To wrap-up my recent trip to Japan and Middle East, I flew home on Qatar Airways First Class from Doha – Perth onboard its A-380. I would have liked to fly directly into Sydney, but there were no redemption seats on the days I could travel. Nonetheless, you can expect to have the same experience regardless of the route you fly.
Booking Qatar Airways First Class
Qatar Airways offer First Class exclusively on their A-380 planes. With a relatively small fleet of just 10 A-380’s, there’s only a handful of routes where these planes are deployed. Luckily for Australian’s, there’s not one but two routes where Qatar fly the A-380.
- You can fly Qatar Airways First Class between Doha & Perth.
- You can fly Qatar Airways First Class between Doha & Sydney.
Australian points and miles community is also extremely lucky when it comes to flying Qatar Airways as both major points currencies Qantas & Velocity points are redeemable on Doha based carrier. The pricing however is more favourable with Velocity points as I explain below.
- A one-way First Class booking between Perth and Doha costs 149,800 Qantas points.
- A one-way First Class booking between Sydney and Doha costs 170,800 Qantas points.
Those are some of the priciest redemptions you will ever come across, particularly when you consider that you can fly between Australia and Europe for the same number of points. However, it is an option that may work for some.
On the other hand, redeeming Velocity points for these flights is not only a cheaper option, it would appear that members of Velocity Frequent Flyer Program have access to much greater Qatar inventory than their counterparts at Qantas.
A one-way First Class ticket between Perth and Doha costs 114,000 Velocity points.
Meanwhile, First Class between Sydney & Doha requires 152,500 Velocity points due to the longer distance of the flight.
One thing to be aware of is that both Qantas and Velocity apply very high carrier charges on Qatar Airways redemptions, so you will be on the hook for about $530 – $560 for these flights. That said, First Class on flights to Australia sell for more than $11,000 one-way, so you are still getting phenomenal value by redeeming points.
For my flight I redeemed 99,500 Qatar Airways Avios, I also paid about $200 in fees and taxes. The actual redemption price for this route is 105,000 Avios, but as a Qatar Airways Privilege Club Platinum member, I am eligible for 5% discount on redemptions which slightly brings down the cost.
Earning Qantas Points, Velocity Points and Avios
Velocity & Qantas points are two of the easiest points currencies to earn in Australia. From supermarkets, petrol stations, credit cards, to insurance companies, retailers and online shopping portals, there is no shortage of companies giving away points to earn a slice of your business.
Earning Avios is a lot more trickier in Australia. There are a couple of programs such as Commbank Awards and Citi Rewards (Citi Prestige only) that allow transfers to Privilege Club, but the earn & transfer rate are quite poor. The easiest (but also inefficient) way to get your hands over Avios is by converting your Amex Membership Rewards Points to Avios via Marriott Bonvoy. See this link if you want to learn more about these transfers.
Note that Avios is the common Frequent Flyer currency of Qatar Airways, British Airways plus a couple more AIG owned airline, if you collect Avios with any of these programs, you can freely transfer Avios between all your Avios accounts.
Qatar Airways First Class Check-In
Doha is the home of Qatar Airways, so naturally I had high expectations. What I experienced though was far beyond anything I had imagined.
As I stepped-out of my Uber, I had no less than 4 porters approach me to take my bags. I am sure some people love that sort of pampering, personally though I prefer to carry my own bags so I politely declined.
Business & First Class passengers flying out of Doha are whisked away for a private check-in. As I entered the terminal (duly escorted), I noticed signs pointing to Business & First Class check-in zones. On this day, I veered to the right.
While some airlines assume they are doing a fine job rolling-out a tiny red or blue carpet in-front of their First Class check-in desks, that’s not good enough for Qatar Airways. In Doha, First Class passengers are accorded a seated check-in experience in their own private booths. There’s over a dozen of them, which on this day were totally deserted.
As I took my seat inside one of the booths, a staff quickly brought me tissues and a chilled towel.
