Qatar Airways operates twice daily flights from New York’s JFK airport to the airline’s hub in Doha Qatar. The flights depart approximately 12 hours apart from one another. The first leaving at 9:45am and the second leaving at 9:05pm. Currently, the airlines operates the new Airbus A350-900 on the morning route and the somewhat dated Boeing 777-300ER for the evening flight. It’s worth noting that the 777 frequency will begin to feature Qatar’s new Qsuite product in the near future. For now however, the A350 frequency is the better of the two options.
Our flight was scheduled to depart at 9:05am sharp. One thing you can bet on with Qatar Airways is timeliness. With that in mind I made sure to arrive at the airport early to check-in to my flight. I didn’t want to risk missing the flight since I wanted to explore Doha during my long layover.
For this review I’m going to focus more on the Qatar Airways soft product offered on the flight from New York to Doha. I’ll include a brief review of the aircraft and seat 7A, but you’ll find more in-depth review of the A350-900’s hard product on my Doha to New York review here.
Qatar Airways Business Class Check-In At New York JFK Airport
I took the subway from Manhattan to the AirTrain station. Once at the AirTrain station I had to purchase an AirTrain ticket to take the train to the airport terminals. You can’t reload MetroCards at the AirTrain stations so make sure to purchase your AirTrain pass upon arrival at JFK if you plan on using the AirTrain to return. This will save you the $1 fare card fee associated with purchasing a new fare card.
One on the AirTrain I made my way to the front of the forward car to admire the approaching views of JFK airport. The train is driverless so the entire front car is a huge window.
After a few minutes of riding the AirTrain past the various terminals I finally arrived at JFK’s Terminal 7. Currently Terminal 7 is where Qatar Airways and other OneWorld International carriers depart.
After exiting the train terminal I crossed the street and found myself curb-side at JFK’s Terminal 7.
Once inside you couldn’t miss the Qatar Airways check-in area. As I was flying business class I was able to use the Priority Check-In lane which bypassed the long and chaotic economy check-in line.
After just a few seconds the check-in agent verified my documents and handed me my boarding pass. I then proceeded through the general security lines and into the terminal.
As I arrived about an hour before my flight I stopped in the British Airways Galleries Lounge in Terminal 7. Qatar Airways Business Class passengers and OneWorld elites have access to the lounge. The lounge was plenty nice, however I wouldn’t arrive at the airport extra early to hang out in the lounge.
Boarding The Qatar Airways A350 In New York JFK Airport
When I arrived at the gate I got my first view of the Qatar Airways A350 which would take me back to Doha.
As you can see from the sign in the bottom left corner of the above photo the Department of Homeland Security was filming our boarding process. Apparently our flight was a test flight for a new eye scan security check. This made the entire boarding process extremely chaotic.
For starters, Gate 3 only offered passengers a single jet bridge. This meant there was no separate line for economy and business class passengers. When I arrived at the gate area the gate agent allowed me to jump to the front of the line, but that only helped me clear the boarding door quickly. Once on the jet bridge I found myself behind hundreds of passengers trying to board the aircraft.
Just after making the left turn above passengers were met with a secondary screening security table. Anyone with a large purse or backpack had to have their bags checked before boarding the aircraft. After making yet another turn I finally was able to see the aircraft.
After several minutes I finally reached the L2 boarding door on the Airbus A350 which is the location of the business class bar and dome.
For the flight back to Doha I chose seat 7A which is the bulkhead row just aft of the boarding door.
Qatar Airways Airbus A350-900 Business Class Seat 7A
I didn’t love seat 9K when I flew on the Airbus A350 for Doha to New York. The seat itself was plenty comfortable, but I found the amount of light coming from the Oryx One screen of the seat in front of me a bit annoying. The Oryx One screens on the Airbus A350 are extremely large and bright. If passengers don’t turn the brightness on their screen down the light ends up flooding the cabin.
Since I had this issue on the flight from Doha to New York I decided at the last minute to switch my seat to seat 7A on this flight. I switched because the seat is a bulkhead seat in the rear section of business class. I also assumed that the seat would feel a little more private than other business class seats on the A350.
One thing that surprised me about seat 7A was just how different it was from seat 9K. For starters, since the seat is a bulkhead seat, you have extra storage compartments on the front wall of the seat.
Seat 7A Storage
Since the front of the seat is a wall rather than a seat-back there are extra storage compartments on the front wall of the seat.
The upper storage compartment is large enough to fit a tablet and a pair of headphones, but not much else.
The lower cabinet is much larger, but passengers are not allowed to use this storage compartment as it is reserved for “crew use only.” It appeared seats 7E/F had these same compartments, but were allowed to use them.
One thing I didn’t expect from this seat is that the “added” storage would come at a cost. The cost was that the compartment next to the seat is sealed and can’t be used.
