Qatar Airways’ Astoundingly Good Shorthaul Business Class

Filed Under: Qatar, Travel

Earlier I shared my experience flying from New York to Doha in Qatar Airways’ Qsuites, which I consider to be the world’s best business class. After that flight I connected from Doha to Yerevan, Armenia, and surprisingly that flight left me just as impressed. Not only does Qatar Airways have the world’s best longhaul business class, but they have by far the world’s best short-haul business class.

As far as I’m concerned there’s not an airline in the world that offers this sort of an experience on a narrowbody short-haul flight in a non-premium market.

What made this 1,100 mile, 2.5 hour flight so special?

The A320 had fully flat beds in business class (note that not all of Qatar’s narrowbody aircraft have flat beds yet).

At my seat upon boarding was a thick, lovely blanket, and a nice pillow, along with an amenity kit and bottle of water.

There was wifi.

There were pre-departure beverages of choice, plus the option of a hot or cold towel.

There were a dozen wines to choose from, including both white and rose champagne (in both cases, Lanson).

There was a dine on demand menu, with the option of having a five course meal, including soup, an appetizer, a main course, a cheese plate, and dessert.

Not only that, but the presentation was unbeatable, as everything was served directly onto the tray table, no carts were used, everyone got a personal breadbasket, etc. Unlike other airlines, they plate the dishes in the galley, rather than putting those casserole dishes in the oven and then serving them to you directly.

There was a massive selection of other drinks, including freshly made cappuccinos, karak chais, etc.

Service was incredibly attentive, as you’d expect when you have two flight attendants taking care of a 12 seat cabin (which is rarely actually full).

Seriously, Qatar Airways’ short-haul service is so good that there’s not even any competition. I can’t think of a single airline that even begins to get close. Not Etihad (they don’t have flat beds on their narrowbodies and their soft product isn’t as good). Not Emirates (their soft product isn’t good). Not Singapore Airlines (for many reasons). Not European airlines (they have atrocious short-haul products).

Qatar Airways impresses me more and more every time I fly with them. I’m starting to think they may be the world’s best airline all around. Add in the fact that they consistently have excellent business class fares and that you can accrue oneworld miles by flying them, and I’m one happy camper when I’m on their planes.

Anyone else as impressed by Qatar Airways as I am? Can anyone think of another airline that has a short-haul business class product as good as this?

  1. Agreed. I did the DOH – AUH shorthaul on a Qatar 787 with reverse-herringbone lie-flats and it was amazing. They rolled out a full meal on a flight less than an hour long and extremely attentive. In terms of service, it easily beat out the longhaul I just got off from Germany on their A350, which was quite a surprise.

  2. Hey Lucky, does that mean you don’t have Blue and Yellow pom poms for Lufthansa? Now Red and White Qatar!! Haha 😉

  3. EVA TPE-SGN is regularly scheduled with the 77W. Royal Laurel reverse herringbone seats, 4 course meal IIRC, but the best was the standard stocking of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2006, plus the great whiskeys that EVA is known for.

  4. Flew this A320 product MLE-DOH with similar exemplary experiences with seat, dining and service.

  5. Used to fly the BGD-DOH trip a lot and was always quite impressed with their service. No lay-flat seats, but for a 2 hour flight, and usually the only one in business class I was quite pleased.

  6. “I’m starting to think they may be the world’s best airline all around.”

    Presumably you just mean for premium classes. Or do you have sufficient expertise in economy? That is, after all, how the vast majority of people fly.

  7. Lucky,
    I believe this was a revenue flight for you but if it happened to be on miles I’m looking at a trip late this year on Qatar using AA miles and have been wondering if there is any way to go beyond Lebanon or Jordan to connect to IST on the same 70,000mi AA award. Does Yerevan count as a 3rd region from M.E.? Or is it possible IST counts as an M.E. country for purposes of award ticketing?

