En route back from the Maldives, I embarked on yet another flight with Qatar Airways – my third premium product with the Doha-based airline in quick succession, after Qsuites and Qatar 777 First Class – this time onboard the Airbus A380 double-decker in First Class.
This was a rare and somewhat time-sensitive opportunity to try out this experience. In fact, Qatar Airways A380 First Class is an aspirational airline product that I had believed I would never get to fly.
That’s because Qatar Airways had seemingly retired their fleet of Airbus A380s during the pandemic, but they recently brought them back to accommodate half of their fleet of Airbus A350s being grounded.
I certainly couldn’t resist this renewed opportunity to fly on the Airbus A380, so I booked a flight as part of my “long way around” return journey from the Maldives, between Doha and Bangkok.
In This Post
- Ground Experience
- Meal Service
- Snack Service
Qatar Airways A380 First Class – Booking
To secure this segment, I used the British Airways Avios multi-carrier award to book what was effectively a one-way journey of Malé–Doha–Bangkok–Tokyo, in a mix of Qatar Airways 777 First Class, Qatar Airways A380 First Class, and Japan Airlines business class.
The reason I needed to get to Tokyo after this flight to Bangkok was to catch an onward ANA First Class flight to North America. However, on this Avios multi-carrier booking, I also included a final leg of the journey out of Tokyo to Los Angeles for a month later, in case I needed to take that flight as well as part of a different trip.
(Unfortunately, this segment was only available in economy class.)
The number of Avios I had paid for this booking is left as an exercise for the reader. I also needed to pay around $1,000 in taxes and fees for the journey, which is quite a significant amount in carrier-imposed surcharges, but I deemed it worthwhile for getting to fly on two First Class flights, a business class flight, and getting myself into Tokyo in time for another very special First Class flight afterwards.
Qatar Airways A380 First Class – Ground Experience
Since this would be a First Class departing out of Doha, I had access to the Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge, which ranks among one of the world’s best First Class lounges in my books.
The lounge has striking museum-like minimalistic interiors, excellent fine dining, and an unforgettable spa experience. You can even spend your time here soaking in the lounge’s hot tubs, something you certainly won’t find every day in an airport lounge.
However, on this particular passage through Doha International Airport, I instead decided to spend most of my time in the Qatar Airways Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge. I had never actually spent any time here before, so I sat down for a meal and checked out some of the facilities.
The Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge is spectacular in both its design and size, and the lounge is seemingly never-ending. In the end, I only had around 20 minutes to pop into the Al Safwa First Class lounge to have a drink. Then, it was time to move on and board my flight for Bangkok.
Qatar Airways A380 First Class – Cabin
At the boarding gate, I took the elevator up to the second floor and boarded the Airbus A380 directly from the upper deck of the aircraft. The First Class and business class cabins are both situated on the upper deck of the A380.
There are just eight First Class open suites arranged across two rows in a 1-2-1 configuration at the front end of the upper deck.
These suites are very spacious and the standard size for what you’d expect from a First Class suite. However, one of the first things you might notice if you’re a seasoned Qatar Airways passenger is that they lack the privacy that Qatar Airways Qsuites offer in business class.
These First Class suites have privacy partitions, but they aren’t quite a full sliding door. Moreover, the walls are fairly low, at least compared to many of the more cutting-edge First Class products out there.
Nonetheless, the cabin is beautiful, with a gorgeous palette of visually striking cabin interiors.
The soft grey seat finishes are sleek, balancing well with the cream-coloured seat consoles and subtle touches of wood. Of course, the Qatar Airways signature maroon is scattered around the finishes of the cabin.
If you find yourself in these First Class suites, window seats will be the best choice for solo travellers, while the middle seats are perfect for those travelling as a duo.
If you’re a solo traveller who happens to be stuck in the middle seats, there’s a central privacy partition that can be raised to create more privacy between you and your seatmate. Window seats also have a large divider on the aisle side.
