This is a review of the Qatar Airways old B777. Putting aside politics, I have always been a huge fan of Qatar Airways business class. For me, it is the best you can buy. However, recently I heard a few negative comments about aircraft swaps and people losing their seat assignments. During the World Cup and the lead-up to it there have been a lot of aircraft changes, so I was almost expecting something to happen.
The start of the tale of woe…Lastminute.com
I had booked a great deal from Oslo to Dubai for around £1100. Against my better judgment, I used Lastminute.com. I always tell people to either book flights direct with the airline or using a reputable travel agent, not an online one. But here I ignored my own advice…
Suffice to say I would never recommend even my worst enemy to use them to book flights. Hotels yes, flights no. The reason I booked it was that it was advertising a “Classic” business class fare rather than booking directly on Qatar that was categorised as Business Lite.
Qatar switched to offering a business class product without lounge access or seat selection a while ago called Lite. The next fare class up “Classic” offers lounge access and seat selection so I thought I would book that. Little did I know that it was not a Qatar Classic fare but a Lastminute.com Classic fare. I only discovered this when I went into the booking on Qatar’s website and saw the fare class.
Nowhere did it state during the booking process that lounge access and seat booking were not included and that this was a Lite fare. I find this extremely misleading and very unclear what you are buying.
I tried arguing, and initially they relented and said I could rebook in the correct fare bucket. But then they kept saying there were no seats available – for the next 6 months – despite it showing very clearly that it was wide open on Expert Flyer. Eventually, I just gave up.
However, the second half of the ticket from Doha to Dubai was booked in first class (A) so I assumed that would entitle me to use the Al Safwa lounge as there is no such thing as First lite.
Aircraft musical chairs
The whole point of booking the flight from Oslo was to try Qatar’s Premium Suite on their B787-9 aka Q Suite lite. Sadly a few weeks before the aircraft changed to a non Premium Suite B787-8. Although it was annoying for the review, I wasn’t too worried about the journey personally as I don’t mind any of Qatar’s reverse herringbone seats.
However, a couple of days before when I was checking my seat my heart sank when I saw it had changed to one of the oldest B777s in their fleet which features a very outdated 2-2-2 seat. Now if you are travelling as a couple or with a friend it’s not nearly so bad. But as a solo traveller, I am very conscious of my personal space and privacy – this is what I pay for business class for. I was not notified of the change except possibly in a very vaguely worded email that just said there had been a change and stupidly had forgotten to set an alert on Expert Flyer. I assumed the email was about a time change that happened at the same time. By the time I realised, there were virtually no seats left, so I settled on one in the middle as at least I would have aisle access.
Normally you would have had to pay for the seat assignment, which in this case, I would have done so as not be trapped next to someone in a window seat. However, if you have Oneworld status that gives seat assignments then you can get them free on the lite fare.
One positive about Qatar is that if you have booked QSuites and the aircraft changes you can move free of charge to another flight from the same destination with QSuites. Unfortunately, Oslo only has one flight a day, and I was only in Dubai for 4 nights, so I couldn’t really move to another date.
I flew in on the last British Airways flight and stayed overnight at Oslo airport at the Radisson Blu (review coming soon). Work is being done at Oslo airport, so Qatar was right down the far end from the hotel.
There was only one person ahead of me, so I thought it would be a short wait. Wrong! They had a very odd system where they had people checking documents before check-in, but they were both at the economy queue checking all of those. Why they did not just position themselves at the entrance to the area I don’t know. They had been coming over to the business class queue prior to my arrival and they walked off just as I arrived.
By this time, a queue had built up behind me, and the woman at the counter would not serve me until my documents were checked. You’d think they could just check them themselves for something simple like a vaccine certificate. Instead, they started serving people from the economy queue while the whole business queue stood there. Eventually, someone came over, and while he was very apologetic, I wasn’t very impressed by the lack of organisation. Then to add insult to injury, they had let a group go in front from the economy queue that had loads of luggage that then kept us all waiting even longer, even once our documents were checked.
The security queues were fairly short and well organised, at least. Overall Oslo is a pleasant airport to fly from apart from all the long walks!
The OSL lounge is before you go through immigration but after security, so you need to allow extra time to get to the gate. However, both times I went through there was no queue. I will do a more thorough review of the lounge as a stand-alone article since it is used by BA as well.
If you head towards the international departures area, you will see a Starbucks. The lift behind it will take you up to the lounges.
