Qatar Airways’ First A350 (MSN006) at the Airbus Delivery Center – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Qatar Airways’ first A350 (MSN006) at the Airbus Delivery Center – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Qatar Airways has been growing rapidly, both in terms of their fleet and their route network.  I recently got to experience an example of both when I joined Qatar for their inaugural flight to Boston Logan Airport (BOS), utilizing the new Airbus A350-900 XWB. It was a pretty special trip.

After a rather disappointing first experience on Qatar when flying in from Los Angeles, I was really hoping to see Qatar’s best when departing from their home hub of Doha. Sometimes, operating from outstations with once-daily service can be very challenging.

This would be my first time flying the Airbus A350 as well – just a few days before our Editor-in-Chief David Parker Brown. I wanted to make sure to take the chance to remind him of that (thanks Blaine ^David).

Certificate given to passengers to mark the inauguration of service to Boston - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Certificate given to passengers to mark the inauguration of service to Boston – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Overall, my flight was great.  The service was up to snuff and the food tasty.  But the star of the show was the A350.  Wow, what a ride.  Read on!

My ride to Boston - Airbus A350-900, registered A7-ALF - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

My ride to Boston, an Airbus A350-900 registered A7-ALF, on a rare rainy day in Doha – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Qatar Airways has been expanding quite a bit over the last few years into new US markets. The new service to Boston, New England’s economic hub, comes on the heels of new service to Los Angeles, and an upcoming new route into Atlanta. New York has also been upgraded to twice-daily flights. Just like the other members of the “ME3” (Emirates and Etihad), Qatar Airways has found geography on its side, making for one-stop connections around the world, particularly to places like India.

All of that growth requires a fleet to support it.  Qatar has invested heavily in the Boeing 787 and also the Airbus A350, of which they were the inaugural customer.  While I’ve flown the Dreamliner a number of times, I had yet to try the A350.

BONUSHitching a Ride on a Qatar Airways Boeing 787-8 Delivery Flight

Airy and beautiful terminal at Hamad International Airport in Doha - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Airy and beautiful terminal at Hamad International Airport in Doha – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

We arrived at Doha’s beautiful Hamad International Airport. It mirrored the rest of the modern city of Doha that I saw. It was constructed recently just next to the old international airport, and is something that Qatar Airways should be proud to call home.  Unfortunately, there were some miscommunications within my travel group, and we were unable to visit the (from what I’ve heard, excellent) Al Mourjan Business Lounge. That’s ok, though, as it gave me more time to drool over the amazing A350 sitting at our gate.

It’s important to remember that the A350-900 is much larger than the smallest version of the 787 family. I had to keep reminding myself that this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. While the 787 roughly competes (in size, not range) with the Boeing 767 and Airbus A330, the A350-900 fights in a different weight class – it is almost exactly the same size as the Boeing 777-200.

Inaugural flight goodies for all passengers - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Inaugural flight goodies for all passengers – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Boarding was chaotic. There was no special mention of the inaugural Boston flight or any kind of gate celebration, but they did give away items to commemorate the flight.  Each passenger got a special certificate for the occasion, along with a Qatar Airways polo shirt and a Qatar-branded battery power pack (while a nice touch, I’m not sure if adding 300+ cheap lithium ion batteries to a flight is such a solid idea).  While business class was trying to board, I saw grandmas with their elbows out and heads down, pushing as hard as they could to the front of the line.  Alright, alright, but we’re all going the same place, right?

Once in my seat, my excitement really ramped up.  Wow, was this plane gorgeous or what? I had a great view out of my window of the massive-looking Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, as well as the artful curled-up winglet that sported Qatar’s Oryx logo.  The business class cabin feels extremely airy, as they have foregone the center overhead bins in favor of a wide, flat ceiling.  Between the front business cabin and rear section (where I sat) was a wide-open space, with a small bar but no visual obstructions.  Combined with artful LED mood lighting and that “new plane smell”, this felt like plane heaven.

The plane also had optional in-window electric mini blinds, at least in business class, that offered an opaque shade to allow some natural light, but also a blackout shade for sleeping time.  While I loved the look and function of it (but can’t imagine the poor mechanic that has to fix it), I actually prefer the Boeing 787’s electrochromic dimming system. I prefer that system’s ability to let me look out the window without brightening the entire cabin. To each their own, however.

We pushed from our gate right on time with a mostly full flight.  A handful of folks, like myself, were on board to celebrate the inaugural – you could spot them as the ones walking around with cameras and big grins on their faces.  Other folks were just regular passengers, unaware that they were on any type of special flight.  The passenger in front of me was a two-million-mile American Airlines elite, and for him this was just another flight.

I got immense joy from watching the A350’s tail camera on my in-flight entertainment display.  This is the first plane I’ve been on with it, and the skies had cleared from the earlier rain, allowing for a great view.  Watching the takeoff roll was impressive!

Qatar A350 business class bar, with view of forward cabin - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Qatar A350 business class bar, with view of forward cabin – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Once we were in flight, the service kicked in to high gear.  We were offered our choice of a hot or cold towel, and the crew set up the modest mid-cabin business class bar, which offered champagne and some fresh fruit.  While it looked nice, I didn’t actually see anyone use it during the flight.

