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QR (Qatar); The Falling Star RUH-MAN & FlyBE->GLA  
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 16903 times:

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Introduction


*I wrote this report 11 months ago, but didn’t get time to publish it before I went off to Asia, so this is a bit overdue*
Welcome to another highly verbose account of a fairly typical flight.



It is something extraordinary, and unparalleled, to feel like a prisoner. It is also something that you might believe in the 21st century, ought not to be happening to those undeserved of it. Sadly, I was afflicted. Misled by a crooked Cockney recruiter, I had been lured into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on a visa that would only allow me to leave with the permission of my employer. Who, in turn, demanded that I would serve 2 months’ notice and pay a month’s salary to leave their gainful employment.


The long and short of it was that, after 4 months in Saudi Arabia, and an increasingly oppressive employment situation, I made my break. I resigned, did my month ‘of time’ and walked numerous corridors in the plea for at least a free flight home to the UK.


I am here, in the mighty yet illusive, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The silent partner with the special relationship. I came in on a broadly hedonistic quest to see and understand this intriguing country, and did so under the convincible guise of an English Instructor. To get here, Emirates was my chariot, as seen in Kingdom Calling;Exceptional Emirates (GLA)-DUB-RUH (by lukeyboy95 Aug 29 2012 in Trip Reports).
I found EK absolutely top-notch for service, catering and overall product.


The second part of the reports was when I zipped about the place and visited the Red Sea Coast (for I am based in the pious and hot area of Riyadh) on the two domestic Saudi carriers NAS and Saudia, as can be indulged in Saudi Internals; Nas Air (E90) Vs. Saudia (743) (by lukeyboy95 Oct 2 2012 in Trip Reports).


Alas, after some time it appeared the final chapter of the Saudi adventure might be sweetened by Qatar Airways. I choose the word might, because we (me and QR) were suffering a slight knot in our relationship after the extraordinary failures of a previous trip as can be dismayed over in My African Safari (i) ; The Beginning (EZY/ QR) (by lukeyboy95 Feb 27 2012 in Trip Reports) and African Safari (ii) ;The Interlude QR LXR-DOH-KUL (by lukeyboy95 Apr 13 2012 in Trip Reports).


QR displayed the most extraordinary failures if these aforementioned flights. But, who is perfect? I was prepared to give it another go… in recognition of our previous high times in the air.

My company used Expedia to book it, they tried their very hardest to make me pay for the flight, but I refused and said I would stay illegally in the country if they did not provide me passage, so they finally capitulated. Price $530.00 and a confirmed routing of QR RUH-DOH-MAN and the BE MAN-GLA. But more poignantly, these flights represented an escape from my employers… the granting of my bail.


Which was a relief as I had begun to come apart at the edges, as shown below.




Without further warbling;

Welcome to my 14th Trip Report, and the closure of my Saudi Arabian adventures;




QR (Qatar); The Falling Star RUH-MAN & BE->GLA




For what it is worth, I will also include some photos National Day, and the Oil saturated East Coast of Saudi Arabia, and an account of the Saudi Railways solitary route Riyadh – Dammam (don’t say I’m not good!)






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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
53 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 1, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 17111 times:

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The Verbose Narrative




Nothing is set in stone. That is a given in Saudi Arabia; so I actually don’t feel I can breathe easily until I am actually lifting off the tarmac at from RUH. That is because Saudi Arabia employs an absolutely arcane system of visas whereby the only way a foreign employer can leave the Kingdom (when he/ she has come on an employment visa) is by through the permission of his or her company. This sets the tone for ridiculous demands that very often constitute a certain abuse of rights.


My company demanded I work an month with no pay. I agreed, because I was the one naive enough to sign the contract, but would very politely tell each of my classes I wasn’t being paid, which was tantamount to slavery, and that, whilst I would allow a genteel conversation, I would not use the textbooks, and that you are actively encouraged to complain and get my removal from the country expedited . It never really worked since I was so ‘chummy’ with my pupils. They were a good, curious bunch.


My final day was a maelstrom of activity. I had to sign, countersign, politely placate, compliment, dash and rush, break tempers with banks, fret, folly… but the essential element was the handing over of my ‘Final Exit Visa’ which prompted a hum of joy, that might evolve into a roar of Braveheartesque ‘FREEDOM’ when the wheels lifted off. The smile from my face was unshiftable.


