Date: 10 March 2016
Flight time: 45 minutes
Seat: 3J, aisle on the starboard side of the aircraft.
The course in Riyadh has gone well and we managed to finish one day ahead of schedule. A quick mail to my travel agent and I am booked to return home one day earlier than expected. Cool!
Getting to the Airport
Transport: Private car provided by the hotel.
Journey time: Around 30 minutes, depending on the traffic situation and your driver’s sanity.
Departs from: Doubletree Hotel by Hilton in al-Muroj.
Arrives: Riyadh King Khaled International Airport.
My flight will be leaving at 04:00 in the morning, so I guess it is best if I check out of the hotel at 01:30 to arrive at the airport at around 02:00, two hours prior to departure.
The traffic in Riyadh is interesting. There are definitely not as many cars here as you see in Dubai for example, so you rarely get the kind of clogged up traffic jams where nothing moves anymore. Even so, the Saudis have an ‘interesting’ style of driving, to say the least. Essentially, their motto is to do what ever you like on road, just as long as you can solve it by honking your horn. Repeatedly.
Location: Terminal 1, counters 118 – 121.
Counters: Three Economy Class counters and one Business Class counter.
Facilities: Only airport check-in available.
Check-in is a huge mess. There is only one person ahead of me but he is travelling with eleven heavy suitcases of luggage. The problem is that the luggage belt is having difficulties dealing with the copious amounts of luggage passengers are checking in. So the belt keeps stopping to let other pieces from other counters pass. Eventually, it takes no less than 45 minutes to process the eleven suitcases and that is still a lot faster than the crawling Economy Class lines.
I then head straight for immigration and security, where the queues are surprisingly short and processed in an unexpectedly efficient way.
Location: Behind security turn right and right again, there is a set of escalators leading up to the Lounge.
Name: Premier Lounge.
Type of lounge: Contractor lounge.
This is yet another sad excuse for a ‘premium’ lounge. From what I can tell, there is no food available in the lounge. Those dried biscuits do not qualify as food I think. The drinks selection is also somewhat limited and the presentation is positively lousy. I sit down long enough to drink a small bottle of water and then decide to leave the lounge again.
Boarding starts a whole hour before departure with a first call for Business Class passengers. It is going to be a full flight in Business Class this morning and most of the passengers are looking about as bleary eyed as me.
Configuration: 2 + 2 + 2
Seat: 3AJ, aisle seat on the starboard side of the aircraft.
Capacity: Unfortunately it is dark outside, so I cannot make out if it is an Airbus A 330-200 or a -300 that will be taking me back to Doha tonight. In addition, Qatar Airways operates both types in a number of different configurations.
Despite the configuration, the seat on the A 330 is still fairly private. The seat pairs by the windows point outwards. In addition, the seats are staggered, which means that the aisle seat is slightly further back than the window seat. There is also a large divider between the seats. Every seat is equipped with a power socket and USB port.
A pillow and blanket has been placed at every seat before boarding.
As usual, the crew is an interesting racial mix of nationalities. There are three female cabin crew working the Business Class cabin – they are from Bulgaria, Zimbabwe and Jordan respectively. All three of them do an excellent job interacting with the passengers, making sure they get settled in for the flight. By the time the crew pass through the cabin taking orders for breakfast, I have already nodded off to sleep. But once we get airborne, the Bulgarian notices I am awake again and comes to ask me if I would like to join for breakfast.
Type of meal: Breakfast.
Service: À la carte service.
Delivery: Individual delivery service.
- Avocado and date smoothie.
- Seasonal fresh fruit.
- Potato and spinach tikki with fig chutney, za’atar labneh, feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, olives.
- Tea or coffee.
The flight time to Doha this morning is only 45 minutes. Even so, Qatar Airways provide an extensive service. The trays are brought out individually and the meals are served – in theory – whenever the passenger requests to eat, although of course the options are limited given the short flying time.
I have just finished my last bite of food when the captain comes on the speakers and announces our descent into Doha. Everything happens rather quickly. The crew clean up the cabin in no time and shortly thereafter we are already touching down.
As I exit the aircraft, there is a young lady from Qatar Airways ground handling waiting to escort me to the First Class lounge. Our aircraft is parked at one of the farthest contact stands in the terminal and it is a good 10 minutes walk from there to transfer security.