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QSuite vs Emirates A380 – Introduction
I was long overdue for a trip to the Middle East, so I joined my mother to visit Jordan. When choosing the best airline to fly in this part of the world, we were spoiled for choice – Etihad, Emirates, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, Egypt Air! Ok, maybe not the last one 😉
Of course, there’s also Royal Jordanian (RJ) Airlines. After all, who doesn’t like the convenience of flying direct? As wonderful as RJ is, I wanted to try some of the most premium business cabins in the air for these long-haul flights. Unfortunately, RJ didn’t make the cut.
I scored two business class seats on Qatar Airway’s Boeing 777-300 QSuite to our destination in Amman, Jordan. Note that Qatar Airways also offers QSuite on Boeing 787 and Airbus 350. Hence, QSuite is not provided on Qatar Airways’ A380.
For the return, I flew solo and booked my flight with Emirates Airbus 380 in the business cabin to return to Canada. My mother stayed longer in Jordan and requested that I book her on the most direct route possible on RJ!
In this post, I’ll cover my first impressions of Qatar Airways’ QSuite and Emirates A380 business suite and give my take on how these premium products compare.
QSuite vs Emirates A380 – Cost and booking
First, let’s start with the cost. I didn’t want to pay thousands of dollars to fly in a premium cabin, so I put my airline miles to work.
For our outbound flights, I booked our tickets through Qatar Privilege Club. The cost for the Montreal-Doha-Amman flights came up to 80,000 Avios points and $310.15 in taxes per person. I would have paid less in taxes had I booked via American AAdvantage miles, but I didn’t have any, so I went with the next best option.
To get to Montreal from Ottawa, we took the Orleans Express bus for $55.26 per person. I didn’t want to deal with Aeroplan’s dynamic pricing on Air Canada for a short hop, so a quick bus ride was the most economical option.
For my return, I booked my inbound flights using Aeroplan miles in a business cabin from Dubai to Toronto on an Emirates A380, followed by an Air Canada flight to my home in Ottawa on the same ticket. This is priced at 106,600 Aeroplan miles and $137.11 in taxes and fees.
As I was departing from Amman, I had to position in Dubai. While I found an Emirates award flight on Aeroplan, it was in First class and outrageously priced for a short-haul flight. Emirates flights are dynamically priced, unlike other partner airlines on Aeroplan that use a fixed flight reward chart.
Generally, you can find reasonably priced Emirates award redemptions on Aeroplan if booked in business class, and it’s a last-minute booking. Yet, your mileage may vary.
Ultimately, I booked an Emirates flight in Economy using Emirates Skywards miles to position to Dubai from Amman. This came at 23,750 miles and $173 in taxes and fees.
QSuite vs Emirates A380 – Lounge access
The weak point about Qatar Airways is that they don’t have many lounges outside of Doha. Instead, they use other lounges for their business and First class passengers. Flying out of Montreal on QSuite business class gave us access to the National Bank Lounge. It was an inadequate prelude to boarding one of the best business-class products in the air.
On the flip side, because we connected through Doha, we had access to Qatar Airways’ lounge at Doha Hammad international airport (DOH). The best part? Our short-haul flight from Doha to Amman was in First class! Qatar Airways classifies many regional short-haul flights as First class for its most-forward cabin. This rewarding classification granted us access to the Al Safwa First Lounge.
Departing from Dubai, I had access to the Emirates Business Class Lounge.
I won’t provide my review of the lounge experience. It wouldn’t be fair for me to compare the brilliant Al Safwa First lounge to Emirates’ business one!
I will note that Qatar Airways does edge over Emirates for its short-haul regional flights. Transiting through Doha allows you to experience the First class lounge by booking your short-haul segment in First class on the same ticket as your long-haul business-class flight.
QSuite vs Emirates A380 – Seats
The Boeing 777-300 QSuite has 42 suites in the business cabin, with rows alternating between forward and rear-facing seats.
QSuite has a 1-2-1 configuration, typical in many of today’s top business-class products. Yet, what is unique about QSuite is that it offers a quad layout for its middle seats. This is perfect if you’re travelling in a group or a family of up to four. The seats open up to each other, where you can be face-to-face with your travel companions.
