Terminal 1, hall C. Qatar Airways has its own dedicated check-in counters. There are two counters for Business Class passengers.
Location: Terminal 1. Name of Lounge: Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge. Access: There is a set of stairs and an escalator adjacent to gate B42 which take you one floor up. You see the lounge entrance as soon as you get off the escalator. Toilets: Available in the lounge. The toilets are clean and look rather nice. Showers: Available in the lounge. Contact reception for a slot. Food & Beverages: There is a fairly large bar area but the selection of food and beverages is fairly limited. There are no hot dishes. But at least they have Lavazza coffee. Connectivity: Complimentary wifi is available, no password required. Newspapers & Magazines: There is also a good selection of English and French language magazines and newspapers.
Business Class passengers are invited to board the aircraft first and have their own, dedicated gate. Boarding is through the L2 door.
Configuration: 1 + 2 + 1. Cabin Layout: Business Class – 22 seats. Economy Class – 232 seats. Pitch: 80 inches. Width: 22 inches. Length as a Bed: 80 inches. AC Power: AC power plugs are available at all seats in Business and Economy Class. Audio and Video: Audio and video on demand, handset controlled. Earphones: No-name noise-cancelling earphones. Connectivity: Onair wifi available. Comment: A pillow and a blanket are already on the seat.
The crew on today’s flight are all either from Thailand or the Indian subcontinent and they are all very friendly.
The service begins with a welcome drink and a choice of either a hot or cold towel. I choose a cold towel and have a lemon juice with mint with that.
Shortly after that the vanity kit and the menus are distributed.
Once the doors close, the crew pass through offering Arabic, English and German language newspapers.
Armani branded vanity kit. There are obviously different kits for men and women. The kit contains earplugs, lip balm, perfume, after shave cream, socks and eye shades. Toothbrushes and toothpaste are available in the toilets.
Welcome drink on the ground: Lemon juice with lime. Pre-meal drink: Apple cooler – Apple juice, soda water, lemon juice, mint leaves and a slice of lemon. Served with a bowl of nuts served with the drink. Menu: There are three choices for the starter, main course and dessert. Delivery: À la carte service. Type of meal: Lunch.
Balik salmon with a horseradish sauce.
Soup of roasted butternut squash with a lemon and herb crème fraîche.
Smoked salmon with pea and potato salad with confit tomatoes and a lemon dressing.
The Main Course
Paneer tikka masala with makhini sauce, servied with coriander and mint basmati rice, spiced asparagus and black-eyed beans.
A selection of cheese with crackers, red onion chutney and condiments.
Chocolate ice cream with berries. The meal concludes with a hot, rose scented towel and a mug of Karak Chai with cardamom. Before the lights go out, the crew pass through the cabin with small boxes of Godiva pralines.
We arrive in Doha at 18:30, just slightly ahead of schedule, after a flight time of five hours and thirty minutes. I know have a bit more than two hours to make my onward connection.
Date: 06 March 2016 Departure: 01:20 Arrival: 02:15 Flight time: 55 minutes. Seat: 3A, window on the port side.
Transfer in Doha
Behind security I head one floor down to the central airside area. I am always a bit disoriented in Doha. But eventually I do find the escalators leading up to the First Class lounge. Unfortunately though, by this time the departure time for my flight to Riyadh is already quickly approaching and I still have another 15 minutes walk to make it to my departure gate. So I decide to skip the lounge this time. Something to do on the way back, when I have a longer layover in Doha.
Boarding already starts about 45 minutes before departure. By now it is already nearly one in the morning, so I am not complaining.
Configuration: 1 + 2 + 1. Seat: 3A, window seat on the port side of the aircraft. Pitch: 80 inches. Width: 22 inches. Capacity: 22 seats. The seat and cabin configuration is the same as on the Airbus A 380. The only difference is that the hull of the aircraft has a narrower diameter, so the cabin feels less cavernous. A pillow and blanket has been placed at every seat before boarding.