I changed in to my provided pajamas, and then decided to order some food. Given that we didn’t visit the lounge as I had expected, I was pretty hungry.  Just like on my inbound flight from Los Angeles, the menu is a la carte – you can order whatever food you’d like at any time during the flight.  I started with something from the “Lighter Options” menu, a very tasty Thai marinated beef and glass noodle salad, served cold.  I moved on to the roasted tomato soup with basil; it was good, but nowhere near as good a the roasted corn soup on my flight to Doha.

Adhering to the “when in Rome” mentality, I then had the Arabic mezze. When I was growing up, an Armenian friend’s mom would send tabbouleh with his lunch, which I remember fondly.  This definitely wasn’t as good as that, but the platter was tasty.

For my main course, I selected the seared red snapper with saffron cream sauce and asparagus. It was a great dish, and the fish was cooked perfectly (it always amazes me when a carrier can manage that on an airplane!) Throughout my meal, I tried a number of wines from the extensive list.  It was a great meal.

After stuffing myself, I decided to get some sleep. I wasn’t really tired, but knew I had a long day ahead of me; we would arrive to Boston at around 3:00 PM local time, and then I had a four-hour layover and a four-hour (economy) flight back to Denver.  Sleep was going to be important. I made up my bed with the provided duvet, and managed to get about five hours of sound sleep – the smooth and quiet A350 had a lot to do with that.

Cool double-screen technology on the IFE system - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Cool double-screen technology on the IFE system – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

The in-flight entertainment (IFE) system had an extensive selection of movies and shows. I watched The Martian for the what has to have been the fifth time, and then enjoyed a few episodes of Mythbusters – I’m really going to miss that show. Unlike Qatar’s Boeing 777 fleet, the new A350 features satellite-based WiFi service, so I was able to keep up with work while flying. That can both be a good and bad thing.

Tail camera view of the Qatar A350 arriving in Boston for the first time - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Tail camera view of the Qatar A350 arriving in Boston for the first time – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Soon, we were getting close to Boston. I guess after my 16-hour flight from Los Angeles, the relatively-short 12-hour flight had flown by (pun intended). It was a beautiful day, so once again the tail camera on the IFE system was put to good use. This was my first inaugural, so I was hoping we’d have a warm welcome waiting for us on the ground.

A great dual-view of the water cannon salute welcome of the A350 at Boston - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

A great dual-view of the water cannon salute welcome of the A350 at Boston – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

I wasn’t disappointed. As we landed, I could see a few airport fire trucks lined up on the taxiway, waiting to greet us with a water cannon salute. That was a pretty cool experience, and those non-AvGeeks seemed to finally realize there was something special about this flight. As we taxied up to the gate, there were tons of folks standing all around the apron, phones and cameras lifted high in the air. While I’m sure they were excited to welcome new service to Doha on Qatar Airways, I honestly think most of them were there to see the beautiful Airbus A350. It was fun to wave back at the excited crowds from my big windows.

Qatar Airways’ expansion to Boston makes a lot of sense. Boston is a hub for Qatar partner JetBlue, which can provide a domestic feed for Qatar. Emirates already serves the city, so Qatar is able to offer some competition on flights to the Middle East. Boston is a world-class, diverse city, and should be able to support both business and leisure traffic. The economical Airbus A350 helps make the business case better as well.

While the A350 is still a rare sight in North America, I hope it becomes more common as production ramps up. Trust me – you’re going to like flying it.

Note: I was a guest of Qatar Airways for this flight review. All opinions are my own, however. 

Related AirlineReporter Posts

MANAGING EDITOR – DENVER, CO. Due to his family being split on opposite sides of the country, Blaine traveled frequently as a child, falling in love with the flying experience, and has continued to travel ever since. For AirlineReporter, Blaine edits all content before publishing, assists in story and concept development, and takes every chance he gets to produce original content for the site. When Blaine’s not busy planning his next travel adventure, he spends his time working as a college administrator. If he can’t be on an airplane, he’d prefer to be on a bicycle or playing with his two toddlers with his wife. Email: blaine@airlinereporter.com.

Visiting The Roasterie: A Coffee Company with a Passion for the DC-3
12 Comments
Lew Tripp

Airbus for the most part are cheap copies of Boeing aircraft.

You bunch of American asshole

Lew:
Airbus = 1st widebody twin, 1st 2-man widebody cockpit, 1st fly-by-wire airliner. So you might say Boeing is a copy of Airbus….

