Review: Qatar Airways A350-900 Business Class

Filed Under: Airline Reviews, Qatar
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After a once in a lifetime trip, it was time for the long journey home. We managed to all travel back on the same flight using miles, with what I consider to be one of the best award chart sweet spots out there.

Redeeming Miles For Qatar Airways Business Class

Qatar Airways has my favorite business class product in the world, and there was award availability all the way from Cape Town to the US on our preferred date.

While there were several US gateways available, I decided to book us via Dallas. That’s because:

  • The Doha to Dallas route is operated by the A350-1000, which would guarantee us Qsuites, and it would also be my first flight on the -1000 version of the A350
  • There was business class award availability from Dallas to Miami (for Ford and me), and from Dallas to Tampa (for my dad)

In the end I booked the following for us, at a cost of just 75,000 AAdvantage miles plus $59.43 per person:

9/11 QR1370 Cape Town to Doha departing 12:40PM arriving 11:55PM [Business]
9/12 QR729 Doha to Dallas departing 7:50AM arriving 3:50PM [Business]
9/12 AA2206 Dallas to Miami departing 6:15PM arriving 10:00PM [Business]

The flight from Cape Town to Doha was operated by an A350-900 with Qatar’s “old” reverse herringbone business class, but the Doha to Dallas flight had Qsuites. Ford and I even managed to book a 777 from Dallas back to Miami.

This is such an incredible use of American miles, and was even bookable directly on aa.com. That’s tough to beat.

You can easily replicate a trip like this using miles earned through credit cards. For example, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® is offering a welcome bonus of 70,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $4,000 within four months. The card’s annual fee is even waived the first year. You can learn more about that card here.

See this post for details on the best credit cards for earning American miles.

Qatar Airways Business Class A350-900 Review

We arrived at Cape Town Airport at around 10:30AM for our 12:40PM flight to Doha. The check-in hall was busy, though we quickly found Qatar Airways check-in at the very left of the terminal.

Cape Town Airport check-in

There was no queue at the business class counter, so while we were helped right away. The check-in process still took a while, though. For whatever reason they seemed to have issues with my dad’s ticket, so the check-in agent stepped away for around 15 minutes before presenting us with our boarding passes.

Qatar Airways check-in Cape Town

From there we headed through security and then immigration, all of which was pretty quick. We then found ourselves in the international departures area.

Cape Town Airport international terminal

Qatar Airways uses the Bidvest Premier Lounge at Cape Town Airport. I intended to review it, though the lounge was so full that there really wasn’t any way for me to take pictures without being completely obnoxious.


Cape Town Airport international terminal lounge

The lounge was ultimately fine, but just really crowded. We only spent about 15 minutes there, because we couldn’t even get seats together. From there it was just a short walk to gate A5, where our flight to Doha was departing from.

Qatar Airways departure gate Cape Town

Qatar Airways A350 Cape Town

There was some great plane spotting from the gate area.

South African Airways A340-600

The inbound flight was slightly delayed. While our boarding pass indicated that boarding was supposed to start at 11:55AM, in reality boarding started at 12:15PM, with business class passengers being invited to board first.

Qatar Airways 1370
Cape Town (CPT) – Doha (DOH)
Wednesday, September 11
Depart: 12:40PM
Arrive: 11:55PM
Duration: 10hr15min
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900
Seat: 9E (Business Class)

Ah, Qatar Airways! You’ve gotta love when an airline has reverse herringbone seats, and those are their “old” business class seats. Qatar Airways’ A350-900 has a total of 36 business class seats, spread across nine rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. There are six rows of seats between doors one and two, so there are a total of 24 seats there.

Qatar Airways A350-900 business class

Then there’s a rear business class cabin with another three rows, for an additional 12 seats. I had selected seats 9A, 9E, and 9F for us — those are the seats in the last row on the left and in the middle.


Qatar Airways A350 business class seats

The cabin on the A350-900 feels incredibly spacious, given that the open area by the second set of doors doesn’t have any bulkheads. Instead the space feels open, and there’s even a small walk-up bar of sorts right there.

Qatar Airways business class cabin A350


Qatar Airways business class bar A350

Ford was in 9A, which is the window seat that I would have probably chosen if traveling alone.


Qatar Airways A350 business class seats

Then I was in 9E, the center seat on the left, while my dad was across from me, in 9F. There’s a partition between the center seats that can be raised, but since we were traveling together I lowered that.


