Qatar cancelled the launch of the Perth-Doha Boeing 787 service just two weeks before its scheduled February 1st start, as the Gulf carrier joined other airlines around the world in grounding the 787 after a series of critical overheating problems with the lithium-ion battery system.
However, following a series of design changes by Boeing which include containment and venting systems for both the main and auxiliary batteries, Qatar is keen to see its 787s hauled out of the hanger and put back into service.
This will include Qatar’s QR901 service from Perth to Doha switching from a Boeing 777 to a Boeing 787, although the airline has yet to name a new date for the Dreamliner’s delayed Australian debut.
A Qatar Airways spokesman told Australian Business Traveller that the airline has pencilled in May 15 for the recommencement of the dedicated Doha-London Boeing 787 QR75 service.
Australian travellers arriving into Doha on QR901 at 5.20am will be able to transfer to QR75, which leaves Doha 6.40am to continue their 787 journey through to London’s Heathrow airport.
Despite a tight 1h20m timing between the two flights, a Qatar Airways spokesman assured Australian Business Traveller that “this connection is correct and it’s very bookable.”
“Doha is very efficient in moving passengers from aircraft to aircraft and the passengers will make the connection easily” he said, adding a little positive spin that “the best thing about it (is) there’s no waiting around.”
Inside Qatar Airway's Boeing 787
The 22 business class seats nestled in the nose of Qatar's Dreamliner adopt a passenger-pleasing 1-2-1 layout with fully flat beds and direct aisle access for every passenger.
The cabin is bright, modern and streamlined – and in common with other 787 customers, Qatar has skipped a super-luxe first class: their Dreamliners contain only business and economy cabins.
AusBT contributor David Parker Brown (who also runs AirlineReporter.com) snapped these these real-world photos at Qatar's 787 launch.
Like just about every modern airliner, Boeing's 787 has LED overhead lighting that's a big improvement on the fluorescent tubes used in older planes.
And it's not just about the accent lighting: waking up gently with a slowly brightening, sunrise-hued cabin is much more pleasant than the single flick-to-glaring lights we remember from older jets.
Angling towards the windows (or centre dividers, which you can raise or lower depending on whether you want to interact with the person next to you), each seat is private and spacious, with cleverly designed multi-level storage and work surfaces.
The 22-inch (56 cm) seat reclines to a fully flat 80 inches (203 cm), with your feet sliding underneath the monitor. The armrest also slides down so you have a wider sleeping area.
With the centre divider down, you can share ideas with colleagues or spend some quality time with a +1 over dinner, or use the large work table to put the final touches to a slide deck on your laptop.
Tight fit in Qatar's 787 economy cabin
Down the back in economy, it's a different scene: Qatar drew up an elbow-crunching 3-3-3 layout.
This means that each seat is narrower than Boeing's alternative option of an an eight-across 2-4-2 configuration. And these seats are narrow, even for economy.
With their generous legroom, the front rows are the obvious seats to pick.
A massive video screen -- with its own Android phone-sized controller -- might take your mind off the tight elbow-room.
Boeing's extra-large 787 Dreamliner windows are a benefit for the window seat seat passenger (and anyone trying to peer past them for a glimpse of what's outside).
Like all 787s, Qatar's also has electronic dimming windows.
However, we reckon many travellers woud trade those windows for a spot in the 787's 'secret' crew rest area where pilots and flight attendants take their scheduled breaks from duty.
Perched above the passengers and overhead bins, this cosy loft space is accessible by a small ladder leading up from the main deck.