Avios Flights Oneworld Reviews

Review: Qatar Airways A350-900 Business Class

Most of Qatar Airways' Airbus A350-900s don't have the Qsuite. Our advice? Don't let that put you off.

Rose Champagne Pour

Mention Qatar Airways Business Class these days and you’ll probably only hear about one thing – the Qsuite. However, there are still a large number of the airline’s previous generation seats operating in this cabin, based on the Collins Aerospace ‘Super Diamond’ model.

We took a trip to find out what you can expect from the Qsuite’s ‘poor cousin’, still fitted to over half the airline’s Airbus A350s.

Flight details

  • Flight: QR212 Athens to Doha Hamad
  • Class: Business
  • Seats: 7A & 8A
  • Aircraft Type: Airbus A350-900
  • Aircraft Registration: A7-ALL
  • Aircraft Age: 3.0 years
  • Date: September 2019
  • Departure / Arrival: 13:10 / 17:25
  • Flight Time: 4h 15m
  • Cost: 22,000 Avios + £172.10 (c.S$292) per person

Note: Nearly 80% of the cash element payable on this redemption was down to the Qatar Airways fuel surcharge (£137.40, or S$233). Actual ‘taxes’ on this route are minimal.

QR A359 (Mark Harkin).jpg
At the time of writing most Qatar Airways A350-900s (pictured) still feature the older Collins ‘Super Diamond’ seats in Business Class. (Photo: Mark Harkin)
ADVERTISEMENT

The Collins ‘Super Diamond’ seat

Collins Aerospace is a major player in the aircraft seats market. While the company does a lot more than just cabin interiors (a market that’s grown for Collins since acquiring B/E Aerospace in 2017), it’s ‘Diamond’ and ‘Super Diamond’ Business Class seats are popular products.

Other airlines choosing the ‘Super Diamond’ in Business Class include American Airlines, British Airways with its new ‘Club Suite’, China Airlines and Virgin Australia.

A350 J (Airbus).jpg
China Airlines offers the Collins ‘Super Diamond’ seat on its A350s. (Photo: Airbus)

Fun fact: Collins Aerospace also manufactures the Qsuite, though for obvious reasons Qatar Airways has made sure this is exclusive and therefore not available as an ‘off-the-shelf’ product for other airlines to buy.

In Qatar Airways fit on the A350, these seats boast 50″ pitch and a 22″ seat width, the latter not including the retractable armrest at the aisle side which provides additional width in both seat and bed mode if desired.

8A 9A Span 2
The Collins ‘Super Diamond’ seat on Qatar Airways. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

In full-flat mode the bed length is a generous 80″, though the foot end becomes a narrow ‘cubby hole’ as it extends under the console of the seat in front.

You’ll also find this seat installed in Business Class on the airline’s Airbus A380s and Boeing 787-8s, with a slightly shorter 78″ bed length on the latter type (so pick an A350 or A380 if you can on an overnight flight).

One aspect of this seat we find a little disappointing is privacy, with no side ‘wing’ at head level you do feel quite exposed to the aisle and other passengers compared with similar seats like Cathay Pacific’s Cirrus product (even the China Airlines version pictured above makes some effort to improve this).

ADVERTISEMENT

Seat selection

The Qatar Airways A350-900s with Super Diamond Business Class have 36 of these seats installed. They are split across two cabin sections, a larger forward zone of six rows (rows 1 to 6) with 24 seats in total, then a small three-row cabin (rows 7 to 9) with 12 seats.

Seat Map.jpg
Click to enlarge

As the seat map shows, solo window seats are finished in Qatar’s maroon fabric, while the middle seat pairs are in grey.

8F
Seat 8F in the small three-row mini-cabin has grey upholstery, while the window seats are in maroon. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

We personally prefer the smaller three-row cabin at the back, which feels more intimate and has low foot traffic since the Business Class toilets are all located forward of this section.

Having tried the middle pair 10 days before on our flight from Doha to Athens, we decided to choose the window seats 7A and 8A for this flight.

Check-in

Qatar’s check-in desks in Athens open three hours prior to departure, with no early check-in facility available, so don’t arrive at the airport too early as there’s not much to do in the landside area.