There are two parts to the lounge – the main area and the Premium lounge for BA Gold/oneworld emerald. In terms of alcohol and food and drink, the main lounge is very basic. Blue Nun wine or wine on tap plus beer is the drink choice! There is a salad bar as well as a few nibbles, but that’s about it. Nevertheless, the lounge itself is modern and wasn’t too busy when I was there.
Boarding the Qatar Airways old B777
Sadly this wasn’t great either. The gate was the furthest away and a very long walk away. Once there, they called business class to board. When we got down a very long corridor to the actual jetbridge, we found that both entrances to the aircraft had tensa barriers across, so we were left standing on the freezing bridge for 10 minutes waiting. Apparently, there was some sort of inspection going on, but why get the passengers there in the first place if you knew that?
Once onboard I found my seat and was pleased to see that the indications were it would at least be a good service. I was offered a choice of welcome drink and one of the new Diptyque towels. These are room temperature but smell absolutely divine. Sadly you can’t buy these or I’d go and get a load to carry with me when travelling.
I went for the Rosé champagne as they have a very special one aboard at the moment. It’s is a step up from my favourite Laurent Perrier Rose that they usually serve. This one costs around £300 a bottle and is highly praised by critics. It is like a more complex refined version of the usual Rosé but still has plenty red fruit hints though a bit more toasty.
At the Qatar Airways old B777 seat, there was a Diptyque amenity kit, but one for shorter flights rather than the full presentation box. This was in a Fifa world cup branded black leather look pouch which I thought looked smart. The bag had a detachable strap, so you could use it as a handbag.
- Essential Face moisturiser
- Perfume Eau de Rose
- Fresh body lotion
- Nourishing lip balm
I’m sad to see the refreshing face spray go from the previous brand, as I use these more than anything on long-haul flights to keep the atmosphere less dry and my face hydrated. Nonetheless, this was an upmarket kit with plenty of useful items. Pajamas were not offered as this was a 3pm departure but they will usually find you some if you ask nicely.
Qatar Airways old B777 Seat and cabin
The Qatar Airways old B777 seats are laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration across 4 rows.
The good point is that they feel very spacious in terms of the distance to the seat in front of you compared with most modern business class seats where your feet go under the seat in front.
Nonetheless, they feel very exposed with zero privacy. There is a small divider between the seats at head height but it is so small it is pointless as it only extends a few more centimetres if you pull it.
One thing I really hated was the tiny shared table in the middle. My neighbour kept putting his drink on my half and at one point, I picked up his bowl of nuts by mistake. I was worried that I would inadvertently knock his drink over as it was so close to my arm. From readers’ comments, this happens pretty frequently with these seats.
There was at least plenty of storage space with a large bucket type of storage beneath the seat in front but this of course meant that you could not reach it when the seat belt sign was on. There was also room for shoes or small bags in the racks next to it. At the side there was a pocket for “literature”.
The Qatar Airways old B777 seats technically go almost flat and are very low to the floor which makes it easier to step over someone next to you. However with the footrest which is leather it doesn’t feel like a properly flat bed as your feet are slightly lower. Also if you look in the top right of the photo below you can see what happens if someone tall is next to you – you will either have to ask them to move their feet or hurdle over them – one of my pet hates in business class.
When debating with others on Twitter a few of the men said it was easy to get out if there was someone next to you when in the window seat. My view would be this is only true if your neighbour is not tall or you yourself are pretty tall and happy to straddle someone’s legs!
The Qatar Airways old B777 seat is reasonably wide, well padded and not uncomfortable as such, though I did not like the leather foot rest. I did like that you could control the leg rest separately and the foot rest was adjustable in length.
Qatar Airways old B777 Food and drink
The menus were already at my seat and I was very pleased with what was inside. These too were world cup branded.
Here is the food menu:
And the drinks:
The service started with a drink and some warm nuts. I decided to continue with the Rosé champagne. Apparently Qatar bought the entire vintage of this champagne.
Next came a tasty prawn amuse bouche and a beautifully laid up table with a cute little candle.
I was also given a basket of bread and offered a choice of olive oils for dipping. I went with my usual favourite, the spicy lemon.
It had been a long time since I had flown on Qatar, so of course, I had to have the mezze, which is my favourite starter.
It was, as usual, delicious, but be warned, the portions are enormous, so pace yourself!
For the main, I went for the prawns. This was a little like the chicken Machboos dish Qatar often has. It had an Indian taste to me with plenty of spice but not heat, although it is a classic Arabic stew believed to have beduin origins. The prawns were not overcooked and so I really enjoyed this dish. RThe nuts added some nice texture to the otherwise soft dish. There was a lot of this too!
