Qatar Airways, Business Class – Boeing B 777-300: Melbourne to Doha


Date: 16. February 2017
Departure: 23:15
Arrival: 05:25
Flight time: 13 hours 55 minutes
Seat: 3B, aisle seat



Next Monday the new semester begins, which means it is high time for me to get a move on and head back home. Again, I shall be travelling in Qatar Airways’ formidable Business Class, which admittedly softens the blow of having reached the end of my vacation…

My flight to Doha will depart at 23h00 from Melbourne, which means I have all of Thursday at my disposal.

Getting to the Airport

In Melbourne I am staying at the Radisson on Flagstaff, which is just a short ten minutes walk away from the coach terminus at Southern Cross Rail Station. The journey from the city centre to the airport takes approximately 25 minutes and there is a Skybus coach leaving for the airport every 10 minutes. A one way ticket will set you back AUD19. There are no trains to the airport.


All of row B in Terminal 2 is dedicated to Qatar Airways. You can check in online for this flight too. Even so, it is probably still worth it to make a stop at the check-in counter when you get to the airport because Business Class passengers are given a voucher for the security fast track that they can use in both Melbourne and Doha. You will also need to complete a customs form for departing passengers, which is also available at the check-in counter.


The Lounge

Qatar Airways uses the lounge of its Oneworld partner Qantas in Melbourne. And thank God for that, because lounges are something Qantas does really well. It is a fairly large space with a variety of seating options. I like the design of the Qantas lounges. My only grippe with the lounge is that it is rather dark.


Apart from that though, the food selection is rather good and there are salads, various pasta dishes, soup and a really delectable and sinful tasting chocolate cake.


At around 22h10 I leave the lounge to stretch my legs one last time before the long flight. Boarding for the flight has already started, even though we still have another hour to go before departure. I wonder if perhaps the crew is hoping to get away earlier for some reason or other.


Melbourne airport is quite busy at this time of night. To our left, Singapore’s A 380 is being readied for its flight back to Singapore, to our right the Thai Airways flight to Bangkok is also in the final stages of boarding, and as we taxi out, I also spot aircraft from Cathay Pacific, China Eastern, Qantas and Emirates.

The Cabin

Tonight’s flight is being operated by one of my favourite aircraft, the mighty Boeing B 777-300ER – so please excuse my little fanboy outburst…

The last time I flew on Qatar Airways’ Boeing B 777-300ER was back in 2012 on a short flight from Hanoi to Bangkok. Admittedly, the cabin on the Boeing 777 is not near as nice as that of the Boeing 787 or the Airbus A 350. The seating configuration is in a 2 + 2 + 2 layout, which is rather old school and less private. But still, the seat is very comfortable, even when it is extended into a bed. The inflight entertainment is pretty much on a par with that of the other Qatar Airways aircraft I have flown with on this trip. The only major difference, from what I can tell, is that there is no wifi available on board this aircraft. But in the sum of all things, I do not really mind any of this. First of all, because it is the crew that makes the flight and secondly, no matter what the cabin may look or feel like, as far as I am concerned, the Boeing 777 is just one hell of a machine…oops, there goes the fanboy again.


The Crew

Just when you think you have seen it all and done it all, along comes Qatar just to remind you that really, you are just so clueless. The crew on this flight are even better than those of the two previous flights. They are courteous and friendly, considerate and attentive and nothing seems to be too much for them. Throughout the flight they are constantly present in the cabin, making sure passengers are comfortable and properly hydrated. The toilets are kept in impeccable condition during the flight.

The service sequence follows the usual protocol, what else?


While I think it is nice that airlines provide a vanity kit, I often wonder what on earth they were thinking when putting together the content. On the two previous flights with Qatar, the vanity kit included this really enormous tube of Armani aftershave cream, which somehow seems a bit of a waste. At least on this flight, the aftershave balm has been replaced with a large tube of Armani shower gel, which to me just makes more sense. There is also a small flacon of the perfume in the kit. Toothbrushes are available in the toilets.

