Boarding started 50 minutes before departure with groups numbers called up one at a time in an orderly fashion. It’s nice when there’s a group system and it is enforced.
Upon boarding, I was greeted by the customer service director and directed to my seat. Slightly different for business class passengers who are guided to their seat.
18 A was my original seat selection not out of choice but due to booking the flight relatively late. Having phoned Qatar to ask if I could be seated in 16A at the front of economy where there is extra legroom, they said it was only possible at the airport. Fortunately, 16 A&C were still blocked at check-in so A was requested.
To make it clear from the outset, the reason row 16 is blocked off is because it’s a bassinet seat for babies or small children. If you do get a seat there you may have a little one in close proximity. Refer to my review of the Sony WH-1000XM2’s.
When boarding it soon became apparent that Qatar seat maps aren’t the most accurate. It shows A then space then C, in reality, the seats are side by side. A more accurate reflection would be A&B.
Like all bulkhead seats, you get slightly less seat width due to the IFE being built into the armrest. For me, that’s a trade-off I’m more than willing to make for the extra legroom, which is pretty much twice the amount you get in a normal seat. It’s not like I have Robert Forstermans quads…
4 hours into the flight and my legs and arse are killing. There just isn’t the support when the seat is reclined and I’d rather not be sat upright the whole flight. The issue, when you are in the reclined position the bottom support for the seat doesn’t slide with the cushion so the cushion just rolls over the edge thus you have less support from the seat.
Once boarding had commenced 20 minutes later the cabin crew came around handing out refreshing “towels”. Then a few minutes later it was headphones. Just before take-off, the CSD came to my seat to introduce her self. Unfortunately, no welcome drink like other Oneworld carriers offer Emerald members or Qatar offer their business class customers but no biggie.
Take off was very smooth with great views of Edinburgh. Randomly, a part of the bulkhead came off during takeoff which isn’t reassuring.
Food menus were handed out 10 mins after the fasten seatbelts sign was turned off. At the time of receiving a menu, I was asked what drink I would like. I went down the custom route of Vodka, orange and cranberry.
15 minutes later, food was served. Full metal cutlery, starter, main and dessert. With having a view that salads are for rabbits I chose to skip the starter. For the main, it was succulent Chicken Kapsa with fluffy tomato rice, golden fried onions and raisins. Served with warm focaccia bread and butter on request. The dessert was a chocolate ganache sat on salted caramel. For someone who isn’t too fond of salted caramel, it was nice.
Every few hours the cabin crew come round offering a selection of soft drinks from a tray.
Fast forward to 2 hours before landing and I’m served a rather tasty vegan option of Ras El Hanout. A pearl barley, tomato and feta Arabic pastry.
Qatar’s A350-900 in economy is a double-edged sword. Tasty food, new media, at-seat charging (240V), a luggage allowance of 30KG and attentive service from flight attendants who often go out of their way to help you. The drawbacks being a slightly uncomfortable seat when reclined and not enough food for the length of the flight. This, of course, all goes out of the window should you get the magic 6 beeps at the gate and be elevated to the best business class seat in the sky (which I’ve had happen a few times). That and the fact you can capitalise on their Stop Over Program.