I was very tempted by the berries and mango as I have often had similar desserts on Qatar which are fresh and light. But I decided, for the sake of the review, I should try the cheese with some more of the excellent Pauillac Bordeaux, which was exceptionally good – far better than anything I have had on BA first class. I had also had a glass of the Beaune Chardonnay from Burgundy which was good but not as special as the Pauillac.
It was a generous portion of cheese with plenty of different crackers although I wasn’t keen on the sweet paste that accompanied it due to the spice used in it which was a little overpowering. But the cheeses themselves were excellent.
Later in the flight, I had a cappuccino which was one of the best I have had on an aircraft and was offered a choice of chocolates to go with it, which is a nice touch. I went for the berries which were enjoyable and not too sweet.
Before landing, we were all given a box of two gourmet chocolates by Laderach, both of which were delicious – particularly the coffee one.
Qatar Airways old B777 Entertainment and wi-fi
Wi-fi is another area that Qatar excel in. Their super wifi is indeed super. Not only is it fast but it is also cheap and even free if you are a member of their Privilege Club. So if you are flying Qatar make sure you sign up for the Privilege Club before your flight. It was easy to get the free hour as you only needed to remember your phone number or email address that was registered. Even if you had to pay $10 is very reasonable for the full flight.
Noise cancelling headphones were provided. There was a reasonable selection of new and older films to watch and quite a range of TV programs. You could tell the TV was a bit old as it lacked definition. IT was a decent size but because it was so far away I found I kept getting distrac ted by what was going on in the cabin. And yes, they still have the super irritating football safety video from ages ago. Let’s hope after the World Cup they get rid of it.
There was a multi country socket and a USB point for charging but the headphone socket and USB were not particularly easy to reach being hidden away at an angle from the seat. The power socket was also a fail as it was at floor level in between the seats and had an annoying cover which basically meant that you could not use it with anything but the tiniest plug. Given that I had been hoping to work and hadn’t managed to charge my laptop before the flight, I was extremely annoyed to find that I could not plug it in with any of my plugs. My neighbour also could not use his socket.
Arrival and connecting
I thought I would touch on this although I will cover the next flight to Dubai in a separate article. My bad luck did not improve when we arrived at Doha at the furthest C gate which is miles away from the central concourse. A few us went to get the train but the airport employee wrongly informed is that we could not use it if connecting. After walking what felt like miles, I breezed through the premium transfer security lookimh forward to my lounge visit.
I went to the Al Safwa lounge as I was flying first class to Dubai (there is no business class on short haul). I was extremely surprised that I was refused access due to me being on a business lite ticket. I was pointed to the frequent flyer lounges. These are new and actually very good.
I have consulted with a number of very frequent flyers to check it wasn’t just me that would expect lounge access in this scenario. They all agreed that if I have an A class first class ticket in my hand I should be allowed access.
I tried to get an explanation from the Qatar Support team on Twitter. First they said the catch all “operational reasons” then they changed their minds and said they could not help and I needed to contact Qatar by email.
I now have had the official answer. Even though there is no such thing as first class lite, the business lite applies to the whole ticket even if part of it is in A fare class for first.
A spokesman for Qatar Airways said,
The Business Lite fare ticket does not include lounge access. As Dubai is only 2 cabins – Business and Economy – due to cabin ineligibility the ticket was issued in First Class cabin with Business Fare. While booking the itinerary, the website will show the sectors and the benefits.
Now, obviously Lastminute.com and other online travel agents do not show this information. It is also a bit confusing with multiple class bookings as on most airline you would still receive the first class lounge even if travelling in business class on the first segment.
It is such as shame that Qatar are still using these aircraft that are well past their sell by date. I went from the newest seats available to the oldest. Fortunately there are only two of these aircraft left in the fleet so the chances of you getting this plane are small. With Qatar’s shortage of aircraft due to the airbus paint issue, I fear they may be around for a bit longer.
The onboard service was as good as ever and the food generous and delicious. The wine list was fantastic with several superb wines and chamagnes available that you would be lucky to find in first class never mind business class.
Fortunately for the way back it changed again to a QSuite.
Like our Qatar Airways old B777 review? You can read more Qatar flight reviews here.
Having read this article I thought I’d check my booking for next month with Qatar and found my flight from MAN-DOH is on one of these old planes, with my onward connection changing from an A350 to an A330, another of their old fleet. Not impressed. Time to see if I can change it……
Hopefully it may change back again if you can’t change it. Heathrow you are normally highly unlikely to get anything except QSuite or the reverse herringbone.
