November 14, 2016

Review: Qatar Airways A380 First Class, Guangzhou to Doha

Trip to Guangzhou in Turkish Airlines Business Class & Guangzhou to Mumbai in Qatar Airways & Etihad A380 First Class

A few months ago, I came across some tips on Flyertalk about a cheap business class fare from Vilnius to Toronto on Turkish Airlines and since I wanted to earn Elite status in the airlines' Miles & Smiles program by the end of this year, I did not hesitate and booked the flight. Unfortunately, a schedule change forced me to cancel the flight and look for another option. I had some miles left on my American Airlines Advantage account so I thought I could redeem them flying from Guangzhou to Mumbai in first class. Flying from Mumbai to Bangkok was easy since Air India flies direct between these two cities. After thoroughly planning the trip, I ended up buying an open jaw ticket in Turkish Airlines business class, from Stockholm to Guangzhou and back from Bangkok to Stockholm. It actually turned out perfectly well as I was able to fly Qatar Airways A380 first class from Guangzhou to Doha and then to Abu Dhabi. In Abu Dhabi, I was able to visit the newly opened Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa and from Abu Dhabi, I flew on Etihad's A380 to Mumbai. It was 8 flights in 6 days which was really tiring but who cares when you're flying in first and business class πŸ˜‰

Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class, Stockholm to Istanbul
Review: Turkish Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class, Istanbul to Guangzhou
Review: Hilton Guangzhou Baiyun
24 hours in Guangzhou, China
Review: Premium Lounge, Guangzhou Airport (CAN)
Review: Qatar Airways A380 First Class, Guangzhou to Doha
Review: Qatar Airways First Class, Doha to Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad Airways First Class Lounge & Spa
Review: Etihad Airways A380 First Apartment, Abu Dhabi to Mumbai
Review: Loyalty Lounge, Mumbai Airport (BOM)
Review: Thai Royal Silk Lounge Concourse C West, Bangkok (BKK)
Review: Thai Royal Silk Lounge Concourse C East, Bangkok (BKK)
Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class, Bangkok to Istanbul
Tour Istanbul
Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class, Istanbul to Stockholm

Qatar Airways A380 onboard bar

Flight: QR 875
Departure time in Guangzhou (CAN): 00:35 (actual, 00:28)
Arrival time in Doha (DOH): 4:40 (actual, 4:18)
Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
Seat: 2K
Duration: 8h 50min
Date of flight: November 4, 2016
*Award Ticket, First Class flight #40

Guangzhou Baiyun Airport (CAN)

Guangzhou International Airport

I left the Hilton Guangzhou Baiyun (where I stayed for a night) around 7pm and was at the airport at 8pm. Since the check-in desks were scheduled to open at 9pm, I decided to check out the shops in the terminal since it was my first time to visit this airport. The terminal was actually very modern and the palm trees reminded me of the airport in Dubai 😊

Check-in, Zone J

Around 8:45pm, I was back at the check-in counters where the check in process had already started. While in the queue, I was approached by a staff who was checking the names on the passenger list.

There was only one check-in desk for first class passengers which was J1 and as soon as the guy in front of me was done, I was immediately greeted and helped by a friendly agent. My destination on this booking was Bombay but since I was only actually transiting as I had a connecting flight to Bangkok on a separate booking, I was asked to present my ticket from Bombay to Bangkok. After a few minutes, the check-in process was done and I was given my boarding passes to Doha and to Abu Dhabi, as well as a lounge invitation. I proceeded to the security check where a Fast Track lane for first class passengers and another one for business class passengers was offered.

Premium Lounge

I was already near the departure gates when I realized that the lounge was located on the other side of the terminal. Fortunately, I had more than enough time before boarding so I was still able to enjoy my time in the Premium Lounge. As this lounge is being used by several airlines most of which depart around midnight, it was really very busy during my visit. This is one of those times that I wished Qatar Airways was using a real "first class lounge" to complement their first class service in the sky.

By 10:20pm, I left the lounge and slowly made my way to the departure gate.

Beautiful passageway to gates A113-A123

Boarding, gate A117

Taking the travelator to the departure gate

Boarding started on time with business and first class passengers getting priority boarding.

