In July of 2017 I booked two round trip flights in Qatar Airways business class from Ho Chi Minh Vietnam to the United States. The first round trip took me from Vietnam to New York and featured two longhaul flights on the incredible Qatar Airways A350-900. While I wanted to give other Qatar Airways aircraft a try, I booked the second trip so that I could get back home.
The week prior to this flight I flew twice around the world in 7 days to earn American Airlines Executive Platinum status. When I finally arrived back in Chicago I expected to change this flight, back to Vietnam, to a later date. My goal was to move the flight into 2018 to get a head start on my AAdvantage Qualifying Miles. Unfortunately when I called Qatar Airways to change the flight, the phone representative told me that I’d have to pay a several thousand dollar change fee. After all I booked these round trips for $650 each while they normally cost $4,500!
Since I couldn’t move the flight I thought about skipping it altogether. However canceling or skipping the flight would also cost me. With the fare class I purchased Qatar Airways charges cancellation or no-show fees. After weighing my options I decided the most cost-effective and fun option was to take the flight.
Arriving At Chicago O’Hare International Airport
My Qatar Airways flight departed Chicago O’Hare International Airport at 6:15PM CST. Prior to the flight I tried to check-in online, but was unable. Instead I had to make it to the Qatar Airways check-in counter one hour prior to my scheduled departure. If you follow this blog regularly, you may already know that I almost didn’t make it.
Since this flight departed on a Thursday evening I had to first work a full day of work at my day job. When it was finally time to head to the airport I decided to save money and take public transportation.
The journey always takes about an hour so I left work promptly at 4:00PM. As I left my office I checked Google Maps to see the recommended transit map. Surprisingly Google Maps directed me to the Ogilvie Transportation Center to first catch a Metra Train. After a short Metra ride I’d subsequently transfer to the CTA Blue Line.
As with most Metra Trains the train left exactly when scheduled. From there I rode the Metra to the Irving Park stop where I transferred to the Blue Line. From Irving Park there were only 6 stops left until I reached O’Hare. As we paused at each stop I began to realize that I wasn’t going to make it to the check-in counter on time.
While I’d arrive at O’Hare by 5:00PM I still needed to transfer to the Airport Terminal Train to get to Terminal 5. Sure enough I didn’t board the airport train in Terminal 3 until 5:15PM which meant I missed the check-in cutoff!
Checking Into My Qatar Airways 777 Business Class Flight
As I reached the Qatar Airways priority counter there was only one person left in line. The passenger in front of me was in a wheelchair and the Qatar Airways agents were trying to figure out how best to transport the passenger. I waited patiently in line, but as I waited I heard the check in agent comment on why she was still seeing anyone (myself) in line. She repeated several times that the “Check In Counter Was Closed” and that I missed the flight!
After waiting another 5 minutes the check-in agent summoned me to the counter. She explained that I had missed the flight and would have to wait until tomorrow. I then asked if they could put me on another OneWorld carrier or if I had any other options. That’s when she finally took my passport and began pulling up my reservation. When she saw my reservation she noticed I was in Business Class and decided to print out my boarding card for the flight. I couldn’t believe my luck! Had I missed this flight my entire weekend trip around the world would have been ruined. Thank You Qatar Airways for making an exception!
Boarding My Qatar Airways 777 Business Class Flight
Since I arrived at the airport so late the check-in agent didn’t bother giving me a lounge invitation. She mentioned that the flight had already started boarding and that I needed to get to the gate as soon as possible. I followed her instructions and immediately made my way to the gate after clearing security.
As you exit the security checkpoint you’ll find yourself in the heart of Chicago O’Hare’s duty-free shopping area. The walkway to the gates curve around the duty-free shops, but you can cut through the shops to shorten the journey.
Once through the duty-free shops I passed by the Hub 51 Bar located near gate M10.
Finally I arrived at the gate area which was mostly empty when I arrived. I was one of the last passengers to board the aircraft.
As I passed through Gate M10’s boarding door I discovered an extremely long line which formed on the jet bridge.
The line turned twice before I could actually see the aircraft boarding door.
While on the jet bridge a man asked me if he could make a call on my cell phone. It was one of the weirder requests I’ve ever received when traveling and I politely declined his request.
Qatar Airways 777 Business Class Cabin
Once I reached the Qatar Airways 777 L2 boarding door a very inviting flight attendant reviewed my boarding card. He then directed me toward the far aisle of the forward business class cabin. The Qatar Airways 777 business class cabin is bifurcated into two sections by the L2 boarding door and galley. On my Qatar Airways 777 business class flight to Chicago I opted to sit in the aft business class cabin. For this flight I selected seat 4F which is located in the forward business class cabin.
As you enter the Qatar Airways 777 aircraft the first thing you’ll see is the majestic metallic Oryx plastered on the galley walls which flank the boarding door.
