I spend the night in Doha at the Oryx Rotana hotel. It is rather a nice and modern facility with a very large gym and what is theoretically a 25 m pool. However, at the shallow end it is really quite impossible to swim.
In addition to the complimentary hotel room, Qatar Airways will also give you a food and drink voucher for 250 Qatari Rials to spend at the hotel if your stay in Qatar exceeds 12 hours. Dinner is an Indian buffet at one of the hotel’s many restaurants, which costs 180 Qatari Rials and leaves you enough to also cover any expenses for drinks. The Indian buffet incidentally, was divine!
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Transport: Complimentary hotel shuttle bus.
Departs from: Outside the lobby.
Frequency: Roughly every twenty minutes.
Journey time: About twenty minutes.
I meet the tall and blond M. in the lobby at 05h45. Check-out from the hotel is swift. I just need to pay for the internet access and then we are good to go. The shuttle is completely full this morning, with an interesting mix of nationalities and races on board.
Location: Entrance 1 is for First and Business Class passengers.
Facilities: Dedicated check-in area for Business Class passengers. There is an extensive lounge area opposite the check-in counters where passengers can sit and wait to be served or bid fair well to friends and family. Behind check-in there is a dedicated immigration area and a security check-point for Business Class passengers that is completely segregated from passengers travelling in Economy Class.
Location: The lounge is located on the third floor. Access to the lounge is via the escalator just off the main atrium.
Type of Lounge: Dedicated Qatar Airways Business Class lounge.
Catering: There is an à la carte dining and buffet restaurant on the fourth floor, which is accessible via a grand staircase. In addition, there is a bistro style restaurant on the lounge’s main floor, serving things like salads and sandwiches, depending on the time of day. There are also numerous self-service bars in the lounge.
Internet: Free wifi is available throughout the terminal. No password required.
I am rather hungry, I have not had breakfast yet, and although I certainly made the best of the Indian buffet the night before, I am definitely ready to eat again. And so I head straight for the Business Class lounge and the dinning area. Initially, the place is seething with activity. And there are hardly any tables left. However, the staff do a really excellent job and make sure to clean up tables as soon as they become available again.
The buffet is extensive. I treat myself to crèpes filled with apple compote, scrambled eggs, baked beans, fruit salad, bread and cheese. And a coffee and an orange juice to go with that.
Priority Boarding: There is a separate queue for Business Class passengers to enter the holding pen. Business Class passengers are invited to board first, together with families with young children.
When eventually I reach my gate at A10, the flight is already in the final stages of boarding. There are just a few empty seats left empty in Business Class.
Configuration: 1 + 2 + 1
Seat number: 3E, aisle seat
Seat: There are twenty-two seats in total, all of which are 180 degrees lie flats. The seat is very similar to the one Cathay Pacific has installed in Business Class. The window seats are very private because they are angled to face in the direction of the window. The two seats on the middle row point towards each other. Nonetheless, hey still provide enough privacy because the seat is fairly deep, so the shell of it blocks your neighbour from view.
Pitch: 80 inches.
Width: 22 inches.
Facilities: AC power outlets are available at every individual seat in all cabin classes; wifi is also available on board at a charge in Business Class.
Length as a bed: 80 inches.
Audio and Video: Audio and Video on demand.
The service is pretty much the same as on the three previous flights. The experience begins – how else – with a glass of lime and mint juice and a refreshing rose scented cold towel.
Welcome drink on the ground: Lime and mint juice.
Hot towel before the meal: Rose scented cold towel.
Choice: There are four main choices for the main dish and another four for the starter.
Delivery: À la carte service.
Type of meal: Breakfast.
- A selection of bread and pastries with a choice of preserves and butter.
- Traditional Arabic breakfast of labneh with za’atar, feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, mixed olives and served with foul medames and Arabic bread.
Having eaten in the lounge, I am not exactly feeling hungry. So when the crew come to take orders for the meal, she tells me not to worry and that I can eat any time I like. She still asks me what my preference would be for the main dish, just to make sure she can put one aside for me.
About two hours out of Zürich I ask the cabin crew to set up the table for me to have breakfast. Once more the flight attendant checks to make sure I want to stick with my original order.
Of the four flights I took with Qatar Airways on this trip, this must be without a doubt the tastiest one of the lot, despite the fact that it is probably one of the simpler dishes. But in any case, the flavours go very well together. Especially the foul moudames is flavourful and goes incredibly well with the feta cheese.
We arrive in Zürich some 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Fortunately, it looks as though we managed to beat the Emirates A 380 to it, which I can just make out turning onto the final approach as we vacate the runway and I look back. Surprisingly, even my suitcase makes it. Given that it was standing around in Doha for such a long time, I was pretty sure it was not going to make it.
I catch the 14h04 airport train back to Basel. Perhaps not the fastest connection, but with all my luggage I do not really fancy having to change trains until my final destination.
This concludes this series on my recent trip to Singapore. The Qatar Airways experience was quite an eye opener to me. Having tried both Emirates and Qatar Airways in the Business Class cabins now, I really do think the Qatar Airways product is far superior to that of Emirates in most areas. Emirates’ advantage obviously being that they operate two daily flights into Zürich and thus offer greater connectivity via their hub in Dubai.
Furthermore, no matter how good an airline’s product is, ultimately it is the crew that make or break a flight. And for many airlines – and I am afraid this goes for the European carriers in particular – their staff are often the weakest link. Qatar Airways however, has evidently invested heavily in properly training their staff at the front line. All the employees of the company I encountered on this journey were friendly, polite and helpful. Many of them were also charming and interacted easily with their passengers.
So perhaps I shall just leave it there and simply say that I am greatly looking forward to my next trip with Qatar Airways. Perhaps I should give their First Class a try one of these days…