Tag Archives: qatar

Flight Review: Qatar Airways Business Class Boeing 77W Doha (DOH) to Bangkok (BKK)

My flight from Doha to Bangkok was on a Boeing 77W on Qatar Airways. Qatar now flies an A380 on this route, but it can be hit or miss on whether your flight is actually operated by an A380 (Qatar likes to swap aircraft). On the plus side, in business class, the seats are fully flat, unlike on the A330.

Plane to take me to BKK

Plane to take me to BKK

This was a 2-class plane. The business class cabin was very similar to the A330–still a 2x2x2 configuration–but this time, the seats are fully flat. In general, the plane felt a bit newer than the A330 that I had flown to get to Doha.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class seat

Business class seat

IFE screen

IFE screen

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Hidden beverage compartment

Hidden beverage compartment

Reclined seat

Reclined seat

Waiting at my seat were an amenity kit and noise-canceling headphones. There was also a water bottle hidden in the armrest. I was then offered a choice of pre-departure beverage, a cold or hot towel, and a newspaper. From this first interaction, I could tell that the flight attendant was on her game.

Male amenity kit contents

Male amenity kit contents

Female amenity kit contents

Female amenity kit contents

Beyond the seats and the in-flight entertainment, the bathrooms also felt nicer than they did on the A330. They had an automatic sensor faucet, which is a small but helpful amenity.

Menu

Menu

On this flight, for some reason, they had catered two special meals for me. Perhaps because I had changed my meal preferences relatively close to departure. But they had both an AVML (usually an Indian meal that’s vegetarian and includes dairy) and a JVML (Jain vegetarian meal which is vegan and doesn’t include items like garlic or onions). The AVML features rice with a curry sauce, carrots, asparagus, and paneer. The sauce reminded me of tikka masala, and it was pretty delicious.

AVML of rice, curry sauce, carrots, asparagus, and paneer

AVML of rice, curry sauce, carrots, asparagus, and paneer

The Jain vegetarian meal was peas and cauliflower served with rice and a potato curry. Also delicious.

Jain vegetarian meal of peas and cauliflower, rice, and potato sauce

Jain vegetarian meal of peas and cauliflower, rice, and potato sauce

Below is a picture of how the seats go lie flat. It’s not the best business class seat out there, but it’s fully flat, and I slept pretty well on the flight.

Seat fully reclined

Seat fully reclined

Prior to landing, they handed out immigration cards, but they did not hand out fast track cards.

Overall, it was a good flight. The seat was comfortable, I had plenty of space (partly because the cabin was again only half full), the food was great, and the service was on point.

My Current Solution to Qatar’s Aircraft Swaps on BKK-DOH

A couple of days ago I wrote about how I was a bit annoyed that Qatar Airways had yet again swapped their aircraft on the BKK-DOH flight that I was planning to take. I specifically booked a flight to fly the A380 in first class, then switched to a more inconvenient flight to stay on the A380 after they did an aircraft swap on the original flight I had booked, and then found out that they’re not flying the A380 on any of their BKK-DOH flights  on the day that I’m traveling.

I wasn’t sure exactly what to do, but I realized that 1) Qatar said they’re going to start flying their A380 to Guangzhou starting on July 1, 2016; and 2) China is still part of Asia 2 for American Airlines’ award chart. This means that I can fly BKK-CAN-DOH on one award and still get the chance to fly Qatar’s A380 in first class.

Space in first class on this new Guangzhou route appears plentiful, and I was also able to find space on a fifth-freedom route from BKK to CAN operated by Royal Jordanian to position for the flight. This does mean that my total routing from BKK to SEA is now pushing close to 3 full days, but I’m excited to try out three new airline products and two new first class lounges. Transiting Guangzhou probably won’t be tons of fun, but I’ll also get to check out the lounge offerings there.

Fingers crossed that Qatar won’t swap aircraft on me any more…

How Much Trouble Should I Endure to Fly a Specific Product?