Qatar Airways business class seats A350

Qatar Airways has a modified version of the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats in business class. I don’t like the modifications they’ve made compared to the “standard” seats, since they don’t have the same storage you’d usually find.

In front of the seat was the personal television, as well as the tray table, which could be folded over in half.


Qatar Airways business class seats A350


Qatar Airways business class seat tray table

To the side of the seat was a small counter with a literature pocket, water bottle holder, and reading light.


Qatar Airways business class seat storage A350

The entertainment controller was immediately below the counter.


Qatar Airways business class entertainment controls A350

Then the easy to use seat controls were to the side of that.


Qatar Airways business class seat controls A350

The outlets (including 110v and USB) were located in this area as well.


Qatar Airways business class power outlet A350

To the left side of the seat was a small compartment that could hold a bottle of water and a headphone case, or something similar.


Qatar Airways business class seat storage

The major downside of reverse herringbone seats is that they have fairly small footwells, and I do find that Qatar’s modified reverse herringbone seats have among the smaller footwells.


Qatar Airways business class seat footwell

While the window seats on Qatar’s A350s have air nozzles the middle seats don’t, given how high up the ceiling is. The A350 cabin feels so spacious because there are no overhead bins in the center section, but that’s both a blessing and a curse.

Waiting at our seats upon boarding were excellent pillows and blankets — I really love Qatar Airways’ bedding.


Qatar Airways business class pillow & blanket

There were also a pair of headphones, which weren’t exactly great.


Qatar Airways business class headphones

There was also an amenity kit from Bric’s, containing skincare products from Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio. Overall it’s a pretty well stocked amenity kit, in my opinion.


Qatar Airways business class amenity kit

Qatar Airways has incredibly personalized service in business class, and within a moment of settling in I was greeted by Hadeer, the lovely Egyptian flight attendant who would be taking care of me. She first asked if I was familiar with the seat (I was, so she didn’t have to explain all the features). She then asked if she could get me something to drink, and also asked if I preferred a hot or cold towel.

I decided to order a glass of champagne and a lime mint juice (what can I say, I was thirsty?), along with a warm towel. That was brought to me within a couple of minutes.

Qatar Airways business class pre-departure drinks

I was also presented with the menu and wine list for the flight. Hadeer reminded me that they have a full dine on demand menu, so I could have what I wanted when I wanted. She also told me she would be back shortly to take my meal order.


Qatar Airways business class menu & wine list

At 12:35PM the Mexican captain made his welcome aboard announcement, and informed us that we should be ready for departure within about 10 minutes. He said our flight time would be 9hr45min, and our cruising altitude would be 41,000 feet.

Business class on this flight was nearly full — it’s weird, because a few days before departure the seatmap was almost completely empty and it was showing “9s” across the board, but by the time the door closed, there were only three empty seats in business class.

The door closed at 12:40PM, and five minutes after that we began our taxi. I was impressed that I was offered another drink even after the door closed.

Our taxi was quick, and by 12:55PM we were cleared for takeoff. The Qatar Airways A350 has a high definition tail camera, so I watched that for takeoff, which was super cool.

Qatar Airways A350 tail camera

As we climbed out I took a lot at the Oryx One entertainment selection. Qatar Airways has an exceptional entertainment selection with seemingly endless movies and TV shows, and a very responsive system.


Qatar Airways entertainment system


Qatar Airways entertainment system


Qatar Airways entertainment system

I also had a look at the moving map for our flight.


Qatar Airways entertainment system

I was hoping to get a lot of work done on this flight, so I also connected to the inflight wifi. Unfortunately most of Qatar Airways’ A350-900s feature OnAir wifi, which is excruciatingly slow (Qatar Airways’ “super wifi” on some 777s and A350-1000s is excellent, by the way).

For their OnAir system, Qatar Airways charges based on data usage:

  • You can buy a 30MB pass for $5
  • You can buy a 100MB pass for $10
  • You can buy a 200MB pass for $20

Qatar Airways A350 wifi


Qatar Airways A350 wifi

I ended up buying a pass for 200MB, and that allowed me to stay productive for much of the flight (in fairness, given how slow the wifi was, I spent almost the entire flight editing pictures from the trip).

About five minutes after takeoff the flight attendant appeared at my seat to ask if I wanted to order anything to eat or drink. I decided to order a drink and lunch.