I found myself in Seat 2A, which would be my home for the next seven hours or so.
Qatar Airways A380 First Class – Seat
The seats here on Qatar Airways First Class are extremely spacious. At the very front of the seat is a large 26-inch entertainment screen with the power outlet directly next to it.
Underneath is an ottoman, which doubles as a buddy seat for dining with a companion.
On the left side, a literature pocket is housed underneath a flap, and there is a series of buttons along the edge which trigger automated window blinds. When lowered, the blinds create a total blackout atmosphere.
You can also adjust your seat position for sleeping, lounging, or takeoff and landing here.
Below this flap, the armrest flips open to reveal the entertainment controller and a water bottle holder.
A heavy tray table resides in the left-side armrest and can be withdrawn into place. The tray is mobile and can easily slide closer to you for dining.
On the top left of the seat near your shoulders is a small reading light which pops out from the seat.
The armrest closest to the aisle is home to a dual set of both analog and electronic seat controls. The electronic controls are housed under the armrest, which allow you to adjust lighting and privacy.
Two more buttons are located beside the privacy partitions for adjusting their position, and just behind these controls is another storage compartment.
Lastly, each First Class suite is fitted with a storage compartment on the outer wall, which has enough space for garments or a small carry-on.
Qatar Airways A380 First Class – Amenities
Prior to taking off, the crew came around to serve my choice of welcome drink, for which I ordered a crisp glass of rosé. Later, I would switch to the Krug 2004, a staple here onboard Qatar Airways First Class.
In addition, I was also offered a serving of Arabic coffee and a pitted date, which I gladly accepted.
In terms of the amenity kit, the Diptyque kit provided onboard Qatar Airways A380 First Class was identical to that on my recent flight in Qsuites business class, with the only difference being the packaging the contents came in.
The kit featured the standard eye masks, socks, ear plugs, some lotions, and a signature Diptyque fragrance. Indeed, having taken four separate Qatar Airways premium flights by this point in the journey, I found that I had collected far too many of these kits.
Although the First Class amenity kit is certainly elevated compared to business class with its presentation in a leather case, it isn’t necessarily much better in terms of its contents.
This is one of many examples of a particular phenomenon with Qatar Airways: the airline is so world-renowned for their outstanding business class product that their First Class product perhaps doesn’t quite carry the same wow-factor that you’d expect it to.
I then flipped through the in-flight menus while sipping my rosé as we prepared for takeoff en route to Bangkok.
I didn’t actually manage to grab a copy of the dining menu from this flight, though below are a few pictures of the menu’s contents:
Meanwhile, the beverage menu was a like-for-like copy of the drinks list I had savoured from my previous flight in Qatar Airways 777 First Class.
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Qatar Airways A380 First Class – Meal Service
Soon after we reached cruising altitude, the dinner service began, starting with a beef and seaweed amuse bouche. This was quite a tasty starter, topped by a small spoonful of salmon roe that led seamlessly into the following appetizer.
Up next was the Balik-style salmon caviar presentation, served with the full range of traditional accompaniments: egg whites, egg yolk, chives, chopped opnion, crème fraîche, and a basket of blinis.
While some of the world’s best airlines serve only caviar and some serve only Balik salmon, Qatar Airways is one of the few carriers that venture to serve both gastronomic luxuries in the same sitting..
The combined flavours of the sea were powerful, and I relished every bite of the twin indulgences as I polished them off the beautiful glass plate.
After wrapping up my decadent appetizer, it was time for the main course: pan-fried king prawns with lemon butter sauce.
The dish consisted of generous portions of both protein and vegetables, slathered in a tangy sauce with a hint of tomato, which perfectly complemented the rich, juicy prawns.
Lastly, wrapping up meal service, I had eyes for only one choice of dessert: the Thai-inspired pandan sago mousse.