I’ve got a trip to Southeast Asia planned for later this summer, and I was planning on flying Qatar’s and Etihad’s A380s in first class on the way back. I’d fly BKK-DOH-AUH-JFK, giving me a chance to hit up Qatar’s and Etihad’s new first class lounges as well.

But Qatar keeps changing the aircraft for my BKK-DOH leg. They fly the A380 on the route, but not for all flights, and the other aircraft they use on this route (a Boeing 777-300ER) doesn’t have a first class cabin. I already switched flights once to chase the A380 (and now have a ridiculously long layover in DOH scheduled), but today I noticed that they’re not flying an A380 on that flight that day either. I’ve already flown Qatar in business class on the 777-300ER from DOH to BKK, so that wouldn’t be a new product for me.

So now I’m contemplating what to do. I’ve got some date flexibility, so I can potentially move things around and try to get back onto the A380 (flying from Southeast Asia to the US via the Middle East is two award for American, so I can potentially have an actual layover for a couple of days in Doha), but there are also no guarantees that Qatar won’t continue to switch aircraft. These awards were also booked pre-devaluation, so I imagine that I’m limited on how many changes I can make at the old rates. And of course, there’s not currently award space on either Etihad or Qatar for the dates that would be ideal…

How much trouble should I go to to fly Qatar’s A380 in first class? Should I just wait to see if they swap aircraft again? Should I start swapping things now, even though Qatar might change aircraft again? Should I just suck it up and fly business on a product I’ve already flown?

Around the World in 100 Hours: Qatar Airways First Class Doha to Dubai

Introduction
United Club San Francisco, International Terminal
United Business Class San Francisco to Seoul
Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge Seoul
Korean Air Lounge and Singapore SilverKris Lounge Seoul
Singapore Business Class Seoul to Singapore
Ambassador Transit Lounge Singapore
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Singapore
Changi Airport Free Singapore Tour
Singapore Business Class Singapore to Colombo
Transiting Colombo
Lotus and Araliya Lounges Colombo
Qatar Airways Business Class Colombo to Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Premium Terminal Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Doha to Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates First Class Dubai to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways Galleries First Lounge and Club World Lounge London Heathrow
British Airways First Class London Heathrow to San Francisco


Qatar 106
Doha (DOH) to Dubai (DXB)
Monday, May 27th, 2013
Depart: 8:20am
Arrive: 10:30am
Duration: 1h 10m
Aircraft: Boeing 787
Seat: 4K

I was super excited for this flight, being that it was my first time on a Boeing 787.

Dreamliner!

Dreamliner!

The 787 is a two-cabin plane for Qatar, but they sell the premium cabin as First Class instead of Business. I’m not entirely sure what this will mean for redemptions once Qatar joins OneWorld, but it does mean that you get access to the First Class Lounge in the Premium Terminal, and the service (although maybe not the hard product) was what I would expect from a First Class product.

My first impression of the cabin was that it was quite spacious. There are no overhead bins over the center seats, and the other overhead bins close up at a steep angle, so it just felt like there was a lot of space.

Business/First Class cabin

First Class cabin

My seat, 4K

My seat, 4K

Lots of legroom, but the table seemed immovable

Lots of legroom, but the table was immovable

The seats are arranged in a reverse herringbone position, similar to the US Airways Envoy cabin or Cathay Pacific’s new business class. While they’re not incredibly private seats, everyone gets direct aisle access, and all seats recline fully flat, so it’s a pretty darn comfortable way to travel.

Seat in fully reclined position

Seat in fully reclined position

Dimmed window vs not

Dimmed window vs not

If there’s one flaw that I saw, it’s that the entertainment screen and part of the tray table were immobile, which meant that it felt slightly constrained for my legs when fully reclined.

As part of the cabin, there are also two seats in the very back by themselves. I could see it as being somewhat novel if you’re traveling with someone else to get those two seats, as it does feel like a little bit like your own mini-cabin.

There's a pair of honeymoon-ish seats at the back of the cabin

Pair of honeymoon-ish seats at the back of the cabin

The service on the flight was amazing, and I’m amazed by how much they did on such a short flight. The flight was only booked for a little over an hour, which meant that the actual flight time was more like 40 minutes.

