After spending several hours in the fantastic Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Class lounge in Doha I received a notification that my gate for my flight to Ho Chi Minh Vietnam was finally open. I was going back to Ho Chi Minh to end my first of two round trips from Vietnam to the US. Once in Vietnam I would wait in the airport for a few hours before catching a ride on the exact same plane back to Doha to begin my second Qatar Airways Golden Ticket trip.
Similar to my Qatar Airways A350 experience(s) this was actually my second time in business class on the Qatar Airways Airbus A330. With my first trip report on this aircraft I tried to focus on the hard product (seats and cabin) while time around I will try to focus more on the soft product (service). That’s not great news for Qatar Airways because the service on this flight wasn’t quite what I’ve come to expect from the airline.
Arriving At The Gate In Doha
Perhaps the most confusing part about trying to board the flight from Doha to Ho Chi Minh is simply trying to identify the boarding gate. That’s because Qatar Airways flight 970 doesn’t list Ho Chi Minh as the destination. Instead, QR970 actually flies to Phnom Penh Cambodia, but stops in Ho Chi Minh along the way. Once I had that sorted out I could finally go to the correct gate. My boarding pass didn’t have a gate number listed because it was printed before Qatar Airways finalized a gate assignment.
Approximately 2 hours before our scheduled departure time Qatar Airways instructed us to board the flight at gate B10 and that our gate was finally open. After leaving the lounge I went down to the main terminal and began walking to the gate.
It was a short walk to the gate which meant I didn’t get a chance to ride the elevated terminal train. Once at the gate I found a situation similar to my A350 flight to New York. When boarding in Doha you scan your boarding card away from the boarding door. Once scanned, a Qatar Airways agent directed me inside the secured boarding area. Once inside you’re unable to leave the area so make sure to use the restroom before checking in.
Qatar Airways arranges the boarding area by zone number. The airline intends for passengers to sit in the area demarcated with your zone number. Business class and elite status passengers are allowed to sit in the priority seating area located nearest to the boarding doors.
After a short wait Qatar Airways gate agents opened the boarding doors and instructed priority passengers to board the aircraft.
Qatar Airways Boarding Process
The moment the boarding doors opened nearly every passengers stood up to begin trying to board. Qatar gate agents made several announcements for other passengers to remain seated until hearing their zone called, but no one seemed to pay attention to these announcements.
I’ve mentioned before that I really like what Qatar Airways is trying to do with their boarding process. By moving the check in process away from the boarding door there are rarely any delays in boarding once the boarding door opens. Additionally, I like that Qatar seats passengers by zone number. It’s nice that the higher zones are farther away from the main boarding door. This prevents passengers in Zone 4 standing in the way of other passengers. On paper the Qatar Airways boarding process makes a great deal of sense.
The issue however is that no one seems to adhere to the rules. Most passengers simply find the first available seat and sit down in the boarding area. Then when the gate agent opens the boarding door nearly all passengers get up and walk towards the open door. For my flight to Vietnam the boarding process was a complete mess. In the end I had no problem physically boarding the aircraft, but the boarding process definitely didn’t go as well as Qatar Airways intended.
Boarding My Qatar Airways A330 Business Class Flight
After finally passing through the gate’s boarding door I walked down a short hallway to arrive at the jet bridge door (see above). Our flight featured two boarding doors. Posted signs direct business class passengers to board through the forward boarding door (L1) and economy passengers toward the aft boarding door (L2).
The Doha Airport jet bridges are glass walled and well lit which make them feel quite spacious and airy, especially when compared to completely enclosed jet bridges which often feel claustrophobic. After a short walk down the jet bridge I arrived at the L1 boarding door.
As I crossed the aircraft’s threshold a lovely Qatar Airways flight attendant inspected my boarding pass and directed me down the near aisle to my seat, 4E.
Qatar Airways A330 Business Class Cabin
The Qatar Airways A330 Business Class cabin features 30 total seats. The cabin is 5 rows of 6 seats and setup in a 2-2-2 layout. Not all seats in the A330 business class cabin have direct aisle access, so if you’re traveling alone you may want to consider sitting in the middle section of the aircraft so you can get up as you wish.
The amount of overhead bin space offered in the A330 business class cabin surprised me. There are only 30 seats and I was one of the few passengers with a full-sized carry-on. I personally believe the airline could have removed the center overhead bins, but I’m glad they didn’t.
The center overhead bins drop straight down from the ceiling of the aircraft. The center bins are quite large, but just slightly too small to fit a full-size (21″) carry on bag. Instead I had to put my large carry-on in the aisle overhead bins which were mostly unoccupied otherwise.
After putting my bags in the overhead bins I quickly took my seat as the entire boarding process was nearly complete.
Qatar Airways A330 Business Class Seat
As I mentioned, the A330 features a 2-2-2 cabin. I chose to sit in seat 4E for my 8 hour flight to Vietnam.