After passing the Oryx I took a quick look around the cabin before taking my seat. Business class on the Qatar Airways 777 consists of 42 total seats divided into two separate cabins. The forward cabin features 4 rows of seats in a 2-2-2 layout or a total of 24 seats while the aft cabin is only three rows totaling 18 seats.
One thing I appreciated about the 777 business class cabin was the vast amount of overhead storage. The window and middle overhead lockers are both easily large enough to hold a full size carry one and a personal item for each business class passenger.
As you can see the 777 business class cabin is a bit dated when compared to newer cabin designs. However, the seats featured by this older cabin design were quite comfortable. I actually found myself preferring these older, but wider seats to the more narrow business class seats featured in many modern business class cabins.
Qatar Airways 777 Business Class Seat
As I mentioned the Qatar Airways 777 business class cabin features large, wide, seats configured in a 2-2-2 layout. For the 13 hour flight to Doha I selected a middle seat, 4F, so that I would have direct aisle access throughout the flight.
When I arrived at the seat I discovered a very thick pillow, a plastic wrapped blanket, and a Bric’s amenity kit. Typically flight attendants distribute the amenity kits prior to takeout, but for this flight the kits were waiting at each of our seats when we arrived.
A large center console separates the two business class seats which also provides in-seat storage.
The center console features two clever storage compartments. These compartments slide out to reveal a small cubby which housed a bottle of water for each passenger. Toward the front of the console is a large tray table and another spacious storage compartment. Near the rear of the seat, under the armrest, you’ll find the remote control for the Oryx One entertainment system.
Just below the armrest and the Oryx One remote you’ll find another smaller storage area with a USB outlet and in-flight entertainment headphone jack. There is also a telephone jack just in case you need to send an in-flight fax!
Located in the back of the seat in front of you, you’ll find additional storage and most importantly, the huge Oryx One in-flight entertainment screen.
Qatar Airways 777 Business Class Pre-Departure Service
After taking my seat a flight attendant stopped by to introduce herself. She subsequently asked if I’d like a pre-departure beverage. A few moments later she returned with a glass of Lanson Brute Rosé and a hot towel.
After distributing the pre-departure beverages the flight attendant returned to distribute the in-flight pajamas.
I’m not sure who designs these pajamas, but I’m not sure they’ve ever actually seen a human body. The large pajama pants fit quite well while the top was maybe three sizes too large. The medium set shirt fit quite well, but the pants resembled yoga pants when I tried to put them on. I won’t even both telling you how the small pajamas fit and I didn’t dare try an XL. In the end, I requested a large set of pajamas as I had my own sweatshirt to wear during the flight and really only valued the pants.
Shortly after distributing the pajamas we began our taxi toward the runway. As we taxied the flight attendants collected all of the pre-departure service items and prepared the cabin for takeoff. Before long we began our takeoff roll and rocketed into the skies over Chicago.
Once airborne the flight attendant returned to my seat with a fresh glass of champagne and a small bowl of warm assorted nuts.
Qatar Airways Business Class Dine On Demand Meal Service
Shortly after take-off the flight attendants distributed in-flight beverage and dining menus which introduced the Dine on Demand service concept. Qatar Airways business class flights feature a dine on demand concept which allows passengers to order any item on the menu at any time throughout the flight.
Dine On Demand Wine and Beverage Menu
The Qatar Airways Wine and Beverage menu featured a wide variety of champagne, white and red wines, and cocktails. I don’t think any business class passenger should worry about not finding at least one drink option they’d enjoy from the vast menu.
Dine On Demand Dining Menu
While the dining menu isn’t quite as visual as the alcoholic beverage menu, there are still plenty of options for passengers to enjoy. Also, keep in mind you’re able to order any item off of the dining menu at any time. If you’d like a breakfast item and a dinner item at the same time you’re allowed to do that. You can mix and match any dishes you’d like for a meal service. The only thing to keep in mind is that some dishes take longer to prepare than others, however nearly all of the dishes I ordered arrived within 15 minutes or less after placing my order.
Located in the back of the in-flight dining menu is the non-alcoholic beverage menu. I try to avoid drinking much alcohol on long-haul flights so instead I sampled a variety of mocktails, nearly all of which were delicious.
Qatar Airways Dine On Demand Dinner Service
Shortly after takeoff the flight attendant returned to my seat to take meal service orders. As the flight departed Chicago at 6:15PM CST I decided to order dinner for my first in-flight meal. Shortly after placing my order the flight attendant returned to prepare my seat for the first meal service. She began the service by unfolding the tray table and setting the table with a tablecloth, a pad of butter, and salt and pepper shakers. She then returned with a bowl of fresh breads and an amuse bouche.
After finishing the amuse bouche, the flight attendant removed the empty plate and replaced it with the soup of the day. The soup for our flight was a pea soup which was pretty tasty.
Next, I ordered the Roasted Butternut Squash and Feta Cheese salad.
After finishing the salad the flight attendant returned to my seat with the main course I ordered, a grilled chicken dish with chickpea sauce.
The chicken was a little dry, but that’s to be expected from most meat dishes served in the sky. Overall the main course was good, but didn’t compare the the incredible chocolate torte dessert.