We discovered this having arrived four hours before departure on our flight from Mykonos, and had to kill time at a cafe in the check-in area while we waited for the desks to open.

Pro Tip: If you have a longer wait, the recently renovated Sofitel Athens Airport is directly opposite the terminal. Better bars and restaurants are available there to pass time between flights, including a comfortable lobby area. The hotel also offers day rates – call or email to book.

Lounge

Qatar Airways uses the Swissport lounge at Athens airport, located opposite gate A13. A lounge invitation is provided along with your boarding pass at the check in desk.

It’s a fairly basic facility and nothing to be excited about, with no alternative oneworld options at the airport and a handful of Priority Pass lounges, which appear to be of a similar standard.

We would not recommend getting to the airport particularly early just to enjoy the lounge – an hour is really all you need in there. Shower facilities are not available.

ADVERTISEMENT

Boarding

Boarding was announced in the lounge around 45 minutes before departure time and we made our way to the gate. Timing was perfect – just as we arrived the Business Class cabin was being called.

Settling in

We were offered a welcome drink and both opted for Champagne. As far as bubbly is concerned, Qatar Airways serves a Brut and a Rosé option both on the ground and in the air when flying Business Class.

7A Champagne
Champagne on boarding. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

A hot or cold towel is also offered. Athens Airport isn’t the best for air conditioning, including the rather warm experience in the airbridge while boarding, so we both went for a refreshing cold towel.

Also waiting at the seat are your blanket, pillow and an amenity kit, plus a water bottle and other literature to the side.

8A Low
Seat 8A on boarding. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

If you’ve flown this seat on Qatar’s Boeing 787 you’ll notice a few differences, not least that the A350 (and A380) version has a water bottle holder on the shelf to your side, which is missing on the Boeing 787.

Edit: Thanks to reader Terry for pointing out that some of the airline’s 787s do now have the water bottle holder on the side shelf, so perhaps these are being retrofitted.

You’ll find your headset in the extendible armrest at the aisle side.

Armrest 1
Armrest. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Simply press the release button and the flap will lift, revealing this storage compartment with integrated light.

Armrest 2
Armrest storage. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This is where your water bottle will be on boarding if you fly this seat on one of Qatar’s Boeing 787s.

Amenity kit and pyjamas

You’ll always get an amenity kit when you fly First or Business Class with Qatar Airways, however pyjamas are only provided on long-haul flights which include some night flying.

For example on QR3 from Doha to London Heathrow (7.45am departure, 12.25pm arrival), pyjamas are not provided, however on QR9 flying the same route (1.40am departure, 6.20am arrival), pyjamas are offered.

Since this was a relatively short daytime flight between Athens and Doha, no pyjamas were loaded.

Pro Tip: Qatar Airways sometimes has pyjamas loaded on board from previous flights, even on routes which do not offer them. There is no harm in asking the crew if there are any spare sets.

The amenity kit is not the hard case BRICS one you’ll get on longer flights (there is a new soft case BRICS one doing the rounds too since late 2019), but instead is a fabric one from Indian luxury leather goods brand Nappa Dori.

Amenity Kit Logo
The amenity kit is by Nappa Dori. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

The amenity kit is waiting at your seat when you board. If you’re on a Qatar Airways flight where pyjamas are offered, these will usually be distributed by the crew during boarding or before takeoff.

Amenity Kit
Nappa Dori amenity kit. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Inside you’ll find a pair of socks, eyeshades and ear plugs, plus the following toiletries from Italian wellness brand Monte Vibiano.

  • Lip balm
  • Anti ageing moisturiser
  • Hydrating facial mist
Amenity Kit Contents
Amenity kit contents. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Toilets

Three toilets serve the 36 seats in the Business Class cabin on this aircraft, an excellent seat-to-toilet ratio of 12:1, even with a full passenger load.

Bathroom Toiletries
(Photo: MainlyMiles)

There’s one toilet at the very front of the cabin on the left, then one on either side behind seats 6A and 6K.