Service begins -as usual – with the distribution of welcome drinks and towels. I go with the lime and mint juice and a cold towel to wake me up. Next come the newspapers. With a flight time of only 55 minutes, no vanity kit or slippers are distributed. Once boarding is completed, the crew will pass through the cabin offering passengers dates and a cup of Arabic coffee.
Type of meal: Midnight snack. Service: À la carte service. Delivery: Individual tray service.
Once more, I forget to take the menu, so I cannot remember the exact name of the dishes I had. All I know is that it was an Indian meal and that the piece of chicken that was served with the dish was warm.
Selection of breads.
Tea and coffee.
Qatar Airways’ offering on such a short flight is really quite impressive. What is more, it is quite amazing that they manage to serve all passengers with enough time to spare for them to be able to enjoy the meal.
Eventually the aircraft dips its nose and we start our descent into Riyadh. I am about to arrive in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for the first time. Much to my surprise, and contrary to all the reports and reviews I had read prior to this trip, immigration is a swift and easy process. There are two channels for foreigners. One is for first time entries into the Kingdom, while the other is for repeated entry passengers. In any case, fifteen minutes after exiting the aircraft I find myself standing outside the terminal looking for a taxi to take my into town.
Oh yes, about that. Sometimes in life it is easiest to just surrender to your faith. The only means of transport to and from the airport is by taxi, and the driver will rip you off.
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.
Al-Mourjan Qatar Airways Lounge
Location: The lounge is located on the third floor. Access to the lounge is via the escalator just off the main atrium. 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.
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…
Transport: Taxi From: Singapore Hilton To: Changi Terminal 3 Journey time: About thirty minutes. Fare: SGD32.
My flight from Singapore to Doha will be departing at 10:40. I have ordered a taxi to leave from the Hilton at 08:00, which should get me to the airport roughly two hours before departure. Perhaps just a word of warning at this point. Taxis are a commodity very much in demand on weekdays in Singapore. In fact it is near impossible to just stand on the side of the road and hail a cab when you need one. So if you are planning to take a taxi, make sure you order one at the concierge well enough in advance, preferably the day before.
Location: Terminal 3, entrance 6, row 8. Facilities: For flights departing Singapore, Qatar Airways offers web check-in. Counters: There are five counters open for our flight: three for Economy Class, one for status holders and one for Business Class passengers.
Given that I have a large suitcase to drop off anyway, I figure I might as well check-in at the airport, rather than using web check-in. In Doha I shall be in transit for a connecting flight to Zürich. There are three flights from Singapore to Doha every day. But with only one flight from Doha to Zürich, there is no same day connection available and instead I will have to spend a night in Qatar. Qatar Airways will even pay for the accommodation. However, Qatar Airways will check your suitcase in to its final destination and you will not be able to retrieve your bags in Doha.
The DNATA Lounge
Location: One floor up from the public airside area. After immigration turn left and take the first escalator going up. At the top do a sharp right turn to bring you straight to the DNATA lounge. Facilities: Dining area, work stations, toilets and showers available in the lounge. Catering: A small but adequate selection of hot and cold snacks. Internet: Wifi is available in the lounge, password required.
The DNATA lounge in Terminal 3 is nothing to write home about really. In fact, seating is somewhat cramped and if the lounge were full, it would probably be more pleasant outside. The lounge’s one redeeming feature though, is the excellent view of the ramp and the runway beyond. From where I am sitting I am towering over a Singapore Airlines B 777-200.
Business Class passengers and disabled passengers are invited to board first. The process if enforced by the gate agents.
My flight is leaving from gate A20. There is a centralised security checkpoint for gates A17 to A22. There is only one queue and no separate line for Business Class passengers.
Configuration: 1 + 2 + 1 Seat number: 2E 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.
As it happens, one of the flight attendants working today’s flight is April, who was working on the Zürich to Doha flight I took on Monday. Surprisingly, she recognises me. She asks me how I have been and if I am on my way home again. She asks what I would like to drink and smiles when I ask for another lime and mint juice. What can I say, the stuff is rather habit forming… She also brings me a rose scented cold towel, which is very refreshing.
