Review: Qatar Airways Business Class B787-8, Doha – Johannesburg
Our next Qatar Airways flight on the World’ Five Star Airline was on Qatar Airways’ newest aircraft in the Qatar Airways fleet at the time in the form of a Boeing 787-8. Flying on a Boeing 787-8 is always a treat thanks to it’s better cabin pressure, larger windows and generally bright and airy ambience. Qatar Airways was able to make it all that more special thanks to it’s terrific business class seat, fantastic wine list and excellent service.
This post is one chapter on our trip to South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and the United Arab Emirates. This trip was redeemed through American Airlines AAdvantage & Alaska Mileage Plan. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.
Read More from This Trip
- Trip Introduction: South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mauritius and the United Arab Emirates via Emirates First Class, South African Airways Business Class and Qatar Airlines Business Class
- American Airlines First Class: Vancouver – Los Angeles
- American Airlines AAdmirals Club: Los Angeles
- Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge: Los Angeles
- Qatar Airways Business Class: Los Angeles – Doha
- The Westin Hotel and Spa, Doha, Qatar
- Souq Wahif, Doha, Qatar
- Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge, Doha, Qatar
- Qatar Airways Business Class: Doha – Johannesburg
- The Slow Lounge, O.R. Tambo Domestic, Johannesburg, South Africa
- British Airways Club Class: Johannesburg – Cape Town
- The Westin Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
- Winelands of Paarl, South Africa
- Shark Diving at Gaansbai, South Africa
- The Hermanus Coastal Walk, Hermanus, South Africa
- Returning to Stellenbosch & Franschoek, South Africa
- A Repeat Visit to the Test Kitchen, Cape Town, South Africa
- Air Namibia: Cape Town – Windhoek
- Overland Travel: Driving to the Desert; Windhoek – Sesriem
- The Sossus Dune Lodge, Sesriem, Namibia
- The Majestic Sand Dunes of Sossusvlei, Namibia
- Overland Travel: Sesriem – Walvis Bay, Namibia
- The Pelican Point Lodge, Walvis Bay, Namibia
- Overland Travel: Walvis Bay – Spittskope – Windhoek, Namibia
- The Hilton Windhoek, Namibia
- Air Namibia Windhoek – Maun – Victoria Falls
- The Victoria Falls Hotel, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
- Stopping Hippopotamus on a Zambezi River Cruise, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
- Feeling the Smoke that Thunders, a day at Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
- British Airways Club Business Class: Victoria Falls – Johannesburg
- The Hyatt Regency Johannesburg
- South African Airways Business Class: Johannesburg – Mauritius
- The St Regis Mauritius, Le Morne, Mauritius
- Emirates First Class: Mauritius – Dubai
- The Grosvenor House, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- The Heat of the Desert at Al Ain, United Arab Emirates
- Emirates First Class Lounge Terminal “B” Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Emirates First Class: Dubai – Los Angeles
- Alaska Airlines Board Room Lounge, Los Angeles
- Alaska Airlines First Class: Los Angeles – Seattle
- Delta Sky Club Lounge Seattle South Terminal
- Delta Airlines First Class: Seattle – Vancouver
Review: Qatar Airways Business Class B787-8, Doha Hamad International Airport – O.R. Tambo International Airport Johannesburg
“Qatar Airways lived up to its expectations as the world’s five star airline with terrific food and beverage, pyjamas, mattress pads and a wine list that rivals many casual dining restaurants”
After a very relaxing time in the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge Doha, we headed down towards the gate to get ready for our international departure. In our experience, Qatar Airways likes to board its flights quite early. With a posted boarding time of 45 minutes prior to departure on our boarding cards, at about T-40 we headed down to the concourse to locate the gate.
Our flight was leaving from Gate E1 today, which was at the far end of the “Y” shaped Doha Hamad International airport. We had to walk the entire length of the “C” Concourse in order to get to the “D” and “E” split. It took about 10 minutes to walk there through the busy and somewhat narrow walkways that were filled with families and golf carts trying to get through the area. The airport didn’t have any of those quiet spaces on the concourse that were featured in the airport authority advertisements for Doha Hamad International airport.
On arrival to the gate, almost all of the gate area had already boarded. We walked on board with no waits through a dedicated fast track check in lane and settled into the beautiful Boeing 787 cabin.
