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What’s It Like to Fly on Qatar Airways Business Class? Hint: It’s the Lap of Luxury

What’s It Like to Fly on Qatar Airways Business Class? Hint: It’s the Lap of Luxury

Taking a flight in coach halfway around the world isn’t exactly a relaxing experience. But there’s a new breed of luxury travel for those who can afford it, and we recently got a taste of it courtesy of Qatar Airways, which has been named the World’s Best Airline by Skytrax. There’s really nothing else like it.


At the invitation of the airline, I had the opportunity to board one of the airline’s 777s at JFK with other members of the press, and was treated to a meal in my seat. Well, you could call it a seat, but it’s actually more like a relaxation station: There’s an insane amount of legroom, the in-flight entertainment system has more than 1,000 programming options, and buttons on the armrest allow you to lie flat, adjust everything from the headrest to the footrests, and even get a massage. Pillows, blankets, slippers, and pajamas are provided as well, and each seat’s reading lamp is an actual lamp.

There’s no set mealtime in business class — if you want dinner at 3 a.m., they’ll bring it to you. Dishes are designed by chefs like Nobu Matsuhisa, and wine is selected by the airline’s in-house master of wine James Cluer, who gives every bottle special consideration (we taste wine differently inside a pressurized and dry airplane, so wines can’t be too high in alcohol and need to be full of flavor but not too tannic, he explained).


For those used to abysmal on-board culinary offerings (if you can even call them that), this meal was revelatory by comparison. It started with an amuse of lamb tikka on a risotto cake with mint chutney, which was followed with a refreshing pea and mint soup with crème fraîche (above). Appetizer options include a classic Arabic mezze platter of hummus, tabbouleh, and baba ganoush with pita or a tomato, feta, and Kalamata olive salad. I opted for the mezze platter, which was amply portioned and as good as what you’ll find in any high-end Middle Eastern restaurant. Up next was our choice of three mains: a broccoli, potato, and blue cheese tart with a tomato and black olive dressing; braised lamb shank with chickpea and saffron sauce, mashed potatoes, and roasted root vegetables; and Arabic-spiced prawns with machboos sauce and rice with fried onions and nuts. I ordered the lamb shank; while it could have been more tender, it was still extremely flavorful and far and away the tastiest thing I’ve ever eaten on board an airplane. The meal concluded with a cheese course and finally a spot-on cardamom panna cotta with rhubarb and apple compote. The Champagne and wine were both free-flowing throughout the meal, as it would also be during the flight.

Not many people would look forward to a 12-and-a-half-hour flight, but if it happened to be in business class on Qatar Airways, I’d be all for it. It’s an insanely luxurious experience, and the level of care that they’ve put into every aspect of the experience, from the fabric in the pajamas to the wine selection to the restaurant-quality menu, is pretty astounding.


  • Learn how to dress, what to say and when to fly to win an upgrade
  • Virgin Atlantic , TripAdvisor and Skyscanner give expert guidance
  • If all else fails, give the check-in attendant a bottle of wine

Published: 09:36 BST, 12 September 2014 | Updated: 14:17 BST, 15 September 2014

There’s nothing better than an upgrade.

That frisson of excitement as you step onto a plane and turn left rather than right, knowing you haven’t paid full whack, can be better than the holiday itself.

While it used to happen a lot more, being promoted to first or business class is still possible and nearly one in five of us has been offered an upgrade in the last two years, according to Moneysavingexpert.com.

But you can greatly improve your chances if you know a few inside tricks and quirks of the industry. Here we show you how to break free of cattle-class and soar into First.

This could all be yours: The first class interior of Emirates A380

Money talks, and spending a lot of time and cash flying with one airline counts.

Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights says: ‘Join a frequent flyer club and start earning miles. When airlines are oversold they will look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first.’

Harriet Bevis, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic agrees: ‘If our airport staff are looking to upgrade passengers on the day of departure there is a process that they follow which generally sees passengers that are frequent flyers of the airline - or those that have paid for a fully flexible ticket - benefitting.’

Flights of fancy: there's almost too much leg room in first class

It’s not unusual to be upgraded if your seat or seat belt is broken. Obviously this is not a green light to start causing willful damage, but it's worth checking.

On packed flights there may be nowhere else to put you other than in the lap of the Gods. This includes if entertainment system and whether your seat can fully recline says Katherine Clark


  • Learn how to dress, what to say and when to fly to win an upgrade
  • Virgin Atlantic , TripAdvisor and Skyscanner give expert guidance
  • If all else fails, give the check-in attendant a bottle of wine

Published: 09:36 BST, 12 September 2014 | Updated: 14:17 BST, 15 September 2014

There’s nothing better than an upgrade.