  8. Could not agree with you more Lucky! I’m in ATL and I catch ATL-DOH-Africa/SE Asia a lot and rarely do I consider another airline bc they just don’t have the service/product that QR has. I know the 777 from ATL is old school biz but I don’t mind. I’m happy to be a customer and can’t wait to see the 350 in March!! 🙂

  9. @AJ, between the very competitive prices and the 350 coming in here, I couldn’t agree more.

  10. Lucky you say Qatar Airways shorthaul product is the best and there is no competition while still probably not as good Virgin Australia and Qantas consistently have A330’s with vantage xl seats (qantas) and reverse herringbone seats (virgin) on a variety of Australian domestic routes both those airlines even fly their a330s between Sydney and Melbourne (1 and a half hour flight).And both generally have pretty good food and amenities and service is usually very good.

  11. Excellent product, it seems. How many A320s in this configuration do they have and where do they fly them to?

    What is good that if this leg is part of a longer journey, you have a more consistent product for your whole trip rather than an ultra luxury suite for part and then a marginally reclining seat for the rest.

    Having said that, have the issues related to air space restrictions for QR flights been fully resolved? There was a while where flights were becoming significantly longer due to the air space restrictions.

  12. I feel like I am in heaven with every flight I take on Qatar. I do India- Doha-mIA ft 3 times a year
    My upcoming flight was the cheapest price of all the airlines

  13. Since they only have a few A320 frames with the flat beds, I can’t agree entirely especially when they’re using their non-flat bed frames (and even some without PTVs in Y) on flights to NBO/DAR/DME which can be 5+hours. I like EK slightly more because I know I’m getting at least an angled lie flat with ICE even if their soft product isn’t as great. Just one persons opinion.

  14. Agreed QR is the best there is. Just book CMB-DOH-PHL r/t for $1,306 in Biz. PHL doesn’t get Qsuites on their A350 yet but the service is still tops in the business.

  15. Air Canada flies domestic Canadian like Calgary to Toronto , Vancouver Toronto or Montreal with reverse herringbone 77w and 787 and 330 many times a day. Great service perhaps not as good on offering for soft product as Quatar but hard product definitely better.

  16. I agree 100%. Flew them MCT-DOH on an A320 with just recliner seats in J and it was the best short-haul flight I’ve ever had. Arab coffee and dates plus pre-departure drinks, excellent meal, champagnr, warm and gracious service. Putting aside the great hard product on the A350 DOH-JFK, this flight beat that.

  17. I flew EBL-DOH in biz a year ago, and it’s still my favorite flight experience, even though the seat was a recliner. The service and food were that outstanding.

  18. @RF
    Highly doubt that they would be able run a similar operation in the US and charge reasonable prices without blatant human rights violations like in Qatar.

  19. Not that Gulf Air competes on any other category, but they have fully lie flat beds on their narrow body A320 family aircraft. I just flew it a week or so back.

    Very spacious, super open cabin, and comfortable experience for a short-haul. Soft-product was a bit lacking. Food was average, the FA was nice, but gave me this “i’m really scared i’m going to be fired and really need this job so i’ll be nice to you but i’m super nervous vibe” that I often see on ME airlines.

    The airline is also an operational disaster when it comes to weather issues (e.g., when they had fog issues in Bahrain around New years and cancelled nearly every flight but were still affected a week and a half later with aircraft availability issues….)

  20. @Lucky

    Sorry mate. They are just not the best airline around. As someone who has to frequently fly in economy, Qatar sucks. In economy, the two just important requirements are seat pitch and recline. Of all airlines, I’d say Air India, Turkish and Srilankan are the best for economy class flyers. The worst are the European and North American airlines. The ME3 are mediocre.

  21. Lucky, just to correct, some Etihad A320s do have flatbed seats just like the Qatar’s. Still, the latter looks way fancier on soft product.

  22. I had around 30 QR flights on A320, A350, A380, B777 and B787 last year. Mostly J and 2 times F. Not once a disapointing one. Always a friendly service.

    Etihad, Emirates, SQ or the others mentioned do not service from my home country so no experience from those. More than happy with QR. Several times on the old B777 (no Qsuite) and
    I actually like the seating . Also the A320 J is nice with such a small number of seats.

