Qatar Airways First Class is an aspirational airline product that may have a very short lifespan left. If you wish to experience the best of what Qatar Airways has to offer, you might need to do so sooner rather than later.
At one point, it looked as if Qatar Airways First Class was going to be a thing of the past, as the airline had retired its fleet of Airbus A380s. However, these flying giants have since been brought back to life, and with them the airline’s First Class cabins.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything there is to know about the Qatar Airways First Class experience, including the best ways to book this product using points, the available routes, which aircraft offer Qatar Airways First Class, and booking logistics.
The Qatar Airways First Class Experience
The Qatar Airways First Class product is most commonly found on the upper deck of the mammoth Airbus A380. This double-decker plane is the world’s largest passenger jet, and there’s no better feeling than ascending a staircase to find your First Class suite.
What’s more, you’ll also have access to a world-class onboard bar and lounge aboard the A380 during the flight, fine dining that includes caviar service, and a tremendous ground experience in Doha prior to boarding.
Qatar Airways is based out of Doha, Qatar. Doha’s Hamad International Airport is host to the airline’s flagship lounge, the sprawling Al Safwa First Class Lounge.
Ranking amongst the world’s best First Class lounges, the Al Safwa First Class Lounge offers complimentary acccess for Qatar Airways First Class passengers departing from or transiting through Doha.
With such an exclusive access policy, and with plenty of real estate within the lounge, the Al Safwa First Class Lounge never really gets crowded.
You’ll often be one of the only guests roaming through the lounge, enjoying the fine art museum, wining and dining, or indulging in a spa treatment with the ever-unique jacuzzi experience.
The Al Safwa First Class Lounge is also equipped with private rooms that are essentially small hotel rooms. Inside these rooms, you’ll find a twin bed, a desk, and an ensuite bathroom.
These secluded spaces can be booked for up to six hours at a time, should you need to get some rest or work done before your next flight.
The Al Safwa First Class Lounge has some top-quality dining options, with food ordered from an à la carte menu. Furthermore, there’s a well-stocked bar with staff available to mix up any delicious libation at your request.
First Class passengers also have access to Qatar Airways’ dedicated business class lounge, the Al Mourjan Business Lounge. However, if you only have time to visit one lounge, then the Al Safwa First Class Lounge would be the obvious choice.
Qatar Airways First Class is currently offered on two different aircraft: the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777. The latter set of aircraft are currently being leased from Cathay Pacific through to March 2023.
As you ascend to the A380 First Class cabin via a staircase, you’ll immediately notice two distinct features. First, you’ll be awestruck at the sheer size of the First Class suite, and most notably, the width of the seat.
Second, you’ll notice an ottoman, which serves as an additional seat if you wish to dine with a travel companion at 35,000 feet.
Controls are available to turn the seat into a complete lie-flat bed or set it to a lounging position, as you prefer. In addition, the controls adjust the automated window blinds on all three of your windows, which can create a blackout atmosphere.
There’s also a privacy partition that can be raised or lowered with a push of a button.
Despite the presence of a privacy partition, the Qatar Airways A380 First Class seats are still fairly open to the aisle, especially when compared to more private First Class experiences on Etihad Airways, Emirates, or Singapore Airlines.
Meanwhile, if you find yourself on one of the only four Boeing 777s leased from Cathay Pacific, you’ll notice that they haven’t been completely refurbished.
In fact, the seats are the same as you’d find if you were flying Cathay Pacific First Class, except they’re dressed in Qatar Airways’s colours.
There are still many vestiges of Cathay Pacific, such as the airline’s name still being featured on the small entertainment screen.
The hybrid Qatar Airways/Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class seat also features an ottoman that can play host to a guest for in-flight dining.
Similar to the Airbus A380, the seat is incredibly spacious and substantially wider than your average First Class seat. The aisle-side armrest has been removed to make more room for the seat itself.
Food and Drink
Prior to take off, you’ll be offered a choice of welcome beverages, including a staple of Qatar Airways First Class: Krug 2004 Champagne. This iconic Champagne is one of the most expensive drinks you can order in the sky across all airlines.
Furthermore, Qatar Airways First Class passengers are welcomed with Arabic coffee and a pitted date. The coffee is poured from a beautiful vessel.
Top-quality food items can be found on a cardstock menu, which includes a mix of western and Qatari dishes. You may choose to dine at any time during the flight, selecting from any of the à la carte options.
