The 787 Dreamliner is a next-generation aircraft that promises larger windows, greater cabin humidity, cleaner air and lower cabin noise. It’s also the environmental leader among aircraft types, consuming 20% less fuel and producing 20% lower CO2 emissions.
The cabin on the 787 feels noticeably brighter and more spacious. The highlight of Business Class is definitely the windows, which are noticeably larger and have electronically dimmable shades, allowing you to enjoy the view from your plane window. Even though I was sitting in one of the centre seats and not a window seat, I could still see admire the view from my position. At the touch of a button you can gradually adjust the outside light across 5 settings from transparent to dark, which is a lot more sophisticated than the usual manual shades.
Business Class is configured with 22 seats in a 1-2-1 diamond-shape layout and generally feels very spacious, with a vaulted ceiling and vertical sidewalls for more shoulder and headroom. The overhead bins are 30% larger than the average industry size and full spectrum LED lighting helps you adjust to the time zone at your destination.
I flew in seat 01E, which is one of the centre seats on the front row. The best seats on this aircraft are definitely the window seats though, due to those very modern, dimmable shades. The seat is compact but ergonomic, with plenty of legroom and an ottoman for your feet. You can easily chat with the passenger sitting next to you, or you can ask for the middle divider to be raised for a bit of extra privacy.
To the left of the seat was a little storage space in the armrest containing the noise cancelling headset and bottle of water. There’s just enough space to put a bag beneath the ottoman, or you can stow your belongings in the personal storage space to the right of the seat. Above this there’s a powerpoint, along with a USB port for connecting devices like iPhones and laptops. To the right of my shoulder there was a large, flat surface where I placed my laptop, menus and mobile phone. When it’s time to dine or work, the tray table slides out from beneath the entertainment screen and there’s still enough room to get in and out of the seat.
When I was ready to sleep all I had to do was touch a button and the seat converted into a horizontal, fully flat bed measuring 80 inches long and 30 inches wide. If you call a member of cabin crew for assistance, they’ll give you an extra blanket to place beneath you, making things a bit more comfortable.
The 17-inch inflight entertainment system is definitely one of the best in the skies, with a touchscreen handset and touchscreen monitor. This enables you to pause, play, forward or rewind using either the TV or the handset. You can also do two things at once- for example play games on the handset, while watching your favourite TV show on the big screen. The handset could have been a bit more responsive though, as it seemed to be reluctant to do what I needed it to do.
Upon boarding the aircraft I was offered a non-alcoholic welcome drink and a hot or cold towel. Since the flight departed at 21:30pm, some business travellers were very keen to skip dinner, convert their seat into a fully flat bed and get straight to sleep. The lounge at London Heathrow has a gorgeous restaurant with a-la-carte waiter service, so if you’re a savvy flyer you can arrive early at the airport and have a full 3-course dinner in the lounge before boarding.
I opted to have dinner on the plane and a member of cabin crew took my order even before we took-off. To start I had a ‘palate pleaser’ of prawns in a marie-rose sauce, followed by the classic Arabic mezze, which consisted of hummus, tabbouleh and moutabel served with Arabic bread. For main I chose the braised lamb shank with dried fruit couscous, then for dessert I consumed a plate of seasonal fruits and the cheese platter. This was all washed down with the fruit cocktail (which turned out to be a glass of Bucks Fizz), followed by a glass of Tawny Port with the cheese.
After the meal service the cabin crew hand out gourmet Valhrona chocolates should you have a craving for something sweet during the night.
It’s worth noting that the menu is dine-on-demand and you can order as little or as much as you like. However the flight attendants did seem keen to get the meal service out of the way fairly quickly so people could get some rest.
Before the flight takes off, the flight attendants come around to introduce themselves personally and ask if you would like a sleepsuit. It’s a nice touch for Business Class, since most airlines reserve the pyjamas for First Class customers. Qatar Airways only operates First Class on the A380 though, so tries to provide a little bit more in the way of amenities for its Business Class customers. The sleepsuit is thin, very comfortable and seems to look good on everyone. The black Emporio Armani amenity kits are placed on the seats before you board the plane, according to what gender you are. Inside my kit I found the usual socks and earplugs, along with a nice little bottle of Armani perfume and a fully size moisturizer. Toothbrushes, toothpaste and razors are on display in the bathrooms, so you can help yourself when you need to get ready for bed or freshen up for landing.
The journey from London to Doha isn’t particularly long and by the time I’d eaten my meal I only had a few hours sleep before we landed in Doha. I woke up to the sound of the captain announcing our descent, which left me with just enough time to change back out of my sleepsuit and brush my teeth before landing in Doha. It was a comfortable journey and while Qatar Airways Business Class isn’t as ostentatious as some of the other Middle Eastern airlines, it’s certainly well thought out with some nice touches like dine on-demand and extra little amenities.