I must admit, I had barely moved a limb until this point, even so, I picked up the towel and wiped away the imaginary sweat off my brow 😉
It took only a minute for the staff to process my check-in, and so, with my boarding pass in-tow I headed towards the departure gate. Along the way I noticed a reasonably large sitting area with not a soul in sight.
At this point, I was expecting to join the rest of the travelling public for immigration and security clearance. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Qatar Airways First Class passengers clear security in their own exclusive space, far from the din of the terminal, ditto for the immigration where Qatar have set-up manned counters as well as automated doors. Talk about excesses.
The whole time I found myself shaking my head at the sheer incredulity of what Qatar Airways have built-up for their First Class passengers at Hamad International Airport. It is the kind of profligacy you can afford when you own the airline, the airport and virtually all of Qatar, the owner being the Qatari Royal Family.
Anyhow, once you clear immigration, there is an escalator few steps down waiting to whisk you away to yet another Qatar Airways wonder, the Al Safwa First Lounge.
Here is a review of the Al Safwa First Lounge from one of my previous visit if you are interested in reading about it.
Qatar Airways First Class Boarding
I spent about an hour resting and dining at the Lounge. During this time, I had 2 lounge staff approach me to query about my flight and inform me the exact walking time to the departure gate.
Boarding was going to commence at 1:50 am for the 2:35 am departure, so I left the lounge at 1:40 am and made my way to Gate C13. Along the way I passed what is possibly the most photographed bear in the world.
Boarding was well underway by the time I reached the Gate, a staff quickly scanned my Boarding Pass and directed me to take the escalator up to the jet bridge. Unlike the earlier Etihad flight there were no glitches on this occasion and I was soon on my way to board.
Qatar Airways A-380 First Class Cabin & Seats
I boarded the aircraft from the front door on the upper deck and turned left to enter the First Class Cabin. Needless to say I was escorted from door-to-seat by a waiting member of the crew.
Qatar Airways First Class is configured in the popular 1-2-1 lay out meaning every passenger receives direct aisle access. Seats are laid out over two rows, there are 4 seats per row for a total of 8 seats.
Couples or those with a travelling companion may opt for the 2 middle seats. Although there is a privacy divider in-between, this can be lowered or raised depending on your situation.
Solo travellers would lean towards the window seats which is what I had done by selecting Seat 2K on this flight.
These seats aren’t cutting edge in the sense that they lack the various bells and whistles as well as the privacy door which is almost obligatory in First Class these days. However, in terms of space and comfort I thought they were second to none.
As you sit down, there is a massive 26-inch IFE screen straight up. Then you have a lamp to the right, lodged in-between is the seats sole power outlet which was compatible with my Australian iPhone charger.
There is a large surface area that runs the length of the wall from the front to the back of the seat. This is where you will find the tray-table and a second tray closer to the seat where you could place your drinks and nibbles within easy reach.
A pair of good quality noise cancelling headphones and the headphone jack can be found inside the left armrest. The headphones were supplied inside a soft, velvety bag. Then at the front of the armrest, you had the seat controls.
Waiting inside the right armrest was a hand-held device to control the IFE screen as well as bottle of water. There were light controls as well as a second set of seat controls on the pad just above the armrest.
Unfortunately, like I mentioned earlier, these seats lack privacy and when you are sitting upright it is quite likely you will be able to peek right at your neighbour (and vice-versa). That said, there is a privacy shield adjacent to the chair which could be moved up and down, thus offering a semblance of privacy.
Last but not the least, the First Class cabin on Qatar’s A-380 is serviced by 2 lavatories located at the front of the cabin. As I was the sole occupant on this flight, the crew member had locked one of them.
After inspecting the seat I made a quick a trip to the lav, I must say I wasn’t prepared for what I witnessed. Lavatories on First Class are massive, easily the size of walk-in-robes that you may have in your home.
In fact, I heard the crew address this space as a changing room rather than lavatory on couple of occasions, and that sort of description isn’t far-off. On one side, you have a white sink laid-over a large black counter. The tap on the sink was activated by automatic sensors. Above, there is a very large illuminated mirror.
