Airline review: Qatar Airways business class 'Qsuite', Doha to Canberra

THE PLANE

Boeing 777-300ER. There are 41 777-300s in the Qatar Airways fleet, with seating capacities of between 358 and 412 passengers.

THE ROUTE

Doha to Canberra, via Sydney – a new daily service launched earlier this year.

THE CLASS

Qsuite, Qatar Airways revolutionary, and relatively new, "first in business" class seat, is, as of this month, now available on selected flights to Australia.

LOYALTY SCHEME

Qatar Airways Privilege Club and oneworld.

DURATION

16 hours and 15 minutes (including a stop in Sydney en route to Canberra)

BAGGAGE

Qsuite business class passengers are entitled to a total of 40 kilograms of checked luggage.

THE SEAT

10G (window seat) in a 1-2-1 configuration. Each Qsuite seat has a width of 21.5 inches (55 centimetres) which extends to a 79-inch (two metres) long fully lie-flat bed. The most revolutionary feature of the Qsuite, which is designed to incorporate features normally associated with first class seats, is its ingenious "quad configuration" which, due to moveable panels and TV monitors, can be transformed into a slightly gimmicky private social or meeting-style space for four passengers, which may include well-heeled families or high-flying corporate travellers. However, most passengers will experience the versatile Qsuite either as a single seat or perhaps in a "double-bed" configuration in the middle row. The seat notably includes a 1.35-metres-high sliding door, a privacy feature once confined to first class, which must remain open for take-offs and landings. Its luxurious upholstery is made of hand-stitched Italian leather and satin rose-gold finishing. There is every conceivable plug, USB outlet and light you would possibly need or want,  as well as plenty of surfaces and compartments for your personal effects.

COMFORT

You'll be floating on air on what is near enough to the first-class seat you're having when you're really having a business seat and in this passenger's experience is rivalled only by Singapore Airlines' new business class equivalent. There are five-star hotel rooms less comfortable than this seat. To help ensure you get maximum slumber atop your luxuriant flat-bed there's even a "do not disturb" sign than can be illuminated.

SERVICE

Polished, efficient and poised, as you'd expect in business class as well as aboard an airline with a growing reputation for professionalism to match the most vaunted Asian carriers.

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ENTERTAINMENT

Oryx one is Qatar Airways' self-styled "world-class in-flight entertainment" system and on the near ultra long-haul flights between Doha and Australia you may find yourself utilising it for long periods. This may be especially so due to the huge 21-inch television monitor . There's the usual extensive range of latest-release and classic films across multiple genres, as befitting business class, as well as more than 1500 episodes of television comedy, drama, documentaries and more. High-standard Wi-Fi is available on selected aircraft in the Qatar Airways' fleet including Boeing 777s.

FOOD

The excellent in-flight a la carte menu allows passengers to dine at any time and in any order. True to the carrier's Arabian Peninsula base there are Middle Eastern choices such as a traditional Arabic breakfast, consisting of feta cheese, cucumber, tomato and green olives with balila (a chickpea dish). Then there's Arabic spiced chicken breast with cinnamon spiced sauce served with rice, minced lamb, herbs and fried onions. If that still leaves you peckish, check out the choice of snack platters with morsels such as prawn cocktail crostini, duck spring rolls and blue cheese croquette with pear chutney.

ONE MORE THING

One of Qatar Airways oft overlooked strengths is the impressive Hamad International Airport, its Qatar hub, which is more convenient and manageable than its vast Dubai counterpart. Doha has a more human scale compared to elsewhere on the Arabian Peninsula. Doha also boasts one of the region's best souks as well as the lauded I.M. Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art. If you're on a extended layover between connections consider the Oryx Airport Hotel, within the terminal building, which includes an indoor swimming pool and even a squash court.

THE VERDICT

Australia has been among the last destinations to receive the Qsuite on its routes but it's been worth the wait for those who can afford it or experience it perhaps via frequent flyer points. Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways' controversial chief executive, may not have been exaggerating when he declared the Qsuite as representing perfection in an airline business class seat.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

Five out of five

Anthony Dennis flew as a guest of Qatar Airways. See qatarairways.com

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