Doha-based Qatar Airways has an enviable reputation in the airline world, with an onboard experience that is often ranked as one of the best in the world.
In many ways, Qatar’s Qsuite is the poster child of business class products. In a Qsuite, you’ll get an incredible amount of privacy, dine-on-demand catering, and top-notch service, arguably rivaling that of a true first class cabin.
So how does Qatar’s dedicated first-class cabin fare, both in the sky and on the ground? And is it worth the step up from business class?
People tend to be less familiar with this product—and no wonder, since only a handful of Qatar’s planes are equipped with first class. Let’s find out more about Qatar first class.
What to know about Qatar Airways first class
Before we can dive into Qatar Airways first class, we should talk a bit about the airline’s business class product, specifically Qsuite.
When the revolutionary Qsuite was unveiled in 2017, Qatar used the slogan “first in business” in marketing materials. This was a clever play on words as not only is it a solid business-class product, but it also signifies a near-first-class-like experience … even while seated in business.
First class has historically been the crème de la crème of commercial aviation, but Qsuite, it nearly feels like you’re flying in first. Qatar isn’t alone in this blurring between first and business, with many airlines in recent years eliminating first class in favor of an elevated business class.
Nevertheless, Qatar continues to fly a select number of planes with a dedicated, true first-class cabin.
But the days of Qatar’s first-class cabin are likely numbered—even though an aircraft shortage has breathed new life into the product in recent months. That’s because Qatar first class is only found on one aircraft type: the A380, the double-decker Airbus-manufactured plane that is no longer being produced.
Qatar only restarted service on the A380 because of a shortage of aircraft during the pandemic, notably issues with the Airbus A350 fleet.
Currently, Qatar has eight active Airbus A380 in service, and only has a total of ten in its fleet. In addition, Qatar has temporarily leased at least four Boeing 777s from Oneworld-partner Cathay Pacific that are also equipped with a dedicated first-class cabin (but with a different interior product).
In-air, while it’s certainly a more personalized experience and you’ll get more space, don’t expect a huge step up from Qatar’s already-lauded business product.
Food and beverage in Qatar business is already excellent, with individually-plated meals, high-end champagne, wines, cocktails, and mocktails. Pajamas and amenity kits (now from Diptyque) are already provided in long-haul business, and will also be found in first class.
Unlike a Qsuite-equipped plane in business, first class with Qatar Airways won’t have a door for added privacy. However, in first, you will get three windows, increased storage, and way more space for your feet and legs. And with only up to eight seats in the cabin, you’ll likely get better service from the crew.
But it’s the ground experience in Doha that is notably more elevated and luxurious when you book first class with access to the exclusive Al Safwa first-class lounge.
One important thing to note—you may be ticketed in “first class” but experience business class in the air. That’s because Qatar markets business class as “first class” on select routes within the Middle East. While you won’t experience a true first-class service on these short routes, you should still get access to the luxurious Al Safwa lounge.
Some examples of deals we’ve found on Qatar Airways for Elite members of Scott’s Cheap Flights
- $2,550 roundtrip to the Maldives in business class
- $2,661 roundtrip to Mykonos in QSuites
- $2,368 roundtrip to East Africa in business class
- $2,377 roundtrip to Armenia is QSuites
Best routes for Qatar Airways first class
Currently, Qatar Airways flies its A380 first-class product between its Doha (DOH) hub, London (LHR), and Paris (CDG). In addition, Qatar will restart flying the A380 between Doha (DOH) and Sydney (SYD) on June 1, 2022.
The Cathay Pacific-configured Boeing 777s flying for Qatar Airways are on the Doha (DOH) and Male (MLE) route as well as the Doha (DOH) and Hong Kong (HKG) route.
The Qatar Airways first class experience at the airport
Qatar Airways first class lounge
One of the best aspects of flying Qatar first class is access to the Al Safwa first-class lounge, a palatial yet exclusive space with a la carte dining, a spa, private bedrooms, shower suites, and decor inspired by the Museum of Islamic Art.
Qatar Airways first class check-in
If you’re originating from Doha Hamad International Airport, you’ll get access to a special first-class check-in area. This dedicated space has individual desks and comfortable chairs for guests to be seated during the check-in process.