Other than that, yet again the crew on this flight are excellent. Repeatedly during the flight the cabin crew pass through the cabin proactively asking passengers if they would like anything. They are simply outstanding.
As this is a day flight, no pjs or slippers are provided.
Welcome drink on the ground: Lime and mint juice. Hot towel before the meal: Hot or cold rose scented towels available. Pre-meal drink: Sparkling water. Choice: There are two choices for the starter and three choices for the main, including one vegetarian option. Delivery: À la carte service. Type of meal: Lunch.
Prawn cake with assam sauce.
Spicy Tom Yam soup.
Classic Araic Mezze with Hummus, Muhammara, Tabouleh and Arabic bread.
The Main Course
Pasta in a cherry tomato, basil, pesto and mozzarella sauce.
Cheese plate with crackers, grapes and cheese.
Panna cotta with fresh fruit and melaka sugar.
Admittedly, I cannot really say I like the prawn cake. Apart from the fact that it had a somewhat disgusting consistency, it did not really taste of anything at all. But apart from that, I must say the food on this flight is just as good as any of the meals I experienced on the two previous flights on the outbound. In particular, the pasta has a rich, tangy flavour.
The Second Service
There is no second service as such on this flight. However, there is an extensive menu of snacks and light dishes available throughout the flight. Roughly 90 minutes out of Doha, the cabin crew pass through the cabin asking passengers if there is anything they would like to eat before they get on their flight. I choose a beefsteak sandwich with melted cheddar cheese, bell peppers and caramelised onions, which is very tasty and hits the spot nicely. I spend the rest of the flight surfing the IFE.
We land in Qatar just after 13h25. The airport is pretty deserted at this time of day. As we do not have a same day connection to Zürich, we are going to have to spend one night in Doha before continuing our journey tomorrow morning.
Layover in Doha
If you have a stay of more than eight hours at Doha airport, Qatar Airways will provide complimentary accommodation for the stay in Doha. Although I am not entirely sure if all passengers are entitled to this service or only Business Class passengers.
In any case, the reservation for the hotel was made directly with Qatar Airways through the travel agency at the time the flights were booked. You will then receive a hotel voucher by mail from Qatar Airways that you need to print out and take along.
Upon arrival in Doha, follow the signs marked transfer. Eventually you will reach the Qatar Airways transfer counters, which are located opposite the security check for transfer passengers. There are separate counters marked ‘City Accommodation and Transfer’ and there is also a dedicated counter for premium passengers.
I hand the agent my passport and hotel voucher. She invites me to head downstairs to the arrivals halls and instructs me to wait in the Al-Maha arrivals lounge while she gets my visa for Qatar processed.
Al-Maha Arrivals Lounge
I am welcomed to the lounge and immediately one of the lounge attendants approaches me and asks me if there is anything I would like to eat or drink while I wait. About 20 minutes and one orange juice later, a Qatar Airways rep appears with my stamped passport. She then escorts me out into the arrivals hall and through customs.
I shall be staying at the Oryx Rotana Hotel. As I exit immigration, there is another representative from the hotel already expecting me. By the looks of it I have just missed the shuttle to the hotel, so the Qatar Airways representative escorts me to yet another lounge – the landside Qatar Airways lounge – and advises me to wait there until the shuttle arrives. I enter the lounge and again somebody approaches me immediately, asking if there is anything I would like to drink. But my wait in the lounge is only about 10 minutes anyway, so I decline.
Eventually I am escorted from the lounge to the shuttle bus stop at the far end of the arrivals concourse. The journey to the hotel takes roughly 20 minutes.
This was yet another brilliant flight with Qatar Airways, and unless they seriously screw it up on the last leg back to Zürich, I think they are truly deserving of the five star rating, simply for the consistency they have managed to keep in their product and service. The transfer process at Doha airport could really hardly be easier. As my friend the valiant M. always says, it’s as easy as cutting Swiss cheese…
I just arrived in Doha on the Qatar Airways flight from Zürich. I have roughly two hours before my next flight to Singapore.