Agreed, I have encountered this old style business class on flight from Doha to Johannesburg. I was not impressed after Qsuite used to be available on this route. Now I am no longer flying Qatar on this route. I am a Platinum level frequent flyer.
Fantastic review; all the details I value. The check in experience sounds so typical of outstations, where contracted ground staff can do so much damage to otherwise quality airlines’ reputations. It made me wonder though, how regimented were the same ground staff during the boarding process? I’m sick of getting stuck forever behind those turning right because gate agents have allowed a free for all at boarding.
They were fine at boarding as far as I know. I was pretty close to the gate when they called the first group as they told me as I entered they were about to start which I thought was useful to give a heads up.
We had the same ‘issue’ recently on our Doha to Heathrow flight. Thankfully traveling as a couple the close proximity of the seats wasn’t a problem.
I agree, the Qatar food was delicious and service was wonderful as always.
We had different style amenity kits on each of our 4 legs, all World Cup themed and all were rather nice.
We got pyjamas which were also football themed. I joked with my husband that our son would have loved them. One of the cabin crew happened to be passing and on her return asked what size my son was so she could get some extra pyjamas. I laughed telling her he’s actually 26 years old!
Her response? What size would be best!!!
I’m probably in the minority but I love the safety briefing…..although I preferred the previous Barcelona one!!
To add to your and James11 comment above.
We started from Stockholm and had an almost identical checkin experience complete with a large family with a mountain of baggage called from economy line as we were approaching the one business desk.
Didn’t make for a great start.
It does seem like there could be a case of mis-selling by Lastminute here, it could be worth a chat with Trade Standards. I despise Lastminute so my view may be even more tainted than yours Michele
Yes I have wondered that. It’s a bit of a grey area but it’s something I’ve been considering.
My wife and I recently completed an OSL-DOH-BKK//SIN-DOH-ARN trip to SIN with 3 days in BKK en route, mainly on Qatar. We must have lucked out (14 Nov) as our checkin at OLS was very quick although I did wonder why our docs were checked just before we got to the check-in desk.
We got the Qsuite to DOH and then the A380 to BKK (requiring an obligatory visit to the on-board bar at about 4am UK time!). On our return from SIN, another Qsuite flight and that was followed by an AY flight to ARN (I had received several emails previously about a cancelled QR flight for this leg but it transpired that it became an AY flight) – on their new non reclining J class seats, which were very good.
WE have been long-term fans of Qatar flights and for this trip we booked direct with Qatar into R and D classes – which gave us Al Mourjan lounge access in DOH I agree with all your comments re Qatar food, service etc – excellent!
We used the OSL Premium lounge, which was OK. The low point of the entire trip was the dreadful lounge at ARN, waiting for our BA connection back to LHR. The reason we went to ARN and not OSL on the return was that from ARN we could get a same day flight back to LHR. We have also now both requalified for BA Gold with the lower TP requirement by end December!
Yes the ARN lounge is pretty dire. I miss the A380 bar, it’s such a lovely feature. Hopefully I’ll get to do it again soon.
I think the biggest pet peeve is Qatar’s tendency towards multiple equipment changes throughout the life of a booking and their ‘last minute’ ( see D+3) change out stats.
I remember a certain young Swedish/ American vlogger booking a trip for himself & his mom planning to give her her 1st J experience in a Q-Suite just for it to get changed to the same product you got lumped with Michele.
They’ve also always played fast & loose with, or more accurately with not, alliance perks when it comes to lounge access. I think those of us who are VFFs and/or avgeeks all know how they handle such things but I always feel for those maybe a little less experienced/ knowledgeable who get turned away from a lounge they’d be dreaming about. I think in your case with the ‘Fake-F’ refusal is particularly egregious though.
Add to that the fairly widely held belief that they’re great in the air but heaven’s help you if it goes wrong on the ground and it’s no wonder they have to excell in the air.
Far from implying that they aren’t a good carrier or that having Q-Suite’s on your bucket list isn’t a given but there’s also times when you’d be prone to question the veracity of their reputation
I have not booked a lite fare on QR but Expedia does seem to show various baggage allowances correctly so you know what you are getting.
I don’t mind the older 2-2-2 seats. The cabin feels more spacious. However, it can depend on who sits next to you. I have usually had the ordinary type with no problems but had a mad woman once – endless fiddling, sighing, demanding of crew ……. (hope that wasn’t you Michelle)!
Enjoyed reading the review Michele!