That frisson of excitement as you step onto a plane and turn left rather than right, knowing you haven’t paid full whack, can be better than the holiday itself.

While it used to happen a lot more, being promoted to first or business class is still possible and nearly one in five of us has been offered an upgrade in the last two years, according to Moneysavingexpert.com.

But you can greatly improve your chances if you know a few inside tricks and quirks of the industry. Here we show you how to break free of cattle-class and soar into First.

This could all be yours: The first class interior of Emirates A380

Money talks, and spending a lot of time and cash flying with one airline counts.

Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights says: ‘Join a frequent flyer club and start earning miles. When airlines are oversold they will look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first.’

Harriet Bevis, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic agrees: ‘If our airport staff are looking to upgrade passengers on the day of departure there is a process that they follow which generally sees passengers that are frequent flyers of the airline - or those that have paid for a fully flexible ticket - benefitting.’

Flights of fancy: there's almost too much leg room in first class

It’s not unusual to be upgraded if your seat or seat belt is broken. Obviously this is not a green light to start causing willful damage, but it's worth checking.

On packed flights there may be nowhere else to put you other than in the lap of the Gods. This includes if entertainment system and whether your seat can fully recline says Katherine Clark


  • Learn how to dress, what to say and when to fly to win an upgrade
  • Virgin Atlantic , TripAdvisor and Skyscanner give expert guidance
  • If all else fails, give the check-in attendant a bottle of wine

Published: 09:36 BST, 12 September 2014 | Updated: 14:17 BST, 15 September 2014

There’s nothing better than an upgrade.

That frisson of excitement as you step onto a plane and turn left rather than right, knowing you haven’t paid full whack, can be better than the holiday itself.

While it used to happen a lot more, being promoted to first or business class is still possible and nearly one in five of us has been offered an upgrade in the last two years, according to Moneysavingexpert.com.

But you can greatly improve your chances if you know a few inside tricks and quirks of the industry. Here we show you how to break free of cattle-class and soar into First.

This could all be yours: The first class interior of Emirates A380

Money talks, and spending a lot of time and cash flying with one airline counts.

Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights says: ‘Join a frequent flyer club and start earning miles. When airlines are oversold they will look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first.’

Harriet Bevis, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic agrees: ‘If our airport staff are looking to upgrade passengers on the day of departure there is a process that they follow which generally sees passengers that are frequent flyers of the airline - or those that have paid for a fully flexible ticket - benefitting.’

Flights of fancy: there's almost too much leg room in first class

It’s not unusual to be upgraded if your seat or seat belt is broken. Obviously this is not a green light to start causing willful damage, but it's worth checking.

On packed flights there may be nowhere else to put you other than in the lap of the Gods. This includes if entertainment system and whether your seat can fully recline says Katherine Clark


  • Learn how to dress, what to say and when to fly to win an upgrade
  • Virgin Atlantic , TripAdvisor and Skyscanner give expert guidance
  • If all else fails, give the check-in attendant a bottle of wine

Published: 09:36 BST, 12 September 2014 | Updated: 14:17 BST, 15 September 2014

There’s nothing better than an upgrade.

That frisson of excitement as you step onto a plane and turn left rather than right, knowing you haven’t paid full whack, can be better than the holiday itself.

While it used to happen a lot more, being promoted to first or business class is still possible and nearly one in five of us has been offered an upgrade in the last two years, according to Moneysavingexpert.com.

But you can greatly improve your chances if you know a few inside tricks and quirks of the industry. Here we show you how to break free of cattle-class and soar into First.

This could all be yours: The first class interior of Emirates A380

Money talks, and spending a lot of time and cash flying with one airline counts.

Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights says: ‘Join a frequent flyer club and start earning miles. When airlines are oversold they will look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first.’

Harriet Bevis, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic agrees: ‘If our airport staff are looking to upgrade passengers on the day of departure there is a process that they follow which generally sees passengers that are frequent flyers of the airline - or those that have paid for a fully flexible ticket - benefitting.’

Flights of fancy: there's almost too much leg room in first class

It’s not unusual to be upgraded if your seat or seat belt is broken. Obviously this is not a green light to start causing willful damage, but it's worth checking.

On packed flights there may be nowhere else to put you other than in the lap of the Gods. This includes if entertainment system and whether your seat can fully recline says Katherine Clark


  • Learn how to dress, what to say and when to fly to win an upgrade
  • Virgin Atlantic , TripAdvisor and Skyscanner give expert guidance
  • If all else fails, give the check-in attendant a bottle of wine

Published: 09:36 BST, 12 September 2014 | Updated: 14:17 BST, 15 September 2014

There’s nothing better than an upgrade.