Unlike Economy & Business Class lavatories, Qatar offers neatly folded real towels to their First Class passengers. In the drawer below, you have the dental kits, mouth wash bottles as well as several items of personal grooming such as razors and combs.
Next to the counter, you had a wardrobe with hangers and large bottles of bathroom amenities.
On the opposite side there is padded bench style seating, ideal for families travelling with small children. You could sit one down while you attended to the other without having to leave them behind in the cabin alone. And those are real orchids in the corner.
Qatar Airways gives a whole new meaning to the term taking a dump by covering-up the toilet under a padded lid.
Overall, I thought this was a nicely decked out lav. Off all the bathrooms in the sky out there, I reckon it would only be bested by the likes of Emirates & Singapore Airlines.
Qatar Airways A-380 First Class Amenities
When I first arrived at my seat, I noticed a white and a burgundy coloured pillow neatly placed upon it. Towards the base of the seat, there was a blanket tightly wrapped in transparent protective covering. Also offered was a white seat-topper (not pictured here).
A little while later, one of the crew members brought me a Diptyque amenity bag. Qatar offers identical Diptyque branded amenity kits to both Business & First Class passengers, so in that sense this wasn’t anything special. The contents inside were the standard items such as socks, eye shades, lip balm, moisturiser etc.
Then just before take-off, I was presented with a pair of PJ’s and slippers. Qatar’s sleepwear are made by London based The White Company.
While I quite like the product, again it is no different to what passengers in Business Class receive. In-fact I have managed to build-up quite a collection of Qatar PJ’s from my numerous previously flown Qsuites flights. Let’s just hope that when it comes to amenity kits and PJ’s, Qatar can find a way to come-up with somewhat differentiated offerings for First & Business Class passengers.
The other thing I want to talk about is the inflight wi-fi. All First Class passengers receive a Wi-Fi voucher which is valid for the duration of the flight.
In theory that sounds great, trouble is that data download is capped at a meagre 200 MB. That means that quite sadly, you will have to wait to post pictures and videos of your luxury First Class flying on the Gram until you land. What a killjoy 😒
Qatar Airways A-380 First Class In-flight Experience
Not long after I took my seat a crew member came and introduced himself, his name was Karan. Karan informed me that he will be taking care of me on this flight and as the sole passenger flying First Class, I can expect his full attention. Sweet.
Service started with Karan offering me a pre-departure Welcome drink, while there were options such as juice and still and sparkling water, I was more interested in the champagne they were offering.
As it turned out, one of the 2 champagne they had loaded on the flight was Charles Heidsieck Rose 2005 which is something they also offer at the Al Safwa First Lounge. I had had a couple of glasses in the lounge and was hoping for something different.
The other option was Rare Millesime 2007 Piper Heidsieck which is what I opted to have. It was accompanied with assorted Arabic dates.
I couldn’t find the 2007 vintage on Dan Murphy, they only had the 2006 which is currently retailing at about AUD 560 a bottle. The U.S. based wine-searcher.com though are showing the 2007 vintage in stock and on sale for AUD 400.
At about 2:28 am, the Captain came on the P.A. system welcoming passengers onboard. He also indicated a flight time of 10 hrs and 25 minutes to Perth. We started the pushback at 2:39 am which was just 4 minutes later than the schedule, but then ended up being stranded on the tarmac for the next 25 odd minutes. We eventually took-off at 3:05 pm.
While seat belt signs were illuminated and we were still climbing out of Doha, I had a quick look at the food and drinks menu.
In First & Business Class, Qatar Airways offers Anytime Dining. This means that there are is no set time of service and you can dine at the time of your choice. Additionally, dishes under the Breakfast or Dinner headings on the menu are mere suggestions.
You could ask to be served breakfast at dinner time and afternoon tea for lunch. So you can for instance, order Bacon & Egg Sandwich for dinner or steak for breakfast and that is absolutely fine. Here is the menu.