Al-Mourjan Qatar Airways Lounge
Location: The lounge is located on the third floor. Transfer security is one floor below. To access the lounge from security you need to take the lift. Otherwise you will have to take the escalators down to the first floor before taking another escalator up to the third floor. 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. There are also numerous self-service bars in the lounge. Internet: Free wifi is available throughout the terminal. No password required.
This lounge is really something else, it is huge and very elegantly appointed. I try taking a few pictures but it really is quite impossible to capture the sheer size of the place.
The toilets are very well kept and very clean. As I approach the sink to wash my hands, one of the four attendants puts on the water for me, squirts some liquid soap in my hands and eventually hands me a small towel to dry my hands.
Business Class passengers are invited to board first, before a general boarding call is made.
The flight to Singapore is operated by a Boeing B 787-8. For information about the cabin, see the previous post of my trip from Zürich to Doha.
There are three cabin crew working the Business Class cabin, which is full on this flight. The purser is a young man from Singapore. The other two crew members are a young woman, also from Singapore, and another from India. I must say I am really quite impressed by the consistency of the staff and their level of professionalism. For example when I am brought my welcome drink, the flight attendant places a small napkin on the table and then turns it to make sure that the onyx logo printed on it is not upside down. Later on when she comes to dress the table for the meal, she places the cutlery and then straightens it to look nice. Of course these are only minor details and they will not make the food or the flight any better. Even so, it such small details that make the difference which justifies Qatar Airways’ five star rating in my view.
After departure the purser comes by to introduce himself and check if everything is okay. It is a nice touch that he shakes my hand as he introduces himself, I think.
As this is a night flight, Qatar Airways provides pyjamas. Just beware that the cut is fairly generous. I was give an L and the trousers were way too big.
Welcome drink on the ground: Lemon and mint juice. Hot towel before the meal: Hot towel with a subtle scent of roses. Pre-meal drink: Water and another lemon and mint juice. Choice: There are two choices for the starter, three choices for the main – including one vegetarian option – and three choices for dessert. Type of meal: Dinner.
Tempura nori wrapped black cod with Asian vegetables and sweet chilli sauce.
The First Course
Lime infused prawns with coriander chilli crème fraîche, cucumber, black sesame and frisée lettuce.
The Main Course
Marinated chicken breast with a lemon and garlic sauce, mashed potato with parmesa, roasted carrots and beets, steamed asparagus.
Ladurée Vendôme of dark chocolate biscuit, blackberry confit, chocolate and blackberry tea mousse.
Once again, the quantity and the quality of the food is quite impressive. In particular, the presentation is very professional and makes an interesting change from the usual Business Class meals, which are served with every item side by side in the dish.
Once the meal is over I go change into my pjs. In the meantime, one of the cabin crew makes up my bed, which incidentally includes a thing mattress.
The Second Service
Hot towel the meal: Rose scented hot towel. Pre-meal drink: Cucumber and apple juice, orange juice. Choice: There are two options for the hot meal. Type of meal: Breakfast.
Orange compte with Greek yoghurt and toasted granola
Pepper and feta cheese frittata with sautéed potatoes and red onion, roasted plum tomato, Portobello mushrooms and chicken sausage.
The second meal hits the spot nicely and is well timed. The second service starts about 90 minutes out of Singapore, which leaves you enough time after the meal to change and complete the immigration form.
Qatar Airways operates out of Terminal 3 at Changi airport. The place is not overly busy. There is only a short queue for passport control and by the time I am through, my suitcase is already expecting my on the luggage belt.
Originally, this flight should have been operated by an A 350, which obviously would have been very cool. Better luck next time. As for Qatar Airways, I think they have a very solid product that is very elegant and comfortable. Of course the over all journey time from Zürich to Singapore was slightly longer than if I had taken the Singapore Airlines nonstop service from Zürich, which leaves slightly after the Qatar Airways flight. But in all honesty, I hardly think the time gain of roughly three hours can justify what Singapore Airlines or SWISS charge for the journey, especially seeing as the SWISS product at least is certainly no match for Qatar Airways.
