I am not going to lie – this flight was the one that I was most looking forward to. Qatar First class is one of the best out there, and it serves Krug champagne which retails at £250 a bottle, so that gives a marker of how much money is put into the product.
There is no Qatar lounge at Perth, so we waited in the Qantas lounge until about an hour before departure when we headed down to the gate. Boarding had started but there was no-one in the first class section as we approached. An agent appeared and processed us really quickly. The aircraft was an Airbus A380 which has 2 full decks. The upper deck is First and Business, with a small economy cabin at the back. The lower deck is premium and economy. We were separated from those on the lower deck by a glass partition as we went up and they went down. From the moment we boarded I was like a kid in a sweet shop.
For one, there is so much space – there are only 8 First Class seats, and apart from my wife and I, only one other was taken. BA would have had 12 seats in the same floor space, I am sure!
As I was settling in to my huge seat, I was bombarded with an amenity kit, menus, pyjamas and champagne. It was presented to me at seat in the bottle and poured generously, served with olives. You can see how far the massive screen is away from me.
The amenity kit is made by BRIC and contains socks, ear plugs and eye mask, a glasses case and some moisturiser creams.
The rest of the kit, like tooth brush and mouth wash was stored in the bathroom.
And what a room! It is absolutely huge and we had it to ourselves. It made such a difference to be able to change for bed in a room where it was not necessary to become a contortionist to get your trousers off.
It was after midnight before we got down to dinner, and my wife was tucked up in bed behind, but nothing was going to stop me on this one! The table was laid with a lovely candle, which was a nice touch, but it doesn’t beat the buddy dining you can do on BA.
There was a smoked salmon amuse bouche, which I filled with the Arabic Mezze – it was fine, but not incredible. This was washed down with more Krug.
For the main course I had fish which was tasty, but not the best meal I have had in the air.
I decided to skip desert and head to the bar – after all, I had never been on a plane that has a bar! There is an extensive seating area.
And a set up including snacks, champagne, cocktails and hot drinks. There was only one other person in the bar when I was in, and it was always staffed. I had my cheese plate when I was at the bar, and had hoped to try the burgundy, but was given a business class wine instead – still tasty but a little disappointing.
By this time I had had enough to eat and drink so went back to sleep. I had to ask for my bed to be made up twice before I was able to get some shut eye. I woke up about an hour from Doha and just had coffee. My wife was brought the vegetarian breakfast without even being asked what she wanted, despite there being other choices from the main menu.
Throughout the flight, the staff were courteous and present, but there was something lacking in their ability to deviate from the plan. They found it hard to cope with the request to have cheese later, or not to eat the special meal, or to have a specific wine. They were friendly, but not in the cheeky way that an excellent BA crew can be.
I left having thoroughly enjoyed the flight, and I would definitely fly with Qatar again. I would love to be able to fly First with them again, and also to try their Q-Suites business product which I have heard is amazing. However, I think that I will have to tone down my anticipation as I think I expected too much and had built it up in my mind as this incredible experience. In actual fact, I was a bit tired and not that hungry, so probably didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have done.
Note to self – fly with Qatar in the daytime when you are hungry and don’t expect it to be mind-blowing; then you will be able to give it 10/10.