Introduction to a European Birthday Adventure
New Delhi to Abu Dhabi (Jet Airways First Class 777-300ER)
Abu Dhabi to London (Etihad First Class A380)
London to Rome (British Airways Business Class A319)
Hotel Boutique Nazional (Rome 1)
Mainson Tofani Guesthouse (Sorrento)
Best Western Plus Hotel Milton (Rome 2)
Hotel Palazzo Manfredi – Relais & Chateaux (Rome 3)
Aroma Restaurant (Rome Michelin Star Restaurant)
Rome to Paris (Air France Business Class A321)
Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel (Paris)
Paris to Doha (Qatar Airways First Class A380)
Al Safwa First Class Lounge (Doha)
Doha to New Delhi (Qatar Airways Business Class 787-8)
Qatar Airways A380
Paris - Doha
Class: First Class
Having gone through a terrible night, I checked out of the hotel a little earlier than I normally would for a 3pm flight, and took a cab to the airport. It was a quiet, overcast day - casting a strangely gloomy mood over the quiet city, perhaps fitting with how the city was feeling, barely recovered from last nights events. We drove past the Eiffel Tower, closed due to the attacks, and I took the opportunity to snap one final pic. Paris was starting to wake up at 10:30am, but most people were probably still indoors, as it was a Sunday.
With ALL flights being grounded till France had re-opened their borders, I was worried I would miss my flight. Luckily, 6am, they decided to re-open and my flight was back on track. But with the attacks having taken place, I knew I would need to get to the airport early due to extra security precautions, and I was right. The Airport, T1 was in absolute shambles - in terms of people there. Once I checked in, I had to wait nearly 2 hours to get through security and border control. Normally First class passengers would have a separate gate, but they had closed that for security reasons. Armed guards were all over the airport for safety reasons. It was the first time in my life I couldn't wait to get out of Europe, and more exactly, Paris.
Due to the long queues, I didn't have the time to visit the lounge, but I've heard nothing but terrible things about it so in a way it wasn't a big loss, though there was a 20 minute wait at the gate as the flight was slightly delayed. I did meet some Business class passengers who lived in Doha, and we discussed the events of last night, you could tell everyone was ready to get out of Paris. Luckily, they soon started boarding and I was on my way though the separate entrance to the upper deck of the A380, which already made me feel relaxed at least.
Once in, I was greeted by Jean, the upper deck flight crew head, who showed me to my seat. I have to say, while Etihad felt grand and big, Qatar's First class seat was absolutely stunning and gorgeous in every way - and oozed of class. Was this a better looking cabin than Etihad's A380 Apartment? Yes - but in a different understated way.
I was quite impressed with the seat, but was instantly aware of how less privacy was offered in this First Class cabin, which was more of an open type of seating with partitions which could be raised - rather than private cabins. No worries, better than economy! Since I was the first passenger to board, I quickly took the opportunity to snap some pictures before my fellow First Class passengers started arriving (I was told that it was 6/8 on today's flight).
Class innit? By this time the cabin had settled all it's passengers. In front of me we had a French lady who decided to sleep as much as she could. In the middle front two seats, family from Qatar (with one of the older gentlement who kept looking at me really weirdly whenever I got up to go to the front of the plane), a French Businessman on their right, and another Qatari across from me in the second row. A generally quiet crowd who kept to themselves. I decided to turn my attention to my seat rather than the cabin, and it was quite the snug seat, though not as soft as I would have expected. The Leather + Veneer finish was really impressing me still.
I decided to order an orange juice which came with a tower and some delicious cracker type chips (of which they ran out when I asked again!). I then asked for one of my favorite champagnes - Krug, but I was told not till we were in the Air. Okay then. I stretched out and made myself comfortable. I'm 6'1", so the length was enough for my to perch my legs on the opposite ottoman.
It's worth noting Qatar offers free Wi-Fi for all First class passengers, which was fantastic in theory, but the service was absolutely spotty and frankly didn't work half the time. When I raised the point, I was told that this happens all the time, and they get a LOT of complaints - but they're looking to improve.