DOH-JNB (Doha Hamad International Airport – OR Tambo International Airport Johannesburg)
April 16, 2016
Booked: Boeing 787-800
Flown: Boeing 787-800
Departure: 7:10 AM
Arrival: 2:40 PM
On Board Qatar Business Class:
Qatar Airways has installed reverse herringbone seating in its 787 cabins. It is set up like most others in a 1-2-1 configuration. Its much more private than the Qatar Airways Boeing 777 seating configurations but it also comes at the expense of a bit of space as the seating footprint is much more compact.
The cabin is bright and airy with the large B787 windows and a lack of centre overhead bins which makes for a higher ceiling in the middle. First impressions, like our last flight, were very favourable. Qatar has taken great efforts in making this cabin appear sleek and contemporary.
The seat itself has a variety of comfort functions and, like any decent lounger, you can position it almost any way to your liking. The Oryx AVOD controller resembles a smart phone more than a typical aircraft wired remote control. With movies and descriptions clearly visible on the remote, it made for exceptionally easy navigation.
The cabin was very elegantly appointed. There was an on board bar stand in the middle, accented with freshly cut red roses. A magazine rack was discreetly inlaid into the bar. It was one of the first business class cabins that I had been in that had an integrated bar area that wasn’t attached to a kitchen or galley.
The first and general impressions of the Qatar Airways Business Class cabin were terrific and set the tone for a great flight.
Pre – Departure Services:
While we were waiting on the ground, a pre-departure beverage order was taken. Qatar opens the good stuff on the ground so I had a glass of proper Billecart Salmon champagne. For the uninitiated, the Billecart Salmon is actually coloured like regular champagne, and not a pink colour like it’s name might suggest.
While we were enjoying our pre – departure champagne, business menus were also passed out.
The Amenity Kits – Giorgio Armani
In the pre-departure services, a Giorgio Armani Amenity Kit was passed out. It was similar to the Amenity Kit on our Qatar Airways Business Class Los Angeles – Doha light. Unlike that overnight flight, there were no pajamas offered on this day time flight.
As we got underway, we had great views of other Qatar Airways aircraft parked at Doha Hamad International Airport. I took in the last views of Qatar and the apron as we rolled away.
Getting back to the flight, it was time for the safety video. Qatar has an entertaining soccer themed safety video that includes kicking a soccer ball at passengers in the brace position. It was one of the more entertaining demonstrations that I had seen lately.
While we were waiting to take off, we were introduced to our cabin attendant Raj who took excellent care of us. Raj noticed MrsWT73 looking closely at the roses at the start of the flight. He approached me and offered me a red rose to present to her. It was a charming and unique experience to be able to present something so simple during the flight.
Departing Doha, Qatar:
There were some terrific views of Doha Central Business District and its skyline as we departed Doha Hamad International Airport off the left side of the aircraft.
As we had eaten breakfast in the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge Doha Hamad International Airport, we opted to eat a bit later in flight. I enjoyed a glass of Ruilly Premier Cru Gresigny White Burgundy Chardonnay with some warmed nuts as we got underway. I also had a smoothie with it. Why? Because they offered… I know those two don’t pair, but hey – I was on vacation (laughing).
Our departure track took us over Saudi Arabia and Oman, giving Yemen a very wide birth. For the first part of the flight, I bypassed the entertainment and stuck to views of the African coast, particularly of Somalia and Scotra as we headed along downwards towards J’Berg. I enjoyed these views paired with a glass of Mantlerhof Gruner Veltliner from Noederosterreich, Austria (white wine).
There were miles of nothingness around. There’s nothing like the appeal of flying over exotic and far away lands than flying down the East Coast of North Africa. It’s an area that I’d likely not get to fly over again in my life.
The on board wifi was fired up as we got to cruising altitude. The prices were reasonable and much cheaper than our North American counterparts.
The Meal: A Lunch A La Carte Service
As I had indicated earlier, the menus were presented shortly after boarding while we were still on the ground.
As in our previous flight, Qatar offers an extensive and interesting wine list full of items that were of interest to us. I can’t think of many other carriers that would load 10 wines for a 7 hour flight.
I started off with the greek yogurt with berry compote and toasted granola with nuts.
I had the main course of a buckwheat crepe with spinach and herb. It was more of a lunch dish and not really what I was expecting for a flight that left at 7:10 AM. It was one of the few times I had ordered something while flying that I really didn’t care to much for.