Once I arrived at my seat I found a plastic wrapped blanket, a pillow which was quite thick, and a sealed bottle of water in the seat’s cup holder. As I sat down I put the wrapped blanket in the footwell in front of me and the pillow to my side. One thing you’ll quickly realize about the A330’s business class seat is the complete lack of in-seat storage.
The only storage available to passengers is found in the footwell in front of the seat (which can’t be used during taxi, takeoff, or landing) or on the armrest. However the armrest is only just wide enough to hold a mobile phone.
Toward the front of the center armrest are the seat controls which you’ll use to transform the seat from a standard upright seat, to a recliner, and ultimately a lie-flat bed.
Another things you’ll notice about the A330 business class seat is how close you are to your neighbor. In between the two seats there is a movable privacy divider. When the divider is pushed back there is very little privacy, but you’re able to easily talk to your seat-mate.
However, when you close the center divider the seat becomes much more private.
I personally chose to keep my divider extended because it also helped minimize the flashing lights of my seat mates Oryx One screen.
Qatar Airways A330 Business Class In-Flight Entertainment
In front of every business class seat is a huge in flight entertainment monitor. Each monitor features Qatar Airway’s Oryx One entertainment system. Qatar Airways pre-loads the Oryx One system with dozens of movies, tv programs, music, and games. Thanks to the Oryx One system you’ll be sure to find something entertaining to watch or listen to on your flight.
While the Oryx One screen is touch sensitive, I personally found it much easier to use the in-seat remote to control the IFE.
Even better, the remote can be used to display the moving map and airshow while you’re watching something else on the Oryx One screen.
The remote pops out of the housing and doubles as a game controller for the in-flight games.
Next to the remote is a USB port to charge a mobile device and a headphone jack to plug into the IFE device. If you plan on bringing your own headphones to watch the Oryx One system make sure to bring an airplane headphone adapter. If you forget an adapter Qatar Airways supplies all business class passengers with a pair of Qatar Airways noise canceling headphones to use throughout the flight.
Qatar Airways A330 Business Class Pre-Departure Service
As we took our seats and got situated for the relatively short flight to Vietnam the flight attendants began circulating the cabin to introduce themselves. When my flight attendant stopped by my seat she asked if I wanted a pre-departure beverage and a hot or cold towel. I ordered a glass of the Lanson Rosé Brut champagne and a hot towel which both arrived shortly thereafter.
A few minutes later my flight attendant stopped by again to distribute a pair of pajamas for the flight and a business class amenity kit.
At this point of my mileage run I was on my 4th Qatar Airways business class flight of my trip. I noticed the pajamas offered on this flight were different from the pajamas supplied by The White Company on previous flights.
Also, since this was my 4th flight, I opted for the female (yellow) version of the Qatar Airways business class amenity kit. This was perfect because the woman next to me already had a yellow kit and requested a blue one so we simply traded when the kits arrived.
There were a few different products inside the amenity kits intended to make the flight more comfortable. Inside was the kit was a pair of earplugs, a Qatar Airways branded eye mask, and a pair of in-flight socks. The Bric’s amenity kit also featured a few beauty products from Monte Vibiano. Those items included a facial mist, a tube of city cream, and a small container of lip balm.
To round out the pre-departure services the flight attendant returned to my seat to retrieve the used service items and drop off a set of in-flight menus.
Qatar Airways A330 Business Class In-Flight Service
After a short taxi we pulled up from the runway and ascended toward our cruising altitude. Once we reached approximately 10,000 feet the flight attendants got up and began closing the various curtains to seal off the business class cabin. Around this time a flight attendant stopped by my seat to see if I needed anything. I quickly asked for a mocktail beverage which arrived a few moments later. When the mocktail arrived it was accompanied by a small bowl of warm nuts.
A few minutes later the flight attendant stopped by my seat again to ask if I wanted to order any food on my flight. While the Doha to Ho Chi Minh flight is technically an overnight flight, I remained on CST throughout my trip. That meant that I planned on staying awake for the entirety of the flight. Since I was staying awake I figured I might as well try some of the on board dining. I was still quite full from all of the food I ate in the Al Mourjan lounge before my flight, but I still ordered a few smaller items to sample Qatar Airways’ outstanding Dine on Demand service.
Qatar Airways A330 Business Class Dine On Demand Service
Qatar Airways business class flights feature “Dine on Demand” service which means passengers can order whatever they want on the menu at any time throughout the flight. With Dine on Demand there are no set meal times or set meal types. You’re able to order breakfast in the middle of the night or dinner early in the morning. For shorter flights the menus are more limited, but still quite extensive.