The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

About 10 minutes after takeoff the Filipino cabin manager, Claudine, came by everyone’s seat to say hello and welcome them onboard.

I ended up being served my first drink, along with some mixed nuts, about 30 minutes after takeoff. At the moment Qatar Airways is serving Pommery Brut Royal as their business class champagne, which is pretty good. However, between that and their current rose choice, it sure seems like they’ve been cost cutting a bit with their business class selection.

Qatar Airways business class champagne


Qatar Airways business class champagne & mixed nuts

The table was set about an hour after takeoff. Qatar Airways does a great job with their table setup, between the breadbasket, candle, proper salt and pepper grinders, and more. There was also a sundried tomato and mozzarella amuse bouche.

Qatar Airways business class lunch — amuse bouche

For the starter we all ordered the Arabic mezze, which you can’t go wrong with. It consisted of hummus, tabouleh, and muhammara, with Arabic bread


Qatar Airways business class lunch — appetizer

We all had that as our starter, though we had three different main courses.

I almost always go with whatever the Indian vegetarian option is on Qatar Airways, since in general that kind of food reheats well, so it’s a good option on a plane. I had the vegetable jalfrezi with cumin pulao and chana dal, which was excellent.


Qatar Airways business class lunch — main course

Ford had the chicken biryani with basmati rice, fried onions, and cucumber raita.


Qatar Airways business class lunch — main course

My dad also really enjoyed the braised lamb shank with jus, with roasted pumpkins, pea, and potato mash.


Qatar Airways business class lunch — main course

For dessert I had the warm malva pudding with anglaise sauce, which was delicious.


Qatar Airways business class lunch — dessert

My dad had a cheese plate.


Qatar Airways business class lunch — cheese plate

To finish off the meal I had a cappuccino, and was also offered a box of Godiva chocolates and a warm towel to go along with it.


Qatar Airways business class lunch — cappuccino & chocolate

All things considered I thought it was an excellent meal. Qatar Airways really is a step up when it comes to their business class service. By the time the meal was done we were about two hours into the flight.

At this point I decided to get up and check out the snack station between cabins. The A350 cabin sure is pretty!

Qatar Airways A350 business class cabin

At the bar they had some whole fruit, packaged snacks, and champagne set up. It’s not exactly anything to get excited about, though it is nice to be able to stretch your legs.


Qatar Airways business class bar A350

In addition to the lavatories at the front of the cabin, there were also two lavatories between the two cabins, which were always kept meticulously clean.

Qatar Airways A350 lavatory


Qatar Airways A350 lavatory amenities

I spent virtually the entire flight working, and I don’t think I put my laptop away even for a minute while seated. It was a good opportunity to edit all the pictures from this trip.

Ford reclined his seat and napped, while my dad napped sitting up, natch.

About halfway into the flight I ordered the karak chai, which you can have either with saffron or cardamom (both are excellent, in my opinion). Mmmm… Qatar Airways’ hot beverage game sure is on point.


Qatar Airways business class chai & cookies

As the sun began to set the mood lighting in the cabin got super cool.

Qatar Airways mood lighting

About 2.5 hours before landing we decided to order a pre-landing snack. Ford tried to order the soup, though they were out of it. So he ordered the mezze, but they were out of that as well. Then he ordered the chicken biryani, but they were out of that as well. What is this, Etihad?!

I’ll chalk this up to being an anomaly, because this is something I almost never have an issue with on Qatar.

For the pre-landing snack I decided to have afternoon tea, which came with finger sandwiches, pastries, scones, clotted cream, and jam.


Qatar Airways business class afternoon tea

Ford decided to just have a salad.

Qatar Airways business class snack

My dad had the hot ciabatta sandwich with chicken and cheddar. He said it was gross, which matches my experience with Qatar Airways’ sandwiches, unfortunately.


Qatar Airways business class snack

At this point we were flying just along the southern coast of Oman (past the border with Yemen). Even though this was only about 590 miles from Doha, we had another 2hr15min left inflight.

Airshow approaching Doha

That’s because of the detour we had to make because of the blockade.


Airshow approaching Doha

At around 11:20PM Doha time the captain announced we had started our descent and would be landing in about 30 minutes. During the descent, both the flight attendant taking care of us and the cabin manager came by to thank us for flying with Qatar Airways.


Airshow approaching Doha

Sure enough, we had a smooth touchdown in Doha at 11:50PM. From there we had a short five minute taxi to our arrival gate.

