Flight Test: Dreamliner business class 'unbeatable'

FIONA CARRUTHERS
Last updated 11:41 08/07/2014
Qatar Dreamliner
Reuters

FIRST-RATE CABIN: The business class cabin of Qatar Airways new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

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Near-faultless service and the first-rate cabin make this the most impressive business class I've flown.

THE ROUTE Edinburgh to Doha.

THE PLANE Boeing Dreamliner 787.

UP THE BACK OR POINTY END Seat 1K in business class.

TIME IN THE AIR Just under 6½ hours.

THE SEAT STUFF 22 business-class seats in a luxurious 1-2-1 layout. Dreamliners also boast much bigger windows with a brilliant shading system, where at the press of a button the windows tint over (there are five levels of tint darkness). Pitch and bed length. 80 centimetres; seats recline to 180 degrees, fully flat.

BAGGAGE Two pieces up to 45 kilograms checked in, plus two pieces of hand luggage (they will allow three if you ask nicely and the flight isn't full).

COMFORT FACTOR So many little touches add up to make Qatar Airways' Dreamliner business-class virtually unbeatable, such as the incredibly detailed seat-recliner system full of little nooks and crannies, allowing you to get comfortably organised for working mid-air. Like Etihad, there are windows in the loos - along with far more manageable doors than the old push and bi-fold.

Fresh red roses around the cabin are a nice finishing touch. It's definitely true that Dreamliners make a big difference to the travelling experience - the cabin is less dry, air quality is better and noise and vibration are greatly reduced. I disembarked feeling in far better shape than after a normal flight.

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT Qatar's Oryx system has more than 1000 entertainment options - including good categories that break entertainment into more detailed subheadings (such as music and art for documentaries and "in the vault" for much-loved television series). Love the large 43-centimetre screens and easy-to-operate handset.

THE SERVICE A staff member escorts me from the check-in counter to the door of the aircraft. Once seated on board, I'm greeted by my air hostess - and also the flight's "service director". Both attend to me diligently for the entire flight.

FEEDING TIME Qatar Airways' champagne, Lanson Brut 1999 vintage on the first leg, is truly one of the best I've tasted in the air. Usually strictly a half-glass passenger, I go the whole hog and enjoy two glasses, followed by So Jennie, a non-alcoholic bubbly made from grapes sourced from France's Champagne region.

For dinner, I feast on beetroot gravlax with horseradish cream, including toasted walnuts and pea shoot salad, followed by braised lamb shank with puy lentils and parsnip puree. I forgo dessert - which includes sticky date and toffee pudding. The hot beverage selection is wonderful, including all the old favourites (Earl Grey, cappuccino and so on), plus fancy-pants macchiato and Moroccan mint volupatus.

ONE MORE THING Up for a little lesson in wine tasting in the air? Qatar's business class wine list is fabulous, with a full description of each wine served, along with best matching suggestions.

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THE FREQUENCY Five days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday).

THE VERDICT This is the most impressive business class I've flown, in terms of near-faultless service and the Dreamliner's first-rate cabin. I had heard the positive rumours and experienced a short domestic flight two years ago, but after this medium-haul flight, I'm happy to join with the other fans - flying is much less stressful on the body aboard a Dreamliner. The only way to travel.

Tested by Fiona Carruthers, who flew courtesy of Qatar Airways.

- FFX Aus

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