The Meal

As a welcome drink I have another one of those tasty lime and mint affairs, which probably contains more sugar in one glass than an average, mid-sized country consumes in a whole month. But it is just so good.

When the cabin crew comes round to take my order – Susanna from Macedonia – I explain to her that I really just want to sleep right now. Of course, this being Qatar, she tells me that that will not be a problem. She will take my order and put it aside and then I can eat whenever I wake up.

And so, as soon as the fasten seatbelt sign is turned off after take-off, I convert my seat into a bed and head off to Noddy Land for six hours.


First Course

For a starter I have the Arabic mezze, which is very tasty and includes hummus, something with red pepper and tabouleh. A few years ago I flew to Singapore with my colleague, the tall blond M., who struck up a conversation with one of the Arab cabin crew on that flight. At some point the guy told us that as an Arab he would only ever have the mezze on flights out of Doha, because the quality of the mezze is just so much more authentic. And I think I tend to agree. While this mezze platter is good, I think it kind of lacks a bit of zing. As far as the hummus is concerned, I think it could have done with a bit more tahina.


The Main Course

For the main course I have the gnocchi with a spinach and blue cheese sauce that is served with walnuts and ruccola leaves. I notice that the food is piping hot, whereas the plate is not. I can only assume therefore, that the food is not plated in advanced and instead is assembled on the aircraft.



And then for dessert I have the ice cream – chocolate and vanilla, with mixed berries and a chocolate biscuit thing that tastes very good.


The Valhorna chocolate after the meal has been replaced with a praliné by Godiva.

The Second Service

The second service already starts two hours and thirty minutes out of Doha because the crew is expecting heavy turbulence as we approach our destination. But in fact the bad weather starts much earlier, and the service has to be interrupted repeatedly.


The breakfast service begins with a warm, rose scented hot towel to wake me up, followed by some Greek yoghurt with cherry compote and granola. The yoghurt is good, but the compote is just a bit too sweet, even for me.


For the main course I have the Arabic breakfast, which is very tasty and quite extensive. There is a small plate with pita bread, another plate with cucumber, olives, tomatoes and feta cheese and a separate, hot dish of foul mudames, which is made with beans.


The main is excellent, it is not spicy in the sense of being hot, but there are just a lot of different spices in the dish that make it very fragrant.

Transfer in Doha

Eventually we land after a flight time of 13 hours and 55 minutes. In the end it was not quite as bumpy after all on the approach. Much to my surprise though, the ground is wet and the captain informs us that there have been heavy rain showers in the area.

Security is already busy. It is quite apparent that this is the rush hour here in Doha. Even so, with the separate fast track for security, I am quickly processed and soon find myself airside again. Time to head for the lounge.

I had hoped to be able to take a shower, but they guy in charge tells me there is a waiting list that will take about an hour to clear.

Qatar Airways, Business Class – B 777-300: Hanoi to Bangkok


My holiday in Southeast Asia is quickly drawing to an end and it’s time for me to begin the long journey home. It’s been a lot of fun. Even so, I am looking forward to returning to more familiar climes. Vietnam is a lovely place and I hope to return some day, but it is also a vicious assault on the senses that leaves you reeling.

Date: 11. September 2012
Airline: Qatar Airways
Aircraft: B777-300
From: Hanoi
To: Bangkok
Cabin: Business Class
Seat: 1B, aisle seat
In Hanoi I stayed at the Sofitel Legende Metropole. The original building, which still stands today and is still in use as a hotel, was opened in 1901. At the time it was the only decent place to stay in Hanoi and subsequently became the preferred hang out of the rich and famous, both resident and visiting.

Later on during the American war, it became a refuge and a safe haven to the foreigners in the beleaguered city, at the time many embassies converted the guest’s rooms at the hotel into offices and set up shop there.

After the war, the place fell into disuse and neglect, and by the time the Accor Hotel Group took over the building in the nineties, it was merely a derelict and rat infested ruin.

Today the Metropole is restored to its original splendour and enjoys once more the reputation of being the best place to stay on town.