Qatar Airways A350 upon arrival in Doha

We had a brief overnight layover there before our connecting flight in the morning to Dallas.

Qatar Airways Business Class A350-900 Bottom Line

Even Qatar Airways’ non-Qsuites business class is excellent. I will say that I don’t love these particular reverse herringbone seats as much as some others, but all around this is still a very good product.

The amenities, food, drinks, and service, are all really good.

There are some minor things that could be better — the OnAir wifi is really slow (though Qatar is installing faster wifi on new planes), they ran out of several food options on this flight, and I do wish they had air nozzles (but that’s not really possible in the center section of the A350).

So this was a pretty good flight all around, though our connecting flight to Dallas was very different.

If you’ve flown Qatar’s A350-900 business class, what was your experience like?

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Comments
  1. Lucky, I know it’s your job and your name, but you really are lucky scoring award seats. How far in advance did you book these?

    I recently booked just Seattle to Tokyo or Osaka for May 2020. I have Alaska, AA and UR miles and had a few dates to play with 8 months in advance. I couldn’t get any JAL direct from SEA or YVR in either direction. Routing through ICN on Asiana outbound and SFO on JAL with a long layover on the return. Sigh.

  2. @Rico

    I think the key is more degree of flexibility. In your case you didn’t have the flexibility in origin, nor few dates is enough. To be fair, @Lucky can fly any day and stay as long as the visa allows. That itself is a lot of flexibility.

    In your case, did you try looking at UR to VS miles on DL out of SEA? or AS on KE roundtrip.

  3. @eskimo Yes, I checked Delta and it was 120k each way per person for Delta One and wasn’t showing up on Virgin site. I was somewhat flexible, but had to avoid Golden Week in Japan. Still happy I found something.

  4. I flew this exact flight last week and they ran out of several menu options (otherwise great flight). I wonder if all the food comes from Doha?

  5. Often QR run out of food in J class, nothing new, my worst experience was DOH-DPS with only one item left from the entire menu.

    Concerning the A350-900 some new delivery have Qsuite AND Super-Wifi (but I get one with Super-Wifi non working from SIN).

  6. Great review, Lucky!

    We flew PHL DOH JNB round trip a while back and it was a wonderful trip. Service on the A350-900 was excellent. The 777 was not quite the same wow factor, but an no 8 on scale of 10. Best use of 75K AAdvantage miles out there.

    Needless to say we look forward to another QR itinery, this timecwith Q Suites, perhaps Nepal trekking or Kerala.

  7. I loved to see that they had the 5 puttonyos Tokaji Aszu. I do not recall seeing it on other airlines’ wine list. But then again I am not a frequent business class traveller……

  8. @Lucky, how far in advance did you book this? Recently I’ve been looking for QR awards in business on aa.com, different markets (BOS-MLE, SYD-SEZ, SYD-EDI,…). All of them show availability around 1 am Eastern Time for 331 days out, all of them generate an error (“your flight is no longer available”) when trying to book online.

    Has anyone been able to book QR business awards on aa.com recently?

  9. didn’t they give you a set of pajamas and flip flops? I got them while flying Qsuites (777-300). One great thing about Qatar business is you can order food any time… and whatever items you want from menu – you can order 3 main course and they’ll serve you.

    Am flying A350-1000 from JFK in Dec, hope the service is as good as the last time I flew in June. And they better not run out of food – esp. the biryani!

    Btw, I didn’t see kadaak chai in their US menu last time. Will have to check again! Thanks for the nice review.

  10. @SBS basically don’t bother looking for award availability involving Sydney, almost never happens. I think QR restrict it to some partners too (eg Qantas for sure)

  11. A lot of good stuff QR has to offer with the business class services. Allow me to highlight couple of things which I do not like.
    1) There is no overhead storage when you are taking the middle seats. It means you will have to share luggage space with window seats’ passengers. Chances are you will have to place your luggage at overhead compartment ahead or behind where you sit. It is not too clumsy but definitely causing nuisance to those sitting in window seats.
    2) Most of my experiences with QR’s J class service have been of top notch but I did notice inconsistency, e.g. pace of meal serving, cordiality of cabin crew. Sometimes I would prefer a bit less exciting service (e.g. on CX and SQ) while there is consistency.