I rather wanted my end to be set by the sweet tone of the many fantastic and generous Saudi’s I had come across on my time here, and so refused my companies ratty Bangladeshi driver, and asked one of my students to run me out to the airport . I would be collected at midnight.

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27th September 2012; the final day in Saudi Arabia.



Actually the drama started a little before midnight, when taking some left-over ingredients to a Syrian friend, I heard the most blood-curdling explosion out on my street. The unmistakable sound of disaster and carnage. I dropped my hamper and ran out onto the street, which was eerily silent under the explosion of dust and debris, not a couple of hundred metres from my door. The shrill, horrific screams of females pierced the sinister loom of filth…

Running over to the wreck of the goliath GMC car, it was a mess. Having careered at at least 100km/hr down our backstreet, lost control and collided with an electricity pylon (which now straddled the road), the car lay on its side.



The farewell drama outside my apartment.

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Having heard that the voices were potentially female, I decided not to run to the smoking wreck, as this might have landed me in hot water being non-Muslim. I was silently furious as this went against every humane instinct I had. Thankfully the local Pakistanis were already fishing the occupants from the wreckage; and its contents astounded me
..... 8 children aged between 8 and 11 years old.



Kids were driving.


Yes… the driver was an 11 year old. Minutes later, fat-bearded fathers ran breathlessly down the road from the local wedding banquet hall… they had given their kids the keys , not uncommon, to see children driving cars here. All had blood stained thobes, yet were largely unharmed. My worry was not for the occupants of these tank-like American import cars which could drive over a land-mine unscathed, but for the innocent pedestrians (like me) who walk the street regularly conscious that motorists here don’t give a damn.



My student Abdul-Rahman (cousin in centre), ran me to the airport.



A little shaken, I lugged my luggage down to my friends Prado. What a glory it is to be taken to the airport by a friend or family… alters the whole dynamic of leaving. A steady 25 minute drive later, and we pulled into the departures terminal. After some very fond farewells, he left and I assessed the chaos in front of Terminal 1 for foreign international departures;



1am, peak time at RUH



On the RUH baggage porters. Whilst in arrival they band about, remove your luggage from the belt without consent and such like, in departures they too stalk about keen to make more of a nuisance than a service to those in control of their luggage (the majority). After a little reflection in the dry heat looking down at the airport masjid lit like a spaceship. I proceed into the terminal.




Airport Mosque.



My luggage.


Terminal 1 is a little wretched at the check-in stage… and beyond. After passing through a screening, there is almost no space before immigration. Squeeze out to either side and you will find the frugal few check-in desks. These are unnumbered, unmarked and do not have any digitalised representation.



I nestle in a corner and observe the stragglers approaching the TK check-in. I also admire how so many of the Expat workers from developing countries lavish their luggage with fantastic packing (a myth about airport robberies?) and details of their home addresses. So, you can tell where each is heading too.




Mr Lakhaman, off to Kathmandu


And Mr Beni off to the same place, helping fill QR’s Nepali services.


[Another person has caught my attention. (feel free to skip this paragraph). So much so, that I will put him in parenthesis as it is non-aviation, more human rights, and another sight that left me perturbed that night; - an African man sits on the spare seat next to me, I know he is young but a slow scan of his quivering body shows he is in a dire state. He is shaking with virus or illness, eye’s blank and fearful. Then a young Saudi man emerges from the crowd with a hard gaze and angled shneb. Without so much as recognition, he throws this man’s belongings and documents on the floor in a bedraggled plastic bag and walks off. So concerned am I for this man’s health, I offer him some Oreo’s and water. He takes the Oreos and fumbles, shaking uncontrollably, with the wrapping. The man’s shoes are unworn, and his thobe is oversized and starched, indicating that his employees had simply bought this to get him through immigration.