If travelling with a significant other, you can configure the two seats into a double bed. I usually opt for a window single seat, even when travelling with a companion. However, we flew in the middle seats for this flight since it was our first time experiencing QSuite. A partition in the Middle can be raised if you want privacy. We had seats 3E and 3F.
If you’re flying solo, selecting one of the single seats by the window is best. You do need to pick one of the rear-facing seats if you want to be close to the window, so choose your seat wisely. These seats fall under letters A and K. The forward-facing seats are closer to the aisle and further away from the window.
I found QSuite to be very comfortable. It was spacious, offered a full flatbed, and I appreciated that an ottoman on the side complemented it. This ottoman can be adjusted. You can lower it to provide more space when you’re sleeping or raise it as an armrest when sitting down. It also has a cover that lets you store things, making it very practical.
QSuite is even more attractive because it has a sliding door, which offers privacy. This is not standard in business class and makes you feel like you’re flying First class.
The business class cabin on Emirates A380 is massive, with 76 seats spread out across 20 rows. All seats have direct aisle access thanks to a 1-2-1 layout. However, they split the business cabin into two sections. The first section is the large one with 15 rows, and the second section comprises 5 rows.
You may instinctively want to choose a seat in the section with the five rows cabin, but it’s not a good idea! This rear cabin is in very close proximity to the onboard bar, lounge and bathrooms. Therefore, it gets much foot traffic – not ideal if you want peace.
Another thing about Emirates business cabins is that while they are forward facing, they are staggered, with each row alternating between being close to the aisle or the window. Despite booking last minute, I managed to snag seat 14K, a single seat close to the window.
Although seats in the business cabin are sadly doorless, my seat had some privacy. The seats closer to the window are slightly enclosed, whereas the ones more comparable to the aisle are not, resulting in less privacy.
Similar to QSuite, the seat on Emirates A380 was a full flatbed, so you don’t have to worry about sleeping in an awkward angled seat. The quality of the blanket wasn’t the best, but I appreciated that it was light.
One of the things I liked about the Emirates seat was the large compartments on the side. They provide passengers with a lot of storage space.
The mini bar was also a nice touch.
What I didn’t like was the colour scheme. While the seat was an inoffensive grey/purple combo, the rest of the cabin finishes weren’t appealing. It just felt like Emirates was trying too hard to look luxurious. The armrests, sides and general seat surroundings were faux-wood in gold. Just too much!
QSuite vs Emirates A380 – Catering and Onboard bar
I found that one of the top highlights for me was the inflight catering on QSuite. This says a lot is given. Usually, I wouldn’t say I like plane food. For the welcome drink, I was offered a mint lemonade, my favourite Middle Eastern drink!
The fantastic thing is you’re not restricted to specific meal times when flying on QSuite. That’s because they offer “dine on demand.” While this is standard in First class, that’s usually not the case when flying in a business cabin.
Since my flight was taking off from Montreal, the menu on this flight featured Western plates with a couple of Canadian-themed dishes. The appetizer options were limited to two dishes, not including the clam chowder soup. There were four main options for the dinner and breakfast meals. They also had snacks as well as light entrée options. Though, I wouldn’t consider the smoked beef poutine to be light 😉
The dinner meal started with a salmon amuse-bouche. I ordered the Spanish-style tapas for the appetizer, which I immensely enjoyed. Slow-cooked beef cheeks with chimichurri sauce followed this. I wrapped up my meal with a delicious carrot cake.
Since I don’t drink, I indulged in one of the fruity mocktails instead. It was good but not quite as refreshing as the welcome drink.
For breakfast, they brought out a basket with an assortment of pastries, bread, jam, and butter. I decided to skip the main entrées and just had a fruit plate, followed by a cheese plate.
Overall, I loved the food presentation and found the addition of the candlelight to be a nice touch, reminding me of my flights on Turkish Airlines. The best part was the flexibility of ordering whatever was on the menu whenever I wanted.
On Emirates, there was no dine-on-demand.
My flight was boarding at 3 a.m., so there was no dinner service due to the late hour. Instead, they offered light bites right after takeoff. By that point, it was close to 4 a.m. I was eager to sleep, so I skipped the light meal.