I had a little nap at this point. I was still a bit jet lagged from the time zone change. A note for others flying to Africa via the middle east- it’s definitely the long way around. I’d suggest bringing extra pillows.
We had a quick and straight in landing at OR Tambo. As we were one of the first ones off the plane, we had no lines at immigration.
Our pair of Qatar flights were mostly great. I am hesitant to give them an excellent recommendation since once we landed, we learned MrsWT73’s bags were lost and eventually learned that they had been broken into and had large number of items stolen after they had arrived.
The Loss of a Checked Bag on Qatar:
When you arrive in South Africa, you collect your bags at your first point of entry, clear immigration and customs and re-check them onward to the final destination. As luck would have it, somewhere between Vancouver and Johannesburg, Qatar (or American) lost MrsWT73’s checked bag. My checked bag turned up on the conveyor belt with the new QR tag (printed and originating in LAX) but MrsWT73’s did not. Although we checked our bags in with American in Vancouver, I am highly confident that the cock up’s with the bags started when Qatar in Los Angeles attempted to change our baggage tagging from Doha to Cape Town.
We had a 2 hour and 45 minute connection on Jo’berg, most of which was burnt up standing in line making a claim with the ground agents at a slow baggage claim desk. There happened to be about 10 others from our Qatar Airways flight with lost bags for what it was worth. We were all attempting to get the attention of one agent who wasn’t too interested in moving quickly.
Unfortunately, this baggage story ends with two interesting chapters. The bag was delivered in Cape Town 72 hours later. However, someone had defeated the TSA lock and had taken, or “liberated” depending on your view, about 1/3 of the contents of the bag. Somehow, the TSA lock was intact (although a bit bent). Someone is now running around with MrsWT73’s lightly used royal blue BCBG Max Azaria dresses, a Kathmandu day pack purchased in Sydney Australia, and a black Ralph Lauren floppy sun hat purchased in Florida. MrsWT73 wasn’t all to happy about this since all her cocktail dresses for the trip went missing. She announced to me, several times, “We’re never flying THAT carrier again”.
The last chapter of the baggage story involves us attempting to file a theft claim with Qatar. The short version was that Qatar never advanced our claim, nor gave us any access to the on line case management platform used to manage their lost property. The file number that they scrawled on a piece of paper that was provided to us in JNB was non-existent when we attempted to verify the claim. We sent several emails, (upwards of five) to both the Johannesburg ground handlers and to Qatar in Doha themselves; all of which went unanswered and ignored. Later on in the trip, about 10 days after our initial loss claim, we happened to be back through the Johannesburg International Arrivals baggage claim area as we were arriving back from Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. We paid another visit to the baggage claim desk. Without getting any further results, this situation prompted a massive freak out by MrsWT73 on the baggage claim agent in the Johannesburg International Arrivals hall. Even I was impressed with the size and scale of this eruption! This prompted “an invitation” for us to visit the Qatar station manager upstairs in Terminal One departures. After about 45 minutes of bureaucratic paperwork, the station manager approved a 3,000 ZAR ($210 USD) immediate clothing replacement cash payout “to be deducted from your final claim”.
We took the money, signed off and left pretty disappointed. It’s a good thing that we did take the money because we never heard from Qatar about our claim again. We could have followed up with credit card insurance but frankly, we are both busy people and probably got more than we would have had with Qatar. I left it with MrsWT73 to follow up and she never did. Thinking this situation through, our bags had 6 hours on the ground in LAX and 13 hours on the ground in Doha. I can’t imagine this stuff going missing in Los Angeles and strongly believe that the theft likely occurred in Doha. Ultimately, it soured our Qatar experience quite a bit as most of the work that they put into their product was clearly non existent when it came to addressing any after the fact problems.
My Thoughts on Qatar Airways Business Class Long Haul:
All in all, the “World’s Five Star Airline” mostly lived up to its promise and execution. The Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Lounge at Doha Hamad International Airport in Doha was a highlight of the departure experience. The flight was mostly comfortable, and the Boeing 787 pods are wonderful and comfortable to relax in. The experience was a bit soured with pretty lousy treatment when dealing with a lost checked bag at the end of the flight. As a result of this experience, I’m a little hesitant to give them a full endorsement. Flyers please beware…