA miles I redeemed in 2016 for example an F award DAC-BOM-AUH-DOH-DXB-LHR-BRU

    DAC-BOM in Jet Airways business
    BOM-AUH in Etihad A380 first apartments
    AUH-DOH in Etihad business (access to EY F lounge in AUH due to arrival on F flight)
    DOH-DXB in Qatar regional "first" (Access to...

    Surprising that this is your best use of 40K AAdvantage miles ever. There were so much better options before the devaluation!

    For that same 40K AA miles I redeemed in 2016 for example an F award DAC-BOM-AUH-DOH-DXB-LHR-BRU

    DAC-BOM in Jet Airways business
    BOM-AUH in Etihad A380 first apartments
    AUH-DOH in Etihad business (access to EY F lounge in AUH due to arrival on F flight)
    DOH-DXB in Qatar regional "first" (Access to QR F Al Safwa lounge, and a free bedroom there for the overnight layover)
    DXB-LHR in Qantas A380 First (Access to EK F lounge)
    LHR-BRU in BA business (Access to BA galleries F lounge due to QF arrival)

    All ME3 first lounges on one 001-AA ticket thus!
    In theory I could have added LHR-DME in BA First (still within MPM+25%), but felt this was enough already.
    Nowadays it got of course harder to get value like this, and some of the flights above don't operate anymore.

    1. Tom Guest

      Not really, I'd say Qathay is the obviously smarter joke which I would expect someone who writes for a living to go for...

  12. Lin Guest

    Somehow looks the same as Q-Suites, except dining playing without tray, Krug. Toiletries are same, last on Q-Suites used paper boxed dyptique. Different seat for those who missed Cathay setting...

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Lin -- Indeed, perhaps even more reflects how good Qatar Airways' business class product is. But yes, major differences are the alcohol, caviar, seats, and of course attentiveness of service (since we were the only passengers, and crews in business class tend to be busy).

  13. Peter Guest

    Is Al Safwa lounge access granted if arriving into Doha on a Qatar First award flight (even if via 40k SimplyMiles)?

    1. eric Guest

      I had that exact route and they did not let me in

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Peter -- You only get that on connecting flights if you're coming from Europe or Australia (A380 first class routes), If you're on the Maldives route, you only get access before departing on that segment, and not upon arrival.

    3. Adam Guest

      Since AS has reopened QR has been letting people in if they arrived in F as long as they were connecting onward in J. I know Pre covid that never happened. DXB-DOH then DOH to anywhere in the US and you get in.

      If incoming from Male but continuing on to the US does not that get you in? So the Male F isnt considered the same as the within the ME F flights?

    4. Alexf1 Member

      I've flown DXB-DOH a few times as part of a longer Business Class itinerary with a connection in DOH. That sector has always issued as a B Class boarding pass. I thought it was classified F only if you bought it as a stand alone intra-ME ticket?

  14. FlyingHippo Guest

    Qatar played games with my booking. I booked their business lite fare but at the time was OW sapphire and could select seats. They made multiple changes to itinerary and each time unassigned seats until I was OW Ruby and no longer able to select seats without paying $700 for our itinerary. Even though they changed the flights, and they were the reason our seats were unassigned, they insisted we had to pay to assign...

    Qatar played games with my booking. I booked their business lite fare but at the time was OW sapphire and could select seats. They made multiple changes to itinerary and each time unassigned seats until I was OW Ruby and no longer able to select seats without paying $700 for our itinerary. Even though they changed the flights, and they were the reason our seats were unassigned, they insisted we had to pay to assign them again.
    Then when they said I could get a full refund, was only refunded 1/4 of what we paid.
    Had to file complaint with FAA and Amex after the games they decided to play.
    We booked in December for the trip of a lifetime to the Maldives and have since cancelled the trip to be scheduled in the future.
    BEWARE Qatar games!

    1. NFSF Member

      "They made multiple changes to itinerary and each time unassigned seats until I was OW Ruby"

      Do you really think there's someone at QR who knew your status and when it expired and changed your flights around until you had to pay?

    2. FlyingHippo Guest

      No - my point wasn’t that they were specifically waiting for my OW status to downgrade, but rather that they would not offer to re-assign my seats once my status changed. Kind of felt like bait and switch.
      It felt like I was dealing with the cable company because only once I finally called to cancel did I get “If I can get you those seats back, would you not cancel your flights?”

    3. Mike Guest

      Definitely annoying and unprofessional.
      That being said - would I cancel the trip of a lifetime because I couldn’t assign seats? I definitely wouldn’t.

    4. FlyingHippo Guest

      1.) I was traveling with my spouse so it was annoying that I could possibly spend several hours seated in different sections.
      2.) My feeling was if they were operating like this, I didn’t want to provide them with my business. I’ll plan another trip and get there eventually!

  15. Deborah Guest

    So one can fly for 40K miles? One way? Int’l from USA to Europe? Can you supply a chart with regions/award miles required, etc . Thank you!

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Deborah -- 40,000 AAdvantage miles is the one-way first class cost between the Maldives and Qatar. For 62,500 miles you could fly first class from the Maldives to Doha to London or Paris, for example. You can find the American AAdvantage partner award chart here:
      https://www.aa.com/i18n/aadvantage-program/miles/redeem/award-travel/oneworld-and-other-airline-partner-award-chart.jsp

  16. Reyyan Member

    It almost looks identical as a recent J flight from Doha to Paris. From the amenity kit to the bedding, pyjamas and even the food (Same starter, soup, table setup etc.). For 40K AA miles its a good deal, but for 42.5K Avios I had a 7h flight with roughly the same service except for the caviar and champagne. Nonetheless looking forward to the review!

