My flight from Doha back to Singapore was on a Qatar Airways A350-900, which was meant to be my first-ever Qsuites experience.
Unfortunately, a last-minute aircraft swap meant I got an older A350-900 with the Super Diamond reverse herringbone seat instead. I’ll spare you the full story of my Qsuites curse, but if you feel like some schadenfreude you can read about it below.
While the Super Dimond isn’t a bad seat by any means, it’s a far cry from the Qsuite (or at least what I imagine it to be- I’ve never actually had the chance to fly it yet!).
But as the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, demand to see life’s manager (I may be paraphrasing). Even though this wasn’t the seat I originally intended to review, I figured it’s still worth doing, given how likely you are to encounter it when flying Qatar Airways.
|✈️ tl;dr: Qatar Airways A350-900 Business Class
|Qatar’s older Business Class seat lacks privacy, but is otherwise solid. That said, it’ll always be a disappointment when substituted for Qsuites.
|👍 The Good
|👎 The Bad
Qatar Airways A350-900 Business Class
Qatar Airways has two different Business Class products on its A350-900 aircraft.
The one that everyone hopes to get are its fabled Qsuites, enclosed suites with sliding privacy doors. Some Qsuites can convert into a double bed, others can be converted into a part of a personal office or dining room (assuming you have the money to do book four of them!).
The one that I got was the older Super Diamond seat, which is also used on other carriers like American Airlines, British Airways (though they did slap a door on it), and China Airlines. Incidentally, Qatar Airways has also installed this seat on its A380s and B787-8s.
As far as Business Class seats come, this is competitive enough. However, it’s nowhere near as luxurious or as private as the Qsuite, as the photos above show. With Qsuites, the high walls provide visual separation; with the Super Diamond, anyone who stands up can see the entire cabin at a glance.
A total of 36 Business Class seats are laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration, with Rows 1-6 forming a forward section, and Rows 7-9 forming a mini-cabin behind it, separated by the lavatories.
There are no walls between the forward and rear sections, so being in the back doesn’t offer much additional privacy (apart from the fact that foot traffic might be lower, since Row 1-6 passengers won’t pass by 7-9 en route to the lavatory). In fact, Row 9 might get some noise leakage from Economy, since the infant bassinets are just behind.
Couples will want to opt for the grey-coloured E/F seats in the middle, since the privacy partition between the seats can be lowered. However, you won’t exactly be holding hands because the seats are separated by a centre console.
Solo travellers will naturally gravitate towards the maroon-coloured A/K seats by the windows.
While other airlines using the Super Diamond have attempted to add some privacy by installing a wing at head level, Qatar has decided not to do so. This, unfortunately, means that you’re very exposed to the aisle. Like I said, privacy isn’t a strong suit of this seat.
The Super Diamond seats have 50″ of pitch and 22″ of width, though some extra inches can be gained by lowering the retractable armrest on the aisle side.
The tray table extends from below the IFE screen directly in front of you. It’s one of the largest tray tables I’ve had in Business Class, with space for a laptop plus drinks and snacks. However, you can’t adjust the height of the table, and it can’t be pushed away to quickly exit the seat during meal service (though you could lower the aisle-side armrest to squeeze out).
Seat controls were attached to the side table, and were fairly intuitive. Each component of the seat could be controlled individually, and there were pre-sets for full flat, full upright, dining and lounging.
Below the seat controls was a universal power outlet as well as a Type-A USB port. Unlike Qatar’s B787-9s, there is no wireless charging option.
While the IFE screen is touch sensitive, Qatar also provides a wired remote to navigate the system. This saves you from having to lean forward and the associated “gorilla arm” issues.
In terms of storage, loose items like mobile phones, reading materials and laptops can be placed on the side console (though it needs to be kept clear for taxi, take-off and landing). There was also a water bottle holder, where a 500ml bottle had been placed.