That frisson of excitement as you step onto a plane and turn left rather than right, knowing you haven’t paid full whack, can be better than the holiday itself.

While it used to happen a lot more, being promoted to first or business class is still possible and nearly one in five of us has been offered an upgrade in the last two years, according to Moneysavingexpert.com.

But you can greatly improve your chances if you know a few inside tricks and quirks of the industry. Here we show you how to break free of cattle-class and soar into First.

This could all be yours: The first class interior of Emirates A380

Money talks, and spending a lot of time and cash flying with one airline counts.

Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights says: ‘Join a frequent flyer club and start earning miles. When airlines are oversold they will look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first.’

Harriet Bevis, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic agrees: ‘If our airport staff are looking to upgrade passengers on the day of departure there is a process that they follow which generally sees passengers that are frequent flyers of the airline - or those that have paid for a fully flexible ticket - benefitting.’

Flights of fancy: there's almost too much leg room in first class

It’s not unusual to be upgraded if your seat or seat belt is broken. Obviously this is not a green light to start causing willful damage, but it's worth checking.

On packed flights there may be nowhere else to put you other than in the lap of the Gods. This includes if entertainment system and whether your seat can fully recline says Katherine Clark


  • Learn how to dress, what to say and when to fly to win an upgrade
  • Virgin Atlantic , TripAdvisor and Skyscanner give expert guidance
  • If all else fails, give the check-in attendant a bottle of wine

Published: 09:36 BST, 12 September 2014 | Updated: 14:17 BST, 15 September 2014

There’s nothing better than an upgrade.

That frisson of excitement as you step onto a plane and turn left rather than right, knowing you haven’t paid full whack, can be better than the holiday itself.

While it used to happen a lot more, being promoted to first or business class is still possible and nearly one in five of us has been offered an upgrade in the last two years, according to Moneysavingexpert.com.

But you can greatly improve your chances if you know a few inside tricks and quirks of the industry. Here we show you how to break free of cattle-class and soar into First.

This could all be yours: The first class interior of Emirates A380

Money talks, and spending a lot of time and cash flying with one airline counts.

Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights says: ‘Join a frequent flyer club and start earning miles. When airlines are oversold they will look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first.’

Harriet Bevis, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic agrees: ‘If our airport staff are looking to upgrade passengers on the day of departure there is a process that they follow which generally sees passengers that are frequent flyers of the airline - or those that have paid for a fully flexible ticket - benefitting.’

Flights of fancy: there's almost too much leg room in first class

It’s not unusual to be upgraded if your seat or seat belt is broken. Obviously this is not a green light to start causing willful damage, but it's worth checking.

On packed flights there may be nowhere else to put you other than in the lap of the Gods. This includes if entertainment system and whether your seat can fully recline says Katherine Clark


  • Learn how to dress, what to say and when to fly to win an upgrade
  • Virgin Atlantic , TripAdvisor and Skyscanner give expert guidance
  • If all else fails, give the check-in attendant a bottle of wine

Published: 09:36 BST, 12 September 2014 | Updated: 14:17 BST, 15 September 2014

There’s nothing better than an upgrade.

That frisson of excitement as you step onto a plane and turn left rather than right, knowing you haven’t paid full whack, can be better than the holiday itself.

While it used to happen a lot more, being promoted to first or business class is still possible and nearly one in five of us has been offered an upgrade in the last two years, according to Moneysavingexpert.com.

But you can greatly improve your chances if you know a few inside tricks and quirks of the industry. Here we show you how to break free of cattle-class and soar into First.

This could all be yours: The first class interior of Emirates A380

Money talks, and spending a lot of time and cash flying with one airline counts.

Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights says: ‘Join a frequent flyer club and start earning miles. When airlines are oversold they will look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first.’

Harriet Bevis, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic agrees: ‘If our airport staff are looking to upgrade passengers on the day of departure there is a process that they follow which generally sees passengers that are frequent flyers of the airline - or those that have paid for a fully flexible ticket - benefitting.’

Flights of fancy: there's almost too much leg room in first class

It’s not unusual to be upgraded if your seat or seat belt is broken. Obviously this is not a green light to start causing willful damage, but it's worth checking.

On packed flights there may be nowhere else to put you other than in the lap of the Gods. This includes if entertainment system and whether your seat can fully recline says Katherine Clark


  • Learn how to dress, what to say and when to fly to win an upgrade
  • Virgin Atlantic , TripAdvisor and Skyscanner give expert guidance
  • If all else fails, give the check-in attendant a bottle of wine

Published: 09:36 BST, 12 September 2014 | Updated: 14:17 BST, 15 September 2014

There’s nothing better than an upgrade.

