How I booked everything
American Airlines Flagship Dining Room DFW
Etihad First & Business Class Lounge LHR
Etihad A380 First Class Apartments LHR-AUH (Video)
St. Regis Abu Dhabi
Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge DOH (Video)
Qatar A380 First Class DOH-BKK
Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First Class Lounge (Video)
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class HKG-LAX
Qatar Airways has a firebrand of a CEO, His Excellency Mr. Akbar al Baker, who is known for uncompromising attention to detail and for doing great work with Qatar Airways. When Qatar announced an order of A380s everyone was curious what direction they would go with their First Class. As I spoke about in my review of Etihad’s First Class Apartment, the Middle East Three (Etihad, Emirates, Qatar) compete fiercely with one another, one-upping wherever they can. Emirates has enclosed suites with showers on their A380? Etihad introduced an even bigger suite with showers on their A380. So what would Qatar do? Even more shower? Hot tub? What would His Excellency come up with? I left the Al Safwa lounge determined to find out.
There was a special boardingarea (ha) for Business and First Class passengers located on a mezzanine level above the Economy passengers, since we were sitting on the upper level of the A380. I waited with a few other passengers and finally we were invited to board in one group. I was greeted warmly by a flight attendant and
The cabin was beautiful.
I was sitting against the window on the first row. The only other passenger in First was in the second row against the other window and slept nearly the entire time so it felt like I had the cabin to myself.
The seat was immensely comfortable, maybe even more comfortable than Cathay Pacific’s 777 seat. The finishings were tasteful and elegant without being showy. It’s almost as if Qatar didn’t want to play Emirates and Etihad’s game with their A380 First Class cabin, they wanted tastefulness without gaudiness and they nailed it. Sorry for going on and on, it was that good.
The seat had all of the controls nice and tucked away to the side.
Once we took off I had a look around the rest of the First Class area, including the restrooms, which were massive and similarly elegant to the cabin. The toilet was actually under the leather bench, giving you plenty of room to change into the provided pajamas if you pleased.
The top of the stairwell featured an awesome chandelier and cool wall display, had to get a few pics of it.
I took a look at my menu and made my dinner selection.
The dinner service began with caviar.
I’m still not quite sure how I’m supposed to eat caviar, but I’ve finally developed a taste for it and it was wonderful!
A bread basket was brought by after the caviar.
For the main course I chose a chicken dish that had some distinctly Indian flavors to it. I didn’t like it very much, but that’s probably more my taste than it was the food not being prepared well.
For dessert I went with a multi-layered chocolate mousse/tart sort of thing. It tasted incredible and the plating was excellent as well.
After dinner they brought by a sampler of chocolates as a gift for us, they were delicious (I ate them later on the trip).
After dinner I made my way over to what I consider the best-executed feature of the Qatar A380: the bar.
The bar aboard Qatar’s A380, situated behind Business Class, is amazing and was my favorite part of the flight. It’s also why I never slept on the overnight flight! The bartender was courteous, prompt, and our drinks were seldom empty. The bar has the central area above and then two long benches with seat belts on either side of the cabin so people can buckle up during turbulence without having to leave the bar. The bar was designed in such a way that you can’t help but strike up conversations with those around you and before I knew it there were about 12 people in the bar enjoying the Good Life and running through quite a bit of booze!
The decor of the bar was elegant, classy, and on theme with the rest of the premium cabins.
Now normally Qatar serves Krug champagne but on this flight they were testing out Taittinger Comtes, which I’d previously enjoyed on Qantas A380 First Class and really enjoy, almost more than Krug.
Eventually my flight attendant came back and found me to ask if I’d like some breakfast. I had fallen into conversation with two German couples and we were having a blast and going through quite a few bottles of the lovely champagne and lost track of time. I was sad to realize that the serving of breakfast meant the flight was coming to an end.
For breakfast I had a nice little omelette with two types of sausage. It was cooked well and tasted pretty much exactly how it looked.
As the sun broke through the clouds I was reminded just how hard it is to take pictures through the window of an A380 but did my best to capture the beautiful sunrise.
We had a smooth landing into Bangkok’s Sumnaskljaskjalsuerhlijhvoluihtiouwhrwfit Airport (probably misspelled). I was really bummed because I enjoyed this flight so much. I grabbed a few more pics of the cabin with better light than the night before.
The service on this flight was fantastic. My flight attendants were warm, friendly, and attentive (without being overbearing). The service felt way more like that of an Asian carrier (consistently) instead of a Middle Eastern carrier (terrigreat is the word I’ve made up to describe it). Every flight crew member I encountered was interested not only in me as a passenger but also as a person, they found out I was on vacation and asked me where else I had been, who I flew with, what I thought of Etihad’s A380, etc. It was cordial and conversational without being nosy.
A question the flight attendants asked me at the end of the flight is how their flight compared to the Etihad A380 flight from yesterday. I figured my readers might be interested in the comparison as well.
I’ve thought long and hard about it and have settled on this phrase: The Etihad flight was a loud and shouty Lamborghini with its Apartment and separate bed while Qatar was a beautiful Ferrari, elegantly tasteful yet strong and powerful in its own right. Neither was better, they were just different.
That said, if I had to choose only one to fly again, give me a ticket for Qatar Airways.