TRIP REPORT: Best narrow-body premium product?

TRIP REPORT | INDEX


Flight: QR232
Route: Belgrade – Doha
Date: March 5

I arrived at the airport a bit earlier than planned just as check-in opened, which was a breeze. After passing passport control, I noticed the airport was eerily quiet. It was really deserted, and I guessed it was because of the virus. But after checking the departures board it didn’t seem there were any flights within the hour. Later the airport got much busier as Air Serbia flights from Europe started arriving, as well as Etihad and Qatar.

While at the airport, I noticed that a lot of hand sanitiser dispensing machines have been put up, as well as signs reminding people to wash their hands. A few people were wearing masks (mostly Asians) but other than that I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. However, I did notice that the airport boarded up the area where it is building a new bus gate (this is in the unrenovated part of the terminal where there used to be stairs to the toilets). Also, in the A concourse, the entry to the gates have been moved to the side so there is no congestion and lines in the corridor anymore.




The aircraft for the flight to Doha was downgraded to an A320 (from the A321) because of the coronavirus. From what I can notice on their website, all flights will be on the A320 until 29th of March. Since I was travelling in business class, this actually turned out to be great because it meant I would fly in the airline’s upgraded short haul product, which is probably one of the best in the industry. Qatar has A320s with both the upgraded cabin and the standard cabin, which is also featured on all their A321s. You can work out which product you will get based on how many rows the seat map is showing when booking your ticket – 28 with the upgraded seats, and 30 with standard ones.

I was surprised that the flight seemed to be relatively full despite the virus. Qatar begins boarding their flights extremely early (at all airports) so the plane would depart on time. Boarding started exactly an hour before the scheduled departure time. There were 6 of us in business class (capacity is twelve, so each of us had an empty seat next to us).

The cabin on this A320 looks great in my opinion. Lie-flat seats without obstructing the passenger behind you when the seat is reclined, big screens and pull-out tables. Immediately behind the seat and to the side is a storage compartment, which is also where you could plug in your headphone jack and a USB. Waiting in this area were a pair of headphones, a bottle of Evian water and a small amenity kit. There is also a power socket located at the bottom of the seat. Each seat also had a pillow and blanket waiting.







Service was very good and attentive. Two ladies were working the cabin. Both introduced themselves individually to each passenger and informed us of the flight time. Menus, drinks of choice and hot or cold towels were all provided before departure. We pushed back right on time.



I won’t bore you with all the details, so I will let the photos do the talking. The food was great with a huge selection of meals and beverages (forgot to take a pic of the dessert), as was the entertainment system. I really don’t think there is an airline that offers such a premium product on a short haul flight.




After the meal service the lights were dimmed and everyone closed their blinds, so the cabin was dark. At one point I even fell asleep.


The lavatory had all kinds of amenities, including shaving kits, toothbrushes, perfume, and they were always clean.


The A320s with the upgraded product also have the “Superfast wifi”. I purchased it and the speeds were great. Ironically, the wifi for the entire duration of the flight costs $20 USD, while the wifi on their A380s and A350 are half the price. Still there is also a complementary option for messaging and social media, as well as a three hour option for $10 USD.


It was a smooth flight and we arrived ahead of schedule. Before touchdown the crew thanked each passenger individually. Doha Airport seemed busy as usual, although quite a few people were wearing masks.



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Comments

  1. Anonymous09:22

    No need for a question mark in the title- you can freely change it to an exclamation point since IT IS the best premium point on short haul, and one of the best, if not the best on long haul as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's really debatable. There are Asian carriers such as SQ, CX and even Oman Air (WY) offering a really good product. Even though SU is not really mentioned a lot, their new A350 looks very good!

      https://thepointsguy.com/news/inside-the-first-airbus-a350-with-business-class-suites-for-aeroflot/

      At the end of the day, there is no such thing as "the best airline in the world". It can be one of the top but not the top.

      Delete
  2. Anonymous11:45

    My experience with Qatar service to Belgrade is the opposite.

    - Bus loading in Doha to a remote stand.
    - Too hot aboard the plane.
    - Smelly cabin
    - Flew over the war torn Syria. I saw it on my phone GPS as there was...
    -No inflight entertainment. And the later route confirmed it when I saw Cyprus.
    - Tasteless scrambled eggs served.
    -

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous12:55

      It's not really a secret that they overfly Syria. That said I do agree with you, they are a bit exaggerated

      Delete
    2. Anonymous12:59

      I flew recently BEG-DOH-BEG in economy and had a very different experience then yours. PTVs in all seats, menus, refreshing napkin before departure, surprisingly good food with 3 meal choices (on 5 hour flight), blanket and pillow on seat, USB in seat for phone charging, very nice crew. I'm definitely no longer going to fly with Etihad or even worse Flydubai when I compared my experience with these guys and the prices are the same. Miles ahead.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous13:06

      Hit and miss to BEG from DOH, not sure about ex-YU markets.

