03 Nov REVIEW: QATAR AIRWAYS A330 BUSINESS CLASS ATHENS-DOHA
This past October we decided to spend a few days in Singapore followed by Beijing which we visited for the first time! In order to get to Singapore we chose to fly business class on Qatar Airways which is one of our favorite airlines and for very good reason as in 2017 it was awarded the “Best Business Class” award by Skytrax .In this review, we will discuss our experience on two, very similar, legs of our trip: the flight from Athens to Doha on the A330-300 and the return on the slightly different A330-200. You can also go to the following links to read our reviews of the other legs of the trip: Qatar Airways’ Al Mourjan Business lounge in Doha, our flight in business class on Qatar Airways’ Α350 from Doha to Singapore, our flight in business class on Singapore Airlines’ Β777-300ER from Singapore to Beijing as well as our flight on Qatar Airways business class on the B777 from Beijing to Doha.
Overall: For a 4.5hr flight Qatar airways provides an impressive experience on the A330 which is miles ahead of most short-haul business class products, particularly in Europe. The biggest advantage is of course the fully reclining seat (on the A330-300) which offers exceptional comfort. The food and the service are also impeccable and indicative of an airline that wants to stay true to its title of “Best Business Class” in the world!
Booking: Qatar airways operates the most daily flights out of Athens, 3 in total, compared to the other main Middle Eastern airlines (Etihad, Emirates). Its three flights to Doha are typically operated by a combination of narrow (A320/1) and wide-body aircrafts (A330-300/200) and cover the entire spectrum of the day (morning, afternoon, evening) thus ensuring short connections to other destinations from Doha. Qatar airways is a member of the oneworld alliance (Eithad and Emirates are not a member of a major alliance) so you can use your miles on airlines such as British airways or American airlines to book your flight. We used miles we had on Qatar airways’ Privilege Club and our one way flight from Athens to Singapore via Doha cost us 70.000 miles and €44.45. In order to book or redeem for a flight you can always go to this link.
Lounge: In Athens, Qatar airways uses the Skyserv lounge at A gates. It’s a fairly basic but comfortable lounge where you probably don’t want to spend more than 30-45′. Ideally, we would have liked to have access to the Goldair Handling lounge which we think is the best lounge at Athens airport but this is a fairly minor issue. See below pictures from the lounge:
The seat: Business class on both the A330-300 and the -200 is in a 2x2x2 configuration. The window seats do not have direct access to the aisle so should probably be your second choice if you are travelling solo. However, this configuration is great if you are travelling with a companion. What makes the seats on the A330-300 really stand out is the fact that they can fully recline (180 degrees) which makes for a great bed and offers exceptional comfort overall. All seats come with a big pillow and a duvet. On the side of every seat there’s a small surface area where you can store personal items. There’s also a multiplug and a USB port, both great connectivity touches. Overall, you really can’t fault the seat for a 4.5 hr flight especially when you compare it to the typical business class seat in Europe (which is basically an economy seat with just better food!). The seat on the A330-200 is almost identical but with a couple key differences: it can only recline to 165 degrees and it doesn’t have the storage area on the side. However, after experiencing both, we can tell you that as a bed, both seats felt pretty much equally comfortable, especially on such a short flight. Obviously, if you have the choice then go for the A330-300 as it offers the more “complete” product.
Food/service: Qatar airways is famous both for its food and for its service and our flights were no exception. The flight attendant working our aisle first introduced herself and then offered us a cold (or hot) towel as well as a welcome drink (we love the lime-mint lemonade!). We were then offered separate food and drinks menus. After take off the crew asked us if we would be dining immediately or if we wanted to have our meal reserved for later. Qatar airways operates a “dine on demand” concept which we really appreciate as it offers great flexibility and takes away the “stress” that you might miss meal service if you want to say, sleep first. Everything we tasted was exceptional and beautifully presented. Drinks-wise, Qatar airways offers a very extensive list of cocktails, mocktails, spirits, wines and champage (3 whites, 3 reds, 2 dessert wines and a 2 types of champagne: Lanson Black Label, Lanson Brut Rose. We also really enjoyed the service which was efficient, pleasant and above all, proactive e.g. the crew would notice if we had finished a drink and would ask if we wanted a refill. See the pictures below for more details:
Entertainment system/Internet: Every seat comes with a high definition touch screen which can also be controlled via a small controller on the side. Qatar airways operates the Oryx One entertainment system on almost all of its wide-body aircrafts and offers thousands of movie, tv and other options. We were also given noise-cancelling headphones which were pretty good but we always recommend buying the Bose QuietComfort 35 if you want the best! Oddly enough, our flight on the Α330-300 did not have internet service but the Α330-200 did. You get 15′ free and then you have to buy a data package. Overall, for a 4.5 hr flight we didn’t really care about internet access but it’s definitely a nice thing to have.
Amenity Kit: Even though we were on a day, short-haul flight we were offered a small amenity kit (on both the Α330-300 and the -200) which contained lip balm, socks and a sleep mask. As in all Qatar airways business class flights, in the bathrooms you will also find dental and shaving kits. Overall, we definitely had everything we need for such a flight!