Chris Van Veen

After decades of being a ‘Euro-centric’ international airport, Logan is starting to develop a very diverse and impressive array of dots on the global map. Aircraft like the 787 and A350 make this possible, but the larger-still 777-300 is doing very well twice daily with Emirates and 5x weekly with Cathay. The excuse that Boston was ‘too close’ to JFK to support this level of international service was just that…an excuse. Honestly, it was an excuse largely trotted out by our own flag carriers. Delta gets kudos for fielding a handful of transatlantic routes from Boston, but the others (AA, UA) can’t seem to be bothered. With a robust and balanced demographic, Boston is a market that can support all of this service at money-making fares. And once Terminal E has the gates to support it, the A380 will come to town with Emirates and perhaps either BA or LH. Terminal E is now uncomfortably over capacity with an influx of Summer 2016 newbies still upcoming. Towing some inbound aircraft over to Terminal C (EK and EI to name two) for the evening returns is a solution that is mediocre given that the gate areas aren’t necessarily designed for the aircraft loading there. More people than seats. But in the coming years Terminal E will reach equilibrium (finally) and all will be swell. Getting there is going to take some patience.

Blaine Nickeson

Chris – glad to hear that BOS is getting some love. It was quite the experience heading from my arriving gate to my connecting gate on United.

I am honestly surprised you have never been on an A380 with a tailcam…i read your reviews all the time and am shocked…the tail cam is awesome…(mine came on an Air France flight from CDG to JNB…) great review..I have yet to fly an A350 but it is high on my list…and one of the only i have yet to fly..

I have flown on a A380 with the tail cam it is very cool. But that screen looked a lot better quality than the one Qantas use down the back. I can’t wait to fly on a A350 I wish Air NZ had bought some it looks like it be a very long time before I get to fly on one.

Lew Tripp

Tran, if it wasn’t for Americans, you never would have made it this far.

The Infidel Alliance

In 1939 Berlin was a gleaming city with a bustling economy and vibrant social scene. Yet, it was infected with a doctrinal evil which spawned the greatest conflict mankind has ever suffered, with over 50 million people killed and unmeasurable human suffering. Fast forward to the present and we see a remarkably similar situation in Doha.

This gleaming city is also infected by a doctrinal evil, not National Socialism but Islam. As reported in The Telegraph, Qatar is a prolific state sponsor of Islamic supremecist terrorism:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/qatar/11110931/How-Qatar-is-funding-the-rise-of-Islamist-extremists.html

Every time you fly Qatar, Emirates or Etihad, you are essentially supporting the NAZI movement of our age, expansionist supremecist totalitarian Islam. If in 1939 you understood the death and suffering that would result from Hitlers NAZI Germany, would you not have personally boycotted Lufthansa? Why then would you support Muhammeds violent supremecist Islamist movement in the present day by flying ANY of the Islamic carriers?

For the good of humanity, please suffer a little inconvenience by not routing through any of these Islamic terror states. And please boycott Qatar, Emirates, Etihad, Saudia, Gulf Air and all the other Islamic affiliated airlines.

In peace,

~ The Infidel Alliance

Just completed Lhr Syd Lhr in Business with QR. Whereas it is still a good airline – they are cost cutting, and although good in the air – their ground staff border on non caring rude, to exceptionally rude. Flights were all on time but really the food is nothing to be proud off nor the menu choice. A380 and 787 seting in business is ok – but the 14 hrs on their 777 business seat is really good although most hate it…When you have been in the air already 7 hrs and you have another 14 hrs the width of the 777 business seat although old is a joy. The IFE is somewhat non responsive and could be improved. Yes for the price – especially on the new Sydney routing is good, but the recent trip has got me looking around, even if I have to pay 1K£ more. Our friend Al Bakir needs to stop sprouting about the competition..Look to home Ali boy – you need to put your own house in order these days. Iprove the food offering and give some decent top quality nuts. Too much cost cutting and some very ignorant and rude ground staff is going to cost you passenger numbers. And get Sydney airport to put their check in staff – for whom you pay – in order. Truly a vile start to a very long haul flight. Crew on board however are great.

Cool Breeze

Was to fly ATL-SIN for a December cruise and decided to try Qatar Airways via Doha with a stopover for a day. I had lots of AAdvantage miles but was initially reluctant to spend them via the Doha routing as it requires two awards for way more than flying via the Pacific on one award. What convinced me to do it though was the chance to fly the DOH-SIN leg on the A350-XWB. So, was it worthwhile? Upon checking in at DOH I was told that they’d swapped out the A350 for an A330. Crap. They’ve got angled lie flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. Oh, and they’d seated my wife and me separately in window seats. I obtained an email address so I could contact someone at Qatar Airways to see if they’d provide some compensation, like refunding the award miles used for the DOH-SiIN leg. Well, I got a reply, one of the boiler plate responses about how important my feed back is, blah, blah, blah. In other words, go pound sand. My return to the U.S. on Cathay Pacific was flawless as it was on previous trips. Five star Qatar Airways ? Ummm….not so much.

The Infidel Alliance

Dear aviation friends,

Back on April 17, 2016 I warned about Qatar as a sponsor of Islamic terrorism, and urged a boycott of Qatar, Emirates, Etihad, Saudia, Gulf Air and all the other Islamic affiliated airlines. Now we see the Islamic World War exploding upon itself:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-40173757

Again, I urge you all to boycott these Islamic airlines. We must stop empowering Islam and start resisting it.

London, Paris, Nice, San Bernardino, Orlando, Boston, and on and on…..aren’t you as tired of all the Islamic bloodshed as I am?

Thank You!

~ The Infidel Alliance

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *