Flying in style with Qatar Airways: Review of Qatar Airways Business Class and the London Heathrow Lounge
The Outbound Journey – Review of the Qatar Airways London Heathrow T4 Lounge
Before I begin this review of my journey with Qatar Airways from London Heathrow Terminal 4 to Dar Es Salaam, via Doha, I want to make brief comment on “extraordinary energy”. It’s a relevant comment, I promise, so stick with me. The night before my flight with Qatar Airways, I attended a One Young World London event on personal effectiveness, run by Dr Nerina. One Young World, for those who don’t know, is an annual summit involving nearly 2,000 young people from over 180 countries worldwide, and it’s also a fantastic global network to be part of. The talk delivered by Dr Nerina the night before my flight to Tanzania focused on how to obtain extraordinary energy. You know, those people who seem to have no boundaries, who thrive on their purpose and their passions and somehow manage to achieve far more than the rest of us mere mortals.
Dr Nerina began her talk by asking the audience to rate their energy levels out of 10. How would you rate your energy level right now as you read this? I chose 8 as I was seriously excited about my upcoming trip to Tanzania, so felt really positive and much more energetic than normal. She said that most people oscillate around the 2 to 5 mark, stressed by the frenetic pace of work life and the many demands we all juggle. I won’t repeat her talk in full, but my main point is that her talk helped me to identify the source of my energy. What is it that really energises you and allows you to feel at your very best? I have realised this afternoon, sat in the Qatar Airways lounge in London Heathrow Terminal 4, that it is travel that really fires me up. Yes that might be an obvious point for a travel blogger, but until you actually take the time to realise it and identify it, you don’t realise how much you thrive on certain things as opposed to others.
So as you might have guessed from the above paragraph, I’m feeling pretty enthused right now. I’m sat on a Qatar Airways flight to Doha, the first leg of my 24-hour journey to Zanzibar, and I am buzzing. Interestingly though, I hardly slept last night (mainly due to packing and work stress) so I awoke feeling absolutely exhausted. However as soon as I entered Heathrow Airport, those familiar butterflies in the stomach made their appearance and I suddenly perked up. I made my way to the Qatar Airways Premium Lounge in Terminal 4 and was greeted by two lovely hostesses who showed me around and informed me that I didn’t need to watch out for the departure boards, that they would personally notify me when it was time for me to head to my boarding gate.
I settled down at a window-side table overlooking the runway and with great pleasure ordered a glass of Bollinger champagne. I have kept this quiet among my friends for fear of appearing boring, but I actually gave up “alcohol in the UK” for Lent. Having completed Dry January and felt so fantastic all month, I saw Lent as a perfect excuse to repeat the health kick. But after 40 days of abstinence (bar my trip to Iceland of course) I was positively dying for an alcoholic drink, and having passed the border control, I figured I was no longer “in the UK” so decided to celebrate completing Lent. Could the sudden injection of champagne have contributed to my “extraordinary energy”? I’m sure Dr Nerina would disgree, as physiologically alcohol must be an energy drainer. But the prospect of jetting off to somewhere new, to Africa via Qatar in the Middle East, has honestly filled me with such positivity. The lounge itself is utter luxury. After settling down with my Bollinger, I then devoured a plate of their Satay Chicken followed by macaroons and strawberries dipped in chocolate. Honestly, you don’t find that in your standard airport WHSmith…
In the Qatar Airways lounge you can also refresh in an individual bathroom complete with L’Occitane products and every toothpaste / shaver / buff / nailcare / sewing kit you could ever need. Alongside the more leisurely aspects, there’s also a business centre and a selection of the Financial Times and other publications. All in all it was exactly what I needed to build up my energy after a sleepless night, and when the time came to board my flight, I barely wanted to leave. At least you let you take a little slice of the lounge onto the plane with you – you can fill up on pick’n’mix’ sweets before you board the plane – they even have little sweet boxes especially so that you can take them with you to nibble mid-flight!
Fortunately Qatar Airways is a member of the OneWorld Alliance so my status in the BA Executive Club boosted me up from Economy into the upper deck of the Airbus A380, where I couldn’t have been treated better. Sticking to precedent, I opted for Jacquarts champagne and then a glass of Baileys on ice to accompany my dessert. Economy class on the upper deck is 2-4-2 across the row, and I luckily ended up sat next to a fascinating Belgian gentleman with some excellent stories to keep me entertained. All in all I couldn’t ask for more from a long journey and it made for the perfect start to my trip to Tanzania!
The Inbound Journey – Review of Qatar Airways Business Class flight from Doha to London
On my return journey home to London after 10 days in Tanzania, I was travelling overnight from Dar Es Salaam and connecting flights in Doha again. I had planned to land in Heathrow on Monday morning and head straight to the office, so as not to waste any unnecessary annual leave. I’m still (just) young enough to have the energy for such a rude awakening & a full day’s work straight after travelling, but I was obviously banking on a good night’s sleep on my two flights home. As if Qatar Airways were reading my mind, I discovered upon arriving at my boarding gate in Doha that I’d been upgraded to Business Class on the second leg of my journey (the overnight part)! Who knows why, but perhaps it’s because of my BA Executive Club status, which makes me a Ruby member of the OneWorld Alliance. This was obvious fantastic news as I graciously accepted seat 11A and headed for Priority Boarding.
Business Class in Qatar Airways is just wonderful. On the A340, not only is the seat pitch a whole 61 inches and the seat 20 inches wide (no need to worry about leg room), transforming into a proper flatbed (albeit at 169°, not quite 180° but certainly good enough), but a Giorgio Armani washbag containing Sí perfume and body lotion awaited me on my seat. In Qatar Airways Business Class there are just six seats in each row, compared to nine in the Economy class behind us, where the seat pitch is only 33 inches and 18.8 inches wide.
Both my dinner and breakfast were served on crisp white linen with silver cutlery, and the presentation was so photo-worthy that I wondered where in the plane they’d hidden away the sous-chef… The staff can also cater to your menu fancies whenever you want it, any time during your flight, which was a first for me. I began the flight with a crisp glass of champagne and spinach and ricotta ravioli topped with rocket and fresh Parmesan, that was honestly better than any Italian restaurant I’ve been to recently. I also pre-ordered my breakfast from the menu before snuggling under multiple blankets on my decent bed. I don’t usually sleep that well in plane seats, so being able to lie down flat was a godsend and allowed me to get a decent 5 or 6 hours sleep.
I awoke to sunny skies, a health shot of carrot-apple-beetroot juice, a pineapple and coconut juice smoothie and all the fresh fruit platters, pastries and Greek yoghurt and granola you could wish for. It’s so very unfair that all holidays eventually need to come to an end, but what a way to finish the holiday properly! And all the sweeter for the upgrade being a last minute surprise too.