Date: 05 March 2016
Flight time: 6h 25 min
Seat: 14A, window on the port side
Transfer in Paris Roissy
Transport: Shuttle bus and automated train.
Journey time: About 15 minutes.
Departs from: Landside.
Arrives: Terminal 1 CDGVAL station.
I make my way to the landside exit of Terminal 2G. I do not have my boarding passes for the onward connection yet. The N1 and N2 shuttle busses both run from 2G to 2F, which is the central complex of Terminal 2. The journey to 2F will take approximately 5 minutes. From the bus stop head one floor down and follow the signs marked CDGVAL, the airport’s automated people mover. It is about a 5 minutes walk. The CDGVAL takes another 5 minutes to make the journey from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1.
Location: Terminal 1, Hall 2
Counters: Six Economy Class counters, two Business Class counters, one First Class counter.
Facilities: Qatar Airways has an app that works rather well. However, you cannot add the boarding pass to Passbook and can only print a copy of the boarding pass. There are no self service check-in machines for Qatar Airways at CDG.
There is quite a queue at Economy Class, apparently today’s flight is full, but the Business Class counters are empty when I arrive. A young lady immediately checks me in and issues my boarding passes for the flight to Doha and my onward connection. She also hands me an invitation to the Galaxy lounge. First and Business Class passengers are eligible to use the fast track at CDG, which goes by the name of ‘No 1. Access’. It is highly convenient, given that the queues can be rather long.
Name: Galaxy Lounge.
Type of lounge: Contractor lounge.
Location: In the main building of Terminal 1. Access is via lift.
This is the same lounge Qatar Airways was using the last time I flew with them from Paris last year. Back then though, it was called the Air France Première lounge. Alas, apart from the name nothing much has changed and it is still the same rat hole it was when I last visited. In fact, I open the door to the lounge and I am instantly reminded of how little there is to enjoy in this lounge. So I turn around again and leave. Instead, I head for the satellite from which my flight will be leaving.
The security check at CDG’s Terminal 1 is done just before you enter the satellite. Here too, premium passengers can avail themselves of the No. 1 Access priority lane, but essentially all this means is that you get to jump to the head of the queue. Behind security I buy myself a sandwich, a chocolate maccaron and a cup of coffee and find myself a quiet seat by the window.
Boarding for the flight starts on time. There is a separate gate for all passengers on the upper deck of the aircraft, so the premium passengers are completely segregated from the riffraff.
Configuration: 1 + 2 + 1
Seat: 14A, window seat on the port side of the aircraft.
Pitch: 80 inches.
Width: 22 inches.
Capacity: 48 seats.
The Business Class seat on the A 380 is very similar to that on the Boeing B 787. The seat offers a lot of privacy because the window seats all point outwards towards the window. Which obviously also means the seat is great for looking out the window. But apart from that, the seats are not aligned in a row. As a result, it becomes pretty impossible to make eye contact with anybody, unless you really, really want to. And there is ample storage space, even for larger items like a laptop, iPad or Kindle. The cabin has a very spacious and airy feel. Every seat is equipped with a power socket and USB port.
A pillow and blanket has been placed at every seat before boarding.
The Qatar Airways Business Class vanity kit is branded by Giorgio Armani. It features a lot of pretty useless items and lacks a lot useful ones. There are socks, earplugs and eye shades, but there is no toothbrush and no comb or brush and no shoe horn. Instead, there is a fairly large tube of Giorgio Armani moisturizer. Toothbrushes are available though in the toilets. They come with Colgate toothpaste.
Service begins, as usual on Qatar Airways, with the distribution of welcome drinks and towels. Every passenger has a choice between a hot or cold rose scented towel. To drink I go with the lime and mint juice, which is very sweet but very refreshing too. Next come the newspaper and then finally the vanity kit. Once boarding is completed, the crew will pass through the cabin offering passengers dates and a cup of Arabic coffee, which is very tasty as well, as long as you like cardamom – otherwise steer clear!
The amazing thing about the service on Qatar Airways is that it is highly predictable, it is always the same and you always know exactly what to expect.
After take-off, there is a drinks service. I have a Coke Zero and a ramekin of warm nuts to go with that.
Type of meal: Late lunch.
Service: À la carte service.
Delivery: Individual tray service.
On mid-haul flights Qatar Airways only offers one service in Business Class, which is perfectly adequate for a flight with a duration of around six hours. However, should you feel hungry at any point during the flight, they do have small snacks. There is also the large bar area in between the Business Class section and the Economy Class mini cabin on the upper deck, where they serve drinks and canapés.
The First Course
Smoked haddock on a bed of rocket salad with peas.
The Main Course
An Indian dish, the name of which I cannot remember. But it was certainly very tasty.
Strawberry frangipan tart with vanilla mascarpone and raspberry coulis.
Eventually we start our descent into Doha. Our routing takes us right over the downtown area and due south of the airfield on the downwind. As we begin a series of turns to line up with the runway, it becomes quite apparent that we are reaching Doha in the middle of its late night arrival bank. There are flashing lights of other aircraft all around us in the air.
By the time we reach our parking stand and I alight from the aircraft, I only have an hour or so to make my connection. I make the long trek to security, which is crawling with people that have just arrived on all those other aircraft we could see in the air. Fortunately, there is a dedicated line for premium passengers and despite the chaos, the line moves quickly.