I had to travel last minute to India to celebrate the passing of my grandfather, and Qatar Airways provided the most reasonable Business Class fare to get to Delhi. Due to circumstances at the time, I had to leave from Chicago O’Hare, and I booked my flights round-trip from ORD.
I did attempt to cultivate a ticket via Doha on the return such that I could finagle an overnight stay in DOH. Though Qatar Airways offers a free stopover program for connecting passengers, this is only available to ticketed passengers who have no other alternative but to book a long stopover in Doha. Since there are multiple flights per day between Doha and Delhi, I had intentionally chosen a routing that permitted a longer stopover in Doha, and therefore, I was not eligible. Oh well.
I was looking forward to trying out Qatar’s products, even though the Business Class that they offer between Chicago and Doha is not on one of their latest. But, I had heard very strong reviews of Qatar’s Business Class service and the mileage credit alone would be sufficient to qualify for American Airlines Gold status for the following year.
Booking was done via Qatar’s website, which was very straightforward.
HIGHLIGHTS: Incredible hospitality, comfortable seat (with empty one next to me), delicious food, good sleep, prompt and efficient service
AREAS OF OPPORTUNITY: lounge unremarkable at ORD, filthy kleenex found in the seat, older seat product than the Qsuites.
Check-In at ORD
I took the ATS to Terminal 5. I loved how there was TV signage available for people to view the airlines at the various terminals at ORD. Qatar utilizes the Air France – KLM check-in counters. It was interesting to see how the signage changed while I was waiting in the seating area for the service. You can totally see it in the photo.
The check-in experience was very pleasant. The agent was very friendly, if not outright flattering: “Mr. Anand, you look like you’re related to a well-known Bollywood star, is this true?” I fell for it. Obviously. I was even asked again as I took my documents post check-in, “are you sure, I swear you are!” Nothing like an ego boost 🙂
The security lines were fortunately not too shabby and I proceeded to the Air France lounge to do some work prior to heading to the gate. The lounge was honestly pretty unremarkable. I did notice something slightly off in the terminal – can anyone take a guess?
When the QR plane pulled up to the gate, I was astonished to discover that it was in the white OneWorld livery, registered A7-BAA. This made me so happy to see! I love special liveries 😀 This would be my fourth special livery: I have now been on a Lufthansa Star Alliance-branded A340-400, an EVA Air Hello Kitty, and a Southwest 737-700 in the classic scheme.
The flight was around 80% full for the day. Boarding was very easy and straightforward. Qatar’s Business Class cabin on the 777-300ER is arranged in a 2 x 2 x 2 configuration, and so, therefore, it is slightly “legacy” in terms of being able to provide all-aisle access, which is “all the rage” these days.
The seats already had amenity kits placed as we boarded. The seat next to me would be unoccupied for today.
After I settled into my seat and did my inspections, I noticed that there was a dirty Kleenex in the seat that had not been cleared. Not a great first impression. I informed a nearby cabin crew member and they apologized and had it removed.
Shortly thereafter, menus were distributed, which came in a leather-bound enclave. Pretty nifty!
We were provided welcome drinks that came in the form of a fizzy lime refresher, which was absolutely fantastic. We were also given the option to order a pre-departure drink in addition to the welcome drink. Wow! I decided to get a glass of champagne to commemorate the moment.
After this, the cabin crew member who would be serving me for tonight’s flight, Yuri, came by and introduced herself. She was from Japan and was absolutely delightful. I could tell that she was genuinely happy to be there tonight serving the Business Class cabin. She had this energy that was so memorable, and she not only appeared happy to be working tonight, but also was extremely outgoing and affable while staying professional. Everything felt super easy-going with Yuri, and despite the Kleenex incident, I knew that under Yuri’s care, tonight’s flight to Doha would be a really pleasant one.
As dusk settled, we taxied back and then proceeded to the runways to liftoff from my beloved Chicago.
Our routing took us directly eastward over downtown Chicago and Lake Michigan as we glided towards the Middle East. I could see the beautiful, big GE90-115B engines just outside my window and had a clear view of the City of Big Shoulders.
Qatar’s In-Flight Entertainment System, Oryx, is phenomenal. It is up there with Singapore Airlines and Emirates in terms of content, quality, comprehensiveness, and depth. As I’ve stated before, I am not much of a television and film person, as I care way more about enjoying the food, service and hard products of a flight above the in-flight entertainment, but I was very satisfied with what was offered. More than anything, I adored the moving map features. The routing we had today would take us over Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, over the Gulf of St. Lawrence, across the North Atlantic then veer south of Spain, over the Mediterranean and then into Northeastern Africa, then into the Saudi Peninsulas before making our way due north into Doha.
Qatar Airways’ meal services are entirely dine-on-demand. The flights are generally catered with enough food to be able to provide all premium class customers with their first choice, in most cases. While this is a great concept, it does add a little extra preparation time to the process so that it is customized.
First, the amuse bouche was served with a Kir Royale. It was a deconstructed sushi featuring a raw tuna slice on top of delicious cauliflower rice. It was also served with a sight of delightful cucumber tahini.
Then, as we were passing Detroit, the table was set for dinner: Qatar offered a full bread basket to each customer, which was a nice touch, if not slightly overabundant.
The first course was a cream of asparagus soup. It was very yummy, if not slightly heavy.
Following this, I ordered Arabic mezze, which had hummus, tabbouleh, pomegranate baba ganoush and warmed pita.
The next course was a fresh heirloom tomato and feta cheese salad with balsamic dressing.
For the main, I decided to do something non-traditional and had the broccoli, potato and blue cheese tart.
Then I finished with the cheese tray after all of this. My mom highly recommended it to me since she had also flown Qatar a few weeks prior. It was one of the best cheese platters I ever have had on a plane. I also had it with a cappuccino to digest.
After my feast, I went to the restroom then reclined my seat to relax a bit.
Next thing I knew, I woke up and we were already over Alexandria, Egypt. I was thrilled to be flying over this part of the world, and I was also really stoked to get some views of the Nile River.
Before long, breakfast services had commenced. The table was set, and I ordered a delicious mango, fig and oat smoothie to start. I also got a carrot, ginger and aloe vera juice.
For my appetizer, I had a fruit yogurt with toasted granola.
For the main course, I had the English breakfast, which came with scrambled eggs, chicken sausage, scalloped potatoes, baked beans and roasted tomatoes. At this point, we were crossing the Red Sea.
The rest of the flight proceeded uneventfully, but soon we were beginning our descent into Doha. We had gorgeous views of the sunset over Hamad International airport before making our touchdown into DOH. The approach reminded me a lot of my flight to Seoul on Asiana.
Arrival into DOH was very easy, and I proceeded over to the transit center to make my connection to Delhi.
Qatar Airways 777-300ER Business Class: Final Thoughts
Qatar Airways provided a very respectable product for this length of a flight. The seat was a slightly older generation, but I honestly still managed to get a lot of sleep. There was plenty of room to spread out. I thought the dinner service was fantastic: you can basically dine on demand. The food was brought out promptly, always with a smile, and always piping hot.
More than anything, I loved Yuri’s special touch to the service. Although our interactions were not super frequent, I was very impressed by her level of professionalism, and that made the entire flight simply delightful in and of itself.