I have quite a few long trips coming up as we gradually move into summer. What’s more, these trips will see me doing a lot of firsts: new destinations, new aircraft types and new airlines. Today I am off to give a presentation in Singapore for ICAO. The first leg sees me travelling from Zürich to Doha on Qatar Airways. This will in fact be my first flight on the Boeing B 787-8.
I am travelling with my colleague M. Not the valiant M., though. No, this is M. the tall, blond guy. Which is rather convenient because I think it will make him rather easy to spot if I should happen to get lost in a crowd in Singapore.
Getting to the Airport
Transport: Train Departs from: Basel SBB – Swiss Railway Station. Frequency: Roughly every thirty minutes. Journey time: About ninety minutes. Fare: CHF38 for a oneway ticket or CHF76 for a return.
There is one direct train to the airport every hour at 40 minutes past the hour. The journey takes one hour and sixteen minutes to complete. Alternatively, there are nonstop trains to Zürich Main Station at 7 and 33 minutes past the hour, which make the journey to Zürich in fifty minutes. At the main station you have to change to the airport train. The journey from Zürich Main Station to Zürich Flughafen is another ten minutes, roughly. Tickets are valid on direct trains as well as trains via Zürich Main Station.
My train leaves Basel at 08:07. Changing at Zürich main station that should get me to the airport at around 09:15. The 08:07 service to Zürich is operated by a German ICE high speed train of the Deutsche Bahn, so I figure I might as well avail myself of the dining car and get myself a decent breakfast. But I guess I really should have known better than to trust Deutsche Bahn to be reliable. For some unearthly reason, they ‘forgot’ to load the food, dishes and cutlery today. So all there is on offer are stale croissants and coffee in cardboard cups.
Location: Check-in 2. Facilities: Check-in is only available at the counters or via web check-in. It is not possible to check-in for Qatar Airways the evening before. Counters: There are three Economy Class counters, one baggage drop counter, a Business Class counter plus a supervisor’s counter that doubles as a second Business Class check-in counter.
The Swissport Contractor Lounge
Location: There are two lounges available to Qatar Airways passengers in Zürich. There is what I call the Oneworld lounge. This lounge is located adjacent to the SkyTeam lounge, one floor up from the public transit area. And then there is the Swissport Panorama lounge in the midfield dock E, behind immigration. I find this lounge is more conveniently located, seeing as that is where my flight will be departing from. Facilities: A selection of newspapers and magazines, public computers and work stations. There are no showers and the toilets are located outside the lounge. Catering: A limited selection of hot and cold dishes and beverages. Internet: Free wifi is available.
I cannot really say I like this lounge. It is simply too small for all the passengers that are allowed to use it, to the extent that they have added a further seating area right outside, in front of the entrance to the lounge, which is really not very cosy at all. The lounge’s only redeeming feature, as far as I can tell, is the view of the apron and runways on all sides.
My stay in the lounge is only very brief, just enough time for a coffee and then it is already time to start boarding.
There is only one airbridge for al passengers. By the time I arrive at the gate, the flight is in the final stages of boarding. There is no queue for Business Class passengers. As I step aboard the aircraft I am greeted by a friendly young man and guided to my seat on 1E.
Configuration: 1 + 2 + 1 Seat number: 1E, aisle in the middle row of two. 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, they still provide enough privacy because the seat is fairly deep, so the shell of it blocks your neighbour from view. And if the worst comes to the worst, there is also a screen that can be raised. 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, with remote control or touch screen.Wifi is also available for a fee.
The seat has a very elegant appearance. The combination of the dark grey upholstery with the Bordeaux coloured seatbelt and armrest is very easy on the eyes. I think this is much classier than the Emirates cabin, for example. The seat provides ample storage space and it looks as though a lot of thought has been put into the layout of the seat. You do not have to twist and contort your body to reach the remote control for the IFE or to operate the seat controls.