I wasn’t interested in eating eggs or waffles for breakfast, so I asked if I could have the cheese plate instead. The flight attendant acted like I was asking for the impossible and said they only served the cheese plate after lunch. I felt like I was dealing with a robot programmed to follow a specific protocol with no deviation.
After she brought out a plate of fruit and pastry, she finally relented and brought me the cheese plate but noted that she could not guarantee they’d have any cheese plates available after lunch to offer me. I let her know that I was perfectly fine with that.
The final meal service was lunch. I opted to try the Arabic mezze. I liked the muhammara dip, but the hummus tasted off. For the main dish, I picked the mixed grill. After taking a couple of bites, I couldn’t continue. It was inedible.
Now, despite the lacklustre experience with the inflight catering, there was one thing that would interest many people in booking a seat on Emirates A380. Of course, I’m referring to the onboard bar!
I went and checked it out and spent some time talking with a friendly flight attendant there. While I can’t speak for the drinks, meeting and chatting with other passengers/flight attendants is a fun space. The lounge was also stocked with snacks. This is one of the unique experiences Emirates A380 offers its business and First class passengers.
QSuite vs Emirates A380 – Service
From the moment we stepped onboard, the service delivered by QSuite staff was welcoming. They make you feel like a special guest. The inflight service during catering was excellent.
I also liked the turndown service, where they laid out the seat cover, the duvet, and two pillows. It felt premium, unlike some of the other business-class products I’ve flown to date.
Finally, a head stewardess stopped by twice during our flight to check up on us to ensure we had everything we needed. The final touch was when they came around at the end of the flight and handed us a small box of chocolates and a packaged date—I loved it!
The service level during my Emirates flight was mixed. Two flight attendants were serving the aisle I was seated in. One attendant was friendly, while the one I had to deal with frequently was robotic. The inflexibility in catering and the absence of turndown service was a weak point on Emirates.
QSuite vs Emirates A380 – Amenities
What can you expect in terms of amenities on QSuite?
On my flight, they included an amenity kit by Diptyque with standard items such as face cream, body cream, lip balm and eau de toilette.
The odd thing is the kit was packaged in a box. Up to that point, I found everything to be premium on QSuite. It was surprising that they fell short on this.
The highlight, though, was they offered unisex pyjamas by The White Company. This was nice since only a handful of airlines offer PJs to their business-class passengers. Of course, to round up the amenities were the slippers.
On Emirates, the kit offered products by Bulgari. It was fully stocked and included everything that Qatar Airways offered in its kit, with the addition of:
- Compact mirror
- Hair comb
- Pack of tissues
Emirates doesn’t offer its business passengers pyjamas. But what bothered me was that they didn’t provide any slippers! I mean, even Air Canada hands out slippers to its business passengers!
QSuite vs Emirates A380 – Final Verdict
So, which should you choose? QSuite or Emirates A380 business seat?
It will depend on award availability and where you plan to fly. Emirates has a more extensive flight network, so there are more opportunities to pass on the Emirates A380. If both are available to get you to your destination and you want to Fly Better, I would choose Qatar Airways’ QSuite!
QSuite is an all-around spectacular business-class product! The exceptional service, roomy seat, privacy (door!), dine-on-demand and pyjamas make for a luxurious experience. QSuite is an upgraded business class. It is worth the hype.
To top it off, it’s a fantastic value when redeeming Avios points via Qatar Privilege Club. This is even more so if you take advantage of the periodic promos with 30% transfer bonuses to British Avios from RBC’s Avion credit cards. You can then link your British Avios to Qatar Privilege Club to transfer the points.
Emirates A380 is not a bad business product by any means. At least for its business cabin, it doesn’t measure up to QSuite. Its top feature is its onboard bar and lounge. If experiencing a bar in the air is essential, Emirates A380 is a must!
The Airbus 380 is a massive aircraft. Emirates claims it’s as long as two blue whales. I think the sheer size of it, with 76 seats in its business cabin, contributed to it being an impersonal experience. It just didn’t feel as exclusive as QSuite.
Do you feel differently? Comment below and share your thoughts about these two premium business-class products.