What it feels like to fly First Class with one of the top airlines of the world

One of the Qsuite selections is the double suite. — Photos: Wikimedia Commons

As much as I love travelling, I am not fond of the part where I have to sit for hours in a cramped and crowded space high up in the sky, especially when flying long haul.

That is, until the day I found myself nestled comfortably in an airline’s super premium class – the Qsuite – contentedly sipping on a refreshing glass of lime and mint concoction while watching the flight attendants bustling about getting everything (and everyone) ready for take-off.

While this was not my first time flying on Business class, it certainly was my first time being in Qatar Airways’ Qsuite. What sets it apart from most Business class flights is its ability to transform into an enclosed “mini suite”, similar to that of Singapore Airlines’ huge “First Class Suites”, and Etihad’s “The Apartment” and “The Residence”. Unsurprisingly, many of these seats are only available on bigger planes, like the mammoth Airbus 380, and Boeing 777.

Singapore Airlines’ Suites comes with a reclining chair that swivels, two tables and a single bed that can be ‘hidden’ when not in use like in this picture. — SIASingapore Airlines’ Suites comes with a reclining chair that swivels, two tables and a single bed that can be ‘hidden’ when not in use like in this picture. — SIA

After settling my belongings and burrowing into my nest of pillows and blanket (all courtesy of the airline), I was served the aforementioned drink. Afterwards, while waiting for my meal order to be taken, I started perusing the entertainment offerings.

This was my second favourite part of the service (the first being the full enclosure, of course): The large screen TV. The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Doha, Qatar would take more than seven hours so I needed back-to-back entertainment to keep boredom at bay.

Now the best part: The satisfaction of sliding the cabin door closed once we were airborne. Sure, any tall person walking past could still peek in from above the screen, but just being able to conceal myself was blissful.

This feature was even more welcome during the leg of the journey – Doha to Paris, France. It felt like an actual bedroom, albeit a downsized version, especially since the seat could be folded down flat into a bed.

I did not change into the provided “The White Company” sleepwear set, but I did dip into the exclusive Diptyque amenity kit for some bedtime pampering.

ANA’s The Room features a large TV.ANA’s The Room features a large TV.

There was a slight difference with the Qsuite on the Doha-Paris leg (and Paris-Doha) than the KL-Doha one, as the former was slightly smaller. It felt a little claustrophobic once the door was closed.

Unfortunately, I only experienced the larger Qsuite once, because the return flight from Doha to KL was on a “regular” Business class. Goodbye, sliding door and big TV.

Enclosed seats used to be a First class exclusivity, but now this level of comfort (and privacy) is growing more feasible for business class travellers too.

Qatar Airways was the first to do so with the launch of its Qsuite in 2017, and other airlines soon followed suit. Such as All Nippon Airways with its “The Suite” for First class (that comes with a 1m-wide flatscreen TV!), and “The Room” for Business.

Etihad's The Residence comes with your very own butler. — YouTubeEtihad's The Residence comes with your very own butler. — YouTube

Japan Airlines also has a similar “Sky Suite” that has been around since 2013. What it doesn’t have is a sliding door, but it more than makes up for this with its fully-flat bed, large-screen TV and high privacy dividers. Delta Air Lines has its “Delta One Suite”, whose lie-flat seats and privacy doors were revolutionary when it was announced in 2016 – but it only went into service in October 2017.

British Airways’ “Club Suite” that was introduced in 2019 is also impressive as each seat lies flat into a 198cm bed and is equipped with a sliding door for privacy as well.

Singapore Airlines’ Suites is located on the upper deck of the A380, and the door and walls that surround each suite are tall enough to give you (almost) complete privacy. To give you an idea of how large the suites are, it can fit two small tables, a swivel recliner and a single bed. If you’re travelling with a partner, the middle divider can be taken down to turn the space into a twin-bed suite. One of the tables is fitted with a mirror and storage, and complemented by an amenity kit.

Meanwhile, Etihad’s Apartment is a single-room suite and Residence is the world’s only three-room suite (there’s a living room, bedroom and bathroom – with a shower – within the enclosure); passengers also get an onboard butler.

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