Prior to departure, the main flight attendant serving my aisle went around and introduced herself to each passenger in her section. She noticed that I was taking so many pictures, so we had a nice chat about our excitement at flying the 787 (it was only her second time).

We started off with dates and coffee. Although I don’t drink coffee, I felt obliged to take some, which made me feel a little guilty when the flight attendant looked a little sad that I didn’t finish my small cup prior to takeoff.

Turkish coffee and dates prior to departure

Turkish coffee and dates prior to departure

After takeoff, the flight attendants went into high gear, as there was a full breakfast service during our very short flight.

Breakfast menu

Breakfast menu

Breakfast

Arabic breakfast plate

Krug! On a 40 minute morning flight!

Krug! On a 40 minute morning flight!

While I loved the service and the fact that I could order Krug for breakfast, I didn’t actually like the food that much. The makdous was incredibly salty, and I’m not a huge dairy person, so I ended up mostly picking at my plate.

Before I knew it, we were making our descent into Dubai, and I had to bid adieu this awesome plane and crew. I would definitely like the chance to fly the 787 on one of Qatar’s longer routes, which are many of the routes to Europe.

Around the World in 100 Hours: Qatar Airways First Class Premium Terminal Doha

Introduction
United Club San Francisco, International Terminal
United Business Class San Francisco to Seoul
Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge Seoul
Korean Air Lounge and Singapore SilverKris Lounge Seoul
Singapore Business Class Seoul to Singapore
Ambassador Transit Lounge Singapore
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Singapore
Changi Airport Free Singapore Tour
Singapore Business Class Singapore to Colombo
Transiting Colombo
Lotus and Araliya Lounges Colombo
Qatar Airways Business Class Colombo to Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Premium Terminal Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Doha to Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates First Class Dubai to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways Galleries First Lounge and Club World Lounge London Heathrow
British Airways First Class London Heathrow to San Francisco


At Doha, there are no gates: everything is a remote stand. So when you land, there’s a fleet of buses waiting for you to take you to the appropriate terminal.

Buses waiting to transport passengers

Buses waiting to transport passengers

They have a separate bus for premium class passengers, although in this case, it was nothing special. Once we started moving, we had a very scenic tour of the airport grounds, as it was an extremely long ride to get to the Premium Transfer Terminal. I don’t know if it was necessary for it to take so long, as we essentially drove the entire length of the airport in one direction, made a U turn, and drove the entire length of the airport back.

Entrance to the Premium Transfer Terminal

Nondescript entrance to the Premium Transfer Terminal

Much nicer inside

Much nicer inside

First Class Lounge entrance

First Class Lounge entrance

If there’s one thing that I regret about this trip, it’s that we didn’t have a very long layover in Doha. Our layover was scheduled for an hour and a half, but by the time we finally got to the First Class Lounge, we barely had 20 minutes to enjoy things, which numerous attendants in the lounge reminded us of constantly.

My first stop was the jacuzzi, since who wouldn’t want a dip in a jacuzzi in an airport lounge? But again, the attendants kept giving me stern warnings that I didn’t have much time left, which did not make me feel very welcome.

Jacuzzi!

Jacuzzi!

To use the jacuzzi, you can leave your boarding pass with a bathroom attendant who will give you a key to use a locker and a “wrap” to keep yourself covered. It was essentially a sheet with some velcro you can use to attach it to itself, but I found that it was much too large for me, so that if I wanted to wrap the sheet tightly around my body so it would stay up on its own, there wasn’t enough velcro to keep it fastened. And then once I got into the jacuzzi, given all of the bubbling and my inability to keep the sheet fastened securely, the wrap was essentially useless. Good thing there was no one else using the jacuzzi!

After approximately two minutes in the jacuzzi and me annoying the heck out of the men’s bathroom attendant with my inanity, I grabbed a very quick bite to eat in the dining room. Since I didn’t have much time, I just got food from the buffet, but the things that I did try were all very good.