The quintessential First Class staple, caviar, can be ordered as an appetizer as part of Qatar Airways’ unique pairing of caviar with Balik-style smoked salmon.
In addition to Champagne, there are many more top-shelf drinks to order, including classic cocktails, spirits, cognac, liqueurs, wine, and beer.
Passengers can easily wine and dine together by making use of the secondary seat. The First Class suite’s tray table is plenty large enough to comfortably serve its signature dishes – such as pan-fried king prawns and pandan mousse cake – for two people.
Qatar Airways First Class Aircraft Cabins
Despite having temporarily retired the Airbus A380s during the pandemic, Qatar Airways had no choice but to bring them back after encountering issues with its fleet of Airbus A350s.
Qatar Airways appears to have prioritized the rollout and development of its flagship business class product, Qatar Airways Qsuites, over further expanding the First Class offering. In that light, I’m not sure how much longer the First Class product will be around.
Qatar Airways only has eight Airbus A380s presently in operation, plus only four Boeing 777 aircraft with a First Class layout.
Note that in addition to the Airbus A380s and the Boeing 777s, Qatar Airways also markets some business class flights to Gulf countries as First Class.
Despite bearing the name, these “First Class” seats more closely resemble that of a traditional business class product – although they do offer access to the Al Safwa First Class Lounge.
The Airbus A380 is a double-decker aircraft equipped with two staircases: one at the front, and one at the back.
The upper deck is home to First Class, business class, and a small portion of economy class. The lower deck is entirely made up of economy class.
There are eight First Class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, spread across two rows. These eight seats have a pitch of 83” and a seat width of 23”.
Solo travellers benefit from more privacy in window seats, which are Seats 1A, 1K, 2A, and 2K.
Those travelling as a pair can take advantage of the ability to dine together from any seat. However, in order to enjoy the whole flight together, the middle seats would be the best option.
In this case, you’ll want to choose either Seats 1E and 1F or Seats 2E and 2F.
Located to the back of the upper deck, in between the business class cabin and the economy class mini-cabin, is the famous Qatar Airways A380 onboard bar and lounge.
The sleek S-curved bar is available for both First Class and business class passengers alike.
Here, you can have a dedicated bartender throw together a fresh cocktail. You can choose to take it back to your seat to enjoy, or you can also enjoy it in the comfort of one of many lounge seats.
The A380 also has two incredibly spacious First Class bathrooms.
The four leased Boeing 777s offer a First Class cabin in a 1-1-1 layout. On these aircraft, there are only six First Class seats, spread out over three rows.
Similar to the A380 First Class product, passengers can dine together in every seat; however, due to the 1-1-1 layout, there is no option for side-by-side seating.
Those travelling with a companion will want to select either Seats 1D and 1K or Seats 2D and 2K, as these seats share access to an aisle.
Alternatively, consider picking Seats 1A and 1K to have the entire aisle to yourselves (though you’ll be sitting front-to-back rather than side-by-side).
Solo travellers who seek the most privacy will definitely want to select window Seats 1A or 2A, as you’ll have no one across the aisle from you.
Qatar Airways First Class Routes
If you’d like to fly Qatar Airways First Class, there are only a few routes that you’ll have to look out for.
Qatar Airways only operates the A380 First Class product, depicted below in blue, on routes to London, Paris, Sydney, and Bangkok. Meanwhile, the hybrid First Class on the Boeing 777s, depicted below in red, only operate to Malé and Zürich.
As always, routes featuring First Class are subject to change.
How to Redeem Points for Qatar Airways First Class
Qatar Airways is part of the Oneworld alliance. Naturally, redemptions for Qatar Airways flights are best made through the loyalty programs of Oneworld member airlines.
British Airways/Qatar Airways Avios
Using the Qatar Airways Qcalculator, these routes require the following amounts of Qatar Airways Avios for a one-way First Class flight either to or from Doha:
- Doha to London, Paris, or Zürich: 64,500 Avios
- Doha to Sydney: 105,000 Avios
- Doha to Bangkok: 75,000 Avios
- Doha to Malé: 52,500 Avios
Using the Qatar Airways Qcalucator is merely just a guideline. Be sure to do a complete search for Qatar Airways First Class using Avios for the most accurate cost for your dates.