Once we reached the cruising altitude and the plane had levelled off, Karan asked me if I would like to have dinner. After having a big meal in the lounge I wasn’t really hungry, but couldn’t pass on the opportunity to sample some caviar, so I ordered that. I also ordered a glass of orange juice which was served with a round of warm mixed nuts.
Now I am hardly an expert at eating caviar. In-fact this was only the second time I was having it on the plane.
The caviar plate came with a mother of pearl caviar spoon and was served with a selection of sides such as smoked salmon, grated eggs, chopped onion and chives, a slice of lemon and creme Fraiche (sour cream). This was accompanied with blinis and melba toast and some chilled vodka to wash it all down.
I did not ask Karan what variety of Caviar it was, but it tasted good and I managed to polish-off nearly all of it.
While I was still finishing my meal, I asked Karan if he would make my bed as I was in desperate need of some quality sleep. As I had the whole cabin to myself, he set my bed up on Seat 1K.
There’s not much to say other than it was the softest, widest and comfiest bed I have ever had in the sky. I immediately dozed-off and had more than 3 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
Once awake, I ordered a cappuccino which came with a couple of chocolate biscuits. It was alright.
At this time, we were about 6 hours from touching down into Perth. I tried to get on the internet to catch up on emails and to attend to a banking matter, but gave up after half an hour of frustration.
I then thought of watching a movie. Qatar Airways propriety Oryx Inflight Entertainment System is amongst the best in the industry. It is loaded with thousands of hours of Movies, TV Shows, Audio and Games. I browsed through the catalogue of Hollywood movies and comedy shows but didn’t find anything interesting.
So I decided to follow the progress of our flight via Moving Maps and again fell asleep in the process.
After 2 more hours of blissful sleep, I woke up and ordered breakfast. Truth be told, I was more bored than hungry at this point. Anyhow, the tray-table was once again prepared and I kicked things off with Greek Yogurt and toasted granola with nuts.
It was a rather small serve and I devoured it in no time. I wasn’t sure what I wanted for my Mains so just went with Karan’s suggestion of chef special Qatari Breakfast.
As you can see, the breakfast consisted of 3 different dishes as well as few portions of warm pita bread. There was red kidney beans and tomatoes with Arabic spice mix in 2 bowls, I couldn’t work out the third one but it tasted like sweet vermicelli wrapped in baked eggs. Everything was good.
A few minutes after finishing breakfast, main purser Kim asked me whether I had paid a visit to the bar (or Lounge as they call it) yet. I hadn’t so I took the opportunity to go check it out. The Bar is exclusive to Qatar Airways A-380 & you will find it on the upper deck at the end of the Business Class cabin. Both First & Business Class passengers can access it.
I spent the next hour drinking and chatting with the bartender who was a really friendly guy. To nibble, there were a variety of small yogurt glasses and fruits but I left them alone.
Before I knew, there was an announcement from the flight deck that we were going to start our descent into Perth shortly. I bid farewell to the bartender and returned to my seat where one of the crew member thanked me for choosing Qatar Airways and handed me over a couple of box of chocolates.
After several left and right turns over the next 20 minutes, we touched down exactly at 6:38 pm. Air Traffic Congestion is never an issue at Perth which is nice. From this point on, we quickly taxied and pulled up at one of the gates. Doors were opened and passengers started streaming out soon after.
They say it’s hard to go back to Economy once you have flown Business, I can tell you it’s the same feeling going back from First to Business.
I had an awesome time flying Qatar Airways First Class. The hard product has fallen a bit behind times in some respect, but the crew and service were nothing short of outstanding. It definitely helped that I was all alone in the Cabin and never had to worry about some of the things I do, when there’s people around me.
First Class is an increasingly rare commodity. With airlines making tremendous improvements to their Business Class product, there’s only really a handful of airlines offering a genuine First Class Cabin these days. So if flying First Class is something you want to do, I suggest you don’t leave it till too late.
Have you flown Qatar Airways A-380 First Class? Leave a comment below.