Review: Qatar Airways A320 Business Class (DOH-SLL)

Review: Qatar Airways A320 Business Class (DOH-SLL)

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FROM: DOH
TO: SLL
CABIN: Business
DATE: February 2022
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: Qatar Airways' short haul premium product is simply unrivaled, with a full meal service and great amenities. What really made this flight exceptional was the flight attendant, Donia.
18

For the fourth and final sector of our journey to Oman, we flew Qatar Airways’ Airbus A320 business class from Doha to Salalah. While we ended up getting Qatar Airways’ old regional business class, the supervisor on this flight was spectacular, and made this a memorable flight. On top of that, Qatar Airways’ service offering on short haul flights in the middle of the night is simply unrivaled.

How I booked our Qatar Airways business class tickets

Our time in Oman would be starting in Salalah, so I booked the following in business class for 42,500 American AAdvantage miles plus $74.60 in taxes and fees per person:

02/16 IB3252 Madrid to Milan departing departing 11:30AM arriving 1:45PM
02/16 QR128 Milan to Doha departing 3:50PM arriving 11:35PM
02/17 QR1130 Doha to Salalah departing 12:50AM arriving 4:20AM

How Qatar Airways markets regional flights

Before I get into the review, I wanted to point out an interesting thing about the way that Qatar Airways markets the forward cabin on many flights within the Middle East. No other global Gulf carrier does this, so I figured it’s worth highlighting.

Qatar Airways markets the forward cabin on many regional flights as being first class rather than business class, even though these are the same seats that would be marketed as business class on other flights. What are the implications of this?

Qatar Airways’ Al Safwa First Class Lounge

So most flights within the Middle East are marketed this way. For example, Qatar Airways’ services to Dubai, Jeddah, Muscat, etc., all have first class in place of business class. I suspect that this is a small benefit for locals, who are often subjected to higher fares than connecting passengers.

Interestingly on Salalah flights, the forward cabin is still marketed as business class. This probably comes down to how premium a particular route is, and how much demand there is.

Qatar Airways Airbus A320 business class cabin & seats

We didn’t have much time on the ground in Doha after our Boeing 787-9 flight from Milan, so let’s get right into the flight review. Our flight was departing at gate B2, with boarding starting at 12:05AM. Qatar Airways has two A320 configurations, both of which I reviewed before — there are A320s with fully flat beds, and then there are A320s with recliner seats. On this flight we ended up getting the old product.

Qatar Airways’ A320 cabin has a total of 12 seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2 configuration.

Qatar Airways A320 business class cabin

I assigned us seats 3D & 3F, the aisle and window in the last row on the right. While this product isn’t cutting edge anymore, it is very well maintained.

Qatar Airways A320 business class seat

The legroom in business class on these A320s is excellent, much better than you’ll find in domestic first class in the United States. There’s a seatback pouch that contains many amenities.

Qatar Airways A320 business class seat

The tray table extends from the side armrest, and can be folded over in half.

Qatar Airways A320 business class tray table

The seat controls were at the far side of the seat, while the entertainment controls were near the center console.

Qatar Airways A320 business class seat controls
Qatar Airways A320 business class entertainment controls

There were also power outlets, including USB and AC plugs, between the seats.

Qatar Airways A320 business class power outlets

The overhead consoles had individual air nozzles for each seat, which is a useful feature.

Qatar Airways A320 business class overhead console

Qatar Airways business class amenities

Despite this being such a short flight, there was no shortage of amenities. There was an excellent blanket and pillow at each seat.

Qatar Airways business class pillow & blanket

Then there were headphones, a menu and wine list, a bottle of water, and a protective kit.

Qatar Airways business class amenities
Qatar Airways business class headphones
Qatar Airways business class menu & wine list
Qatar Airways business class protective kit & water

Pre-departure drinks of choice were also served. I ordered a glass of the lime-mint juice, and was offered a packaged refreshing towel to go along with it (I didn’t have any alcohol, since we were renting a car in Salalah).

Qatar Airways business class pre-departure drinks

Qatar Airways business class entertainment

Each business class seat had a personal television in the center armrest. The entertainment selection was more limited than on long haul aircraft. I was so tired at this point that I just watched the map for the entire flight.

Qatar Airways A320 entertainment screen
Qatar Airways moving map

Unfortunately this particular A320 didn’t have Wi-Fi, but that was hardly a big deal on a short flight in the middle of the night.