The big problem with booking with any OTA (or airline direct for that matter) is as soon as you tick that box accepting their 36 pages of ‘Terms and Conditions’ you are usually agreeing to an extremely one sided document which makes it very difficult to challenge when things aren’t clearly displayed or go wrong. I’ve been there before – something has happened with a booking with an airline or OTA, I complain, they direct me to ‘page 37, paragraph 1.4’ of the Terms and Conditions I accepted. That doesn’t make it right. I have also had issues resolved to some satisfaction even though the T&C’s stated the airline/OTA could wash their hands of my issue.
The oldest 777 Michele experienced is actually my favourite QR aircraft to fly 🙂 With one caveat – i’m travelling with the other half. I love how open and airy the cabin is with no need to put feet in cubby holes etc. But if i’m travelling solo – no no no.
It is incredible how the Qatar Airways CEO hasn’t gotten to grips with the post travel customer services/ground issue aspect. He is VERY hands on and does not accept criticism of QR. He is constantly in battles with aircraft manufacturers and the like when things are not up to standard. If only the ground services matched the inflight experience then QR would truly be a ‘Five Star’ airline.
Love the review Michele! I am based in South Florida. In October I travelled Atlanta to Doha with two family members. We had booked the Qsuites, hoping for a center two,or four suite seat grouping, but got changed to the old 777 a few weeks before the flight. We all took middle section seats to have direct aisle access. I really liked the leg (and knee) room. Our connection in Doha onwards was in First in Q suites, and I found them very claustrophobic.
Also, in Q suites, my knees constantly bang the leg coffin walls while trying to sleep or turnover. I’m 6 ft tall and really despise the narrow leg tunnels on these new planes, not just on QR, but other airlines also!
So I am a fan of this old 777 seat….. As long as I have a middle section aisle seat!
It is definitely the most roomy business class flying today I think.
Qatar ironically seems to specialise for travel by alcoholics.
Not all passengers want to drink themselves silly, althoigh most comments here seem to be about alcohol, and we all know that too much drink is a bad thing, especially when flying.
Do they accept gay travellers ? or women on their own? do they treat them differently, that is what I would like to know about Qatar Airlines.
Fly qatar the airine of the worst country in the world for human rights, but they give you pink champagne, so that’s all right ?
What a strange way to view things. I’m pretty sure the definition of an alcoholic does not include someone who has a glass of wine or champagne on a plane.
I was a woman travelling solo as it states in the review. I have travelled solo many many times with them and have never had any issues related to being solo. The crew are multi-national and many of them are gay. I know a great many gay couples that have happily travelled on Qatar. An international airline whether it is owned in part by the Qatar government is not the same as being in Qatar and their laws.
I actually had the Château Batailley in First on BA in March. Agree a very good drop that sadly has not appeared on subsequent flights.
I have been toying with booking some reward flights on QR in J for early in the new year but I’m increasingly worried about involuntary downgrades.
Yes, Chateau Batailley has appeared in First recently, and has, on occasion, been available both in the F lounge at T5 and the Concorde Room. It’s a middling good grand cru claret which I really like, and as it’s just about in-budget, I’ve got some at home currently.
Many years ago BA regularly served Lynch Bages in First, and that’s a real cracker! On one memorable flight in the early ’90s, there were two different vintages available. In fact tbh I think I only remember the first few hours of the flight!
Lastminute.com came very poorly in a recent WHICH magazine review.
Are there really only two 777s with the 2-2-2 configuration left in their fleet? I fly semi-regularly KUL-DOH and have had this configuration every time, including my upcoming flight in early February… d’oh!
That’s what I was told. The KUL route is one of its most usual routes for some reason.
1, Lastminute.com: I normally avoid third-party sellers like the plague, although I did get some good J class fares with AC in 2019 through Skyscanner. But booking flights for Jan 22, PayPal mucked up my paying for seats directly with Egyptair, but the repeated attempts increased the price by £1,000! LMC hadn’t caught up, so I booked through them. These were fully cancellable tickets, with a fee to the airline and £35 per head to LMC. When we cancelled, because we’d been in contact with someone who tested positive, LMC behaved appallingly, telling me that I had to prove that we had contracted Covid, and lying to Amex that I would be repaid by the airline. I got back more than I was strictly entitled to through a chargeback, but it took months. I’ll never touch LMC again.
2. QR seats: in recent years I’ve only experienced the 2-2-2 seats in QR’s A330s, but I agree with the criticism. Luckily my last flight that used to have an A330 (DOH-RGN) switched to an A319, with an excellent business cabin. When I fly DOH-CCU next month I should go outwards aboard a 878. To my surprise I’m shown returning on an A350, although I thought that QR had grounded them in its row with Airbus.
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