  12. Ben,

    My wife and I flew this exact same flight one day before you! Too bad we missed your party. This was an excellent flight, great service and decent food. I agree with you that the cabin is beautiful and spacious. In total for our trip from the U.S. to SA and back, we had 4 separate segments on Qatar, 3 on A350-900 and 1 on A350-1000. The service on each leg was extremely different, with the CPT-DOH being by far the best. The A350-1000 had the best seats with Q-Suites, but had terrible service on my aisle side. On our flight from ATL-DOH, they didn’t upload all the newest entertainment for the month to the plane and a flight attendant thought I was vlogger Sam Chui (I don’t look anything like him). It wasn’t until we got to the A350-1000 did we have a full complement of movies. I rank Qatar as the best overall business class considering hard and soft products, but I do wish the service was more consistent across the flights.

  13. I just flew this product. The seat is amazing. Best out there. And the food is wonderful. My only issue after 14 hours was the movies are terrible. Which is to be expected from a middle eastern airline to a certain extent. But REALLY terrible options. So while the screen was large and beautiful I’ve never watched so many terrible movies.

  14. How warm was the flight? I might’ve missed it, but I thought you mentioned the lack of air nozzles in the middle seats was a blessing and a curse.

  15. Just curious why you get into the ethnicity of the personnel. Does it add anything?
    “Lucky, a Caucasian blogger, took a flight in business class on Qatar Airways.”

    See how weird that is?

  16. @ John — I don’t mention the ethnicity, I mention the nationality. I do so because one of my favorite thing about the Gulf carriers is just how international they are.

  17. @John It adds exposure to diversity, I too am curious and like to notice where travelers and cabin crew are from. One of the reasons people travel, no? Doesn’t hurt to add.

  18. Can’t wait to hear about your flight to Dallas. We just back from a round trip out of PHL on the 350-900 q suites. Departing from PHL service was good (not great). On par with Cathay J but no where near an F product. Returning ex-DOH, it was awful. Almost as bad as AA.

    We actually had better service on the “regional” flights to/from Africa (ZNZ and JRO).

    Now the Al Safwa lounge…. That was a different story. Worth every penny of the $160 pp for an overnight stay. Stopped in Al Mourjan on the departure segments and it became incredibly crowded after midnight. Almost as bad as a US centurion lounge. Did Al Mourjan on the way home and there was maybe 10 people total the entire time. That coupled with the Veuve Grand La Dame, private rooms, and 4 staff per person made it probably the best F lounge out there.

  19. Flew LAX-DOH in the Q Suite, and the 350-900 herringbone DOH-CPT earlier this year.

    The LAX-DOH was not scheduled for the Q Suite, so I was a kid in a candy store when I boarded and saw the config. The Suite and service were stunning, the food was very good, but I would not say great. But at least they didn’t run out of anything.

    The 350-900 seat was good, but also not great. It doesn’t have the same privacy headwing as AA or CX, maybe others, and the lack of privacy seemed noticeable. Service was again great, though…the FA accidentally skipped my seat for pre departure drink and was horrified when she realized, apologizing even as I was disembarking in CPT.

    Haven’t flown Singapore Air or Emirates, but have almost all the others, and hard to imagine how anyone can beat the Q Suite and service level…but no doubt Singapore has its reputation for good reason.

    And the DOH lounge is pretty, architecturally great if a weird layout, but the food is really dull.

    My extra little measure of lounge quality are the shower facilities. Qatar misses the the mark entirely. Small, sterile, generic toiletries. Kudos to an attentive shower staff, but being advised that I should keep the door open while getting dressed to cool down the shower room not a very good sign. BA LHR Arrivals shower lounge by far the worst in the world. My favs CX First HKG, Qantas Brisbane Domestic terminal (yes, domestic), and AA Flagship LAX.

    Just my two (or three) cents….

  20. Always enjoy your reviews and your fabulous reviews; your vegetable jalfrezi with cumin pulao loo Iks delicious; have to agree with your thoughts on Indian cuisine on airplanes. I ahve been lucky enough to experience Silk and Singapore Business where I found the Indian cuisine a whole delcious cut above the “western” cuisine;
    thank you for your informative review of Qatari business from South Africa to Qatar

  21. @Nestor
    Many destination don’t have the option, some meal missing from the menu, it’s not SQ “book the cook”

  22. Ben – How far in advance does business space open on this sector? I have been searching for something in Jan/Feb for months to no luck on AA with this space. Any suggestions?

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