Luckily however, the armrest storage is still operable and came with a fresh water bottle and Oryx headphones.
Otherwise seat 7A is identical to other business class seats found in Qatar Airways’ A350 business class cabin.
Qatar Airways A350 Business Class Pre-Departure Services
After taking my seat the cabin crew came around and introduced themselves. Funny enough the cabin crew was the exact same crew which brought me from Doha to New York the day before. There are 36 business class seats on the A350 and each cabin crew member is assigned to 8 guests. Our flight attendant, Damir, was responsible for rows the A/E seats of rows 6 through 9. As he stopped by to introduce himself he asked if I’d like a pre-departure beverage and either a hot or cold towel. After a minute or two Damir returned with a hot towel and glass of Lanson Brut Rose.
Damir then returned with a Bric’s Amenity Kit and the business class in-flight beverage and dining menus.
As we pushed back from the gate Damir stopped by one last time to drop of my in-flight pajamas and retrieve any used service items. I specifically requested a medium set of pajamas and finally received a set.
At the time pajamas were provided by The White Company, but it appears Qatar has since switched to a generic brand of pajamas.
Departing New York’s JFK Airport In The Qatar Airways Airbus A350
One of the coolest features of the Qatar Airways Airbus A350 are the exterior cameras. Passengers can select between a tail camera, a forward facing camera, and a straight down view of the ground.
I oped to watch the tail camera for much of our taxi to the runway, but found the nose gear camera particularly entertaining during pushback.
After the tug disconnected from the aircraft I decided to watch the tail camera as we taxied to the runway and for takeoff.
After an incredibly smooth takeoff roll we were in the air. One of the things I loved about a daytime takeoff in the A350 is being able to finally see the beautiful signature curved winglets of the aircraft.
After a few minutes I then changed the camera to the downward facing angle to watch as we passed over the various suburban neighborhoods of New York.
Qatar Airways A350 Business Class In-Flight Service
As this flight was part of my insane Qatar Airways milage run, it was actually my third straight flight on Qatar airways in as many days. I was particularly excited about this flight because I assumed it was going to be my first daytime flight on Qatar. The flight departed New York at about 9:45am and I assumed we’d have at least a few hours of daylight before it got dark outside. Sadly that wasn’t exactly the case.
About 40 minutes after takeoff the cabin crew closed all of the business class window shades. The cabin crew then dimmed the lights to a relaxing deep pink color. Some passengers immediately opted to recline their seats and go to sleep. At that point I was quite hungry and decided to place my breakfast order.
Qatar Airways A350 Business Class Dining Menu
As you can see from the below pictures of the menu, the cabin lights were very pink.
Qatar Airways business class features a “dine on demand” meal service concept. That means passengers can order any food items on the menu at any time throughout the flight. The menu is setup to guide passengers through meal services, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to stick to any sort of structure when flying in Qatar Airways business class.
The next page of the dining menu presents a list of non-alcoholic beverages guests can order at anytime throughout the flight.
In addition to the dining and non-alcoholic menu, Qatar Airways business class also features a separate champagne, wine, and liquor menu.
Qatar Airways A350 Business Class Wine Menu
The wine list offers essentially one of most type of wines you’d want to drink. Bottles averaged between $40 and $20 each. Overall the wine list was quite impressive for business class. Keep in mind most domestic carriers (American) only offer sparkling wine, white, red.
Since the flight left at 9:45am I wasn’t quite ready to drink wine with my breakfast. Instead I ordered an Orangeade off the in-flight dining beverage menu.
Qatar Airways A350 Business Class Breakfast Meal Service
About an hour after takeoff Damir took my food order. At that time I ordered an Orangeade which I requested before the meal service. He returned with an orangeade and a bowl of warm nuts.
After polishing off the warm nuts and the orangeade, Damir returned to set my tray table for breakfast. Since the flight left in the morning I decided to order breakfast early into the flight and would have dinner later on. When I ordered breakfast Damir also allowed me to request my dinner options which he would reserve to make sure I got my first choices.
For breakfast I ordered the strawberry and banana smoothie, fresh breakfast breads, and the blueberry pancakes. To begin the meal Damir brought out the smoothie and breads, but also dropped off an amuse bouche. The amuse bouche consisted of a deconstructed mozzarella crostini which was great, but didn’t necessarily fit the breakfast theme.
A few minutes later Damir returned with my blueberry pancakes.
The pancakes were smothered in a honey syrup and surrounded by fresh blueberries. I was quite happy with my choice of breakfast.
Qatar Airways A350 Business Class Dinner Meal Service
Immediately after breakfast the cabin crew completely dimmed the interior lights of the cabin. At this point it was about 1:30PM EST and nearly everyone seemed to be asleep. With a stomach full of breakfast I followed suit. I slept for about 4 hours in total, but then decided to get a cup of coffee so I could get some work done.