As a big fan of South East Asian sweets, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to try out no less than five of my favourite dessert ingredients – pandan, sago, coconut, mango, and passion fruit – as part of a creative dessert onboard an airplane.
This dish was truly a highlight, and was genuinely one of the best airplane desserts I’ve ever had. The sweet and fruity flavours of the mango sorbet melted in my mouth alongside the delicate mousse, all mixed with the unique fragrance of the pandan fruit.
Qatar Airways A380 First Class – Entertainment
The Qatar Airways A380 First Class in-flight entertainment system is equipped with the airline’s Oryx software, which boasts an extensive selection of 4,000+ titles.
If you’re into watching movies to pass the time onboard, you certainly won’t run out of choices.
You must navigate the entertainment system from the smaller screen, and then the movie will play on the larger screen in front of you, which I found to be slightly inconvenient.
The larger screen also offers an aircraft tail view, which can be quite entertaining to watch during takeoff and landings.
Qatar Airways A380 First Class – Wi-Fi
Qatar Airways offers A380 First Class passengers complimentary Wi-Fi for the duration of the flight, which is certainly appreciated. The Wi-Fi can be accessed via a voucher with a unique code that’s provided at your seat.
I found the Wi-Fi speeds to be sufficient for regular productivity needs, but stalled out a bit when looking to upload video to social media.
Qatar Airways A380 First Class – Bar
The true highlight here on the Qatar Airways Airbus A380 is, without a doubt, the onboard bar and lounge. This is arguably the most ostentatious airplane bar offering you’ll find across commercial aviation, rivalled only by the smaller, but more blingy Emirates A380 First Class bar.
When spending time at the bar, you’ll find yourself amongst unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, all served by a dedicated bartender. You’re free to converse with the bar staff or your fellow guests, or simply relax in a quiet corner and watch the clouds go by.
The bar is located towards the back of the Airbus A380’s upper deck, between the business class cabin and an economy class mini-cabin on this level. However, access is limited to just First Class and business class passengers.
I found myself in awe as I explored every inch of detail here at the bar and lounge.
The bar itself is shaped in a sleek S-curve, with seating on each side to match. Light purple ambient mood lighting falls from the ceiling, while a backlit strip of red highlights the selection of hard alcohol.
Furthermore, a stunning display of roses is housed in the centre of the bar.
I helped myself to some Crown Royal and some black tea, and took up residence in one of the window seats for the next few hours to fully indulge.
The crew member stationed at the bar was also a delight to chat with, and I spent around 20 minutes just hanging out and chatting with him at the bar, learning about his cabin crew experiences and the unique joys of working the bar on the Airbus A380.
Whether you’re posting up by the bar or taking a seat by the windows, socializing with your fellow bar-in-the-sky patrons or simply absorbing the ambience, this onboard bar is truly a special experience in every way.
It makes for a great reason to seek out a premium seat on this particular plane, and if you do find yourself in business class or First Class on the Qatar Airways A380, hanging out at the bar certainly beats spending time at your seat!
Qatar Airways A380 First Class – Bed
After indulging in a few too many drinks, I decided to return to my suite for a bit of a lie-down – but not before checking out the First Class restrooms.
There are two identical restrooms on this aircraft, situated on the left and right side of the staircase landing at the front of the upper deck. Given the sheer size of the Airbus A380, these restrooms are extremely spacious – one wonders if Qatar Airways might’ve considered slotting a shower in one of these restrooms?
The ample space is filled up by a cream leather bench along the side wall. Even the toilet seat, somewhat hidden at first glance, is upholstered in leather, doubling as an extension of the bench.
The vanity consists of a single sink and a large mirror with LED lighting around the edges, as well as a beauty mirror embedded in the centre. Additionally, a full-length body mirror brings about a further sense of spaciousness, making the restroom feel even larger than it already is.
In terms of restroom amenities, you’ll find hand cream, cologne, and anything you might need during the flight, such as mouthwash, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shaving kits, and combs.