First Class Cabin, upper deck

Qatar Airways first class cabin on the A380 is located on the upper deck, consisting of 8 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. All the seats were occupied on this flight, although it was not always the case as I later learned from one of the flight attendants. I have previously reviewed Qatar Airways first class on my flights between Doha and Paris in December 2015 and then again in June this year so I will be concentrating more on the service this time.

Seat, 2K

My seat 2K

Selfie wearing my Missoni first class pyjamas πŸ˜‰

As I boarded, I was welcomed by the purser who handed me over to one of the flight attendants working in the business class cabin. She escorted me to my seat and offered to hang my jacket. Before she left, she informed me that her colleague would soon come to take my drinks order.

Giorgio Armani kit and pyjamas from the Italian fashion house Missoni

Moments later, See, the lovely Thai flight attendant working on my side of the cabin came to introduce herself and offered me the new first class amenity kit and the Missoni pyjamas and slippers. The contents of the amenity kit were the same as before and consisted of Giorgio Armani perfume, Armani All Over Shampoo, Armani Men Master Lotion and Armani Men Perfect Master. The only new thing is the Giorgio Armani bag which is made of another material and which I actually liked more. Although I've flown twice in first class in the past, it was my first time to get these pyjamas since both two were day flights and Qatar Airways only give them on night flights. I have received a lot of first class pyjamas and I have to say that these Missoni pyjamas are actually one of my favorites. I just checked this item on EBay and saw that it costs 240 Australian dollars. I guess I should be selling mine too 😜

Moments later, See was back to take my drinks order and I settled for a glass of water. I was also given a complimentary wifi voucher to use for the whole duration of the flight which is really great since most airlines in first class charge for this service. Kudos to Qatar Airways πŸ‘

Qatar Airways wifi connection thru Onair

Located under the right armrest is the IFE controls and a bottle of Vittel mineral water.

Already waiting at my seat was the first class blanket.

See was back again moments later to offer me the menu card and wine list. She also asked if I wanted more snacks although I declined. Around 11:18pm, the captain came on the PA to welcome us onboard and to give us some flight info including our flight time of 8 hours and 30 minutes. Since I wanted to maximize my sleep time, I went to one of the two first class lavatories to change into my pyjamas so I'd be ready to sleep after the meal service.

Around 12:25am, the safety video began to play featuring the FC Barcelona football team and 2 minutes later, we started our pushback. Joseph, the cabin supervisor came to introduce himself while at the same time clearing my glass. As the cabin was full, See was not able to take my meal order before take off although she promised me to do it once we were airborne. At 12:49am, the captain came on the PA to inform us that due to heavy traffic in Canton Airport, we would have to wait for another 10 minutes for take off.

In-flight Entertainment

There were lots of new movies on Qatar Airways' new releases, one of which is "Finding Dory". It was an easy choice as I really loved watching "Finding Nemo" a few years back.

Dining

Mixed nuts and apple juice

As soon as the seat belt sign was turned off, See came to my seat to take my meal order. It was my first time to see the caviar on the menu so I did not have any second thoughts. Then, I thought I'd have the filled pasta after that and for breakfast, the noodles. Moments later, she was back to offer me some nuts and a glass of apple juice.

The menu read as follows:


Late night dining

Tomato and basil cream soup
Oscietra caviar
Barley salad with mixed sweet pepper, mesclun leaves and sesame dressing
Grilled marinated chicken tortilla wrap
Oolong tea smoked black cod fish with chilli fried rice
Filled pasta with spinach, ricotta cheese and pumpkin cream sauce
Cheese selection served with crackers
Fresh strawberry tart with passion fruit coulis

Light snacks

Selection of biscuits, chocolates or mixed nuts


Breakfast

Fresh orange juice
Mixed berries smoothie
Apple and rocket healthy energizer

Appetizer

Seasonal fresh fruit
Choice of breakfast cereals
Greek yogurt with mango compote, toasted granola and nuts
Bircher muesli
Smoked mackerel with horseradish and potato salad


Mains

Kung pao chicken with stri-fried noodles
Create your own breakfast
Scallop congee
Raisin pancake with caramelized peach
Continental breakfast

Express breakfast

Breakfast pastry, tea or coffee

Bread


White Champagne

Krug Grand Cuvee Brut

RosΓ© Champagne

Bilecart Salmon

Table set up with the butter logo not facing the passenger (me). I guess their friends from Singapore Airlines could give them some good tips 😜

Oscietra caviar plus the mother of pearl serving spoons

The caviar was excellent as always. The presentation was also much better than what Lufthansa do in first class.

