Comparing business class, Qatar vs Delta

By Marilyn Armel
This item appears on page 24 of the March 2016 issue.

In August 2015, I flew to East Africa on a Qatar Airways Boeing 777 in business class. Here are a few comparisons of that flight with my flight to South Africa on Delta Air Lines in August 2014, also in business class on a Boeing 777.
With Qatar Airways, I flew from New York’s JFK, with a one-night layover in Doha, Qatar, and a stop in Entebbe, Uganda, before the final stop in Kigali, Rwanda. My return was from Kilimanjaro, Kenya, to New York’s La Guardia, with a stopover in Zanzibar and an overnight in Doha.
With Delta Air Lines the year before, I flew from La Guardia in New York to Atlanta, Georgia, and then to Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ticket prices were almost the same, at $5,500 on Qatar and $5,200 or so on Delta.
I found Delta’s (then new) flat-bed seats to be too narrow and not good for people with long legs, like me. (I had flown Delta to South Africa a few times before and, while the seats didn’t go completely flat, I felt they used to be more comfortable.) The small TV screen was too far away for me to see, and the electrical outlet was in the wrong place, since the cord got knocked out too easily when the seat was positioned even partially back.
I had plenty of room in the Qatar seat, and a mattress pad was provided as well as pajamas.
Each meal on Delta seemed to be served at the flight attendants’ convenience, one course following another. Throughout the flight, attendants never asked if we wanted anything, including water.
On my return flight from Doha on Qatar, we were offered a menu that included both breakfast and lunch, and passengers could choose when they wanted to eat. If I had wanted to eat once an hour on the Qatar flight, I could have done so. And the food was delicious.
Flight attendants on Qatar were always looking after passengers, even when the lights were dimmed. They also cleaned the bathrooms, which is something Delta’s attendants didn’t do.
Our layovers with Qatar were each more than eight hours, so the airline provided us with a hotel room in both directions. Staff actually escorted us through the process.
I’ve flown first class (using miles) across the Pacific on American Airlines, Cathay Pacific and JAL, and the service I received in business class on the Qatar flight was closer to the first-class service of those airlines.
New York, NY
ITN sent the above information to Delta Air Lines and was emailed a copy of the airline’s reply to Ms. Armel, including the following.
I’m so sorry for your disappointment with uncomfortable Business Class seating and poor design of the area, including the legroom, work area and entertainment space.
Then, on top of this, to find the flight attendants lacking in the provision of Business Class service, it sounds like we really let you down on this trip. We’re sorry.
Because of this, I’m forwarding your concerns to our In-Flight, Catering, On-Board Services and Technical Operations leadership teams for their internal review of your experience and consideration when making changes.
As a goodwill gesture, I’m adding 20,000 bonus miles to your SkyMiles account.
We appreciate your loyalty as a valued SkyMiles member and BusinessElite traveler. I hope that, in the future, you’ll offer us an opportunity to regain your confidence in our service.
PATTY, Customer Service, Delta Air Lines, 1030 Delta Blvd., Atlanta, GA 30354