In February 2007, I found out that a particular travel agent had a bargain for a Business Class ticket on board of QR. Since we never flew QR and QR had gained the five star ranking according to Skytrax, we proceeded to make a booking.
Our itinerary looked like this:
Date: 20 December 2007
ETD/ATD: 09.50 / 10.20
ETA/ATA: 19.30 / 19.30
Flight number: QR 6
Delivered: 22 April 2002
To catch our flight in LHR we were booked with KLM. I am sorry for the lack of pictures of the KLM flight since I did not make any of it.
We landed in London Heathrow at 07.20 earlier than the scheduled time of 07.40. I thought, “That is fine. We can connect at our convenience.” But I soon found out why it stated 07.40, because our plane went instantly in a queue and waiting for its turn to cross the active runway to reach Terminal 4. It took exactly 20 minutes before our plane got connected to the passenger bridge. That is why all the airlines flying from AMS to LHR take one hour and twenty minutes into account when flying to Heathrow. The taxiing time is just as long as the cruising time.
As soon as we were allowed to deboard, we gathered our belongings and followed the Flight Connection sign to catch the shuttle bus to Terminal 3.
At that time, the construction of Terminal 5 was still going on. I can tell you based on this experience, that Terminal 5 relieves many problems Heathrow had before like the endless queues before security. I was shocked when I saw the crowd within seconds after we passed the entrance. Unfortunately there was no other way than joining the queue and hoping that it would move fast enough to allow us to check in since KLM failed to do that in AMS.
Forty thrilling minutes were passing by and eventually we were released by the security. The transit area was not too far away and there was only one person before us at the transfer desk of QR fortunately. Or perhaps not...
This man was arguing with the QR lady behind the transfer desk. From what I could hear, he was supposed to have been booked in Business Class on the same flight as ours, but the system could not find his reservation. He kept on insisting the lady to check him in but apparently there was nothing she could do. In the mean time, we were getting flustered since the check in time limit got dangerously nearby. The man demanded the QR lady to call her supervisor to which she complied. She rang her supervisor and while explaining the situation, the man got impatient and wished to speak with her supervisor himself.
The lady handed over the phone to the man in the way that he had to step aside and invited us to come forward.
“Are you flying with Qatar?”
“Yes. Here are our tickets and passports.” We replied.
She took our documents and started typing on her computer. She got a bit puzzled look and grabbed a mobile phone on her table. It seemed that QR supplied a mobile phone to their desk attendants for just in case. The striking statement of her on the phone was, “I have got two passengers here for Business Class.”
The conversation was short. She then continued the check in process. After writing down the lounge invitation, she returned our documents and pointed out. “My supervisor will assign you the seat at the gate. Do you know where the United Red Carpet Lounge is located?”
“Not yet. But, do we still have time to sit in the lounge?”
“Certainly. The lounge attendant will call you when your flight is ready. Have a nice flight.”
I had never been in Heathrow before. However, the signage’s are clear and as a passenger you can rely on it. It was not difficult to find the now closed Red Carpet Lounge. A friendly United lady welcomed us, took our invitations and waived us through.
The lounge itself was a bit on the dark side in spite of the lights. After visiting the bar for some juices, we took a seat in a quiet corner. The amount of the juices we took was just enough until our flight got called.
We left the lounge and proceeded to the gate. I cannot remember which gate was assigned. It was in any case located at the very end of the pier of Terminal 3. When we arrived, the QR gate attendants were preparing the boarding procedure.
We approached the gate desk and handed over our boarding passes. The QR guy behind the desk looked closely at our boarding passes and tore them apart at the end…
He proceeded printing out new boarding passes , handed them over to us and waived us through. At that time, the premium passengers were invited to come on board. We could practically keep on walking to the passenger bridge.
We were in the middle of the bridge when I realized what I got in my hand. I was about shaking.
It would be my first time flying First Class and the first time we both got upgraded. At the door, we were greeted by the friendly Salina. She took our boarding passes and smiled, “Welcome Mr. Akhmad. It is nice to have you on board.”
She then brought us to the front compartment of the plane where First Class was located. In the cabin ,there was already another couple. The man smiled at us and said, “It is just like flying your own private jet.” As it later turned out, there were only four First Class seats occupied out of twelve and three flight attendants assigned for First Class, including Salina.
Me in First Class.
From another angle.
A colleague of Salina brought us the amenity kit bags and headsets. She then returned with some small cups, followed by Salina with a basket of dates and an Arabic coffeepot in her hand.
While sipping at our Arabic coffee, Salina returned with the menu and the wine list which were inserted in a leather pouch.
While handing over the menu, she asked, “Here is your menu, Mr. Akhmad. May I ask you where you originally come from?” Presumably because of my skin color and surname.
“From Indonesia.” I replied.
Salina smiled, “I am from Malaysia. Can I offer you a drink? Orange juice perhaps?”
“That will be nice.”
“How about you, sir?” Salina turned to my partner.
“I will go for orange juice as well.”
It was the last time I spoke English to Salina. We had during the remaining flights our conversations in Malay.
Our welcome drink, amenity kits and headset covers.
The menu and the wine list.
The lunch menu.
The indulgence menu.
The wine list.
The door was closed on time. But for some reasons, the pushback was commenced nearly a half hour later. I had my bag still on the floor. Salina noticed it and asked me to store it properly. I smiled and obliged.
