There is no better way to finish three weekends of mileage running to Copenhagen in Premium Economy and Economy than to ditch out on the last long haul in the back of the bus, cash in some Avios and American miles, and head to Doha to catch one of the longest Oneworld flights, in arguably the best business class in the system.
The Qatar Airways flight from DOH to LAX currently flies a 777-200LR, which when it comes down to it, is a big flying fuel tank with some seats put in. When you see it at the gate, you do a double take wondering if it’s really going to make it all the way. It’s shorter than the now ubiquitous 777-300s and a350s, and clearly smaller than the a380s lurking around the Hammad gates. It looks like a 787-800 that forgot its stylish wingtips. However, that -LR moniker is no joke. The “Long Range” version is currently flying the epic 18 hour haul direct from Doha to Auckland as well. Respect the product.
I had originally planned to fly back on the second half of my original bargain-basement positioning ticket that I’d started the first weekend of this back in March. However, I’d been keeping my eyes open for an alternative as it was an AA coded flight on BA metal, meaning there was no way out of seat 70J, and it wouldn’t be earning many miles anyway.
A few weeks before I was set to do the last visit to Copenhagen, I was having a look through award tickets on the British Airways website and saw one Business class seat on the Doha-LAX flight. Now, they of course wanted an insane amount of Avios for the flight since BA has a distance based award chart. The thing to know is that this meant that American could also ticket this based on their own chart, which comes off much better for this flight.
I called AA and grabbed the seat for 70k AA miles, which is plenty, but a pretty good use of miles considering that this is a roughly $5,000 flight if you were to buy it outright. A few Avios got me an economy seat down to Doha from Copenhagen, and I was good to go. Plan B has never looked better!
Airport and Lounge:
Doha Hammad Airport is truly one of the city’s greatest assets. It’s modern, large, and luxurious. Even its scale, however, doesn’t entirely do away with the ‘morning rush’ feel that happens between 7 and 9 am when all of the eastbound flights are scheduled.
Thankfully, even the lounges have large capacity and an open feel, which helps to absorb some of the crowds. Qatar operates two lounges which are accessed based on class of travel. If you’re looking for lounges access based on Oneworld status, you’ll be sent to a separate “1st” or “Business Class” lounge, which are not dearly as large or well appointed.
Since I was booked into Business Class, I had access to the Al Majoran Business Lounge, which is centrally located up an escalator by the exit of transfer security and nearby duty free. First Class passengers are directed to the Al Safwa lounge, which is separate and truly beautiful.
The Business class lounge is huge, and covers two floors and several different seating and dining areas. There are also nap spaces, and showers. The breakfast buffet is a satisfying mix of flavors, including eggs, potatoes, ful mandames, and congee. The bar serves a great cup of black tea, as well as mimosas and the like. There’s also self serve coffee and pastires. You won’t go hungry before your flight, and definitely not during it.
Cabin and Seats:
Qatar is in the process of updating their fleet to the new “Q-Suites” business class cabin. However, the LAX flight hasn’t been done yet, so the seat map is 6 across in a 2-2-2 configuration. What the seats lack in privacy, they make up for in space. The foot room between each row is ridiculous, and the seat width gives you plenty of room to sleep. When you board you’ll find a mattress pad, large comforter and pillow, and a BRICS amenity kit waiting for you.
As a side-note, I love the brand of amenities they’re currently providing, and they’re expensive to buy stateside, so keep ‘em. After boarding, they pass out the new White Company pajamas and slippers.
Food, Drink, and the extra touches:
The service starts when you board, with a choice of drink and hot or cold towel. You can order anything, but most of the cabin goes with brut or rose champagne. Both good choices. The entire menu and service is “dine on demand,” so you can design your own plan for the flight. Many of the flights to the US, including this one, depart in the morning, so there’s a full breakfast menu as well as light meals and main courses for later.
As is my rule, I started with the Arabic breakfast, which is of course ful mandames, with feta and vegetables for sides. What really needs to be said for the meal service, along with the food, is the attention to place setting. For being on an airplane, it really is over the top. Every meal, no matter hat you order starts with a warm bread basket, and a full place setting complete with ‘candle’ for ambiance. It’s restaurant quality, down to the fresh pepper grinder and Himalayan pink salt.
Breakfast was delicious and satisfying. I fully recommend it. A bit later in the flight I tried the smoked fish, which was good, but not my new favorite. I added in the soup and a salad as well to make it a complete meal. For some reason, Qatar’s soups always hit the spot.
Another classy addition to the service on these flights is the cocktail menu. I mainly stuck to the champagne and wine, but I did have the obligatory cocktail to show my appreciation.
Nearly all of the options were available throughout the full 17 hour flight. On Qatar, it’s custom to ring the call button for service, and the flight attendants are uniformly pleasant and accommodating. The only downside is it will ruin you for many other airlines.
Each seat has a large TV screen, which is touch sensitive, though you’ll need to use the remote since there’s too much space between the seat and the screen to reach forward to control it. On the current 772 planes the resolution and responsiveness is on the dated side, but it doesn’t take away much from the functionality.
The catalogue has a reasonable amount of options, including new release movies. I usually watch TV on planes, but due to their splitting the options between US/UK shows and international programming, I ran out after a weekend of going through the same selection. I switched over to movies, and it wasn’t half bad. Between sleeping, watching, and eating, I wasn’t bored.
We arrived about 10 minutes late into LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal due to a wind shift, and a rare over-water approach pattern. Our gate was ready, and using Global Entry I was through to baggage claim in a matter of minutes. Even better, Qatar was on point and delivered bags tagged for business class first. Mine was one of the first three on the belt, and had me to the curb just a few minutes later. No complaints at all.
Overall, Qatar lives up to all expectations. I’m sure their new Q-Suites are a more modern take on business class, but their standard configuration with the excellent soft product they provide makes any flight with them fantastic. I have flown in business class with them across their cabin floor plans and planes, and have never had a flight I wouldn’t happily take again.
Given that they do actually open up some inventory for Oneworld partner bookings, this makes them one of the best redemption options in the alliance, and a huge asset. I can’t wait for my next flight through Doha. Luckily, I won’t have to wait long!
As always, travel well, and enjoy the journey.
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