DSC01770 DSC01771 DSC01772 DSC01774 DSC01775

Although I didn’t spend much time in the lounge, service seemed like it would have been quite good if I had had a bit more time. At the very least, it seemed polished, as they even provided separate table-side hangers for jackets (which was done for me after I had haphazardly strewn my stuff all over a seat).

Hanger for my jacket

Hanger for my jacket

By the time I had gotten my plate of food, our flight said that it was already boarding, so I started eating quite quickly. One of the lounge attendants seemed distressed, and I’m not sure if it was because of my lack of table manners or if it was because she thought that I might miss my flight and I was ignoring her pleas to go downstairs to go to the bus to get to the gate.

Anyway, we made our way to the bus gate as our flight said final boarding, and we were treated to a nicer bus than the one that picked us up from our previous flight.

A more premium bus experience

A more premium bus experience

Yet again, however, we found that we ended up sitting on the bus for about 15 minutes before it actually left. And even once we got to the plane, it was quite a while before we actually took off. Alas, I could have spent more time eating/jacuzzing/saunaing. Next time, I’ll have to keep in mind that final boarding isn’t necessarily final boarding in other parts of the world.

Overall, I wish that I had had more time to spend in the Premium Transfer Terminal as it does seem to be a very high quality lounge. The limited food that I tried was good, and it’s pretty awesome that there’s a sauna and jacuzzi in the lounge.

Around the World in 100 Hours: Qatar Airways Business Class Colombo to Doha

Introduction
United Club San Francisco, International Terminal
United Business Class San Francisco to Seoul
Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge Seoul
Korean Air Lounge and Singapore SilverKris Lounge Seoul
Singapore Business Class Seoul to Singapore
Ambassador Transit Lounge Singapore
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Singapore
Changi Airport Free Singapore Tour
Singapore Business Class Singapore to Colombo
Transiting Colombo
Lotus and Araliya Lounges Colombo
Qatar Airways Business Class Colombo to Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Premium Terminal Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Doha to Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates First Class Dubai to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways Galleries First Lounge and Club World Lounge London Heathrow
British Airways First Class London Heathrow to San Francisco


Qatar 305
Colombo (CMB) to Doha (DOH)
Monday, May 27th, 2013
Depart: 4:30am
Arrive: 6:50am
Duration: 4h 50m
Aircraft: A321
Seat: 1A

In the lounge, we saw the screen say final boarding for our flight, so we headed to the gate. At Colombo, you have to reclear security at the gate, and since there were two flights departing at roughly the same time using the same security checkpoint, there was quite a long line to just get to the gate.

Luckily, all of the people in front of us seemed to be going to the other flight, and the people working the security checkpoint asked for all passengers boarding our flight to go to the front of the line. But once we cleared security, we found that the flight wasn’t boarding at all, and it would be a good 20 minutes before boarding even started. I guess “final boarding” doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing in Colombo as it does in the US.

Business class on this flight was very similar to domestic business class on a red eye. Recliner-style seats, and breakfast was served either after departure or prior to arrival.

My seat, 1A

My seat, 1A

Look at the bulkhead row

View of the bulkhead row

Since I hadn’t eaten anything in Colombo, I decided to have breakfast right after departure (and since I didn’t want to spoil my appetite before getting to the First Class Lounge in Doha).

Breakfast menu

Breakfast menu

DSC01740

Champagnes on offer

Wood apple smoothie

Wood apple smoothie

Breakfast

Breakfast

I don’t think I’d ever had wood apple before. The wood apple smoothie smelled disgusting to me, but I thought it tasted pretty good. The rest of the breakfast was perfectly acceptable.

What distinguished this flight from a domestic business class flight was the service. The lead flight attendant did a good job personalizing the service, introducing herself to everyone in the cabin and generally being friendly, even if things weren’t 100% polished. So while the hard product left a little to be desired if you’re trying sleep, I thought that the soft product was pretty great. That being said, I had an easy time getting a couple hours of sleep, and before I knew it, we were descending into Doha.