This review focuses on the second leg of a Hong Kong – Doha – Cape Town flight. Qatar Airways flies twice a day from Hong Kong to Doha, using an Airbus A330-200 seating 24 passengers in business class. There is a 2:45 transfer time at Doha to Qatar Airways' daily service to Cape Town, operated by one of its latest B787-8 Dreamliners offering full-flat 1-2-1-configured premium seats.
Qatar Airways business class passengers are invited to use the carrier's Al Mourjan Business Class flagship lounge at Doha's Hamad International Airport. The lounge is physically stunning. Qatar Airways' attention to detail really is reflected in this lounge, both in terms of how it was designed and in terms of the quality of the furniture and finishes, as well as the food and beverages on offer. There are tons of seating spread across all kinds of environments, including several bars, snack corners and a fine-dining restaurant serving individually prepared gourmet meals as well as several varieties of champagne. Despite the facility's spaciousness, it still got pretty busy during the midnight peak hour from 23:30pm-02:00am. If you are a oneworld Emerald card holder, you may also use the carrier's newly-opened Al Safwa First Class Lounge.
Business class and frequent flyer status passengers were given priority boarding through a separate airbridge. There was no line and I was seated within minutes, with two pillows and Ferragamo-branded amenity kit waiting on my seat. A member of the flight crew quickly came around, introduced herself, and hung my coat. Another attendant immediately followed with a selection of welcome drinks, including fresh lemonade and champagne, and a plush steaming hot towel. There was also a thick leather-bound menu and a selection of international newspapers at my seat.
I was in 2A, a window on the left-hand side of the B787's spacious cabin. With a herringbone 1–2–1 configuration in business class, each passenger has direct aisle access (no more clambering over people's feet here) and a significant amount of privacy. The business class seats on the sides are angled toward the large windows (the largest of its kind in the skies), while the seats in the middle are angled towards each other. Middle seats are placed a little more upfront than the side seats, so you don't look your neighbor into the eyes. That said, as a single traveller you would obviously like to get one of the single seats by the window, while as a couple, the 'honeymoon' center pairs are ideal.
The seat design offers considerable personal space (22-inch wide armchair). Armrests can be fully adjusted to different heights to complement different body positions while dining, reading, working or resting. A generous room feeling is provided by the huge shelf besides the seat, which provides space for magazines, personal items and/or laptops. You can dine and work comfortably at the same time with an elegant wood trimmed large sliding table. There is also ample storage space such as a drawer and side compartment for personal belongings under the foot rest and on both sides of the seat (where you also find a bottle of water and a set of Bose noise-cancelling headphones).
The seat also features a generous, crystal-clear 17-inch personal touch-screen TV monitor, with programs available in countless languages and featuring a more than impressive audio and video selection. At the touch of a button, the seat converts into different cradle positions before reaching a generous 80-inch long, 30-inch wide flat-bed. During night flights, duvets and pajamas are provided.
What really impressed me the most on the flight were the many food options available, although they were leaning slightly toward Middle Eastern fare. The dinner service started with an appetizing amouse bouche, followed by soup and several starters to choose from. This was followed by a choice of four entrees, including a vegetarian option. For those still hungry, there was a cheese platter service and a selection of desserts accompanied by freshly brewed coffee, latte, cappuccino, macchiato and espresso, or a listless number of teas. The crew was consistently attentive, remembered drinks choices and offered unlimited refills without prompting.
The bathrooms were kept immaculate throughout the 9:50 hour journey to Cape Town, where we landed on time after an equally impressive breakfast service.
Kudos to Qatar Airways. The Qatari national carrier sets the bar high for its competitors. With double daily flights from Hong Kong to Doha, passengers can connect quickly to its expansive global network, covering North America, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. I have now flown Qatar Airways twice from Hong Kong to Cape Town and would hardly consider another carrier on the route. Its lounge facilities in Doha, seat and onboard product are simply outstanding.
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