Review: Qatar Airways QSuites from Qatar to Brazil is 16 hours of comfort
Qatar Airways and its QSuites product have been voted the “best business class” in the world, so of course we wanted to fly it. It’s not just them tooting their own horn, either. They have several airline awards and fan votes to back up their “best business class” claims, and we felt it deserves every accolade. Let’s review Qatar QSuites on its product, service, and the associated business class lounge at the Doha airport.
Here’s the 360º tour from Qatar Airways:
Routes available for QSuites
The Qatar QSuites are the premium business class product that Qatar Airways offers, but it’s important to know that they are not available on all routes. Qatar’s site has a list of which routes have QSuites. Essentially, the QSuites product is available on their longer flights, which makes sense.
I will even add that the information isn’t totally accurate on their site, because it lists QR673 Maldives-Qatar as having QSuites, but we flew that route and had a standard 1-2-1 business class product. Even SeatGuru lists that flight as going on the Airbus 350 with QSuites, but it didn’t. Another passenger near us even complained about this mis-match with the website. When in doubt, ask Qatar via Twitter (I find that they are knowledgeable and quick) or call them.
Booking Qatar QSuites using American Airlines AAdvantage miles
Using AAdvantage miles to book flights on Qatar Airways is the best route. American Airlines has some booking rules to keep in mind when planning, but you basically need to fly in a straight path and not stop in unnecessary continents. Our path from Maldives to Qatar to Brazil met the rules, but we had difficulty booking our flights online. What we saw on British Airways (OneWorld partner used for searching) and on American didn’t match. We knew the flights were there from British but couldn’t put them in 1 itinerary on American, so we called.
Claiming “site troubles, I really did try to book this online” can help avoid the phone booking fee. Be prepared to prove that you did try. Have flight numbers and times ready to go, if you have to call. A year ago, you had to call to book Qatar awards on American, but the large majority of Qatar Airways flights are now bookable directly on American’s site.
Getting AA miles in your account
Since you’ll want a decent stack of AAdvantage miles for this booking, it’s important to know how to get AA miles. While only Marriott points can transfer to AA at 3 Marriott = 1 AA (be sure to do it in 60,000 point chunks for an extra 5,000 miles), there are several cards that earn AA miles. This includes personal and business cards from Barclays and Citi. Our booking from Maldives to Qatar to Brazil cost 90,000 AA miles per person for this 1-way booking in business class.
The cash price of this fare is nearly $3,500 US per person for the 1-way flight we took. We got an incredible 3.8 cents per point value out of this booking. That’s good value, in my opinion.
Review: Qatar QSuites business class
“Best in the world” is often hard to live up to. This didn’t disappointment. I’ll be up front in this review that this was the best business class product we’ve flown. I can see why it has so many accolades, even if we haven’t flown everything from every airline.
The QSuites product includes a 1-2-1 setup that has a unique feature for the 2 seats in the middle. The seats are in a group of 4. 2 are forward-facing and 2 are rear-facing seats. All dividers can be removed to have a meeting or share a meal as a family. It’s important to note that ONLY the rear-facing seats in this setup have the option to remove the divider between them and essentially function as a twin bed. The forward-facing seats aren’t pushed together like this, separated by the foot space of the rear-facing seats. When a nearby couple saw our layout, they were jealous and asked to move seats.
It did feel a bit strange to face backwards during take-off and landing, but that was a short part of our 16-hour flight from Doha, Qatar to São Paulo, Brazil. For a flight this long, going for a premium product can make a long trip more bearable. However, there’s still limited space for walking around. The bathroom is only so far away when you start to feel cooped up.
Each suite has a closing door with ‘do not disturb’ button, plus a lock for the door. There is a ton of storage space for anything you have with you, such as a laptop, books, etc. Note that the walls/door don’t extend to the ceiling, so anyone standing up can look over your wall.
There are lights both over your shoulder and under the TV screen for reading or looking for something in the dark. The entertainment system has a large 22-inch TV screen, touch-screen remote, charging outlets, and can even play your own media via USB.
The blanket was lush and soft. The pillow was still an airplane pillow (always ‘meh’), but it worked well in combination with the headrest when the seat was laying flat. The pajamas (includes top & bottom in dark gray) and the slippers were comfortable and warm. Slippers beat putting your shoes on to go to the bathroom mid-flight (going without shoes is out of the question!).
With the layout and the divisions of how the product is set up, each person essentially has a private overhead bin for carryon items, so it was nice to not have other people smashing your belongings during boarding/de-planing.
I will say that the attendant on my wife’s side was better than mine, and that applied to our prior flight’s non-QSuite business class, as well. I found my attendant on both flights to be efficient, but nothing more or less. My wife had attendants who were super friendly and came to check on her, whereas mine just came when I asked for something. Overall, I found the crew really good at what they do. Flight attendants quickly attend to anything you want.
Meal service is on request, rather than a set time. During ordering, they ask whether you want woken up or not if sleeping at your pre-arranged meal service time. You could also use the ‘do not disturb’ sign.
Meal service included multiple options for soups, salads, main dishes, and desserts. There was an extensive drink menu, as well. You can request anything you want at any time. You can have all or none of the courses from the menu. Service included a battery-operated imitation candle to provide an extra touch during meal service. The tray table was LARGE and easily held everything without issue.
The bathrooms in business class (our plane didn’t have a first class) were cleaned several times during the flight and never smelled bad. That was a shock. It’s a 16-hour flight, after all.
Review: Qatar’s Al Mourjan business class lounge in Doha
All passengers flying business class on Qatar Airways have access to the Al Mourjan lounge at the Doha airport. Because our departure was at 7:20am, we planned for breakfast at the lounge. The entire rest of the world thought the same thing. The lounge was packed, and people showed no semblance of manners to get a table in the upstairs restaurant when one became available.
The staff seemed overwhelmed by the amount of people. We sat at a table that still had dirty dishes on it. They only disappeared when we had finished 90% of our meal. It took 3 requests to get a drink from a server and 2 requests to get silverware.
The layout of the downstairs lounge area is quite nice and looks beautiful, but it was quite impractical. There’s no direct path from the main sitting area to the restrooms. You “can’t get there from here” to the bathrooms, which seems like one of the most important considerations.
Other things to note in the lounge
The lounge offers no wifi of its own, instead using the free airport wifi. This wifi is quite good, though, and didn’t give us any problems for simple browsing.
The lounge is announcement-free, so pay attention to your boarding time. Check the monitors for any gate changes. To keep things relaxing and quiet, they don’t use the speakers for anything but emergencies.
The lounge seems like it could be really great at a non-rush time. When we went, it was packed beyond a good level. They could’ve used a few more employees to keep things efficient and smooth in the upstairs restaurant. The food remained stocked on the buffet without issues. However, cleaning/preparing tables and filling drink orders were not done efficiently.
We could’ve paid to go to the first class lounge, which likely has fewer people. If I’m here again and run into this crowd, I’ll probably look into it.
16 hours is a long flight. I can sleep easily in economy on a flight of 8-10 hours. My wife can’t, and neither of us wanted to do 16 hours in economy. For us, this was the right time to splurge for the “best business class” product, and it was well worth it. We arrived feeling refreshed and relaxed. We both got some good sleep on the flight. There was ample time for some quality meals plus several movies.
I would give 3.5 stars for the service on my side and 4.5 stars for the service on my wife’s side. The product itself was amazing and worth every accolade. We encountered 0 problems during the flight, but I have no doubt these would be resolved quickly by the staff. The suites were spacious, had great touches, and there was comfort to the highest degree. We would fly this again. Our review: Qatar QSuites is definitely the best business class product, just as advertised.