The citizens of Qatar, like the New York Yankees, live by a simple creed: “Good things happen more often than not when you have tons of money.” The Persian Gulf nation—spin your globe to Saudi Arabia and scan the eastern border—is slightly smaller in area than Connecticut with less than half the population (just 1.5 million people, three quarters of whom are temporary guest workers). Unlike Connecticut, however, Qatar shrewdly decided to be located on massive oil and gas reserves. Its per capita GDP is $69,754, while America’s is a peasant-like $44,872.
Rather than spending their days rolling around in huge piles of money, however, Qataris want the rest of the world to visit. They guaranteed themselves hundreds of thousands of guests by bribing, er, winning the bid for the 2022 World Cup. And they want you to travel on Qatar Airways, which was just named the world’s best airline at the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards in Paris. For those willing to splurge on Business or First Class, here are the perks that await you on the epic journey.
1. A Lot of Line Cutting
Business and First Class travelers, like airline personnel, get to go through security on a separate line. Unsurprisingly, this separate line tends to be much, much shorter than the coach one. As an added bonus, Qatar Airways also skips you ahead at customs on both ends of your journey.
2. Your Minder
Business travelers get to go to the lounge for food, drink, reading material, Wi-Fi service, etc. (First Class flyers can also hit the Doha lounge spa.) When it’s time for your flight to board, an attendant will arrive to call your name and get your bags out of the storage room.
3. Seriously Sweet Seats
Qatar’s Boeing 777s boast fully flat beds in an attempt to ensure you rest. Without sleeping pills or melatonin, I dozed for 14 of the 28 total hours flying time from New York to Doha and back. Besides being adjustable, the seats also have massage functions and a laptop power port.
4. Legroom Aplenty
Qatar Airways offers enough space between seats for even Kevin Smith-sized individuals to slip by with room to spare, assuming you’re not on a flight where you simply are your own row.
5. The Booze
Qatar is a “dry” country, but there seems to be an acceptance that, hey, if Prohibition didn’t work on those people in their own country, it won’t work on them here either. Have champagne when you get on the plane, wine with dinner, port with dessert, and a Bombay Sapphire and tonic later just because you can.
6. The Indulging
For each meal, you get three courses including options like “center cut Australian veal tenderloin with honey and macadamia nut crust”. But the real fun is the “indulgence” section of the menu, a list of items you can order at any point. Meaning you can eat your three-course meal, doze off, regain consciousness long enough to have the mango crepes with fresh strawberry sauce, fall asleep again, then wake up and immediately order a cheesesteak.
7. Hot Towels
Isn’t it great when you’ve been traveling all day and you take a hot towel and rub it over your face and neck and immediately feel a little less wretched? OK, it’s not the fanciest perk, but they did bring them around three times on one flight (and I slept for eight hours of the journey, meaning I potentially missed at least four other towel opportunities).
Each passenger gets a surprisingly comfy two-piece set of white pajamas embossed with the Qatar Airways logo, should you feel it’s time to get out of your clothes but suspect your fellow passengers might frown on your going full monty.
9. Bathroom Goodies
Freshen up with plastic-wrapped toothbrush cases complete with brush and toothpaste plus shaving kits with shaving cream. Handy if you have to go to a meeting immediately upon landing and don’t want to seem like a homeless person with halitosis.
10. The Flight Attendants
Qatar Airways apparently has access to an endless supply of petite, under-30, dark-haired women. It’s not purely a matter of ethnic heritage either—many of the women are Arabic, but I also encountered Filipinas and Latinas—but did suggest the airline has a type (and, frankly, one with which I’m totally cool). Chances are you’ll spend more time looking at them than at the skyline.