From Nobu to Armani | The new Qatar A380


Qatar Airways’ new A380 service from London sets the bar even higher for Business and First class – and there’s not a single gold tap in sight

From Nobu to Armani | The new Qatar A380

Whenever we’re asked what our favourite airline is for heading east out of London or the Middle East, the answer is usually Qatar. In terms of design and service, we find it difficult to fault them. The connections in Doha are great (they’re certainly our preferred carrier for the long haul to Melbourne), and now that they’re flying their first Airbus A380 (straight out of London on the QR0003 and QR004 services), there’s an even more persuasive reason to book them.

If the Virgin Clubhouse is Studio 54, this is more like Regine’s

Last time we flew their Boeing 777 long haul, we thought that their AVOD system was state of the art, but it’s been upgraded yet further for the A380, with the fourth-generation AVANT® system, which gives passengers access to a “second screen experience” – so you can watch The Inbetweeners 2 and still have the flight map visible on your handset. We also love the pilot-view camera feed. The AVOD screens have the best resolution you’ll find on any commercial airline. And for $22 you can have wifi for the duration of the flight – a technological advance that we continue to refuse to acknowledge. Flight time is down time for us.

Qatar like to promote their Heathrow Qatar Premium Lounge in T4 as more like a private club than a lounge, and it’s definitely one of the plushest and most elegant in the airport. If the Virgin Clubhouse is Studio 54, this is more like Regine’s.

Already superb, Qatar’s premium product onboard has been upgraded for the new A380. Eight First class seats (pictured above) come with a 90-inch seat pitch while the 48 in Business class have a 52-inch seat pitch. All convert to proper, fully flat beds.

The Business class cabin on the A380 is one of the best in the world, made all the better by the airline opting to sacrifice precious seat space to install an on-board bar (something British Airways has refused to do).

Business occupies most of the upper deck, with the Premium Lounge at the back of the cabin, ahead of the Economy seats. The First class offering, at the front of the upper deck, is truly outstanding – although First passengers do have to trek through Business to get to the bar. We love the First class bathroom, with sensor-operated taps and the kind of large, contemporary sinks that we’d consider having at home. Nothing feels cookie-cutter or industry basic.

The catering and amenities are similarly fantastic. Menus in First include signature dishes by Nobu and Tom Aikens, while the amenity bags feature Giorgio Armani Gio products and the pyjamas are Missoni.

Qatar Airways continues to represent the gold standard in aviation when it comes to premium product. It executes next level luxury with a rare mix of deep pockets and tasteful restraint. C