Qatar Airways first class baggage allowance
Qatar has a fairly generous checked baggage allowance for first-class passengers, with up to two checked pieces weighing up to 110 pounds each.
The Qatar Airways first class experience in the air
Seats in Qatar Airways first class
- A380: The Airbus A380 is a double-decker jumbo jet, with the first-class cabin taking up the front of the upper deck with eight, ultra-wide seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. While the seat is massive, it’s also fairly open to those around you. Thankfully, an electronically-controlled divider next to the aisle can provide some more privacy. All eight seats have direct aisle access and there are no overhead bins above, providing a spacious, airy feeling throughout the cabin.
- 777: The Cathay Pacific-equipped 777s feature just six first-class seats, in a 1-1-1 configuration. The most private seats are in the “A” aisle since there is a divider separating those seats from the rest of the cabin. While not as modern as Qatar’s A380 first class, the seats are also extremely wide and provide the opportunity to dine with a companion.
Benefits of Qatar Airways first class
The highlight of any flight on the Qatar Airways A380 is likely a visit to the upper deck premium lounge, a lounge bar area behind both the first-class and business-class cabins. The bar is open to those seated in either cabin, so it’s not exclusive to first-class passengers.
The first-class cabin features two large lavatories (unfortunately, there isn’t a shower) located at the front of the cabin.
In early 2022, Qatar also began featuring products from luxury French fragrance brand Diptique in its amenity kits. Wi-Fi is also available onboard Qatar’s A380s. And a full range of in-flight entertainment, which Qatar calls Oryx One, is provided on your own large, 26” personal screen.
Qatar Airways first class meals
Dining is slightly elevated in Qatar first class compared to business class. That includes a signature caviar service accompanied with a basket of blinis and Melba toast bread.
Similar to business, Qatar has a complete dine-on-demand concept with a variety of Middle Eastern and Western appetizers, soups, mains, and desserts offered. In addition, there is typically an extensive snack selection, both hot and cold. At the onboard bar on the A380, you have the option to order small bites and snacks.
Qatar Airways features a variety of higher-end champagne, wines, beers, cocktails, and other spirits. There is also a dedicated mocktail menu for those that don’t partake in traditional libations.
Qatar Airways first class vs business class
Qatar Airways first class offers a much more intimate cabin, with personalized service and more space as compared to Qatar Airways business class. However, there isn’t a huge differentiation in terms of the onboard experience. On the ground, you’ll get access to a more premium lounge when flying in first.
How to book Qatar Airways first class
How much does it cost for a first class ticket on Qatar Airways?
The price of a Qatar Airways first class ticket varies based on a number of factors including seasonality, route, and more, but don’t expect a super-affordable fare. A sample search of a flight between Doha (DOH) and London (LHR) in first class showed flights ranging from $6,000 to as much as $9,000 roundtrip.
To get the best deals on Qatar Airways become a Scott's Cheap Flights Elite member. We've found deals in QSuites around $2,500 roundtrip.
How to upgrade to first class of Qatar Airways for free
Unfortunately, there isn’t a sure-fire way to get an upgrade to Qatar Airways first class for free. However, if you do have a business-class ticket booked, there is a slight chance that Qatar may overbook your flight and you could then get “bumped” into first class. This is called an “operational upgrade” but the odds of this occurring is low.
How much does it cost to upgrade to first class on Qatar Airways?
Qatar may sometimes offer a way to upgrade to first class at a discounted rate in the days and weeks leading up to departure. The price can vary significantly but take a look at your booking online.
And when you’re checking in at the airport, it never hurts to ask at the counter how much an upgrade may cost.
How many miles to upgrade to Qatar Airways first class?
Qatar uses a fixed award chart to determine how many Avios (miles) it will require for an upgrade. For instance, it costs 30,000 Avios to upgrade from business to first class between Doha (DOH) and London (LHR). However, this is subject to availability constraints. You can find the “Qcalculator” to determine how many miles an upgrade costs here.
While Qatar Airways first class is a great product on its own, it’s actually the strength of Qatar’s own business class (especially Qsuite) that makes it feel slightly underwhelming.
The lounge in Doha is a spectacle in and of itself, though, and the onboard service will likely be highly personalized. Overall, the price differential between business and first may not be worth it for some travelers, considering that it won’t be a huge shift in experience.