As you know getting to the Maldives didn’t go exactly as planned. After our flight was canceled and we took care of a slightly frustrating re-booking process our plans were finalized Tampa to Dallas on American then Dallas to Doha and onto the Maldives on Qatar Airways Business Class. Qatar Airways is known for its great service and food, so needless to say I was pretty excited we managed to get re-booked on Qatar.
The higher quality of service flying with Qatar Airways was evident even before we stepped foot on an airplane. The gate agent checking documents made a point to come find business class passengers in line and help them with their luggage up to the gate. After our documents were checked she invited us to the lounge, but we opted to check out the closer American Express Centurion Lounge. We only had about 20 minutes before boarding, so we just had a beer since we knew we would soon be eating on the airplane.
The boarding process was uneventful and 5 minutes after leaving the lounge we were on board and in our seats 1J and 1K. We were greeted by a very diverse and friendly flight crew and given slippers, pajamas, and an amenity kit by Giorgio Armani that had lotion and cologne by Armani as well as an eye mask and earplugs. Unfortunately for both me and Mallory they only had Large/X-Large pajamas. I wore them and was swimming in them, so Mallory didn’t even put them on. After a glass of champagne on the ground, we took off for the 13-hour 45-minute flight.
The dinner meal service was 4 courses – Soup, Appetizers, Main course, and dessert. I opted for the Soup, Antipasti salads, Herb crusted lamb loin with rosemary jus, and skipped dessert because I was full. Mallory had the Soup, Chicken Terrine and Chicken breast in apricot tagine sauce. All of the food was very good. Most airplane food is bland and overcooked, but I have to give it to Qatar Airways for serving restaurant quality food at 38,000 ft. The wine selection was also very good. I had the Bordeaux since it paired well with the lamb.
Another space Qatar Airlines is miles ahead of the major US airlines is the in-flight entertainment. The IFE screen was the largest I’ve experienced, and after a little research I found that it about 16 inches. The selection of new release movies was good I watched Sicario, Spectre, and The Good Dinosaur (I’m still a kid at heart). In between movies and for the last hour or so of the flight I was focused on the in flight “airshow” which cycled through maps, flight info, and a couple really cool graphics. The Airbus A350 also has a camera on the tail so you can see what it looks like flying on the tail.
The business class seats recline to fully flat, but I still had a little trouble staying comfortable enough to sleep. I also had a little trouble finding the temperature sweet spot with the vent above my seat. I was either burning hot or freezing, but after a while I found a setting that was good enough.
After a 5ish hour nap I flagged down one of the flight attendants to order breakfast. I was a little early as most passengers were still sleeping, but I was hungry and the menu said “All day breakfast”. I ordered the New York strip loin with cheddar cheese omelet. Again it was very good.
A couple of the flight attendants suggested Mallory and I venture outside of the airport to see Doha, but we arrived at about 5:30 PM and were kind of worried about getting around and getting back through security since Mallory’s valid passport didn’t match her ticket (My fault thinking the airline could change Waldinger to Rickloff when her new passport came). We opted to stay in the airport and spend most of our 6-hour layover in the Qatar Airways Business Class Lounge.
Unlike most other Oneworld Alliance carriers Qatar does not allow Emerald Preferred (Top Tier) passengers in their First Class Lounge. We had dinner at one of the restaurants in the lounge, yes restaurantS, there was a sit down restaurant with an a la carte menu and a smaller deli with made to order sandwiches. The restaurant’s food was good, but not as good as what was served on the plane, which was surprising to me. After dinner we walked around the luxury shops in the airport and then settled in back at the lounge for our extended layover.
Just after midnight we left the lounge for our 1:05 AM departure. When we got to the gate we were told to hold tight as all business class passengers would be shuttled to the remote gate on a separate bus. Once we boarded our plane an Airbus A320, the same planes that USAirways used to fly all over the US but a lot nicer. Our seats were again reclined to fully flat, which was nice since we were leaving at 1AM.
We ate once again, and this time indulged in dessert a Chocolate raspberry cake by Laduree a French company known especially for their Macarons in Paris. The in flight entertainment system was again better than any I have experienced on a US airline and had even more new releases. I couldn’t sleep, so I ended up watching two movies on the 4 hour flight: Creed and Our Brand is Crisis. Unlike most overnight flights the cabin crew did not request we keep window shades closed, so I had a second row seat for sunrise over the Indian Ocean.
Once we landed in Male and collected our bags we were greeted by a representative from the Sheraton and were on our boat shuttle to the hotel within 15 minutes of deplaning. We were immediately greeted upon arrival and taken by golf cart to the SPG Club Lounge to check in. After about 28 hours of travel we had finally made it to the Maldives. The Maldives are great, but getting there took some patience when traveling from the US. I would have to say that it was all worth it.
Please check back later this week to continue to read about our around the world trip! Up next Around the World in 10 Days: Our Stay in the Maldives.
Have you traveled on Qatar Airways Business Class? Was your experience as positive as mine?