I asked See if I could take home the caviar jar with me and she agreed 😊 This Oscietra caviar is from Gourmet House which is specially packed for Qatar Airways. It's net weight is 25 grams and is from China. No wonder they are serving caviar on this flight from Guangzhou and not on the Doha to Paris flights which I had flown in the past.

After enjoying my caviar, my pasta was then served which was just as excellent!

To end my meal, I had some cheese and crackers and a cup of green tea. I was also offered some desserts but I declined.

I was also given the Valrhona chocolates which were very good. I remember they were giving Godiva chocolates a few years back so it's interesting to see some changes here.

A hot towel to end the meal.

See offered to make my bed although I told her to just leave the mattress and I'd fix it myself when I've finished watching the film and which she was glad to do. She also told me that she would wake me up 1 hour and 20 minutes before landing for the breakfast service.

I slept for a few hours and woke up with more than 3 hours left before landing. I thought I'd visit the onboard bar which is located behind the business class cabin.

Onboard Bar

Qatar Airways onboard bar

This is definitely one of the nicest onboard bars on an A380 πŸ‘

Snacks

I thought I'd order some drinks from the bar and got this wonderful lemon mint.

Breakfast

Around 3:10am Doha time, a hot towel was served. See asked me if I wanted to have my breakfast so she could set up my table and I said yes.

Table set up with a bread basket and a cup of green tea.

Kung pao chicken with stir-fried noodles

The stir-fried noodles was very tasty and definitely one of the best meals I've had on a plane eventhough it was a bit spicy for me.

To end the meal, I asked for some slices of watermelon which was promptly served.

Lavatory

The first class lavatory was very spacious and had the usual skin care products from Rituals including the Rituals No. 7 Perfume, Rituals Face 3 Face Lotion and Rituals Infinity Ultra Caring Hand Lotion.

Landing at Hamad International Airport

About 40 minutes before landing, the captain came on the PA with updated flight info including the current temperature of 26 degrees. Moments later, See came by to offer some mints.

As a preparation for our arrival, a video was played showing the amenities at Hamad International Airport as well as guide to arrivals and transits. See came to my seat to thank me personally for flying with them. We landed at Hamad International Airport at 4:32am ahead of schedule and reached the gate 8 minutes later.

As a first class passenger, I was one of the first to disembark. I was greeted by Caroline, a lovely Filipina representative for the Al Maha Service. I jokingly told her that this service gets minus 5 points since my surname was spelled incorrectly πŸ˜‰ She escorted me to the Al Safwa First Lounge and informed me that she would be back at 6:20am to pick me up for my connecting flight.

Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Lounge

Qatar Airways has one of the nicest quiet rooms in a first class lounge but unfortunately, all were taken when I came so I was directed to one of their family rooms where I was able to rest a bit.

CONCLUSION

There were a lot of things I loved about this flight: first, I was finally able to get the elusive Missoni pyjamas; second, the Oscietra caviar which was not served on my previous flights with them in first class was served on this flight; third, See was just so adorable as she really made sure I would have an enjoyable flight with them; and lastly, the Al Maha service was very much appreciated as it allowed me to go through security controls smoothly. Of course, the complimentary wifi was perfect as I was able to check some mails during the flight. One small thing though which I thought they could improve on is making sure the logo on the butter faces the passenger and why not, a better first class lounge in Guangzhou. Overall, this was one of the best flights I've had on Qatar Airways in first class. Now, if only they also had an onboard shower 😜 To all the crew on this flight specially to See, Shukran!


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