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REVIEWS AIRLINE Norwegian B787-9 Premium, London-New York By Tom Otley AIRLINE Qatar Airways A350-1000 Q Suite business class, Doha-London By Tom Otley


NORWEGIAN IS NOW THE SECOND LARGEST long-haul airline at Gatwick, with 13 direct long-haul destinations, including Singapore. It serves 11 routes to the US and will add a third daily frequency on this New York JFK route from 29 October.


CHECK-IN & BOARDING: I arrived at London Gatwick at 1405 for my 1705 departure on DI7015 to New York JFK Terminal 1, a flight of nearly eight hours. Norwegian aircraft depart from the South Terminal. I used the fast-track security; I had only hand luggage, but Premium passengers can book in two 20kg cases each. Once checked in, I went up to the No 1 Lounge, which was included in the price of the Premium ticket. The flight boarded at 1630 from Gate 13. As you’d expect with a Dreamliner B787-9, the windows were large, there was lots of headroom and good-sized overhead lockers. THE SEAT: The seats look the same as those on the B787-8 aircraft, but there are more of them in the Premium cabin and they have less legroom. The number of Premium seats has been increased from 35 to 56. The new configuration reduces seat pitch (legroom) from 46 inches to 43 inches. The Premium seats are larger than other airlines’ premium economy seats, but aren’t business class seats. However, they are comfortable to both sit and sleep in. The IFE screens come out of the arm of the seat so you can’t


94 BBT July/August 2018


use them during take-off and landing, as you can in the Economy seats. There’s in-seat AC power for devices, and also a USB port in the IFE screen. THE FLIGHT: No amenity bags were offered, but headsets were given out after take-off. Each seat has a good-quality blanket. Around 1805 the drinks service came round offering prosecco, beer and wine. Shortly afterwards, the meal service came round with a choice of three main courses: chicken with potato gratin, hake in a beurre blanc, or lamb rump in a rosemary jus with roast potatoes, grilled asparagus and a mint pea puree. The food was tasty and hot. The flight attendants then offered a selection of miniature Baileys, cognac or whisky along with tea and coffee. VERDICT: This was an excellent flight. I was impressed by the onboard service – the flight attendants worked hard and were very attentive throughout the flight. Tickets are inexpensive, even the Premium Flex, compared to the competition. There is plenty of room to work, and the possibility of getting some sleep. It is well worth the extra money over Economy.


QATAR AIRWAYS’ NEW BUSINESS CLASS is the “QSuite”, as Qatar styles it. It is being introduced on the carrier’s long-haul fleet, and is currently on some of the B777-300ER fleet and this A350-1000 aircraft, which is the larger variant of the A350-900.


CHECK-IN & BOARDING: I arrived at Hamad International airport, Doha, at 1000 for QR001 departing at 1225, a flight of six-and-a-half hours. There were no other passengers at premium check-in and I was quickly through security. There was no queue to board, although there was a further security check. THE SEAT: The QSuite set-up is very different from the usual business class cabins. There are 46 suites in total: 38 in the main cabin, with nine rows at the sides and ten rows in the middle, in a 1-2-1 configuration; and then eight seats in a second, smaller cabin. The seats are forward- and backward-facing. The seat has a padded shelf next to it that can be raised to become a large armrest, or lowered to give you more room around the shoulders. The lid of this lifts, and inside is storage space with a bottle of water and noise-cancelling headsets. There is a large touchscreen and a handset recessed into the side of the seat. The seat reclines so that your feet meet the footrest beneath the IFE screen. THE FLIGHT: On boarding, I was welcomed, my jacket taken and I was offered a choice of


drinks, including champagne. Before take-off, menus were handed around and orders taken. Qatar has also introduced online pre-order dining. My meal was good, starting with soup of the day and a choice of appetisers: I had the meze of hummus, tabbouleh and baba ganoush served with Arabic flatbread. For the main course I chose vegetable jalfrezi, cumin pulao rice and chana dal. The dessert options included banoffee pie with creme anglaise; fresh berries with almond syrup; or a choice of ice creams. The wine selection was extensive and included two champagnes. I worked for a while and then reclined the seat. There was no full bedding on offer since this was a day flight, but there was a proper pillow and a good blanket, so I had no problem getting comfortable. If you put down the armrest you also have more room. I used the eye mask and earplugs to sleep for about 90 minutes. VERDICT: Qatar Airways already has an outstanding business class, but the QSuite is something special. The service was exemplary, and the food and wine, plus their presentation, were top class.


BUYINGBUSINESSTRAVEL.COM


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