Additional storage can be found down by your legs in a side bin that’s large enough for a waist pouch (yes, some of us still wear waist pouches) or laptop charger.
The armrest by the aisle can open up to store an additional water bottle or headphones.
One feature that’s so well-hidden I missed it is a separate compartment for shoes. This is built into the shell of the seat in front of you, and a really nifty feature since it keeps them from tripping you up at night.
Waiting at each seat were two pillows: a standard-sized one, and a souvenir take-home pillow with one of those cringe-inducing quotes on them. A shrink-wrapped blanket was also provided, and I find Qatar’s to be the best in the business. They have a velvet texture on one side and a smooth finish on the other, and are very large- there was plenty to go around even with my 1.8-metre frame.
Passengers also received a special-edition Qatar Airways World Cup amenities kit, though this is probably Qatar clearing out the backlog since the World Cup’s been over for months. This kit has a strap at the back, which lets it double up as a sling bag.
Inside was the usual range of diptyque amenities, such as lip balm, body lotion, face cream, and a small sample of perfume, either:
- Eau Rose’ Eau de Toilette, an infusion of the finest damascena and centifolia roses, or
- ‘34 Boulevard Saint Germain’ Eau de Toilette with notes of amber, patchouli, cinnamon and rose
There were also special-edition Qatar Airways World Cup pyjamas.
Food & Beverage
Pre-departure drinks were served after boarding. I had some still water and a glass of Gosset Grand Rose champagne, which was presented together with a diptyque wet towel.
Menus and wine lists were also distributed on the ground, and orders taken ahead of take-off. Since this was a red-eye flight, I appreciated that the crew got this done speedily in order to maximise sleeping time. Qatar Airways offers dine-on-demand in Business Class, which means that passengers can choose to sleep first and dine later, up to one hour before landing.
|🍷 Qatar Airways Wine List
|🇫🇷 Laurent-Perrier Brut
|🇫🇷 Gosset Brut Grand Rose
|🇫🇷 Albert Bichot Montagny Premier Cru 2018
|🇨🇱 Casa Silva Cool Coast Sauvignon Blanc 2021
|🇿🇦 Ken Forrester Old Vine Reserve Chenin Blanc 2021
|🇫🇷 Chateau Belgrave Grand Cru Classe Haut-Medoc 2014
|🇦🇺 Yalumba Samuel’s Collection Barossa Shiraz 2019
|🇳🇿 Discovery Lawson’s Dry Hills Reserve Pinot Noir 2019
|🇩🇪 Markus Molitor Zeltinger Schlossberg Auslese 2017
Shortly after take-off, another round of drinks was served. I’m not really a fan of Qatar’s Laurent-Perrier champagne, so I went with a Chilean sauvignon blanc. Qatar’s onboard wine list, to their credit, is quite large: three reds, three whites and two champagnes. For the sake of comparison, Singapore Airlines offers two reds, two whites and one champagne.
Dinner service started about one hour after take-off. The table was dressed with a table cloth, salt and pepper shakers, a bread basket and a battery-powered candle. Some people find the candle tacky. Some people have no joy in their lives.
Qatar offers a small off-menu amuse bouche before every meal service, and today’s was a small piece of smoked salmon nigiri, together with mango salsa.
This was served together with a bread basket, and I have to give it to Qatar: they make excellent bread out of Doha. It’s not often you’ll catch me raving over airline bread, but this was to die for. It’s three buns baked into one, the inside is moist and piping hot, and I could have eaten a whole meal of just this.
The soup of the day was a “curry soup”, or at least that’s what the crew told me. I had no idea what curry soup was, but ordered it anyway and didn’t regret it. The soup was lighter than I expected, with an alluring blend of spice and coconut milk punctuated by the addition of some fresh chilis.
Equally good was the lobster cocktail with compressed fruits. I was surprised that they served an entire lobster tail with this, plus a side of crab mayonnaise salad! The texture of the meat was fresh and sweet.