      More often than not, you end up with an old and tacky aircraft with no IFE. Service also tends to vary drastically. So if you are lucky to score one of the recently delivered 'buses and with a motivated crew - you'll have a memorable journey. Otherwise, you're well on the way to a huge disappointment.

      Flying over Syria is no fun either and I honestly feel its pretty lame from QR not to fly the standard routes that other Gulf carriers take, over Iraq and Turkey (no blockade there).

      Delete
    4. Anonymous13:10

      Your comment about IFE is not true. They have a total of 7 A320 planes without IFE. If you look on flightradar you will see these are almost never sent to Belgrade, especially as they rarely even send A320s to BEG (until recently because of less demand). You may not like them but part of your comment is false.

      Delete
    5. Anonymous13:16

      Very false I would say, makes you wonder if he/she even flew with QR.
      Personally I only had fantastic experiences with them.

      Delete
    6. Anonymous13:16

      I worked for QR, and I can confirm that airplanes without IFE were being sent to SKP, SJJ, BEG and even SOF on a few occasions. He's not lying, stop trying to prop up Al Baker's money burning machine.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous13:21

      Find them for me. The ones without IFE are registered A7-LAA,B,C,D,E,F,G,H. I have flightradar subscription showing me flight data all the way back to March 9, 2019. So in the past year they have not sent an aircraft without IFE to Belgrade! So stop making things up. Don't know about Skopke or Sarajevo.

      Delete
    8. Anonymous13:35

      It seems they dispatch their worst planes to routes not served by EY such as BEG. If EY would start flying BEG they would drastically improve the product.

      Delete
    9. Anonymous13:40

      And I also want to add the captain did not know the name of the destication city/airport, and on overhead TVs they ran some crap Arabic movie. So mr anon13.21. I beg your pardon. I flew morning flight of 26th July. No backseat IFE just like in an Air Serbia or Easyjet narrowbody. And the cabin smell was that resembling exhaust fumes!

      Delete
    10. Anonymous13:44

      @ Anonymous 8 March 2020 at 13:35
      Do you have any clue what you are talking about? EY not serving Belgrade?

      Delete
    11. Anonymous13:46

      @ Anonymous 8 March 2020 at 13:40
      I'm not part of this discussion, if you had one bad experience with them, it does not mean that all of their flights are bad or that their service is bad. I have never flown with them but a few friends that did only had praise for them, and they have traveled around a lot.

      Delete
    12. Anonymous13:49

      @ Anonymous 8 March 2020 at 13:21
      You missed one registration A7-ADD. And they flew it to BEG seven times in the last year. So out of 365 flights to BEG, 358 had IFE. Case closed. I do agree this is better than EY and FZ which have no IFE whatsoever (FZ does but its not turned on).

      Delete
    13. Anonymous14:18

      Actually QR had more than 365 flights since they boosted BEG to ten last summer as a result of booming demand. With EY going through a schizophrenic transition and FZ being an LCC they are the only Muslim premium carrier in Belgrade. I would add TK but Turkey is a secular country.

      Delete
    14. Anonymous19:39

      TK puts all of them to shame!

      Delete
  3. Nice report, thanks a lot for sharing!
    As for the QR A320s - I cannot agree more that they have a really good narrow body product. In Europe there are almost no such airlines remaining simply because the majority are not backed by the government as it is the case with QR.
    What amazes me is that they currently have 54 (!) A350s, which I doubt will be deployed in the region anytime soon.
    I flew QR various times and was extremely satisfied! I prefer the triple 7 to the Dreamliner.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Anonymous23:38

    When did this product get introduced? Looks great.
    The the last time I flew business on QR between DOH/BEG the seats were pretty crappy!
    Also; when booking how would one know if they'll get these seats or have all days/aircraft on this route been updated?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous15:12

      It is being used on some flights to BEG since the A320 is being used now due to less demand (QR normally uses larger A321 on BEG route which does not have this product).

      On the A320 you can know if you have this product by looking at the seat map. If your plane has 28 rows then its the business class in the review. If it has 30 rows then it's the standard business class that you probably had.

      Delete

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