  17. Jamal Ayyad Guest

    I have award flight using AA miles already booked in J on Qatar from ORD to DOH to MLE in July. Is there any options to upgrade just the segment from DOH to MLE? Don’t want to risk losing the seats I already have, but would like to upgrade that segment if possible.

  18. Art Nicklaus Guest

    You’re fortunate you can afford to always fly first class! We flew this same flight in coach on one of Qatar’s older Airbus planes and it was miserable! Cramped, hot, like microwaved sardines. It didn’t help that we were just in front of an exit row and couldn’t recline our seats, but of course that didn’t stop the guy in front of me from FULLY reclining his seat for the whole flight. Doha to Seattle was much nicer in a Q-Suite!!!

    1. RichM New Member

      Pretty much the entire premise of this blog is that Ben never pays money, though. He always uses miles, so rarely needs to "afford" first class.

      Although even when he pays cash, I'm sure he can at least tax-deduct it as a business expense.

  19. Sam Guest

    Lucky- Did you book this on AA.com or did you have to call it in? Thanks!

    1. Anthony Diamond

      Empty first class cabins redeemed for 40K American miles in an era of rising fuel prices, de-globalization, aircraft delays, etc don’t seem sustainable

  20. Mike Guest

    I read the headline too quickly, thought it said "Epic fight in 777 first class", and thought to myself, "dang, I gotta hear about that". Liked the mini-report, but....

  21. AA70 Member

    Thank you for this!! However I have to say the American 321N you flew to Hawaii had quite a better setup ;)

  22. David Guest

    So the problem with QR first is that their J product is too good.
    The amenity kit, bedding, and pajamas are all identical to J.
    Your appetizer and soup are also the same as long haul J, just plated in different chinaware. The main course is different as it is assembled onboard and J mains are still pre-plated. However, this will change soon as J main course will revert to pre-pandemic standards of...

    So the problem with QR first is that their J product is too good.
    The amenity kit, bedding, and pajamas are all identical to J.
    Your appetizer and soup are also the same as long haul J, just plated in different chinaware. The main course is different as it is assembled onboard and J mains are still pre-plated. However, this will change soon as J main course will revert to pre-pandemic standards of being assembled onboard. What you experienced on this DOH-MLE flight is also about the same on DOH-SYD/BKK/ZRH/CDG/LHR. The soft product doesn't become better as the flight gets longer. I understand that on a 4 hour flight this is over the top, but on SYD/BKK/ZRH QR is essentially treating F as an upgrade class just like AA does. On LHR/CDG, F is not ever available for redemption or upgrades as that is where the Doha originating VVIPs go.

    1. Tom Guest

      This is all very true, although note that F redemptions are possible on CDG, just not LHR. I posted similar observations to this on Flyertalk the other day.

      The ironic thing is that F on these leased 777s currently being used on second tier routes is a better product than Qatar's flagship A380 F right now.

    2. Alexf1 Member

      I don't entirely agree. The Cathay seat is still an open seat (like the QR A380 F seat) with the ability to have some privacy from the aisle. The 777s also don't have the A380 bar which is a major attraction.

    3. Tom Guest

      Personal preference I suppose, the Cathay seat is significantly more private and a 6 person cabin is also better than an 8 person cabin. The bar is a very minor loss at most to me. I flew the Qatar 777 F four times in the last month and also did two A380 F sectors last week, which hammered the point home. A380 F is only really enjoyable to me if you don't get a random stranger sat across from you.

  23. RetiredATLATC Gold

    Looking forward to the full report.

    (Still just a Member ;) )

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ RetiredATLATC -- Positive update there, as the issue has been fixed. I know before you were incorrectly showing as a "New Member," and now you're correctly showing as a "Member." In terms of the "points" you've racked up, you're 92% of the way to earning Gold status.

    2. RetiredATLATC Guest

      Surely to help with my chances of an upgrade!!

  24. John T Guest

    Agree it's a great product but other than the type of champagne and the caviar it looks very similar to their business class soft product offering.

    1. JC Guest

      So are the amenity kit, bedding, and pajamas all identical to long haul J?

  25. Luis Guest

    10k AA miles per hour. Worth it!!

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The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

David Guest

So the problem with QR first is that their J product is too good. The amenity kit, bedding, and pajamas are all identical to J. Your appetizer and soup are also the same as long haul J, just plated in different chinaware. The main course is different as it is assembled onboard and J mains are still pre-plated. However, this will change soon as J main course will revert to pre-pandemic standards of being assembled onboard. What you experienced on this DOH-MLE flight is also about the same on DOH-SYD/BKK/ZRH/CDG/LHR. The soft product doesn't become better as the flight gets longer. I understand that on a 4 hour flight this is over the top, but on SYD/BKK/ZRH QR is essentially treating F as an upgrade class just like AA does. On LHR/CDG, F is not ever available for redemption or upgrades as that is where the Doha originating VVIPs go.

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Alexf1 Member

I've flown DXB-DOH a few times as part of a longer Business Class itinerary with a connection in DOH. That sector has always issued as a B Class boarding pass. I thought it was classified F only if you bought it as a stand alone intra-ME ticket?

1
Alexf1 Member

No need to get Qaty about it....

1
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