Qatar Airways A380 First Class: Is Business Class Just Too Good?

Hello from Perth! I’m in the middle of a short surprise trip around the world with my dad right now. After flying Etihad Airways first class on a Boeing 787 and Qatar Airways first class on a Boeing 737 MAX, our next leg was from Doha to Perth in Qatar Airways Airbus A380 first class. That was a pretty cool flight as we had the first class cabin all to ourselves which is always a treat.

As you all know, I’m a big fan of Qatar Airways’ inflight product. I think the airline’s long-haul business class and short-haul first class are the best in the world. In comparison, Qatar Airways first class on long-haul flights is pretty much unforgettable. Although I will have a full trip report soon, I wanted to share some initial thoughts.

Qatar Airways isn’t really committed to first class

First of all, I think it is important to understand Qatar Airways’ philosophy of first class on long-haul flights. Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker has said over the years that there is no need for first class at the airline because the airline’s famous Qsuites business class is so good.

While we can debate the merit of this statement, the reality is that this mentality is reflected in Qatar Airways’ fleet strategy. Qatar Airways is not currently installing First Class on any of its newly delivered jets. The airline offers long-haul first class aircraft only on the handful of Airbus A380s currently in service, as well as a few Boeing 777s that Qatar Airways acquired from Cathay Pacific. Qatar Airways Boeing 777 First Class

Qatar Airways has ordered a number of Boeing 777-9s and the airline could add a first class product to these planes. However, given the delays, it is unclear when these planes will be delivered.

My point is simply that Qatar Airways is obviously focused on offering a premium business class product and that first class is less of a priority. Good enough I guess…

The elegant First Class cabin of Qatar Airways’ A380

The first-class cabin of Qatar Airways’ Airbus A380 is undoubtedly incredibly elegant. First class is located forward on the upper deck and consists of eight seats arranged in two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration. While these seats are not state of the art, I find them really cozy and comfortable.

Qatar Airways Airbus A380 First Class cabinQatar Airways Airbus A380 First Class cabinQatar Airways Airbus A380 First Class seat

When you have the first class cabin all to yourself, who needs doors? 😉

Qatar Airways Airbus A380 first class bed

While the A380 does not have onboard showers unlike Emirates, there are two huge lavatories in the front part of the cabin.

Qatar Airways Airbus A380 First Class toilet

There’s also a shared first and business class bar behind business class, which I think is even prettier than Emirates’ A380 bar (although the drink selection isn’t as impressive).

Qatar Airways Airbus A380 first and business class bar

At this point, the A380 cabins are not state of the art (especially compared to Qatar’s newer aircraft) and there are a few things I particularly dislike:

Qatar Airways has on-air WiFi on its A380s which is almost unusable when working properly and it was completely broken on this flight. I don’t like that you can’t see the entertainment options through the huge screen, only through the handheld monitor, which isn’t ideal when you want to browse hundreds of entertainment options. The AC outlet is poorly designed, being deep in a compartment, so I couldn’t even plug in my computer’s charger because there was one of those “boxes” around it. Qatar Airways Airbus A380 first class entertainment. Qatar Airways’ average premium soft product

Here, Qatar Airways first class feels like an afterthought. Qatar Airways business class is absolutely amazing and offers a better experience than almost any other airline. The catch is that in first class you have almost the same experience.

The pajamas and amenity sets are the same.Qatar Airways Premium PajamasQatar Airways Premium Amenity Set

The bedding is practically the same.

Qatar Airways premium bedding

The vast majority of food and drink options are the same. The way tables are set is the same.

First class table setting from Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways first class is basically business class, but with more attentive service, better champagne and caviar. Otherwise it’s practically identical. Personally, I’d almost rather fly a Qatar Airways A350 with Qsuites and high-speed WiFi than a first class Qatar Airways A380 with virtually unusable WiFi.

Qatar Airways First Class ChampagneQatar Airways First Class table decorations

I feel like Qatar Airways and Emirates Airline are almost the opposite in their approach to first class. Emirates’ business class is meager (especially on the 777, which forms the backbone of the airline’s fleet), while Emirates goes all out on its premium airsoft products, from unlimited caviar to Dom Perignon to Hennessy Paradis.

Qatar Airways now has one of the best business class products in the world, while first class is only mid-table in my opinion. The whole thing strikes me as odd, as Qatar Airways places great importance on the passenger experience. If you want to offer some of the best business class products in the world, wouldn’t you expect the first class products to be similarly competitive?

And again, that’s just a “problem” because Qatar Airways business class is so good. If a company sells two luxury goods and one is significantly more expensive than the other, I think it’s fair to assume that it’s a bit more differentiated.

bottom line

We had a great flight in first class on the Qatar Airways A380, especially as we had the cabin to ourselves. However, I have to agree with the CEO of Qatar Airways when he says that the airline has no need for first class because business class is so good. At the very least, the airline is choosing not to differentiate their first class product too much from business class, and I’m not sure the airline is doing themselves a favor by doing so.

What do you think of Qatar Airways’ A380 First Class?


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