I believe Qatar Airways offers the best business class option from the Middle East to Africa. With their second best business class seats offered on their 787s, only inferior to their Q Suites, it’s tough to beat the degree of comfort. Add all the amenities and soft product, I would book them again in a heartbeat.
The Good: Great seat, above average food, and nice amenity kit.
The Bad: Over-priced wifi.
The Noteworthy: This flight was literally full in business class, yet the flight attendants were able to treat every passenger with individual attention. Something you can’t get guaranteed on a Middle Eastern carrier.
I booked this flight as part of a longer itinerary from MIA-DOH, overnighting in Doha, and leaving the next morning. I did not review the flight from MIA-DOH again, since I had been on the same flight about a year prior, and did not want to repeat the same review. For information on that flight, see here.
I had used AA miles for the trip, and the whole 22 hours in Qatar Airways business class cost me 75K miles, and about $65 in taxes and fees. I looked up award space using ba.com, and called the American Airlines call center to book the tickets.
Arrival at Doha Hamad International Airport:
I stayed a bit too long sleeping, so by the time I got to the airport, I was running late. I had grabbed breakfast at the hotel, since I knew I would be best just arriving and going straight to the gate.
At the airport, I was checked in by friendly Qatar Airways staff in the business class check-in section. Within five minutes, I had my boarding pass and was directed to the premium security queue next to the check in zone.
At the Gate:
As soon as I was past security, I checked which gate would my flight be departing from. It was in the far end of the terminal, Gate A10, so it would take me about 15-20 minutes of walking to get to the gate, so I decided to forgo the lounge, and just wait by the gate for about 20 minutes before boarding started.
Once I got to the gate, I was surprised it was already staffed, and people were having their passports checked. There was a line for premium passengers, as well as premium passenger seating inside the gate lounge. As soon as I had all my papers checked, I proceeded to wait at the gate.
Airline: Qatar Airways
Flight Number: QR1359
Cabin: Business Class
On Time: Yes
Boarding began punctually around 7:45am. They boarded business class first, followed by economy. Although I was one of the first people at the gate for the premium section, about a half dozen people pushed me aside to board earlier. People are so rude and can be condescending when they see me traveling in premium cabins. I’ve learned to just let it slide, but it sometimes gets on my nerves.
As soon as I boarded, I went and took a few quick pictures of the economy cabin. The cabin looked stunning with the burgundy and grey accents. Each seat had a pillow, a blanket and a small amenity kit. Legroom seemed to be around average, and SeatGuru reports that it is 31”. The seats have individual USB Ports, a large IFE Screen and a remote control.
Business Class Cabin:
After my little incursion into the economy cabin, about a third of the business class cabin had boarded. The cabin is designed as one large cabin in a 1x2x1 configuration. There are no overhead bins in the middle section, and no bulkheads at doors 2L&R. It really feels very spacious. At the doors, there are two small countertops, which had magazines and a flower arrangement. It wasn’t used for much during the flight, but they look very elegant.
Behind the countertops was a mini cabin of 2 middle seats. I found them to be very exposed and kinda awkward, since they are the only ones that all the economy cabin has to go through when they enter. After exploring the cabin, I proceeded back to my seat.
I had chosen seat 1A, since it was the last window seat available. The seats are wide and spacious, with tons of countertop space and a fair amount of storage compartments. I believe the seat is a modified version of the B/E Aerospace Super Diamond Seat. On the seat there was a large pillow and a blanket. The blanket was not too thick, which worked out since the cabin was kept fairly warm. In front of the seat is the high-def IFE screen, as well as the tray table, which slides out from underneath the TV screen.
Next to the seat is the IFE controller as well as the seat controls. The foot cubby is actually fairly large, and I had no issue with sleeping. I am 5’10” and size 11 shoe (US) so they pass my test. Next to the seat there is also the USB port, along side a media port.
Beneath one of the countertop tables there is a large storage bin, where I stored my phone, wallet and water bottle during the flight. Alternatively, there was another storage bin next to the seat where they had placed the water bottle originally, as well as a pair of headphones. There are also about three more storage compartments, so you will not be short of places to put your stuff in.
As I had mentioned before, Qatar Airways had a pair of headphones waiting for me. They were noise cancelling, but were not very comfortable, and not as good as Bose headphones. There was also an amenity kit. It was the same one from my last two trips with Qatar Airways. I prefer the Giorgio Armani kits over the new ones, since they had larger creams and the aftershave was actually really useful. Besides that, it came with all the standard things. They did not give out PJs on this flight, given it was a daytime flight.
Departure and Take Off
Before departure, the purser came and introduced herself, and handed me a food menu and a drinks list. She also asked what I wanted to drink and if I wanted a hot or cold tower. She came back with the cold towel and the Qatar Airways signature drink I had asked for.
About 10 minutes before our scheduled departure, the captain came on the PA and said that we would be on time departing, and expected us to arrive a few minutes early into Jo-burg. Soon after, the aircraft door was closed and we began our taxi.
Most of the aircraft I saw were Qatar Airways planes.
When we took off, we had a parallel take off with an A350 on the other side of the airport, and I got to take some awesome pictures of the plane next to the Doha skyline.
About 25 minutes after takeoff, the breakfast service began. The menu read as follows:
I chose to have Orange Juice, the smoothie and the energizer to start. As an appetizer, I ordered the turkey and beef platter. All three drinks were excellent, the platter was above average, but not very flavorful.
As a main course, I ordered the frittata, which was also one of the better egg dishes I have had on planes, but I am not a big breakfast person, so I was a bit underwhelmed.
The whole meal was done in about 1 hour, so about 1h30m after takeoff people were heading to sleep. Since this was a morning/daytime flight, I decided to stay awake for the remaining 5 hours. I worked a bit on the fast (but really expensive) wifi. After that, I recline the seat a bit to watch TV.
Qatar Airways’ IFE is full of options, and I had no issue finding a few TV shows or movies I wanted to watch. After 3 hours of doing that, the FA came by asking if I wanted the pre arrival meal.
Pre Arrival Snack:
I wasn’t very hungry, so i ordered the Caesar salad. The table was beautifully set with a personal breadbasket. I was one of the first to grab food, and the cabin was still dark. For some reason, the photo ended up darker than I expected it to. However, I can attest that the salad was good. Nothing wow, but good.
For dessert there was a small toffee cake and an eclair. They were the perfect size for this dessert and were very flavorful.
Landing and Arrival:
About 1 hour after I had my last meal on the plane, the captain announced we were 30 minutes out of Johannesburg. The flight attendants came by to thank the passengers for flying Qatar Airways, and to ask if we had found the flight enjoyable.
On approach I got my first glimpses of South Africa. It was going to be an exciting few days there. When we landed, I was sad to bid farewell to the great Qatar Airways crew. It would be my last flight on Qatar on this itinerary. I was, however, sure I would fly them again in the future.
Qatar Airways offers what can possibly be the best business class experience to South Africa. The airline flies lie flat seats (looking at you Emirates) on all their flights to South Africa. Qatar also offers wifi on the plane (albeit expensive), and the best in flight catering in business class (looking at you Etihad).
The flight was pleasant, crew was friendly, and food was very good. Like I mentioned before, I would not hesitate to fly them again. Top marks for Qatar Airways!
What do you think? Have you flown Qatar Airways to Johannesburg? What was your experience? Let us know!
Here is a list of all my flight reviews: The Millennial Traveler Flight Reviews
Here is a list of all my lounge reviews: The Millennial Traveler Lounge Reviews
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