Airline review: Qatar Airways A380 economy class, Melbourne to Doha

THE PLANE

A380-800

THE ROUTE

QR0905, Melbourne to Doha

CLASS

Economy

LOYALTY

Qatar Airways Privilege Club, Oneworld

DURATION

14 hours, 30 minutes

FREQUENCY

Once daily

THE SEAT

52C

There are 461 economy seats, mostly in a 3-4-3 configuration (some on the upper deck are 2-4-2), a 32-inch (81cm) pitch and 18.5-inch (47cm) width ­– there were no elbow wars with 52B. The slim design of the seat offers more legroom and a general feeling of spaciousness. With the person in front of me using the 19-degree recline, my clever concertina tray and adjustable screen ensured I didn't feel encroached upon at all.

The economy cabin is in several zones and one disadvantage of this otherwise great seat is proximity to the baby cribs. We had one incessant grizzler – but that's what earplugs are for. 

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Qatar is rolling out a new economy seat, expected end of 2020.

BAGGAGE

Up to 30 kilos of checked luggage for economy and seven kilos of carry-on.

COMFORT

Voted World's Best Airline for a fifth time in the 2019 Skytrax awards, Qatar does things others don't, such as provide economy class passengers with a (single-use plastic) amenity bag that includes a lip balm, toothbrush and toothpaste, sleep mask, and earplugs. Cabin crew come through at the beginning and end of the flight with refreshing wipes, the ones in a plastic wrapper. These are luxurious touches, though they give pause for thought regarding disposables. 

ENTERTAINMENT

Oryx One, with more than 3000 listening and viewing options. This route does not have the live TV Qatar offers on some routes in the Middle East. There is a downloadable Oryx One app for viewing on your own device. Oryx One Communications – that's inflight Wi-Fi – is available at cost after a free period. 

SERVICE

In a word, fabulous. The crew did regular runs throughout the night with water and juice and were super responsive to passenger calls. There were 14 babies on my flight and almost 40 children. The crew's care, efficiency and warmth was exemplary – even for the aforesaid grizzly bubba. This is true family friendly flying. But don't worry if you're not family friendly; there was no sense of prioritising passengers with little ones. As a solo flyer, I felt seen and cared for.

Another notable thing was the cleanliness of the lavatories. They were refreshed and serviced regularly.

FOOD

I wanted the stir fry on the dinner menu but it wasn't available. The "Italian chicken ragu with pasta and vegetables" was a bit hospital-food bland. But that's better than inedible. Lights come on for a "refreshment" about five hours before landing. A beef "sandwich" was actually a pie, an odd thing to eat in essentially the middle of the night. At breakfast, only the scrambled eggs were offered to me. There was a croissant with spreads, yoghurt and fruit.

TWO MORE THINGS

This flight departs Melbourne at 9.35pm. It's an awkward time if you're leaving the city or passing through or by it as arrival 2.5-three hours beforehand means hitting the Tullamarine Freeway right on peak hour. I opted to go early.

Qatar has announced they will be retiring their 10 A380s by the tenth anniversary of their service in 2024. Qatar is not alone in mothballing these planes and Airbus has announced they will cease production.

THE VERDICT

Having had the pleasure of flying Qatar Business Class, I boarded with a case of FOMO. But this was really a very comfortable and pleasant experience.

OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE

 4.5

Tested by Julietta Jameson who flew as a guest of Oceania Cruises.

See also: Airline review: In Qatar business class, it's like economy passengers don't exist

See also: World's best airlines for 2019 named

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