Since you can instantly transfer Avios between British Airways and Qatar Airways, be sure to compare the costs with both programs before booking. Simple, direct flights will cost the same between the two flavours of Avios, but any multi-segment bookings are better done using Qatar Airways Avios.
You can also consider booking Qatar Airways First Class as part of a multi-carrier award using British Airways Avios.
Luckily, Avios are relatively easy to come by. British Airways Avios is a transfer partner with American Express Membership Rewards, RBC Avion, and HSBC Rewards. Furthermore, these programs frequently offer transfer bonuses of 30–50%.
British Airways Avios can also be earned directly with the RBC British Airways Visa Infinite.
American Airlines AAdvantage
Redeeming American Airlines AAdvantage miles is a great way to book Qatar Airways First Class.
In fact, the cheapest Qatar Airways First Class route you’ll be able to find with any loyalty program is by using American AAdvantage.
For example, Doha to Malé in Qatar Airways First Class can be booked for as few as 40,000 miles and a paltry $37.75 (USD) taxes and fees.
In addition, one-way tickets from Doha to Paris, London, or Zürich can be booked for as little as 62,500 AAdvantage miles and a very modest $37.75 (USD) taxes and fees.
Sydney to Doha can be booked for 100,000 miles and $66.25 (USD) taxes and fees in First Class, and Doha to Bangkok can be booked for just 50,000 miles and $39.15 (USD) taxes and fees in First Class.
The caveat is that aside from dabbling in US credit cards, AAdvantage miles are relatively difficult to come by.
American Airlines AAdvantage is a transfer partner with RBC Avion. Converting Avion points to AAdvantage miles comes at a less-than-ideal ratio of 1:0.7.
As a last resort, you can transfer Marriott Bonvoy points at the ideal ratio of 60,000:25,000.
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
Using Alaska miles is a slightly more expensive option, as flights from Doha to Paris will cost you 90,000 miles and $51 (USD) taxes and fees.
A First Class flight from Doha to Malé is also going to be a rather costly way to experience Qatar Airways 777 First Class, pricing out at 60,000 miles.
For a comparable amount of Alaska miles, you can experience a much longer First Class flight with Japan Airlines or Cathay Pacific. Therefore, it’s likely best to save your Alaska miles for one of those sweet spots instead, unless you’re dead-set on Qatar Airways.
Qatar Airways First Class Award Availability
As is usually the case with booking First Class flights, you’ll have the most success if you plan and book far in advance. This is especially true with Qatar Airways First Class, as the airline isn’t known to reliably release last-minute award availability.
Two seats tend to be released on many First Class routes well in advance of booking. Due to their flagship nature, the London and Paris routes tend to have less availability than the others.
Having two seats consistently available in First Class is relatively rare in the loyalty scene, as many airlines only release one (if any) at a time. Therefore, Qatar Airways is a great option for sharing the First Class experience with someone else.
Tips & Tricks for Qatar Airways First Class
If your main motivation for booking Qatar Airways First Class is to experience the Al Safwa First Class Lounge, you can do so by flying into Doha on any airline, and then flying onward with Qatar Airways “First Class” on short-haul regional routes within the Middle East.
This is a much cheaper option than flying on Qatar Airways’s true First Class routes, while still getting you a taste of the world-class ground experience.
For example, a First Class flight from Doha to Dubai, which clocks in at just over an hour, prices out at only 21,000 Avios.
When booking Qatar Airways First Class with American Airlines AAdvantage miles either to or from Doha, you can easily tack on another flight that may not even cost any additional miles.
For example, Qatar Airways First Class from Doha to Bangkok can be booked for 50,000 miles and $39.15 (USD) taxes and fees with American Airlines AAdvantage miles.
For the exact same price, you can fly on the same Doha to Bangkok flight with Qatar Airways in First Class, have a stopover in Bangkok, and then continue onward to Hong Kong at no extra cost.
As another example, flying from Montreal to Doha in business class costs 70,000 Qatar Airways Avios. But adding a further seven-hour flight in First Class to Bangkok only costs an incremental 25,000 Avios, for a total of 95,000 Avios.
The First Class cabin on Qatar Airways doesn’t have a huge lifespan remaining, so if you have the opportunity to try out the product, now may be the time to do so.
With access to the world-class lounge Al Safwa First Class Lounge, an onboard bar and lounge, and a chance to dine in the sky with a travel companion, Qatar Airways First Class is an experience to dream of – and for the lucky few who are able to book it on points, to look forward to.