    HEL-DOH-CAN or HEL-DOH-MNL or HEL-DOH-KTM my routes QR

  23. Yes, its totally true. Even if a lot of QR short-haul aircraft only are equipped with (comfortable) recliner seats, every single trip from DOH to DXB or DWC with Qatar was a class of its own. Being used to the poor Lufthansa intra European business-product, connecting through DOH was like a fairy tale and they were improving every time. A delicious warm meal service (Qatar serves excellent fish-dishes) on a 40 minutes flight, Al Safwa Lounge, dedicated busses to get to the plane on the tarmac and this special attitude of the crew are my personal favorites. Thats true 5 Star service. I hope, they will be back on Dubai routes soon…

  24. Not saying it is fully comparable as it was more of a 5-6 hour flight (ICN-BKK) but Korean Air had fully flat beds and it was very nice. Midhaul business class with full service, most of what I have got on flights like that were recliners.

  25. I did DOH-BOM on October 2017 in the 777 2-2-2 business just after an MIA-DOH in the A350 herringbone. Although the seats were different (but still very comfortable), the service was excellent. Flight attendants were, for lack of a better term, attentive… plus kind, welcoming and friendly.

  26. Yes, and this product is out for quite a while. I flew in C with a brand new refurbished A320 in 04/16 to MLE.

  27. Delta Charlie: Are you serious with your comment? “Air India, Turkish and Srilankan are the best for economy class flyers. The worst are the European and North American airlines. The ME3 are mediocre.”

    I’ve flown long haul economy many times from Australia to Europe or USA. Etihad, Qatar, Virgin Australia, Qantas, Malaysia are all fantastic in Y. Air India? What a joke. The smell alone and the food is enough to put you off travelling for life.

  28. Has anyone (including you Lucky) flown LAX-DOH in Qatar business? I understand its the old 2-2-2 layout, but is it still good service? Is there an onboard bar? Or would it be more worth it to fly to JFK or IAD and get QSuites?

  29. @Lisa T

    Completely serious. None that you mentioned have anywhere near the space as seats on the three airline in my comment. On top of that, I have to disagree with you regarding food. Economy food is disgusting (actually airline food in general in any class is) so why even bother eating. However, if you must the food taste in Turkish and AI are just better. The only thing that matters in Y is seat pitch.

  30. My wife and I fly a mix of Etihad and Qatar business class in and out of Islamabad to Europe and the U.S. It’s gotten to the point where we feel like we’re slumming it when we fly Etihad, like we did last week. Qatar is amazing. Etihad does have a better hard product on some aircraft though, notably the A330s and 777s, since they all offer direct aisle access in biz (although the QSuites will definitely surpass Etihad’s seats). Doha’s airport is also much better than Abu Dhabi’s (although the new terminal is looking nice from a distance), and the QR lounge is fantastic. I have a flight coming up on the QR A350 and another on a QR 777 with QSuites next month. I can’t wait.

  31. @DeltaCharlie and @LisaT

    Gotta agree with DeltaCharlie in that the ME3 do offee a mediocre Y experience. The problem with the ME3 is not so much about the hard/soft priducts, but more to do with their clientele in Y. Was flying with QR in Y last December when the paxes seated right directly in the row ahead of me started to take liberty and treat the space underneath their seats (yepp, that was my legroom) as their personal thrash bins and dumped EVERYTHING (including half eaten ice creams) in there! Upon landing at LAX, almost everyone in Y got up and start jostling to collect their cabin bags from the overhead storage bins while the aircraft is still in motion! I very much pity the QR FAs working the Y cabin that day. It must have been VERY exhausting! Not sure about Air India and/or SriLankan, but JAL and Singapore both offer (relatively) spacious seats on their planes.

  32. Lucky,
    If this A320 has that Outsatanding Business Class, i will not hesitate to board them and will not think twice.
    As usual, this is such a great review Lucky.


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