The story I put together in my mind, is that clearly this man was brought over as a labourer for a Saudi family, and had either done a runner, disgraced himself, or not disclosed that he was suffered from some disease. The look of menace from his Saudi employee is remorseless and intimidating, and reminds me of the strong moral lapse when it comes to overseas employees. His ‘owner’ see’s that he gets through immigration, and without even a ‘cheerio’, leaves. I keep tags on the man throughout the flight, and then through DOH where he gets on his Khartoum flight]



Back to me! A little perturbed by this scene of the young, dying African labourer, I am once again reminded of the disparities when my friend phones and says he is returning, and to come out to the entrance hall… I am humbled and touched when he gives me two presents, a wallet and some prayer-beads, and insists on giving me the very watch off his arm ‘for sentimental value’ (which was a phrase I taught his class with great difficulty the week before). Extraordinary.


Abdul-Rahman had returned wielding gifts.


A trolley of QR paraphernalia is wheeled out, and 4 non-descript desks are turned into QR’s real estate. I am not keen to queue and as others seem highly keen, I await it to settle. Except, it never does, so I soon join. The tail-end seems to be made of trendy young Saudi things, festooned by adoring friends, heading off to their prospective University cities. Already out of thobe and shmuh, they are ready to ingratiate themselves into Western society…


QR check-in – no digital displays


Check-in is chaotic, disorganised, aloof and a thorough pain in the arse. Maroon suits fumble, but there seems to be no leader of the pack co-ordinating this affair. I would hate to see check-in for the A330. In any case, the check-in area is so full, I am considering there might be an upguage. Surely this lot can’t fit on a babybus. (This flight has since been upguaged and moved earlier).



It takes a frustrating hour and 5 minutes before I am finally seen. The gent is polite enough, but when I ask if I might check-in a hang-luggage item, he tells me “Sir, you are already overweight” which is fair dice. Annoyingly, he won’t check me through to Glasgow. I feel as though if QR are utilising this profit maximising technique of chumming up with Flybe, the least they might do is make it seamless by checking luggage through. Now I have to fret about being browbeaten by BE check-in staff.


Immigration is gruff and unfriendly, and in spite of polite pleads for the contrary, he thumps down on one of my pristine protected species double pages, which will probably get me into hot water on my next Asian trip (it didn’t). Still, the absolutely glory and delight of passing the most tricky hurdle (immigration) swells like a wave over me. Yipee.



Where I had arrived into 6 months prior.



Airside is functional, uninspiring and a lot like the glimpses you saw in the second trip report. The only differences are the ethnicities tonight, which is to say 85:12:3 ration of Overseas labourer: Holidaying/ studying Saudi’s: The perennial white man ex-pat.



Departures for tonight. Note two ADD flights in close proximity.



There is diddly-squat in terms of information for what flight is boarding and at which time. I take a stroll and admire a vast queue for boarding the EK flight which I arrived on a little under 6 months prior on, two almost simultaneously departing ET flights and an AF A330 being towed to Terminal 2 in salute to the partnership between AF and SV.



AF under tow.


The toll of my frantic day, the extreme sleep deprivation of the last week (through stress and excitement alike) and the idiocy of the late hour leave my eyelids drooping. Therefore, it is good to see activity at the gate, the subsequent boarding of the aircraft some 50 minutes prior to departure.




Looks like it will be the A320.


Pleased to see it is one of the new A320’s. All very beautiful, smart and serviceable on-board. I am welcomed by a friendly Japanese lady, though staff further along the fuselage find it more difficult to interact with passengers.




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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 2, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 17081 times:

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RUHDOH

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Airline……………..Qatar Airways (QR)
Aircraft…………….Airbus A320 - 232
Flight……………....QR723
Registration……....A7-AHC
Seat………………. 20A (?)
Departure time......04.50 (04.47)
Arrival time……….06.10 (05.46)
LF: 100%.............. Y
Distance….. ……...306 miles (1hr 20 min)

Price……………. Approx. $530.00 (combined ticket)



View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Andre Oferta
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Photo © Reza Hajari - Iranian Spotters



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04.03 and we are on.


The speed with which we are dispatched is amazing, and we are pretty much raring to go by 04.20. Having checked the times of the same flight for the last week, they really like to get these intra-gulf connectors off with plenty of time to spare.



Neat cabin, my seat.


The FA’s distribute sucky sweets and towels, offer blankets (pillows are already on the seat). I am most occupied by the IFE. The modern Oryx interface is superb, and I can garner information about the meal on my connecting MAN flight (as well as those to Japan if it so takes my fancy), have a look at the route… and boot up the Pixar film Brave. Here I wobble a little with nostalgia (one of my mates does a voice in the film too!).



