How would I ever be able to fly budget carriers from now? Those were my thoughts when I recently flew on Qatar Airways' Dreamliner 787 aircraft from Singapore to Doha.
Spoilt rotten was what we were. When we flew Business Class on our connecting flight from Doha to Barcelona on an A330 aircraft, we were a tad let down - not because the service was bad, but when you have sat on the Dreamliner, very little could come close.
Qatar Airways had recently commenced operating the Dreamliner 787 aircraft on its Singapore-Doha sector, alongside its existing fleet of Boeing 777s, and my travelling companions and I were one of the first few privileged ones to take the jet on this route on April 4.
On Qatar's Dreamliner, customers get to enjoy the aircraft's new features in Business Class for the price they would pay for Business Class tickets on any other aircraft the airline operates.
Boarding the flight
You are the VIPs on-board the flight as there are no First Class seats, and so you get the flight crew's undivided attention.
The feeling that you are on a premium flight starts before you enter. First, the cool blue atmospheric lighting in the cabin adds a futuristic element and is the first sign that you are on a new plane.
Once you step on the plane, a mini lobby with a magazine rack and a small vase of flowers greet you. That is only if you are not distracted by the pod-like seats. Their Dreamliner's Business Class has a one-two-one seating arrangement, with an additional two seats behind the magazine rack. This is unique to Qatar Airways.
I was allocated one of the latter seats, and later found out that those were couple seats that the airline would recommend for honeymooners. For single travellers, however, it won't feel awkward sitting next to a stranger in the "couple seats" as there is a lot more personal space compared to other Business Class seats. There is zero chance of accidentally touching elbows if both of you are arm-rest hoggers. For those who want more privacy, there is a opaque screen you can raise.
The seat itself will occupy you for awhile with lots of compartments and nooks to explore. For starters, there is a 17-inch screen and a shelf with reading light beside your headrest. The armrest next to the aisle opens up to reveal a bottle of water and noise-cancelling headphones.
The other armrest has a touch-screen console - the in-flight system is Android-based, so the user interface is very similar to mobile phones. There is also a USB 2.0 port for you to charge your gadgets - this is a huge plus for me since I don't have to fish out the charger plug from my hand carry bag. If you need an electrical socket, there is one under that armrest which does not get in your way while you sleep.
Also below the armrest is another storage compartment meant for you to keep newspapers and magazines when you aren't reading. The usual in-flight brochures and magazines are on the shelf beside your headrest, so you don't have to try to squeeze all your reading materials into one pocket. I find it useful to store my valuables when I am sleeping as it is just right next to me.
Below the screen is a leg rest to put up your feet for those with long legs, or you can use it to store your handbag. At the bottom, strategically placed right next to the aisle, is a drawer for you to store your shoes away. It is quite handy especially when your seat is fully reclined and you don't have to hunt for your shoes when you go to the toilet.