The cabin has a very open and airy feel to it, mainly I think this is due to a lack of a divider or anything of the sort near the L/R 2 doors and the fact that there are only overhead bins on the sides of the cabin but not in the middle.
Just a word of caution: on the B 787-8, Qatar Airways the last row in Business Class is an individual row that is segregated from the rest of the cabin by the L/R 2 doors. There are only two seats on this row in the middle. It just looks kind of strange, and I think I would feel rather exposed if I had to sit there. Furthermore, you have a toilet on either side.
The crew on today’s flight are friendly and personable. As soon as I take my seat I am welcomed by April from the Philippines, who promptly asks me if I would like a drink and if I prefer a hot or a cold towel. I ask for an orange juice and a cold, refreshing towel. The towels are not scented.
The vanity kit has already been placed at me seat, together with the menu, a blanket and a pillow. Slippers and pyjamas are not provided on this flight. The vanity kit does not contain a toothbrush or shaving kit. However, both are available in abundance in the lavatories. Speaking of which, the toilets were kept very clean throughout the flight and were checked regularly by the crew.
Welcome drink on the ground: Orange juice. Hot towel before the meal: Cold towel while still on the ground. Pre-meal drink: Lemon juice with mint. Choice: There are two choices for the starter, three choices for the main and another three choices for dessert. Delivery: À la carte service. Appearance: The meal service is very elegant. Unlike many airlines, who serve the food on a tray from a trolley, with Qatar Airways, every table is set up and served individually, directly from the galley. Type of meal: Lunch.
There would also have been a cheese plate, but I decided to skip that in favour of dessert because I was already so full. My colleague M. has given me strict instructions to make sure I comment on the fabulous lemon and mint juice Qatar Airways serve. And indeed, I must say it really does taste absolutely delicious. It is admittedly very sweet but it is also very refreshing.
But apart from that, the quantity and quality of the food is really very good and very much has the look and feel of what many other airlines are serving in First Class these days. I particularly like the presentation of the food.
Prawns in a Mary Rose sauce with crostini.
Pea and mint soup with lemon crème fraîche and a choux bun.
Hummus, tabouleh and moutabel with Arabic bread.
The Main Course
Tandoori paneer with musallam sauce, vegetable khichdi and saunfiyan palak.
Cherry and almond frangipani tart with vanilla mascarpone and raspberry coulis.
The sun is slowly starting to set as we begin our descent into Doha. Eventually we land with a delay of roughly twenty minutes, which is partly due to our slightly late departure from Zürich and a further, slight delay we must have picked up en route. The airport is not particularly busy when we arrive, with just a few Qatar Airways aircraft scattered around the place.
Transfer in Doha
I now have about two hours to make my connection to Singapore. There is a centralised security area for transfer passengers. There is a separate queue for First and Business Class passengers. Even so, it looks as though a flight from India has just arrived at the same time and obviously most of the passengers do not seem to care about the separate queue, while the staff obviously can not really be arsed to segregate the queue properly.
The new terminal is really quite impressive. The facility is very modern and still looks and feels very new. In fact only part of the building has already been opened for passengers. The two concourses that make up the Y of the building, if you are looking at it from above, are still closed off. There is even a metro that runs through the terminal, which is running but obviously not accepting passengers yet, judging by the plastic covers still on the seats.
This is the first time I am travelling to Southeast Asia with one of the ME3. So far, I have always been under the impression that these carriers have a disadvantage over carriers operating a nonstop service from Europe. However, all things considered I find it rather pleasant to have the opportunity to interrupt the journey more or less halfway there, if only to stretch my legs and break the journey. As for Qatar Airways, so far I must say I am quite impressed. Their service and on board product is very polished. It also seems far more sophisticated and elegant than what Emirates has to offer. The Emirates product is also very good, but it is more functional than it is stylish.