Getting to the Airport

Just before 15h00 my butler knocks at my door to collect my baggage. I check out and head downstairs to the lobby, outside the driver is already expecting us. I leave central Hanoi just after 15h00, the journey to the airport takes some 45 minutes to complete. The roads and streets in central Hanoi are small and narrow, it’s a tight squeeze for us and the incessant swarm of the omnipresent Vespas.


The driver drops my bag on the carpet in front of the Qatar Airways Business Class check-in counter. He wishes me a pleasant journey and then bids me goodbye.

The agent at check-in issues my boarding pass as well as the lounge invitation. In Hanoi all airlines use the same lounge, with the exception of Vietnam Airlines who have their own one.

The Lounge

The lounge is one floor up from the public area. The terminal is a strange place, it’s packed with souvenir stalls with gaudy lights in some places, while other parts of the building are more or less deserted and empty.

The lounge itself is rather large for the airport and offers both warm and cold food and drinks. I help myself to the glass noodles with pak choy and enjoy the view outside until the time comes for me to board my flight to Bangkok.


At 16h50 a Qatar Airways rep comes to the lounge and invites all passengers to board. By the looks of it there are eight adults and four beastly kids on the flight this evening. By the time I reach the gate they’re already making the final call for the flight.

The Cabin

The cabin of this bird is very nice. I think of all the intra-Asian flights (some of which I’ll post later on) I took on this trip this is the nicest one. There is even a small kind of pot mounted to the bulkhead on both rows and the roses in it are actually real and very fresh. There is a cushion at every seat, as well as a pair of earphones, which have been placed in their specific compartment by the side of the seat.

The toilet on this bird is enormous. You could throw a party in there. It’s also well stocked with Molton Brown goodies, shaving kits and dental kits.

The Crew

The crew, as is to be expected, are an interesting mix of nationalities. All of them are very friendly and take a professional approach to their job.

Service begins with drinks, served while we are still on the ground. I choose the lime and mint squash and it is delicious and refreshing.

After that I receive a small lacquer plate with a warm rose scented towel. This is followed by the distribution of the menus on this short sector. The flying time is announced as one hour and 25 minutes.

We push back right on time. We’re number three for departure behind a FedEx A310 and an Air Mekong Canadair Regional Jet. For an aircraft as grand and majestic as the Triple Seven it would be appropriate to describe the take-off roll in terms of power and grace, to go rambling on about thundering down the runway and defying the earth’s gravity and that kind of talk. But in actual fact the more suitable description in this case would be to say that we bounce down the runway until eventually we bounce into the air and stay there. The runway in Hanoi is the most uneven one I have every departed from! It has the whole plane shaking.

The Meal

There are no choices on the flight today. The flight isn’t really long enough. When the tray arrives it contains a hot meal that is beef with rice, carrots and pak choy with garlic. The pak choy tastes very bitter so I just leave that. The rest is okay. Nothing outstanding, but it’s okay.

For dessert there is a fruit salad with dragon fruit, papaya, strawberries, pineapple and grapes.

To drink I have another glass of the excellent lime and mint juice and some San Pellegrino sparkling water. After the meal I have a cup of coffee.

All in all it’s an unspectacular flight, there no ‘wow’ moment but I have nothing to fault Qatar Airways with either on this short sector.


There is one very strong point in Qatar Airways’ favour. Before we land the cabin crew distribute the embarkation cards for Thailand. For passengers in Business Class they also provide a fast track voucher for immigration. This is something Egypt Air did not provide when I flew with them from Kuala Lumpur back to Bangkok earlier during the trip.


Out of the four airlines I did international flights with in Asia on this journey – Royal Jordanian, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines and Qatar Airways – Qatar Airways gave by far the most professional and polished performance.


As we climb out of Hanoi and the beautiful landscapes of Vietnam slowly vanish under a veil of humidity and heat haze, I reflect back upon my journey through this fascinating and amazing country. It will take me a while to fully appreciate and understand the country and the people I encountered. I don’t think I’ve ever before experienced anything quite like Vietnam.