Qatar Airways became the first airline to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Britain last month. Ian Taylor was on the first flight from Doha to Heathrow
The Boeing 787 is light and airy, especially in business class. It certainly has the big windows you’ve heard about.
I was fortunate to have a window seat, at the back of the 22-seat business cabin where the window is set forward, meaning there is no direct view out.
However, the strikingly large windows mean you can see out wherever you sit, removing the feeling of sensory deprivation long flights can give. The windows darken at the touch of a button.
The business seats are configured at an angle, four to a row in a one-two-one configuration which means every seat has aisle access.
There is ample legroom for tall passengers. A table extends to join the shelf at the side of the seat to create a fair-size desk. It is exceptionally comfortable to work.
There is also plenty of room to sleep on the fully flat bed – no cramping of the legs as in some flat-bed seats. The bed is firm, but not too hard.
The cabin generally has a sense of space, with the high ceiling at the entrance in sharp contrast to the cramped entries to most aircraft.
The lavatories are spacious and light, with a window that would be unnerving if another aircraft pulled alongside.
There is a large TV screen and a state-of-the-art system to go with it.
You can watch entertainment or the flight map on the handset as well as the screen.
Qatar’s 787 has wireless and cabled internet access. It takes a couple of minutes to log on. Qatar is ready to apply charges, but there are no rates yet.
The food is as good as you would expect.
The 787 cabin is pressurised at a lower altitude than normal, meaning there is more oxygen and passengers should feel better on arrival.
I felt fine, but couldn’t judge whether that was due to the pressure, the comfortable seat or the daytime departure from Doha.
For now, Qatar’s 787s won’t fly beyond eight hours because of their range and lack of crew rest space. Perth is currently at the limit of what is possible.
- Qatar Airways operates the Boeing 787 daily from Heathrow to Doha, departing 15.05 (return departs Doha 06.25), one of five daily services.
- Daily 787 flights to Perth start on February 1, giving an all-Dreamliner option Down Under via Doha.
- Qatar will have seven 787s in service by the end of March. Routes to Germany, the US and Japan are next in line, although chief executive Akbar Al Baker says a second 787 service from Heathrow is possible.
- The New Doha International airportopens in the second half of this year.
- It lies between the existing hub and the sea, half on reclaimed land. It is close to completion, though a contractor dispute has held up building of the 17 business-class lounges.
- Once open, the airport will be able to handle 24 million passengers a year, and twice that number by 2017-18. Transit passengers will make up 70%-80% of its traffic.
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