What makes Qatar Airways one of the best airlines in the world? It's not just the excellent service or well-maintained planes, but also competitive pricing with lots of great business class flight deals from Europe.
On my spring 2017 trip to Bangkok, I managed to test two different Qatar Airways planes. The first one was an A380 flight from Doha to Bangkok and the second one smaller Airbus A320 from Helsinki to Doha. Qatar uses A320 on some European routes, for example from Helsinki Airport (HEL) to Doha Hamad International Airport (DOH).
- Route: Helsinki (HEL) - Doha Hamad (DOH)
- Date: May 2017
- Plane: Airbus A320
- Cabin: Business Class
- Seat: 3A
Qatar Airways A320 Business Class Details
|Bed length||200 cm (79 inches)|
|Seat width||53 cm (21 inches)|
|Personal TV||15.4 inches|
|Touch screen remote control||YES|
Finnair Premium Lounge at HEL airport
Before the boarding, I decided to stop by at the Finnair Premium Lounge. It's located between gates 36 and 37 and has two separate areas. The more prominent main area is reserved for Finnair business class passengers and Oneworld Sapphire card holders. The smaller section is for Oneworld Emeralds and Finnair top-tier members.
The most unique feature of Finnair Premium Lounge is the sauna facility, which is located next to the entrance.
While relatively small, there are plenty of different seat options in the lounge.
Food options are supposed to be more "premium" compared to the normal business class lounge, which in my opinion is more or less correct. Selection of food items is small, but the quality and taste are excellent. There is also a wide range of drinks available from orange juice to Joseph Perrier Cuvée Royale Brut Champagne.
During my visit, the Premium Lounge was relatively quiet, with plenty of empty seats. At the same time, the business class side of the lounge was really crowded, with hardly any available seats left.
Boarding facilities at the new wing of Helsinki airport are much better than the old ones, especially for business class travelers. On my flight, there was a separate boarding area for business-class travelers, which made waiting more tolerable. On the downside, instead of a jet bridge, there was a bus transfer to the plane (which is quite common nowadays at HEL). At many airports, there is a separate bus for business class passengers, but that's not the case in Helsinki. You get in first, but you might also be the last one out of the bus.
Cabin and the Seat
You can feel the difference the moment you step on the plane. Flight attendants were welcoming me onboard with a smile on their face. Finding a seat wasn't that difficult since single-aisle A320 business class consists of only three rows in a 2-2 configuration.
The B/E Aerospace Diamond seat, which also American Airlines uses on transcontinental Airbus A321 business class, goes down to a full flat mode and was comfortable enough for sleeping. Like Iberia A330, the foot space is quite limited, and there is not much room to wiggle your feet.
Also due to the 2-2 seat setup, if you are sitting on the window side, you have to climb over the aisle passenger's feet when visiting the bathroom. The window seat, on the other hand, offers a bit more privacy, although not between the passengers.
Food and Drinks
Before the dinner, we were served a cup of warm nuts and some beverages. Qatar had two champagnes to choose from, this time I decided to start with Piper Heidsieck, the rose option.
The dinner service started with a tasty Salmon amuse bouche.
As an appetizer, I chose Classic Arabic mezze, with hummus, tabouleh and stuffed vine leaves served with Arabic bread.
The main dish, Arabic spiced chicken kapsa with rice, was flavorful - maybe a bit dry, but definitely better than most of the plane food I have tasted. The rai sauce on the side was delicious as well.
Extra credit goes to the dessert, which in my case was white chocolate and ginger cheesecake. It was absolutely perfect!
The service was excellent throughout the meal service, flight attendants were continually offering more bread and refills. After the dinner service was complete, we were delivered the new round of warm towels and a box of Godiva chocolate - and a glass of Old Fashioned for me.
The fixed 15,4 inch TV display provided excellent picture quality, but controlling the IFE system with the remote controller did not work very well. The touch-screen remote froze from time to time, and the display was too small for browsing movies.
On the entertainment side, there were some movies and TV series to choose from, but the selection was not as extensive as in Iberia A330 or British Airways A380. TV series situation was a bit better with lots of options to choose from, but full seasons were not available.
Qatar-branded Phitek noise-canceling headphones were waiting for me on my seat. Unfortunately, they are far from the best, but manageable for the relatively short flight.
There was also a "complimentary Internet" available onboard, which was advertised all over the screens. However, the free part was only the first 15 minutes or 10 megabytes after which the cost was 10 USD per 3 hours / 100 megabytes. Decent price, but not exactly free. The more significant problem was the network quality, during my flight the internet was super slow or not working at all for the most of the time.
There was also a USB port and an electric plug for charging your devices.
Service in General
As I mentioned before, the service on Qatar Airways A320 was exceptional - but not surprisingly so. My experience was similarly good during the Bangkok trip on Qatar Airways A380.
At the end of the journey flight attendants also collected customer feedback about the flight, definitely something that Finnair and British Airways should consider.
- Small business class cabin
- Excellent service
- Great food options
- The delicious cheesecake
- No complimentary Internet for business class passengers
- Mediocre movie selection