Qatar Airways business class meal service

Our total flight time was expected to be 1hr55min, and we spent a total of 40 minutes at our cruising attitude of 35,000 feet, so what was service like? Well, pretty darn impressive. The seatbelt sign was turned off five minutes after takeoff, at which point the crew sprung into action, starting with closing the curtains between cabins. For what it’s worth, eight of the 12 business class seats were taken, while economy was packed.

Qatar Airways A320 business class cabin

The menu for this flight read as follows:

The wine list read as follows:

The beverage list read as follows:

Seriously, where else in the world do you get this kind of service on a flight that’s just over 500 miles? To start we were offered drinks. I ordered a Diet Coke with ice and lemon, and was served a ramekin of nuts and a refreshing towel to go along with it.

Qatar Airways business class drinks & nuts

Next up was the appetizer tray. I once again had the Arabic mezze, which came with pita bread, as well as another side of bread. It was excellent, as usual.

Qatar Airways business class meal — starter

For the main course I ordered the corn-fed sayedieh chicken and rice with raita, roasted almonds, and coriander. While the dish didn’t look that good, it tasted excellent. It’s understandable that dishes aren’t plated individually on these short haul flights, given how short the flights are.

Qatar Airways business class meal — main course

Ford had the lamb thareed with saffron rice and roasted pine seeds, which he enjoyed.

Qatar Airways business class meal — main course

Next up was dessert, for which I selected the orange basbousa. I had an americano to go along with it, while Ford had a cappuccino.

Qatar Airways business class meal — Americano and dessert
Qatar Airways business class meal — cappuccino

The meal service on Qatar Airways’ short haul flights is simply amazing. Not only was this flight short, but it as in the middle of the night. As a point of comparison, on American I would’ve been lucky to get a packaged bag of cookies from a brand I’ve never heard of.

Qatar Airways business class service

A good flight attendant can make or break a flight. I want to give a huge shoutout to Donia, the cabin supervisor from Tunisia, who couldn’t have been lovelier. I’ll take it a step further — she was possibly the best flight attendant I’ve had in years.

Qatar Airways flight attendants are consistently professional and friendly, but sometimes they’re not all that personable. That’s because they work very hard (given how involved Qatar Airways’ service is), and sometimes they might not have much time to stop and engage with passengers.

Donia was one of those people you couldn’t help but just love. Even though this was a short haul flight in the middle of the night, Donia was so graceful, fun, and kind. She genuinely seemed like she loved her job, and she showed interest in each passenger’s trip, and their overall experience with Qatar Airways.

Furthermore, she performed the whole service in such a way that made it look easy, when obviously it’s not. Serving this many passengers full meals, while also engaging with them, isn’t easy. On top of that, there were some complicated passengers in economy (including little kids who tried to run into business class), and she handled that in a firm yet kind way.

Donia is one of those people where even when she’s wearing a mask, you can tell she’s smiling under it. She’s a huge asset to Qatar Airways, and if I ran the airline I’d give her a promotion or put her in charge of training new hire flight attendants. I’m just sad we didn’t get her on a long haul flight, though I’d route out of my way to fly with her again.

Thanks, Donia, for being an awesome person.

Qatar Airways business class lavatory

There was a lavatory at the front of the business class cabin, which was meticulously maintained. After every use a new sheet was placed on top of the lid, and toilet paper was also kept in perfect triangles.

Qatar Airways A320 business class lavatory
Qatar Airways A320 business class toilet paper perfection

There were the same amenities as on long haul flghts, including Diptyque products, dental kits, and shaving kits.

Qatar Airways A320 business class amenities
Qatar Airways A320 business class amenities

Arrival in Salalah

The flight time of 1hr55min seemed mighty long to me for a 589-mile flight. I figured there was just quite some padding in there. We started our descent just over an hour after takeoff, which is roughly what you’d expect.

Well, as it turned out, we just had a really, really long descent, which lasted 46 minutes. I’m not sure what exactly was going on, but we descended very gradually, and then we held at 8,000 feet for a while, before descending further. We even entered a holding pattern before landing.

Map approaching Salalah
Map approaching Salalah
Map approaching Salalah

I know in general it can be busy in the Middle East in the middle of the night, but I wouldn’t have assumed that the Salalah area would be particularly busy, and for that matter there were no flights arriving or departing in Salalah around the time we were landing. I know sometimes there are just quirks, so I’m not sure why exactly we had this unusual descent. I think the fact that this was our third flight made the descent feel even longer.

View approaching Salalah

We ended up landing in Salalah at 4:20AM, and a minute later were at our arrival gate. We breezed right through immigration, and I’ll share that experience in a separate post.

Bottom line

Qatar Airways’ regional business class product is in a league of its own. Getting a full three course meal service with pre-departure drinks, an amazing beverage selection, and great bedding, isn’t something you’ll find in many parts of the world. But what really made this flight special was Donia, the exceptional flight attendant.