Heading back to my seat, I requested turndown service and rested for a little while in the incredibly wide and comfortable lie-flat bed.
Since there were only about two hours of the flight left, I didn’t actually close my eyes and sleep; instead, I simply relaxed and savoured the buzz of the Crown Royal before restarting my dining experience with the pre-arrival snack service.
Qatar Airways A380 First Class – Snack Service
With much of the flight completed, it was time for snack service, served an hour or so before we landed. I opted for the open-face lobster roll in XO sauce from the light menu.
The plate consists of several chunks of sweet, tender lobster, served on lightly toasted bread, with a flavourful helping of Hong Kong-style XO sauce drenched over it and pouring off the sides.
The mild flavours of the lobster were perfectly balanced with the overpowering umami flavours of the sauce, all packaged in a heavenly melt-in-your-mouth texture as I devoured every bite of this world-class dish.
I had completed four separate flights in Qatar Airways premium cabins on this trip, and this was honestly the single-best dish I had experienced on any of them. If you’re flying on the Doha–Bangkok route and see this on the menu, I’d absolutely recommend ordering it and digging in.
The mountain of lobster goodness was served with a much-needed cappuccino as we approached our destination, as well as a glass of mango juice – my all-time favourite beverage here on Qatar Airways (though Krug 2004 is certainly a close second).
It’s worth mentioning, though, that what would’ve otherwise been a perfect snack service did actually fall short, as the crew took quite a while to clear plates and also initially forgot my mango juice order.
I had to remind them through the call button in both cases, and that brings me to…
Qatar Airways A380 First Class – Service
I’m typically someone who’s very easy to please when it comes to in-flight service, but on this particular flight, it was noticeable that Qatar Airways’s usual lofty standards were not quite met.
The staff member working the First Class cabin seemed relatively new, and it appeared that she hadn’t been given the proper guidance when it came to things like how often to check in on passengers and what to say when placing down a plate.
Little details that would be par for the course on Qatar Airways were missed: the crew member brought out the wrong tablecloth at first and had to go and get another one, and glasses of water were not proactively topped up throughout the meals.
Moreover, the service style was very casual, which I found to be odd and verging on poor. I don’t mean to berate this specific crew member; I just felt she wasn’t given the proper support by her fellow crew.
Oddly enough, the rest of the crew seemed to take note: towards the end of the flight, they came by and asked me about my flight and the service in particular, appearing to recognize that it wasn’t all that great and even apologizing in advance. Props to the crew for this gesture, but I wish they had simply put on a better showing in the first place.
At the end of the day, it’s entirely possible that I had simply caught the crew on a bad day, which does happen from time to time.
Thanks to a stellar dessert and snack service, and of course the pure indulgence at the bar and lounge, I still felt absolutely on top of the world as we made our landing in Bangkok and I headed into Thailand for the first time in over two years.
On the whole, Qatar Airways A380 First Class is more of a flight experience that’s worth seeking out for a very specific aspirational novelty factor, rather than necessarily one of the world’s best First Class products.
In terms of the hard product, the First Class suite is certainly very large, but is no longer matching up to its global peers in terms of privacy – especially when you’d get a more private experience when flying Qsuites business class in what’s technically a lower class of service.
The star attraction of this product is certainly the open bar, which is where I recommend spending most of your time. In my books, the bar is more impressive than the Emirates A380 onboard bar and easily the best space of its kind in the world.
The food on this flight was also outstanding, matching up to the top-notch dining experiences that Qatar Airways had treated me to previously. The service, however, was unfortunately below expectations. Combined, this produced only a somewhat positive, rather than absolutely outstanding, soft product on this particular flight.
Overall, I was delighted to check off Qatar Airways A380 First Class from my bucket list, and I would happily fly on this plane again if it was the most convenient routing – though I might be just as happy flying in business class as First Class, given that I’d still have access to the bar.