The next level of travel isn’t just booking flights, it’s paying attention to the aircraft type you’ll be flying on, since many offer different setups even within the same airline. Before our flight aboard Qatar’s A320 there was much speculation as to whether the plane, primarily used for shorter flights would feature flat beds or “old school” recliner seats that don’t go fully flat. Fortunately it was the former, and the service was outstanding…
Check In + Lounge
Check in at Pisa Airport in Italy is about as stress free as it goes. Happy sun soaked travelers calmly line up for check in and those in business class can side step into the exclusive priority lanes. Since Qatar’s A320 flight operates featuring a mere 12 seats up front you’re almost guaranteed to avoid a wait.
Pisa lounge 2 #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
I was briefed in advance about “Grandma’s House” by my good friend Ultima IIamada, a top travel blogger from Spain. Pisa’s lounge, which caters to business class passengers and Priority Pass users from many different airlines is possibly the homeliest lounge I’ve ever experienced, for better and worse.
Even at peak times the lounge remained fairly well spaced, with various seating areas, corners, nooks and crannies to fit in. The wifi was not the fastest, but that’s somewhat par for the course in Italy.
I was utterly convinced that I’d been here before, but the resemblance was surely just from childhood family visits to one of my eccentric distant relatives houses. All jokes aside, it was actually quite relaxing to be somewhere that felt very “non airport”.
Pisa lounge #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
After the British Airways flight directly before ours fizzled out of the lounge we snagged this corner couch area without another soul in sight. Food options were somewhat limited in this lounge, so we immediately then set our sights on the less limited selection of alcohol, which even included local Tuscan reds, whites and sparkling. Delizioso!
The Seat + Bed
Qatar’s A320 primarily features three rows of four across in business class. The seat is very similar to what can be found on many narrow body aircraft including the transcontinental US routes operated by Delta’s 757, American Airlines A321 and United’s 757. It’s not as advanced as their widebody A350, A380 or 787 aircraft, but it was very comfortable and nicely appointed.
Qatar 320 empty seat #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Upon boarding we were greeted by one of the best crew chiefs in recent memory, our new friend Zainab. She and her colleague were intrigued by my 360° camera and stayed in for a quick shot, which with some bias I think makes it all look even cooler.
After a few snaps we were promptly greeted by name and offered our choice of welcome beverage. Here’s a previously unknown secret: Laura doesn’t drink champagne, but we always order two so that I can manage two without asking for a top up. We’ll keep that between us…
For solo travelers you’ll definitely want to select a middle seat allowing for direct aisle access. For those traveling in pairs there’s really no difference. The Qatar Airways seat is fitted with their incredible Oryx One entertainment system, which I find to be the easiest to navigate and most intuitive in the sky. Ample selection of films, television and plane views and you can actually preview your content online…
Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
As with all great seats, the most entertaining position is the couch style recline, giving you the feeling that you’re somewhere lounging around on the ground despite being 30,000 feet in the air. Before meal service we settled into some films (and champagne) in total comfort. Even on this relatively short flight we were offered an amenity kit, duvet and large pillow.
Perhaps the best feature of this particular business class seat is the tray table area above the seat to the left. It makes a perfect space to store headphones, (water) as pictured and any other personal belongings with easy reach. You’ll also find ample connectivity to charge devices or sync your entertainment to your screen to view your own content.
As a side note, we paid just $1000 for round trip business class to Bangkok for this trip in a sale much like the one currently featured from Qatar. I highly recommend keeping up with their offers as this gave us an easy way to make top tier status with British Airways while also bagging a boat load of miles.
Food + Drink + Service…
As I mentioned we were warmly greeted by Zainab and her colleague. One thing I find consistently with Qatar Airways crews is that they are passionate travelers themselves. Both were respectfully eager to chat about their favorite places, inquire about mine and provided a very refined service throughout. Top ups were regular, collection of plates was prompt and everything felt very streamlined. I started with a lovely salad of roast pumpkin, some sort of cheese and a very savory dressing with toasted pine nuts, delicious.
Qatar 320 setting in #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Gotta love it! All travel is a thrill, but arriving refreshed (despite a love of fine wine) is a true pleasure. Speaking of true pleasure, if you crave a taste with some spice, Qatar offers some of the best meals I’ve had in the sky, even when compared to First Class.
And onto the main event! The chicken biryani topped with crispy onions was a real standout. One of the most flavorful yet light meals I’ve had in the sky. It had everything you want from an inflight meal: bold flavors, easy to digest ingredients and a little bit of starch to help the impending hangover!
If We Had To Be Picky…
If we had to be picky Qatar would operate this route with a Dreamliner or A350 featuring direct aisle access, but given the size of the market out of Pisa, I don’t expect that to happen anytime soon. This was a phenomenal way to fly and as always, the dine on demand service and warm crew made this 5:40 go by in no time!