And to think that this is Qatar Airways’ “worst” business class product…

If you’ve flown Qatar Airways’ regional business class, what was your experience like?

Conversations (18)
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  1. Gl Guest

    How do you know which type of seating we will receive on our flight? For example we are flying Doh/MLE soon on qr670 a329-200. I’ve called countless times yet know one knows the seating configuration.

    Would our seats be the version you post or sleepers. I’m pending a upgrade and want to pay for sleepers only.

  2. Daniel Guest

    1. Why would someone eat such huge meals in the middle of the night? Oh right, because it’s included in the price.
    2. That was no holding pattern but the normal route to SLL. There is a huge military airspace which needs to be circumnavigated.

  3. Joe Guest

    Behold US and EU carriers! A 2 hour flight full of premium service and catering in Business Class. Whatever they say about Qatar, it is the great service and value for your money which you get. I have not ever till now had a bad flight with QR. Lots of bad mouthing about QR, but pax still fly them and love their Business Class product.

  4. Another Ben Guest

    You mean “Diet Pepsi?” QR serves mostly Pepsi products

  5. Victoria Guest

    I took the same flight 3 weeks ago (just arriving from FRA via DOH to SLL)....and I experienced the same amazing hospitality on board. The only difference:
    I was the only Business Class passenger on board and it was the new Business Class version with full flat seats
    I even had the same lemon mint juice, the chicken, diet coke and the orange cake (I had the delicious Arabic Mezze on my inbound...

    I took the same flight 3 weeks ago (just arriving from FRA via DOH to SLL)....and I experienced the same amazing hospitality on board. The only difference:
    I was the only Business Class passenger on board and it was the new Business Class version with full flat seats
    I even had the same lemon mint juice, the chicken, diet coke and the orange cake (I had the delicious Arabic Mezze on my inbound from FRA)
    Super nice flight attendants.
    One time performance.
    An excellent flight experience!

  6. Johann Guest

    Lucky - your trip report was not so much "more or less writing the trip report live" as you promised. You are already heading back and we have not heard anything yet about the Oman hotels... I do not blame you, but under-promise and over-deliver is probably a strategy worth considering.....

    1. SQ51 Guest

      More or less may have been the keywords, still beats having to wait a month like before.

    2. Mrs OBrien Guest

      Lucky you, we have just had a terrible journey,with Qatar,economy class,never got what we paid for,and had flights changed,without consultation,horrendous journey,that ended up,taking nearly 9 hours more ,from Sri Lanka ,to Manchester,never again

  7. Sean M. Diamond

    Salalah is a very interesting airport with a lot of military and other traffic that doesn't usually show up on commercial ADS-B based trackers due to its proximity to Yemen. There are also nearby facilities operated by/for foreign militaries that do not officially exist. The military side of Salalah airfield itself is to the south of the runways and not visible from the terminal, so it is quite possible that was why you had to hold.

  8. Martin Guest

    with no direct aisle, it is just an outdated class

    1. Leigh Gold

      On a 2 hour flight with that service?!?!?!

      Are you serious?

    2. Alexf1 Member

      I agree its the service that counts but also, very few airlines operate direct aisle seating for regional flights of a few hours. Even Singapore Airlines has now introduced the 737 Max where only a select number of seats have direct access.
      On the service front, this reminds me of the glory days of Australian domestic business class on Qantas where a full hot meal including drinks and desert was served for the 1:20...

      I agree its the service that counts but also, very few airlines operate direct aisle seating for regional flights of a few hours. Even Singapore Airlines has now introduced the 737 Max where only a select number of seats have direct access.
      On the service front, this reminds me of the glory days of Australian domestic business class on Qantas where a full hot meal including drinks and desert was served for the 1:20 sectors between Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. It can be done, and still is done where the competition demands it.

    3. Chef Wan Guest

      Yes I took similar short flight from Doha to Tehran last week.
      What u say is exactly how I feel.
      Yes Dona served me too and she just fabulous.
      The last 3 months I had flown from Honolulu via Seattle, Doha to Kuala Lumpur.
      Then its was again London to Kuala Lumpur.
      Now is Kulala Lumpur to Tehran via Doha and I am filming my TV cookshow still in Iran...

