My Roving Reporter has recently been on a madcap tier point run of Asia thanks to a great Qatar deal from Pisa in their sale. The flight to Bangkok cost €1069 return. He flew on the regional business class A319 to Doha and was impressed by his experience. This is good to know, as some of the cheapest Qatar deals such as the £500 deal from Bucharest to Dubai, have featured the A319. The flight time to Doha was just under 6 hours. The A320 is also used for regional business class and is identical except for an extra row of business class.
The Oneworld lounge at Pisa is the third party Galiliei Vip Lounge. It is on the first floor in the Departure Area, right past the security checkpoints. The lounge is charmingly ‘granny-ish’ and comfortable but it is on the basic side.
Interestingly, they boarded from the back of the aircraft first. I only witnessed this as I got to the gate early since the lounge wasn’t great. However the check in lady saw me, and insisted I came to the front of the queue, so I boarded first. The rest of the Business cabin boarded after everyone else.
Once on-board I received a lovely welcome. Both business class crew members introduced themselves (and knelt). I was offered anything I wanted to drink, which was a nice change from the standard selection on most airlines. I had Mint Tea and 2 full glasses of champagne before take off.
Unlike my last trip, they had the new BRICS amenity kit. I thought that this was a vast improvement on the previous Armani kit. They looked very smart and had a much better selection of products for using on the flight. The problem with the Armani kit was that if you didn’t like the fragrance, there was not much else in the kit. There is a choice of grey, black, burgundy or white cases. Unlike the Armani kit, it contains products from Italy’s Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio, an environmentally friendly olive oil company. The kit comprised of lip balm, City Cream anti ageing moisturiser, hydrating facial mist, flight socks, eye mask and earplugs.
The A319 business class cabin is tiny with only 2 rows of 2-2 layout. The seat is very spacious when you compare it with something like BA Club Europe regional business class. It has a similar feel to the AA A321 trans-continental aircraft. There is plenty of space for your feet on the ottoman. Even more impressive for regional business class, the seat converts into a fully flat bed. The only disadvantage is the 2-2- layout if you are travelling on your own. In order to exit the window seat, you will have to climb over the person next to you if they have the bed out.
The television screen appears very small compared to the modern Qatar aircraft though this is isn’t helped by it being so far away, instead of to the side. It is akin to the old A330 monitor, but it was actually more than adequate for the relatively short flight. Bose noise cancelling headphones were provided.
As usual Qatar offered dine on demand. I ordered my meal for 1 hour after departure. I was offered an amuse bouche of smoked salmon with potato salad, which appeared to be a small portion of the appetiser! The menu was the same as from the flight I took from Oslo last month. The beef was clearly a popular option as they soon ran out, but not before I secured my order.
Roasted butternut squash soup
- Smoked salmon with pea and potato salads
- Arabic spiced chicken with machboos sauce
- Grilled fillet of beef with horseradish jus
- Paneer tikka masala with makhani sauce
- Lime and coconut panna cotta
- Gourmet ice cream
- Fresh Fruit
The beef was disappointing as it was bland and tough. I had enjoyed my steak on the Oslo flight so perhaps their are better ovens on the B787! I did, however, really enjoy the cheese plate which certainly puts the Club World cheese plate to shame!
- Billecart Salmon Champagne
- Lanson Brut Rose
- Francois Martenot Chablis Premier Cru 2015
- Babich Black Label Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
- Gustav Lorentz Gewurtztraminer
- Chateau Brane-Cantenac Margaux 2012
- Two Hands McClaren Vale Shiraz
- Villa di Vetrice Chianti Rufina Riserva 2011
- Lions de Suduirant Sauternes 2013
- Gran Cruz Tawny Port 1992
The service was the usual high standard from Qatar. I was offered regular top ups of my drinks. When I requested another bottle of water, I was offered a choice of either freezing cold or room temperature. This is the first time I have been offered this on an aircraft and it was a nice touch.
Overall this was an excellent flight, as you would expect from Qatar. Although the regional seats are not as good as the normal Qatar business class seats, they were more than adequate for the short flight time. When you compare this to other regional business class products such as AA or BA, this is definitely streets ahead.
Great article and it certainly gives good food for thought about using Qatar in the future.
You stated this was a tier/points run – can you let us all know why you did this and what you actually received. Also it would be good to know how long you spent in Bangkok and how you happened to find the deal from Pisa. I assume you also had to get to Pisa from somewhere?
Hi Chris. Sorry for the slow reply. For some reason your comment had gone into spam. It has a mind of its own sometimes! Glad you enjoyed the article. My Roving Reporter did the tier points run, although I am doing one myself later this year to Hawaii. We will both often do a holiday that involves extra flights (usually at no extra cost) to continue our BA Gold Executive club membership which needs 1500 tier points a year to qualify. For this you get access to the First Class lounge whatever class you are in whenever you travel on oneworld airlines in any country, spa treatments in economy on long haul BA flights, free seat reservations including certain seats that are only available to gold, extra baggage, priority boarding and fast track security, access to the First wing check in at Heathrow with its own security channel and direct access to the lounge, access to the gold line which is much quicker than the usual BA phone lines, it also blocks the seat next to you if there is space, you can access extra reward availiblity on Avios (although you pay more), anyone travelling with you can get free seat reservations, even if they are on a separate booking, you can guest 1 person into the First lounge with you and finally you can transfer avios for free to other people. To us it is quite valuable and if means a few extra stops enroute somewhere, it is worth it.
To answer the other questions, the Qatar deals are advertised on each country’s website but the best bet is to watch this website (or sign up for the emails) as I provide links to the best deals during Qatar promotions. They generally do the sale throughout Europe so I will look at all the websites when a deal comes out and analyse which look for the best deal taking into account how easy it is to get there and how much it costs to get to the starting point. Otherwise it can be a long job seraching through so many websites. The best deals vary by country to country each time. Yes RR had to get to Pisa which he did on BA in economy. You need to factor this cost in, but it is usually still a bargain. RR spent 2 nights in Bangkok, then went to Tokyo and Hong Kong before he came home. The next sale is due in the next 6 weeks hopefully.
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