After finishing my dessert the flight attendant returned to my seat to clear all of the meal service items. At that point I changed the seat to the lie-flat setting and tried to sleep for a few hours.
Qatar Airways Dine On Demand Breakfast Service
After several hours of sleep it was once again time to eat. This time however I ordered breakfast as it was approximately 7AM CST. For breakfast I decided to simply order the American Breakfast as nothing else on the breakfast menu seemed appealing.
Again, shortly after placing my meal order the flight attendant returned to prepare my seat for the meal service. She once again unfolded the tray table, place a tablecloth down, and put a napkin in my lap. A few moments later she returned with a bowl of fresh breakfast pastries, a pad of butter, and salt and pepper shakers. Immediately thereafter she returned with my American Breakfast which consisted of scrambled eggs and potatoes, a toasted bagel with fresh fruit, and more strawberry cream cheese than I could ever consume in a single serving.
The American Breakfast was overall delicious and filling. I knew I wouldn’t eat again until my next flight nearly 9 hours later so this meal offered more than enough food to hold me over until then.
After I finished all of the food in front of me the flight attendant again returned to clear my tray table. At this point we had approximately an hour and half left in the flight until landing in Doha.
Service On My Qatar Airways 777 Business Class Flight
One thing I noticed about flying Qatar Airways business class for nearly a weeks straight is that the crew has a profound impact on the overall in-flight experience. Qatar Airways business class is incredibly personalized thanks to their dine on demand meal concept. When executed well the entire in-flight experience is fantastic, however if not done well, the overall flight may not be quite as enjoyable.
Luckily, on this flight to Doha, the crew was fantastic! From the moment I stepped onboard the aircraft the crew was warm and inviting. Throughout the flight crew members proactively circulated the cabin with still and sparkling water bottles to refill drink glasses. Additionally, nearly every time I woke up during the flight a flight attendant immediately stopped by the seat to see if they could get me something. I don’t think I ever had an empty glass at my seat at any point during the trip. Well done Qatar Airways!
Qatar Airways Business Class In-Flight Bed
One thing I particularly enjoyed about the Qatar Airways 777 business class seat was the lie-flat bed. After I finished my first meal service I mentioned that I was going to try to sleep for a few hours. At that point the flight attendant performed the turn-down service. She began the service by placing the seat in the lie-flat setting. She then unwrapped the mattress pad and place it on the seat. Lastly, she placed the blanket on top with an open fold toward the pillow end of the bed.
As I settled into bed I quickly realized how comfortable the 777 business class seat is when compared to the extremely narrow A330 seat. Also, your feet on the 777 don’t tuck into the back of the seat in front of you. That means you have plenty of room to get comfortable in nearly every position imaginable. I fell asleep quickly and stayed asleep for well over four hours. I then got up, had a drink of water and went back to sleep for another three hours. It’s hard to get a full nights sleep on an airplane, but the Qatar Airways 777 business class seat made it easy.
The only issue I found with the bed was how exposed you are when sleeping. This particular seat lacks exterior privacy walls which means you’re completely exposed to the rest of the cabin when sitting or sleeping. I had no trouble sleeping, but I’d imagine anyone who prefers a more private seat may have a harder time sleeping in such an exposed setting.
Arriving In Doha
After what seemed like an extremely quick 13 hours we were in the skies over the Persian Gulf. The Captain made an arrival announcement approximately an hour before landing. At that time nearly all of the business class passengers made final visits to the aircraft lavatory to change out of their pajamas. The wait for the lavatories continued until the Captain made a final arrival announcement which instructed all passengers and crew members to return to their seats for landing. The final hour of these business class flights are extremely busy. I’d recommend trying to use the lavatory earlier to avoid waiting in line or missing the opportunity altogether.
After landing in Doha we taxied to a remote stand to disembark the aircraft. A set of moving stairs arrived at the aircraft a few minutes after parking. We exited the aircraft and were then directed into buses to take us to the main terminal. Business class passengers boarded a luxury bus with plush seating and only enough room for a few passengers.
The drive to the main terminal took just a few minutes, but along the way I enjoyed great views of aircraft from the tarmac level.
After arriving at the main terminal I cleared transit security and made my way to the incredible Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge to wait for my connecting flight to Ho Chi Minh Vietnam.
I was a bit disappointed in myself for arriving at the airport so late. I hoped to review the British Airways Terraces lounge at O’Hare. Sadly, I’ll have to wait a few weeks until I head back to O’Hare and have a chance to review that lounge.
However, once I received my boarding pass the remainder of the flight was great. Although the Qatar Airways 777 features a very dated business class hard product, I still really enjoyed the seat. Sure the more modern business class seats on the A330 and A350 are a little more aesthetically appealing I found it harder to sleep on those flights than I did on the 777.
The good news is that eventually the 777 will feature Qatar Airways’ new QSuite seat. I really hope to have the chance to try out that product sometime soon!