Soon my glass of Krug arrived. It was nice, but I wasn't in a particularly drinking mood, I decided to stick to two glasses the entire flight, but it was very nice nevertheless. I decided to watch a few TV show's while they came around and took our 'Lunch' orders. No menu pictures unfortunately, so I'll let the food pictures do justice.
One thing I was REALLY excited about trying was Caviar at 40,000 ft in the air, something which Etihad didn't serve . I'd only had Caviar once or twice on the ground, but not in a few years, so I was interested to see if my palate would be ready for Caviar again. Well, it was, and the Caviar was delicious, and I cleaned the Caviar out. I have to say, the presentation isn't spectacular on Qatar, but I appreciate a very neat and clean layout.
By this time, they had dimmed the lights, and I seemed to be the only one seating, as the other's were busy chatting away or sleeping. I followed up with the Mezze & pita platter, which was disappointing. The Pita bread was warm, but a little hard, and the dips were average at best. It was surprising the dip on quality here, as everything else has been pretty superb till now.
While the main course was on it's way, I started chatting with Jean, who was also attending to my side of the aisle. Qatar Airways has a very strict way of handling their employees, so you could see that while they were professional, there was no charm nor friendliness to their mannerisms, so I wanted to see if that could change. At first Jean was all business, but after a while she opened up and got quite friendly, which was a nice change of pace from the other air hostesses who were hardly smiling. She told me that she was from Philippines (which I had guessed earlier, correctly!), and was happy to be working with at least 3 other flight attendants from Philippines as well on this flight, which is more than normal. Once she opened up, she was very friendly till the end of the flight, which I obviously enjoyed, and seemed she did too as she had to remain 'stoic' with the other passengers. Soon my main course arrived.
I had ordered the steak, which didn't look amazingly presented again, but it was served with veggies and warm bread, which was better than the pita I had earlier. How was the steak? Fine. Not amazing, not terrible. Unlike Etihad, they don't have a Chef on board, so you don't really have too many choices in how it's made. Once done, I asked Jean to show me to the Bar, which I was excited to see as it looked very pretty in pictures I had seen - and to my delight it was gorgeous.
Honestly it was quite stunning, that this was the bar they had made on a plane. Interestingly, you had to walk past the business class section (which was 80% full) to get to the bar, which was different than Etihad had done.
I was either early or late, as there was no one when I arrived, but slowly the bartender, Josef, came back carrying more Krug, and I ordered myself an after dinner digestif, which was strong but nice.
I decided to enjoy my drink there, and see if anyone else worth talking to filtered through, as my business class friends I met at CDG were sleeping. A few people came here and there, but no one really was in a talkative mood, so I decided to head back after another picture or so. It was definitely an environment great for hanging out with friends or meeting new people on an earlier flight if there is one.
Once back, I was feeling a little tired, and was happy to see my seat was already turned down, and made into a bed. Points for being pro-active Jean!
The bed was fairly comfy, and I fell asleep right away for an hour or two, although the pillow was rather weak and thin. We were nearing Doha, so I decided to go back and take pictures of the bathrooms - which were just MASSIVE.
It was quite pretty as well, with mood lighting, and a long bench for sitting and stuff (insert mile high club joke here). Qatar doesn't offer a shower on board, but two big bathrooms duplicated on either side.
Again, the space feels wasted considering the bathroom is too big, but the space is nice. I suppose it gives the feeling of luxury which you can't get in Business or Economy. I decided to wrap up with a few pictures of the plane before returning to my seat, which was without the bedding as we were on decent.
Upon landing, I thanked Jean and exited the the plane, where I was greeted by a ground staff, to walk me all the way to the First Class Lounge. This is one thing I really appreciate about Qatar, First Class passengers are very well taken care of in Doha while in transit, which is something Eithad or Jet lacks in a way.
Final note, and my favorite thing about the flight - The Giorgio Armani (incidentally, my favorite Fashion Brand) amenity kit! (Wallet for impact, and it's not included!)