Dine on Demand Menus
Qatar Airways A330 Business Class Dine On Demand Dinner Service
After looking over the menu for a few minutes I decided to order two dishes from the A La Carte in-flight dining menu. I first ordered the Orecchiette Pasta with Ricotta Cheese. Shortly after ordering the flight attendant returned with a table cloth, napkin, salt/pepper shakers, butter, and a fresh glass of water. Then a few minutes later, the flight attendant returned with my first dish.
Of all the dishes I had during my insane Qatar Airways mileage run, this was by far the worse. The orecchiette noodles were way too soft and soggy while the ricotta cheese on top was actually cold. Overall the dish was actually fine and what you can expect from a normal business class experience. However, this meal was well below what I had come to expect from Qatar Airways business class.
After eating about half of my orecchiette dish I ordered a cheese plate.
The cheese plate was fine, but again not exceptional. I again ate about half of the dish before I simply decided to order dessert to finish off my disappointing meal service.
Dessert was a white chocolate and mango mousse cake which was unsurprisingly phenomenal! After finishing dessert the flight attendant returned to collet the meal service items. At that point I was ready for a short nap, but I requested to be awoken (if I wan’t already) for breakfast about 3 hours before we were scheduled to land.
Qatar Airways A330 Business Class Dine On Demand Breakfast Service
Before my nap I ordered my breakfast items so that the crew would not run out of my primary options while I slept. Sure enough, as requested, with exactly 3 hours left in my flight the flight attendant returned to my seat with a breakfast smoothie and a box of Godiva Chocolates.
A few minutes later the flight attendant returned with a fresh table cloth, a napkin, fresh breakfast breads, and my main breakfast course.
For my breakfast I ordered the Brioche French Toast with Caramelized Apple Wedges. While the pasta dish was my least favorite dish on Qatar Airways so far, the french toast was my favorite. The meal was perfect, but not quite as filling as I wanted. Toward the end of the meal I ordered a plate of fresh fruit and a cup of coffee.
At this point there was only about an hour and a half left until we reached Vietnam. Around this time the cabin crew turned on the cabin lights and a few passengers opened their window shades.
Before too long the flight attendant returned to collect all of the meal service items. I then got up and changed back into my own clothes (from the pajamas) to ensure I didn’t get caught up in the typical rush of passengers trying to change before landing.
Arriving In Ho Chi Minh Vietnam
Since most passengers change into pajamas during the flight I noticed it’s nearly impossible to get into the restroom once the Captain announces that we have an hour remaining. So if you do want to change back into your own clothes or use the lavatory, I recommend doing so when you have about an hour and a half left in the flight.
As we descended into Vietnam a few passengers proceeded into the lavatories even after the fasten seatbelt sign turned on. With about 10 minutes left in the flight all passengers were back in their seats and we were ready for landing.
After touching down in Ho Chi Minh we taxied toward the gate and eventually parked. Once we parked we all disembarked the aircraft and proceeded to the immigrations and customs hall. At this point we were all asked to present our boarding cards to a Vietnamese official.
After presenting our boarding card we were handed a health inspection form. The form simply asked if we had been sick in the past 10 days or if we were currently sick. As I tried to fill out the form my pen broke and I ended up having to wait until all passengers passed through the hall before I could get a working pen. It’s worth mentioning the Qatar Airways business class cabin crew has a stockpile of pens which are available upon request.
My Overall Experience In Business Class On The Qatar Airways A330
I’ll try my best to explain my entire experience on this flight. Keep in mind this was the reverse of my previous Qatar Airways A330 business class flight from Ho Chi Minh to Doha. That flight and the two flights on the Airbus A350 set the standard of what I could expect from Qatar Airways business class. Sadly, this flight didn’t live up to those expectations. However, it’s worth noting that by this point my expectations were impossibly high.
For starters, the entire cabin crew was incredibly cold throughout the flight. The crew wasn’t rude per se, but just not inviting. On other Qatar Airways business class flights I never once questioned asking the cabin crew for something. However, on this flight, I often felt as though many of my requests were simply annoyances to the cabin crew. For example, about half way through the flight I asked for a glass of water. The crew-member simply informed me that there was a fresh bottle of water behind me. While true, but I wanted a glass so that I could save the bottle for my layover. Again, the cabin crew wasn’t rude, simply not as accommodating as other Qatar Airways business class crew-members.
Also, I was totally disappointed by the A La Carte dining options. When you fly with Qatar Airways in business class you can usually expect near restaurant quality dining options. The two dishes (pasta and cheese) that I ordered from the A La Carte menu didn’t come close to restaurant quality and were simply disappointing. I will say though, that the french toast was fantastic.
Overall, my Qatar Airways A330 business class flight from Doha to Ho Chi Minh was great. The flight was smooth, the seats are comfortable, and we got to Vietnam on time and most importantly safe. However, on this particular flight, the soft product (service) was a little disappointing. I’d argue the service and food were both miles ahead of what you can expect from other airlines, but they both fell behind the standards you can come to expect when flying with Qatar Airways.