For the main, I had the grilled jumbo prawns with rice. “Jumbo” prawns was a bit of a misnomer, but the tangy tamarind sauce was hard to stop lapping up with the jasmine rice.
Finally, a dessert of pandan and tapioca pudding rounded off the meal.
I have to say, this was one of the better airline meals I’ve had, so hats off to Qatar for getting their catering out of Doha done right.
If you get peckish mid-flight, the crew set up snacks at the bar area outside the lavatories. I didn’t have a chance to check it out on this flight, but here’s an idea of what you can expect based on a previous flight I had.
Business Class passengers have a 17″ high-definition touchscreen at their seat, equipped with Qatar’s Oryx One inflight entertained system. This is 5″ smaller than the 22″ display on the Qsuite, but the picture quality was sharp.
Oryx One offers more than 3,000 movies, TV shows, music and gaming options, including many foreign language films. You can check out what’s showing on your upcoming flight here.
They had the entire first season of Halo. As someone who played the games, I expected to hate it completely, but actually found it…watchable.
I’m more amused by the fanboy rage about the unmasking of Master Chief and his subsequent love interest, which is pretty aptly summed up below.
The Master Chief kissed a girl and now I can’t relate to him anymore. pic.twitter.com/B44Jn9IgRu
— Spicy Halo (@Spicy_Halo) May 12, 2022
Business Class passengers receive noise-cancelling headphones. These were unbranded, and a little plasticky, and the fit resulted in some noise leakage.
Qatar Airways offers “Super Wi-Fi” service on more than 100 A350-900/-1000, B777-200LR, B777-300ER and B787-8/9 aircraft, which it touts as “game-changing” for inflight connectivity. The system is provided by Inmarsat’s GX Aviation hardware, with claimed speeds of up to 50 Mbps.
Qatar Privilege Club members enjoy one hour of free Super Wi-Fi, and the good news is that you don’t need to have your Privilege Club membership number on your boarding pass to qualify. You can simply login to your Privilege Club account via the inflight portal to get your free hour, allowing you to credit the flight to whichever frequent flyer programme you wish.
Passengers can also purchase additional Super Wi-Fi plans:
- If you purchase Super Wi-Fi before your flight, you pay US$8
- If you purchase Super Wi-Fi during your flight, you pay US$10
The cost is the same regardless of flight duration, which makes them great value for some of the ultra-long haul flights that Qatar operates.
I got passable speeds of 6.76 Mbps down and 4.22 Mbps up- nowhere near the advertised benchmarks, but good enough for work.
As this was a red-eye flight, I was eager to put the seat down and get some rest. The Super Diamond seat converts into an 80″ (2.03m) flat bed, and what I like about this design is that you can recline the seat at any angle you wish. I prefer to sleep just shy of 180°, finding 160-170° optimal for comfort.
The area for your feet is not nearly as cramped as I feared, and even as a back sleeper it was spacious enough.
While Qatar does not provide a separate mattress pad, the seat’s padding was already very comfortable. Together with the pillows and comfortable blanket, I had a very good 3-4 hour rest.
There’s two lavatories serving all 36 Business Class passengers, which were kept reasonably clean throughout the flight.
Taps are contactless, although flushes are not. Hand soap, hand cream and cologne by diptyque are stocked.
As disappointed as I was to get QR-ed out of Qsuites at the last moment, in the cold light of day I have to admit that the Super Diamond seat is solid enough. You have all-aisle access, the seat goes full flat, and Qatar’s soft product helps make up for the lack of cutting edge.
My main gripe is the complete lack of privacy. The seat design leaves passengers very exposed, and if that’s a deal-breaker for you, then this is a product to avoid.
Sadly, Qatar is infamous for last-minute aircraft swaps, and because they have so many different types of Business Class seats, what you think you’re going to get and what you actually get can be very, very different.
What do you make of Qatar Airways’ A350-900 Business Class?