A few hours later Damir asked if I wanted anything and I explained that I would like a meal about 4 hours prior to landing. I figured this would help alleviate the final meal service which normally takes place about two hours before landing.
Sure enough, like clockwork, Damir returned with about 4 hours remaining with a fresh tablecloth to begin my dinner meal service.
For my meal I ordered a salad as an appetizer which was to be followed by a pasta dish. The salad was fine, but I definitely didn’t love this option.
Shortly after finishing the salad Damir returned with a warm plate of cheese filled pasta. Typically pasta dishes on airplanes are smothered in sauce and therefore soggy. This pasta was more in line with what you’d expect from a restaurant. After finishing the pasta my final dish, dessert, arrived.
Dessert was a chocolate torte and was absolutely delicious. Inside the hardened chocolate casing was another layer of rich chocolate mouse. I wish I would have ordered a second one as it ended up being my favorite dessert I’ve ever had on an airplane.
Qatar Airways A350 Business Class In-Flight Entertainment
As I mentioned earlier, this flight was supposed to be a daytime flight for me. That meant that I fully planned on staying awake for the entire 13 hour trip. Since I knew this portion of the trip was coming I decided to save a few movies within the Oryx One system to watch.
Things started off fine with the in-flight entertainment, but about halfway through the flight my touchscreen started to freak out. The movie kept jumping around in time and closing out. I’d use the handset to correct the issue only for the issue to repeat itself 10 minutes later. Finally, I did a hard restart of the system which took about 15 minutes, but solved the issue for a few hours. The issue returned about an hour before landing. In the end I was able to watch the movies I wanted to, but there were several distractions along the way which was fine.
During the hard restart of the Oryx One system I decided to log on to the in-flight WiFi to check emails. Qatar Airways actually offers fairly reasonable in-flight WiFi rates.
All passengers receive 10MB or up to 15 minutes free whichever comes first. In my case when checking emails the 10MB lasted for about 10 minutes. The internet is painfully slow, but beats nothing if you must stay connected. You can purchase additional data once your free trial ends.
If you do plan on purchasing WiFi don’t expect to do much more than checking email. The WiFi is extremely slow and 200MB isn’t exactly a lot of data. Loading pictures or video will cause to you run out of data quickly.
Arriving In Doha
After 11 hours in the air the cabin crew began making the rounds to prepare the cabin for arrival. At this point the cabin crew changed the interior lights to a bright blue color designed to remind passengers of daylight. The cabin windows shades were also raised at this time so a ton of natural light also flooded the cabin at this point.
Once the window shades opened I received my first views of Doha during the daylight hours.
Before long we made the final turn to line up with the runway and began our final decent.
Once on the ground we parked at a remote stand and disembarked the aircraft via the moving stairs. As we left the aircraft the flight attendants offered guests Godiva chocolates which were on display atop the bar counter.
Business class passengers left the plane and entered a luxury shuttle bus which took us to the main terminal comfortably.
After a few minutes we arrived in the main terminal and made our way toward the immigration check points. Business and First class passengers have their own immigration check point. The premium cabin immigration checkpoint is more like a lounge than a customs hall. When you walk in there are canned soft drinks and snacks available to incoming passengers. You’re free to regroup in the pre customs lounge, but I was eager to get to my hotel so I didn’t waste much time in this area.
As I had a 20 hour layover I received a free transit visa from Qatar Airways and a free hotel room in the Oryx Rotanda hotel in Doha courtesy of Qatar Airways.
This was again a very pleasant flight in business class on the Qatar Airways Airbus A350-900. The only thing I didn’t love about this flight was that it felt more like an overnight flight than a daytime flight. It seemed the cabin crew wanted to stick with the Arabia Time Zone shortly after departure which was fine albeit unexpected. I was hoping to have a little more time staring out of the window and admiring the clouds and ground below during my flight. Even more surprising was how quickly it became dark after departing New York.
On this flight the Dine on Demand meal service was executed flawlessly. I’m guessing that’s partly because I ordered meals during ‘off-peak’ times, but also mostly because of how well the crew handled our flight. I felt extremely taken care of throughout my flight and thoroughly enjoyed the 13 hour journey to Doha.
I’m glad I chose the A350 frequency on this route as when I got off the aircraft I felt great. I’ve noticed with newer planes the effects of jet lag aren’t quite as bad and this A350 flight was no exception. Also I found the reserve herringbone seat on the A350 quite comfortable. I didn’t plan on sleeping during this flight, but ended up getting a few hours of shuteye before landing. This was great as it allowed me to stay awake longer in Doha and finally explore the city.