It was very busy that morning. There were a lot of heavies queuing for takeoff. We were in line behind an Air Canada Boeing 767. When it came to our turn, as soon as we entered the runway the takeoff roll commenced. The flight must have been fully booked since it took forty seconds to airborne.
As soon as the fasten seat belt signs were switched off, Salina appeared to take our meal order. In the meantime, her colleague was closing all the window shades.
“Mr. Akhmad, have you made your choice?”
“Yes, I have. Can I have the Mediterranean mezze as starter and for the main course the vegetarian option?”
“Certainly. What would you like to drink?”
“I will finish my champagne first. And then I would like to have the Shiraz.”
“How about the dessert?”
“Err, can I decide it later on?”
“Certainly, Sir. No problem. Thank you for your order.”
Salina then disappeared behind the curtain, just to show up on the other side to take the order of my partner.
Both my partner and I chose champagne to go with the palate pleaser.
The description on the menu.
I was amazed by this champagne that I tried to order one as a birthday present for my partner. I did find the brand, but not the same year.
Salina returned to set our table. The table of the First Class, I must say, was huge. After laying a napkin on my lap, she delivered my starter.
My partner was having caviar and a glass of Chardonnay to go with it.
The lovely starters were replaced by the main course.
My main course.
My partner’s Iranian chicken.
While we were eating. The captain came to microphone and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Firstly, welcome aboard Qatar Airways. We are now flying over the Alps. The mountains are nicely covered with snow….”
Salina emerged from behind the curtain, opened a window shade in my neighborhood and turned to me, “Look at that! It is beautiful.”.
I wiped my mouth, grabbed the camera and captured this.
I then returned to my seat and finished my meal.
Salina collected the dishes and asked, “Have you made a choice for your dessert?”
“Err, I am actually really full at the moment. Can I have double espresso and Cognac instead?”
My partner on the contrary went for crème brulée.
My coffee serving with a box of Godiva chocolates.
The cabin attendants, especially Salina were delightful. After the meal, I had a nice chat in the galley with Salina. Salina was curious about my experience after I told her that that was the first time I flew with QR.
“You are doing great. Thank you. I really appreciate that.” I said.
“Thank you, Sir. Would you mind filling out the survey for this flight?”
“No problem. I would love to.”
Salina got that happy look when I returned the survey. I then asked whether I could have a picture with them. They agreed.
Me with The First Class flight attendants.
When I was about to return to my seat, Salina asked, “Would you like some tea with honey?”
I replied, “Yes, I loved to.”
“You do not have to wait. I will bring it to your seat.”
As soon as I got seated, Salina arrived with the cup of tea.
Salina than asked my partner, “Can I get you anything, Sir?”
My partner replied, “Can I have some beer, please?”
The beer arrived with a plate of warm nuts.
There were just too many nuts that we were not able to finish it before the cabin lights were switched on for the preparation of the afternoon tea.
Salina showed up to set the table again and lay the obligatory napkin. Then, she returned with the afternoon tea setting.
While putting the plate, she said, “Look how colorful it is.”
Me. The many champagnes, wines and liquors were taking their toll.
After clearing the table, we were prepared for landing. They made an announcement that the bar would be closed thirty minutes before landing. That is fine with me. The cabin was darkened in the mean time.
Salina came along to collect the menu’s.
I asked, “May I keep the menu and the wine list as souvenirs?”
Salina had to think for a moment and finally said, “All right then.”
Despite our late departure, we touched down on time in DOH. It was my first time in Middle East, so I was quite excited to see the desert scenery. The apron was crowded, mostly by QR planes. QR took in that year the first delivery of 77W. I saw it sitting in the hangar.
Finally, we came to a stop. The cabin lights were switched on and we were allowed to gather our belongings. Salina appeared in full attire with her colleagues. They were met with the other colleagues from Business Class and soon the door was opened. Maria, a Business Class flight attendant, was blocking the way to allow the first class passenger get off the plane first. By that time I saw two BWM 7 Series cars next to the staircase. A driver was standing at the door, ready to greet us, the First Class passengers. I did not realize that until the ground staff ushered us to one of the cars.
I was mesmerized and the whole journey with the BMW to the Terminal passed over me due to my amazement. I still regret that I did not make any post landing pictures. Especially the sight of a dedicated BMW car to pick us up when we went down the staircase.
I hope you still enjoy this report. Please feel free to leave some comments.
Johruk From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2008, 171 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 21520 times:
Quoting Directorguy (Reply 10): I could be wrong but I seem to remember that QR DOES have some sort of requirement and that it involved wearing semi-formal (a blazer at the very least). But that's just a vague recollection.
I know when I flew QR in First a few years back ( the day of the Tsunami as we were supposed to be heading to Sri Lanka) there was no issue with a dress code...In fact on our return to LHR, we had the delights of a child running around the cabin in just it's nappy! From memory they had upgraded the whole family and I was a little un-impressed that they felt it not necessary to control the child a little more!
Bralo20 From Belgium, joined May 2008, 741 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (7 years 3 months 3 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 21343 times:
Quoting HeeBeeGB (Reply 2): Don't QR have a dress code for First class passengers?!
Why should there be a dress code for First (or even business)?
The days that people were clothing themself to the classes of travel are way past us... Maybe in the 1900's it was required to were a suit but now? The suit doesn't tell anything.
Unfortunately these mistakes are still made today...