To celebrate Qatar Airways launching new daily flights out of Cardiff Airport, I was very lucky to be invited to take a whirlwind trip to Qatar’s capital, Doha.
We would experience Qatar Airways’ inflight service and then spend 48 hours seeing what Doha had to offer. I won’t lie, I was definitely imagining myself as Travel Man’s Richard Ayoade racing through the best bits in such a short amount of time. Note: I did not throw my suitcase on the bed!
So what did I think of the new Cardiff to Doha route on flight QR 0332? Read on to find out!
Long-haul flights out of Cardiff Airport
Why is this particular launch exciting though? Well, for those of us in the South West, there aren’t a lot of long-haul flight options. We’re often stuck having to travel to London and that’s just a pain! These new Qatar Airways’ flights are just one way Cardiff Airport has been working on expanding their offering so those of us in the South West can get to more places directly.
On arriving, a member of the Cardiff Airport team greeted us and informed us that we had been upgraded to Business Class – a first for me (and I was pretty excited).
The Cardiff airport business class lounge experience
Flying business class with Qatar Airways also means access to the Executive Lounges, where we could relax and have a snack (or two). The lounge was nice and quiet and the chairs comfortable, but I was expecting some more meal-like options in terms of food, like sandwiches or savoury pastries. However, the food options that were there were good and I loved the focus on Welsh products – ales, ciders, baked goods and a traditional Welsh cawl.
The cabin and service on the Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner
We made our way through Cardiff Airport to board the Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It’s huge!
Even as a short person (who never has to worry about ceilings generally), I was really impressed with the height of the cabin and even more so when I first entered Business Class.
We were each shown to our seats and greeted by name by the team. In fact, throughout the flight, I felt like I was in a fine dining restaurant – the staff were so friendly and helpful and nothing was too difficult. Even when I decided not long before landing that I really wanted something to drink.
For the most part though, we were left to relax and enjoy our flight…
The flatbed seats in Qatar Airways’ Business Class
That brings me to probably the key aspect of flying Business Class – those flatbed seats.
The ‘capsules’ are really well laid out: a shelf for your belongings; an armrest with a ‘secret’ compartment for your bottle of water and noise-cancelling headphones; another small compartment for any small items you wanted to put away; a table that when folded out holds a full meal; and charging outlets (both USB and powerpoint). We were also provided with a soft pillow with plenty of height and a soft plush blanket (not that I needed it, the cabin was quite warm).
In terms of space, it was very comfortable – even the clearly very tall gentleman across the aisle from me didn’t seem to be wanting for any extra legroom.
Once the plane was in the air, it took me a little while to work out the seat settings (I was way too embarrassed to ask how to move things around). But, in the end I spent an enjoyable amount of time working out the best combination of armrests, chair back angle and feet up. Look at those controls!
The comfort factor
Now, I bet you’re all wondering if I made the most of the flat-bed and went to sleep. The long-winded version is that I was so excited on the way to Doha to be experiencing Business Class that I only napped briefly. That was a mistake. By our return flight I had a severe sinus infection and getting decent sleep in a bed on the ground was difficult, let alone thousand of feet in the air. However, I was so comfortable and there are so many settings, I did manage to doze on and off very comfortably, which is honestly a miracle all considering!
In short though, my travelling companions who did manage to sleep said that as soon as their heads hit the pillow they were out for the count and managed a delightful slumber of around four to five hours. I like to believe that if my head wasn’t blocked up, I’d have also managed a decent visit to dreamland.
Business Class inflight entertainment on the QR 0322 to Doha
I was really excited to find that not only did we have a large screen to watch, but the entertainment we could choose from was extensive; from new and classic Hollywood movies as well as Bollywood and Arabic movies, plus a good range of games, radio and television shows. I was particularly happy to see Murder on the Orient Express on the list – I’d been meaning to watch it for so long!
So, I sat back with a glass of wine (recommended by the team) and some lovely spiced nuts to enjoy the movie.
Qatar Airways’ Business Class dining service
When I mentioned that I felt like I was in a fine dining restaurant, I wasn’t exaggerating. The dining service in Qatar Airways’ Business Class is ‘On Demand’ meaning I could ask for a dish from the menu at any time during the flight. Here are the options we had:
Now, I made the mistake of eating too many snacks in the Executive Lounge at the Airport, so I only tried two dishes – the Signature Arabic Mezze and the Chicken Kabsa (which I managed to Google before take-off). Despite all the options sounding delicious, I wanted to start my trip to Qatar with more traditional dishes and I was not disappointed.
First, the staff unfolded my table, covered it in a crisp white table cloth and proceeded to set it up with fresh bread, butter, tiny salt and pepper mills (so cute!), a candle (electric of course) and cutlery. I couldn’t believe the amount of effort that went into setting my dinner table. Anyone would think I really was just at a fine dining restaurant on the ground.
I can’t remember the last time I was offered an amuse bouche in a restaurant, let alone thousands of feet in the air; and normally if I was offered fish of any kind on a plane I would say no, but this lightly smoked salmon looked too good to turn down. It tasted fresh and clean and the accompanying grains and sweet pomegranate seeds were a nice addition.
Next up was the Signature Arabic Mezze. In all honesty, I could have eaten this for three days and still been happy. Who knew you could get lovely soft pita breads on a plane, and who knew the best tabouleh I had ever eaten would also be on a plane – it had a wonderful balance of flavours and I was really sad I couldn’t fit more in.
Finally, the main, Kabsa Chicken, was placed in front of me. The sweet caramelised onions, lightly spiced chicken and perfectly cooked rice made this dish probably one of my favourites from the whole trip.
The little things
It was the little things that really made the trip stand out for me though. From the sweet little amenity kit designed in collaboration with premium luggage designer BRICS and stuffed full of Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio goodies, to the hot towel, pre-flight beverage (I could have chosen champagne or fresh orange juice, but I went for a mint and lime drink that I would seriously love the recipe for) and the soft White Company pyjamas.
These touches really made me feel special and just added something else to an already brilliant service.
Cardiff to Doha on Qatar Airways – pin for later!
Overall, my first experience with Qatar Airways and in Business Class was unforgettable. Everything I experienced was high quality – the seat, the food, the staff, and the little extra touches really made me hope the flight would never end. If you’re after luxury in the sky, Qatar Airways Business Class is definitely the airline you should choose.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of Cardiff Airport and Qatar Airways and enjoyed myself immensely. However, everything I’ve written above is absolutely my honest opinion.