Following the news the three Middle East Carriers Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways seem to have a leading edge in service and price. But who is best – and are they really better than European leading carriers such as Lufthansa? We gave it a try.
Our first trip took us on Etihad Airways from Munich to AbuDhabi. The first impression was given by long lines in Terminal 1 to pass security – even with a business class ticket. Second impression, the British Airways Lounge, wasn’t much better: Outworn carpets and a small buffet did not really fit with our expectations. On board we had to get used to the design of brown colors but then the catering „butler“ service was outstanding. also the set-up of the seats offered a lot of privacy and silence.
Next week we traveled on Emirates Airways Boing 777 from Hamburg to Dubai and back on Airbus A380 from Dubai to Frankfurt. Security in Hamburg was quick and the lounge that we could access with a business class ticket just outstanding. A variety of cold and hot dishes and a wide selection of drinks was more than what we where used to from European carriers. The set-up of seats in the 777 did not offer that much of privacy as all seats have a neighbor seat. That was different on the A380 which also offered that unique bar area. A place to relax and to communicate. Emirates is well known for its ICE entertainment system which really offers a wide variety of blockbusters and music.
In our third week we traveled on a Boing Dreamliner from Qatar Airways between Frankfurt and Doha. The design, entertainment system and service outreached the other products. It was close to first class service of European Airlines. Great food, great seats and a a lot of privacy made our travel most convenient. The lounge in Doha even offers table service in the business class lounge, something that we only know to be offered to first class passengers.
Finally we tried the Lufthansa old and new business class as well as their new first class. The first class product was without question the best on board product that we have seen during our testing – although Qatar Business Class was close to it. The Lufthansa lounge in Doha, which was not operated by Lufthansa, was overcrowded and offered a minimum of food and drinks. For a first class passenger this was definitely less than what Qatar offers to their business class guests.
But there is one thing that Lufthansa understands better: Passengers want to sleep on a night flight. And while Middle East Airlines tend to announce messages in multiple languages for a long time after departure and then start their exclusive but slow butler service catering process Lufthansa passengers are offered a quick dinner and can enjoy a decent night of sleep. After all that is what most frequent travelers value most.
Our conclusion: It really depends on the travel expectation. If you want to sleep Lufthansa is a good choice (unless you are unlucky and have to cope with the non flat bed in the old business class). If you want to enjoy the travel with entertainment features and an individual catering service the three Gulf Carriers would be a good option. Which one? We did prefer Qatar Airways due to their modern cabin layout and the less crowded airport of Doha. But then – all four carriers offer great service and a convenient product.