      Yes I took similar short flight from Doha to Tehran last week.
      What u say is exactly how I feel.
      Yes Dona served me too and she just fabulous.
      The last 3 months I had flown from Honolulu via Seattle, Doha to Kuala Lumpur.
      Then its was again London to Kuala Lumpur.
      Now is Kulala Lumpur to Tehran via Doha and I am filming my TV cookshow still in Iran last 3 weeks.
      Can't wait to fly home with them again.
      Since last year after I switched all my flight on Qatar Airways its been an amazing experienced.
      Long haul or short its so consistent their service.
      On air or ground.
      Already I am making plan this spring to go to Barcelona with them again from KL.
      To all their cabin crew and pilot thank you for making me feel so welcome and cared for onboard.
      Indeed they are the best.
      Chef Wan.

  9. Endre Guest

    Ben, did you read that Jumeirah Frankfurt will close next month and be replaced by a JW Marriott?

  10. Aditya Guest

    Hi Ben
    Last week I travelled BOM-DOH-LAD on Qatar. Although it was in Economy, I had an excellent experience.
    Bom-Doh was on 773
    Doh-LAD-DOH was on 788
    Doh - Bom was on a320 new biz class (as I saw flat bed seats while walking in economy)

    Food :
    (My ticketing agent wrongly booked me AVML )
    BOM-DOH seems to be not good honestly as I feel they cook the...

    Hi Ben
    Last week I travelled BOM-DOH-LAD on Qatar. Although it was in Economy, I had an excellent experience.
    Bom-Doh was on 773
    Doh-LAD-DOH was on 788
    Doh - Bom was on a320 new biz class (as I saw flat bed seats while walking in economy)

    Food :
    (My ticketing agent wrongly booked me AVML )
    BOM-DOH seems to be not good honestly as I feel they cook the food in Qatar and bring to BOM. This triggered my stomach for rest of the journey till Luanda.
    Return from luanda, as the plane sits on tarmac for 30 hours the food is cooked in Luanda. Same AVML wasnt good and the pursurer offered me another vegetarian plate of pastaa. It surely was nice one.

    Drinks
    Bom to doh and back they are serving packaged juice . The alcoholic beverage kept on the trolley. They are hidden inside it :p
    However other sector had all types of drinks. I had White sparkling wine CAVA from Spain. The flight attendant presented the bottle in front of me and explained the details of drink. (I have seen your posts and pictures in earlier reviews) Idwas impressed on this type of service in Economy and I did appreciate her.

    Service :
    Quick, perfect.
    I had bad stomach from doh to luanda and our flight attendant from India (will not name) took extra care of me with providing snacks , offering me doctor help, etc.
    On the way back we again had one flight attendant from India and she was attendimg my aisle. She refilled my glass with wine everytime she saw it empty. Offered me some more food as I had AVML on my booking.

    Fabulous service.

    Planning to fly with Qatar on my next trip to Accra.

    Cheers

  11. VT-CIE Gold

    That lovely write-up of Donia reminded me of Johan, Lucky’s wonderful butler on the Etihad Residence. Too bad that airline can no longer hold a candle to QR in any aspect!

    1. Matthew Guest

      I flew Qatar from Singapore to London on Jan 1st 2022. I am Platinum with Qantas and all I can say is Qatar is NO WAY the best airline in the World. EMIRATES AND QANTAS are way better. QATAR service was poor, the Business Class lounge in DOHA was pathetic, food disgraceful, amenities below average, I'd rather fly British Airways (and that's saying something)... I will do my absolute best never to fly this airline again. Qatar you should be ashamed.

  12. RetiredATLATC Diamond

    At the time, I had no idea my business class flights from Baghdad to Doha were actually coded as first class and therefore missed the AL Safwa Lounge about a dozen times over a 2 year period.

    Was looking over my old boarding passes the other day and noticed it. Made me quite sad .

    Luckily, my wife and I have experienced it on one occasion. Wonder if my TBS-DOH will code that way just after Christmas.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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.

Sean M. Diamond

Salalah is a very interesting airport with a lot of military and other traffic that doesn't usually show up on commercial ADS-B based trackers due to its proximity to Yemen. There are also nearby facilities operated by/for foreign militaries that do not officially exist. The military side of Salalah airfield itself is to the south of the runways and not visible from the terminal, so it is quite possible that was why you had to hold.

6
Leigh Gold

On a 2 hour flight with that service?!?!?! Are you serious?

4
Victoria Guest

I took the same flight 3 weeks ago (just arriving from FRA via DOH to SLL)....and I experienced the same amazing hospitality on board. The only difference: I was the only Business Class passenger on board and it was the new Business Class version with full flat seats I even had the same lemon mint juice, the chicken, diet coke and the orange cake (I had the delicious Arabic Mezze on my inbound from FRA) Super nice flight attendants. One time performance. An excellent flight experience!

3
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