That frisson of excitement as you step onto a plane and turn left rather than right, knowing you haven’t paid full whack, can be better than the holiday itself.

While it used to happen a lot more, being promoted to first or business class is still possible and nearly one in five of us has been offered an upgrade in the last two years, according to Moneysavingexpert.com.

But you can greatly improve your chances if you know a few inside tricks and quirks of the industry. Here we show you how to break free of cattle-class and soar into First.

This could all be yours: The first class interior of Emirates A380

Money talks, and spending a lot of time and cash flying with one airline counts.

Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights says: ‘Join a frequent flyer club and start earning miles. When airlines are oversold they will look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first.’

Harriet Bevis, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic agrees: ‘If our airport staff are looking to upgrade passengers on the day of departure there is a process that they follow which generally sees passengers that are frequent flyers of the airline - or those that have paid for a fully flexible ticket - benefitting.’

Flights of fancy: there's almost too much leg room in first class

It’s not unusual to be upgraded if your seat or seat belt is broken. Obviously this is not a green light to start causing willful damage, but it's worth checking.

On packed flights there may be nowhere else to put you other than in the lap of the Gods. This includes if entertainment system and whether your seat can fully recline says Katherine Clark


  • Learn how to dress, what to say and when to fly to win an upgrade
  • Virgin Atlantic , TripAdvisor and Skyscanner give expert guidance
  • If all else fails, give the check-in attendant a bottle of wine

Published: 09:36 BST, 12 September 2014 | Updated: 14:17 BST, 15 September 2014

There’s nothing better than an upgrade.

That frisson of excitement as you step onto a plane and turn left rather than right, knowing you haven’t paid full whack, can be better than the holiday itself.

While it used to happen a lot more, being promoted to first or business class is still possible and nearly one in five of us has been offered an upgrade in the last two years, according to Moneysavingexpert.com.

But you can greatly improve your chances if you know a few inside tricks and quirks of the industry. Here we show you how to break free of cattle-class and soar into First.

This could all be yours: The first class interior of Emirates A380

Money talks, and spending a lot of time and cash flying with one airline counts.

Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights says: ‘Join a frequent flyer club and start earning miles. When airlines are oversold they will look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first.’

Harriet Bevis, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic agrees: ‘If our airport staff are looking to upgrade passengers on the day of departure there is a process that they follow which generally sees passengers that are frequent flyers of the airline - or those that have paid for a fully flexible ticket - benefitting.’

Flights of fancy: there's almost too much leg room in first class

It’s not unusual to be upgraded if your seat or seat belt is broken. Obviously this is not a green light to start causing willful damage, but it's worth checking.

On packed flights there may be nowhere else to put you other than in the lap of the Gods. This includes if entertainment system and whether your seat can fully recline says Katherine Clark


  • Learn how to dress, what to say and when to fly to win an upgrade
  • Virgin Atlantic , TripAdvisor and Skyscanner give expert guidance
  • If all else fails, give the check-in attendant a bottle of wine

Published: 09:36 BST, 12 September 2014 | Updated: 14:17 BST, 15 September 2014

There’s nothing better than an upgrade.

That frisson of excitement as you step onto a plane and turn left rather than right, knowing you haven’t paid full whack, can be better than the holiday itself.

While it used to happen a lot more, being promoted to first or business class is still possible and nearly one in five of us has been offered an upgrade in the last two years, according to Moneysavingexpert.com.

But you can greatly improve your chances if you know a few inside tricks and quirks of the industry. Here we show you how to break free of cattle-class and soar into First.

This could all be yours: The first class interior of Emirates A380

Money talks, and spending a lot of time and cash flying with one airline counts.

Katherine Clark, regional business development director for TripAdvisor Flights says: ‘Join a frequent flyer club and start earning miles. When airlines are oversold they will look to upgrade their most loyal passengers first.’

Harriet Bevis, spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic agrees: ‘If our airport staff are looking to upgrade passengers on the day of departure there is a process that they follow which generally sees passengers that are frequent flyers of the airline - or those that have paid for a fully flexible ticket - benefitting.’

Flights of fancy: there's almost too much leg room in first class

It’s not unusual to be upgraded if your seat or seat belt is broken. Obviously this is not a green light to start causing willful damage, but it's worth checking.

On packed flights there may be nowhere else to put you other than in the lap of the Gods. This includes if entertainment system and whether your seat can fully recline says Katherine Clark