Have you ever been upgraded to Business Class? I just was by Qatar Airways.

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Have you ever been upgraded to Business Class? I just was by Qatar Airways and it may just have ruined me for life. Problematic really, as I do between 40 and 45 flights a year for work, many of them long haul, all in economy class, making this generous gift of a complimentary upgrade to the extra room for my long legs, incredible luxury service and indulgence of a flatbed seat, everything to me.

It all began rather innocently a couple of months ago when I had an email from the Qatar Airways PR department inviting me on a media trip to Doha in partnership with the Qatar Tourism Authority. The trip was scheduled to take place in mid-November and given a demanding year-end schedule and the fact that I was about to travel to Morocco, I sadly had to decline the opportunity.

But when I wrote to advise, I mentioned to Mr Mohamed Elkahlout, that I had just bought my first Qatar tickets and was looking forward to experiencing the airline. My booking from Cape Town to Casablanca in Morocco had me flying into Doha, and connecting from there. When asked for the details I had no idea what it would lead to.

As the date of my departure to North Africa drew near, I had an email advising that Qatar Airways would be upgrading me to Business Class for my return flights.

I simply couldn’t believe my luck and waited for confirmation at check-in in Cape Town. Getting a boarding pass with Seat Number 6E marked is such spoiling, and I couldn’t wait to get onboard. This trip really did become about the journey.

I can’t praise the service, crew, food and experience enough. I’ve been lucky enough to experience Business Class on media trips on a few other airlines, but nothing compares to what Qatar Airways offer. It’s as though a team of dedicated experts have thought long and hard about what frequent travellers want and need, and packed it into all the shades of wonderful luxury and spoiling. I was beautifully indulged and looked after, and unusually, didn’t want the flight to come to an end.

Qatar Airways B787_Business_seat_lie_flat

Some of the many reasons to fly with Qatar Airways

The 2017 World Airline Awards, organised by Skytrax, put Qatar Airways as the best airline in the world. A great honour as they celebrate their 20th anniversary this year. Incredibly it is the fourth time the airline has received this reward, they were also voted best in 2011, 2012 and 2015. Not that it stops there, Qatar Airways also won the 2017 Skytrax World’s best business class (and I know why) – Best Airline in the Middle East and World’s Best First Class Airline Lounge.

A unique offering in Business Class, one that certainly suited me, is the Dine on-demand menus, which allows you to sleep and eat, according to your own personal clock. I was very happy to have a meal and a glass of champagne just after takeoff, then settle in for a movie and a nap. As soon as I woke, there was somebody there asking whether I’d like something from the menu, or simply some fruit, tea or a chocolate. This works really well and the personal service means that there is no ‘meal hour’ disrupting the rest of the passengers.

That said I never slept as much as I thought I might. I did, however, put my chair back, straighten my legs, get comfy under the blanket and with a real pillow, and settle into exploring the up to 4000 entertainment options on the Oryx One entertainment platform, settling into binge watch Fargo.

The flight that I had initially purchased from Cape Town to Casablanca had been at such excellent value, at least 30% less than other airlines servicing the same route, and with Qatar flying to more than 150 destinations, I know that they will be my go-to option when I’m next buying air tickets. The fact that they are launching a new destination every month – this year Auckland, Dublin, Nice, Prague, Kyiv with Chiang Mai, St.Petersburg and Canberra next, means anywhere I may want to go will be covered. On that note, I’ve made it a 2018 resolution that I will become a member of the one world alliance so that I can collect points on all these flights I take.

Where is Qatar? And things to do.

If travelling to or through Doha, take the time to explore the culture and attractions of Qatar with Qatar Airways’ free transit visa. It even allows you to enjoy a complimentary stay at one of the many international hotels in Doha. Nationals from 80 countries can now take advantage of visa-free entry into Qatar, while as South Africans we can now get a visa on arrival.

Geographically Qatar is a peninsular Arab country that comprises of arid desert and a long Persian Gulf shoreline of beaches and dunes. Also on the coast is the capital, Doha, known for its tall skyscrapers and ultramodern architecture that has been inspired by ancient Islamic design, such as the limestone Museum of Islamic Art. The museum sits on the city’s Corniche waterfront promenade and is a must visit.

Things to do on a visit include taking a tour around Doha first thing in the morning, with a short orientation of Doha Corniche, The Pearl Qatar, Katara Cultural Village and Souq Waqif. Enjoy a Traditional Dhow Dinner Cruise along the Corniche and West Bay with a stunning view of the Doha Skyline. Not to be missed is the opportunity to enjoy a Dunes Safari.

Other attractions include visits to the Qatar Museums within the city or to the Sheikh Faisal Private Museum to the North of Qatar, to explore a private collection of more than 15000 artefacts from around the world. If you are looking for a beach, book one of the exclusive luxury hotels on the coast.

The stunning Hamad International Airport

I see a lot of airports and they all start to look the same after a while. This is not the case with the very impressive Hamad International Airport, which with its natural light and innovative architecture, offers a spacious and elegant experience. High ceilings and large concourses give a sense of grandeur, there is beautiful art, excellent shopping, stylish computer workstations, and fun attractions to keep the children entertained.

On my return home I had four hours at the airport and encamped at one of the restaurants with a coffee and sparkling water, checked emails with the free wifi and people watched. It was quiet and relaxing, making the experience far less stressful than most transit stops.

The Essential Details

  • Learn more about the offerings at Qatar Airways: www.qatarairways.com
  • Take a look at the excellent special offers that they are currently running.
  • I flew on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which is fast becoming my favourite plane.
  • Pics provided, except for the photo of the Qatar  Airways plane by Raymond McFadyen.

With my very special apprecaition to Qatar Airway in Doha and South Africa for this incredible treat, I am beyond grateful and assure you of my loyalty as I spread the word about your winning service.

Read my Meet me in Morocco. A dizzying road trip through an ancient land.

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