Qatar uses the 787 on its Delhi flights. The Business Class in the 787 uses one of the newer seats available on Qatar Airways. It is a great product overall.
Qatar Airways has three daily flights from Delhi to Doha, and one of them leaves in the early morning. I was planning on staying in Doha for a day to take advantage of the free Doha stopover program, so I took this flight option as my return flight from India back to the U.S.
Unfortunately, I soon learned that the free Doha stopover program does not apply towards tickets that are intentionally booked to force an extra long layover when a shorter connection itinerary is available. Because there was a 3 AM departure from Delhi to Doha that would have connected with my 8 AM return flight from Doha to Chicago, I was ineligible to receive accommodations in Doha courtesy of Qatar. I accepted this, and instead arranged for my own lodging in Doha. I did ensure that I only brought carry-on luggage with me, else I would have to part with my belongings for an extended period of time during the overnight layover.
Check-In, Lounge, and Boarding
Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) is fairly dead during the early morning hours after the bank of European departures has left. Check-in was very rudimentary and I proceeded to the Plaza Premium lounge in Terminal 2, which is pretty basic.
Boarding took place fairly soon thereafter and I proceeded to my gate. Once onboard, I got to see how the 787-8 different from the 777-300ER seat in terms of product.
For starters, it is a smaller cabin (22 seats vs. 42 on the 77W) with a 1-2-1 configuration. These are the B/E Aerospace “Super Diamond” seats arranged in a reverse-herringbone style, which is far superior to the layout in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class where you stare at your neighbor’s feet from either the aisle or the window. You have amazing privacy with these seats and can see outside of the windows.
These seats measure ~22 inches in width and 51 inches in pitch. Fully extended, they reach just beyond 77 inches. One thing worth noting is that the bin space for carry-on luggage is only located on the sides of the aircraft, as the middle section has been kept open. The armrests can be lowered and there is plenty of storage space. I really liked how the seat controls were located right where the table was (near the cabin wall) and that the remote control and outlet chargers were adjacent to them. This may be something worth considering if you’re pre-selecting your seat and want to decide Port vs. Starboard side, because it may be prudent to align it with whichever dominant hand you use.
The taxi to the runway was very slow, and we probably spent a good half hour on the ground before it was our turn for take-off. I opted not to have any pre-departure beverages on the ground as I was in and out of sleep. No amenity kits were provided for this flight as it was only about 3 hours in duration. The cabin crew introduced themselves and per usual, were absolutely delightful.
As is the case on their other flights, Qatar’s catering is dine-on-demand. Crews handed out menus and began collecting orders immediately as we were airborne. For my starter, I decided to start with the peach and a honey smoothie with oats and a fresh-squeezed watermelon juice. I love the cherry wood of the table and how the drinks reflect in them.
After this, the table was set for breakfast. There were warm, fresh croissants provided with butter and jam.
The breakfast menu on Qatar’s India flights definitely take advantage of culinary creativity and various fusions to allow the Business Class customers to mix and match different things. I really liked how the smaller portions almost felt, “tapas-style” which allow you to sample different treats. To begin, because I wanted more fiber, I decided to have the seasonal fresh fruits with a honey creme fraiche.
For a more savory snack, I then decided to try out an Indian-oriented dish, which contained a potato and vegetable skewer, a raita (yogurt) cup with pomegranate and mint in a circular pie, and roti (bread) on a smear of tomato sauce (or ketchup?). I would argue that this was probably the most adventurous dish that I chose, and while by no means bad, it probably was trying to be a bit too avante-gard, in my opinion, without offering any sort of “wow-factor.” I suppose the raita cup was unique?
As I was starting to feel a bit full, I opted to have the cured salmon with bagel as my last dish, and this one came with a bit of a twist: there was a diced fruit medley, but the fruit also contained black olives and tomatoes. Again, just a bit strange.
I would argue that in the grand scheme of things, these dishes were tasty (and healthy) but perhaps tried to overextend themselves. Maybe they were meant to just be starters and I missed out on the main courses, but I digress.
The rest of the flight proceeded uneventfully. I reclined in my chair and explored the Oryx system while catching a slight doze before it was time to land in Qatar. Our flight arrived on-time, despite the extended hold time on the ground in IGIA, and landing was smooth. However, oddly, once we were on the ground in Doha, we were placed on a hard stand and bussed to the gate. What is up with that, especially at that hour in the morning?
Final Verdict: Qatar Airways 787 Business Class
The 787-8 product on Qatar Airways is newer and slightly nicer than on the 777-300ER given that there is better privacy and a little extra comfort (there is more padding in the seats and there isn’t the need to place one of those comforters like on older generation seats). It does indeed help with the sleep factor and I would say that I was able to fall asleep more quickly on the 787 than on the 777 – this proved to be the case especially during the long return journey from Doha to Chicago, which felt like forever.
It goes without saying that the soft products of Qatar Airways are what sets it apart from competitors. The dining experience, for the most part, is absolutely marvelous, and the food and beverage selection is extensive and creative. The cabin crews are extremely hospitable and happy to be at work. The transit experience at Doha is pretty painless and the lounge is top-notch.
Overall, I would recommend Qatar Airways as a convenient and comfortable method of transport between the U.S. and the Subcontinent.