Toilets are a relatively standard size, with backlit mirror over the sink and a full-length mirror on the opposite wall to ensure you’ve changed into your pyjamas (if provided) correctly before re-emerging into the cabin!

Bathroom Mirror Low
Sink and backlit mirror. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Toiletries are by Dutch brand Rituals, and include hand soap, hand lotion and body mist.

Additional personal items you might consider to be ‘missing’ from the amenity kits can be found in the toilet – namely shaving and dental kits.

Bathroom Amenities
Shaving kits and dental kits are provided. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There is a padded changing bench which extends from the side wall to cover the toilet seat lid, plus a large raised baby changing table which lowers from the back wall at sink surface height.

We used both the toilets in the middle section of the cabin a few times during the journey and they were kept very clean throughout.

ADVERTISEMENT

Wi-Fi

These older A350s (yes, it sounds a bit strange saying that!) don’t have Qatar’s new ‘Super Wi-Fi’ GX Aviation system installed, which we reviewed recently with impressive results.

We paid for access on this flight but frankly it was a waste of money – the connection was completely unusable.

Wi-Fi Speed

Pricing was as follows:

  • Messenger (8MB / 1 hour): Free
  • Starter (30MB): US$5
  • Prime (100MB): US$10
  • Ultimate (200MB): US$20

It’s a stark contrast from the airline’s ‘Super Wi-Fi’ system, which gives you an hour for free then charges just US$10 for (fast) unlimited data with no time limit.

Around a third of Qatar Airways A350-900s (all those with the Qsuite, and even a few with the older Collins product we’re reviewing here) are now fitted with ‘Super Wi-Fi’. It’s also being progressively rolled out to all aircraft in the fleet, which is a great improvement.

In-flight entertainment

There’s a 17″ HD touchscreen at your seat, equipped with Qatar’s ‘ORYX ONE’ in-flight entertainment system.

IFE Intro
The 17″ HD ‘ORYX ONE’ IFE system. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

It’s not as large as the 22″ screen you’ll get on the Qsuite, but otherwise the system seemed to be identical, and was responsive with a good selection of movies in high definition.

IFE 1
The system includes a wide range of Movies, TV shows, Audio channels and games. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There’s also a remote control at the seat side if you prefer to use that rather than the touchscreen function.

Qatar Airways also includes camera feeds from the tail and aircraft nose, which are an interesting option during takeoff and landing if you’re into that sort of thing.

Noise cancelling headphones are provided, as mentioned above you’ll find them in the armrest storage compartment on boarding.

Headphones.jpg
Noise cancelling headphones. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

These are unbranded but of decent quality.

Seat controls and positions

There’s an intuitive set of seat controls attached to the fixed side table allowing you to adjust the recline, lumbar support, legrest and armrest positions.

Seat Controls.jpg
Seat controls. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

There are also preselected controls allowing one-touch operation for relaxation, dining, bed mode, plus the upright takeoff and landing position.

One thing we noticed is that the armrest closest to the aisle is retracted on boarding, while the one furthest from the aisle is extended. There seems to be no way to then replicate this setup later if you adjust the armrest setting – they’re either both up or both down!

ADVERTISEMENT

Table

The table extends from below the TV screen directly in front of your seat.

Table Retracted
Table in the stowed position. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Simply release the catch underneath and pull the table out towards you.

Table Partial
Initial table extension. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Once the table clicks into position you now have quite a large space to use, ideal for drinks and smaller dishes and certainly bigger than an Economy Class table.

Extend the table ‘leaf’ towards you however and you’re then presented with the full surface.

Table Extended
The full table surface. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

This is a significant surface area for dining or working, which corresponds in height with your fixed side table for an even more generous space.

One negative aspect you might find with the table is that it doesn’t adjust in height, nor does the seat itself. It wasn’t a problem for us, however very tall or very short passengers might find the dining position slightly uncomfortable for this reason.

Since the armrest at the aisle side of your seat retracts to seat level, you can ‘shuffle’ in and out of your seat during mealtimes without too much difficulty.

Storage options

There is extensive storage space in this seat, starting with the side bin furthest from the aisle, which releases using the metal catch.