Blurry legroom. Also good.



‘to revive’ – QR’s language is almost as unnecessarily flowery as my trip report writing.



And, what is going on on the Tokyo flight ?



Short hop





The usual QR welcome of sookie-sweet and towel


We pull onto the active behind an Egyptair A330. Being absolutely 100% stowed out, the flight deck seems to provide a generous amount of thrust to get us going. Oh, but to feel that plane lift off from Saudi soil with the promise of unpausing my life in limbo.




Follo-wing Egypt Air



Lining up at 04.50 on the button.


The crew spring into action. Next to me I have to imbeciles, Saudi’s in Western getup, who are arsing about taking photos of one another. I am a little peeved when the one in the middle seat leans straight in front of me (watching TV) to see out the window. Perhaps they are simply excited, I let it pass.


Snack is a hot, spicy egg wrap concoction. Actually, it is rather tasty, and probably proportional to this flight. Yes, I still can’t help think back to EK’s delightful meal they provided on a sector only 20 minutes longer than this.




In packaging



Unpackaged



Water and OJ is distributed in flimsy foiled sealed tubs, and no other beverages offered. A coffee would have gone down a treat. I bing the call button and get a Filipino FA who is very obliging in answering my request for a second wrap, and also brings a water. I notice that my Saudi seatmates are acting a bit loutishly to the female FA’s on-board with silly requests etc. . . .




A new day dawning over Arabia.


A new day dawns; the day I get home. Somewhere down there is Dammam, but what doesn’t take any guessing are the vast, extraordinary oil fields of Ghawar – the largest in the world, a natural phenomenon, or a blessing from Allah ‘(PBUH)’ as most Saudi’s I met would say. An extraordinary and surreal sight.



Overwing



Ghawar oil fields. Saudi’s bread and butter.


The delicate light of a new day spreads as we begin descent somewhere over the strait of water separating Doha and KSA. We pass over Qatar’s waist in a few minutes, interface with the city of Doha at its Western edge, turn South… appear to join some sort of flight-path before commencing the approach from the South to DOH. All this would be captivating, if it weren’t for Mr Middle Seat almost resting on my lap watching this scene along with me.




Cabin prepared for landing.



West coast of Doha.



We head south upon glimpsing Doha city early in the morning



Positioning.





Familiar sights…. Just under 1 hour flying time.


Descent is silky smooth, and we taxi to one off the gates on the opposite side to the terminal. The buses take a while to be there with us, and when we have deboarded (without “cherio”s), it is really crushed. What further annoys me is that 5 or so Abaya clad females are herded into the bus, and all men must sacrifice their seats and add to the crush.



Deboarding



Nice engine. Still like the livery.



Good morning DOH!


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[Edited 2013-08-02 11:40:55]


Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 3, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 17010 times:

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Transfer



Multi-lane access roads.



Doha Arrivals.


Find the transfer very poor. This airport has gotten so horribly overcrowded and inadequate; each new route almost becomes heightens the melee. G4S is handling the security herding and screening at DOH. A pretty contract, but I find they are woefully inadequate;

- They use a tactic of shouting and cajoling passengers to speed the process up and bark a bit when passing . ........through the xrays.

- The queue system is inconstant; 1 cordon leads to 4 screening point, whilst another leads to only one

- I don’t think they are G4S, but once through I happened to watch some of the (mostly female, Qatari) screening ........officers. I know nothing of the job, but I saw that they often lapsed a lot in concentration, by looks at least were ........really not examining contents and held conversations with colleagues during their duties.

- Insufficient ‘redressing’ tables for numbers passing through.

I will compare the non-G4S operation at MAN later.




Through the crush


Meanwhile, the queues and crowds for the (seemingly same number of) toilets such a joke that I no longer felt the call of nature, I noticed that whilst the old terminal had mutated well enough to have added a few dozen extra gates etc., it had no managed to give the same expansion in facilities; water, catering and sleeping areas in particular. The throng of crowds was quite a sight.





A few Harry-Spotters were watching the endless procession of incoming QR metal/ carbon

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I realise QR is in some sort of juggling act at the moment as a cause of extending deadlines for the new airport, fleet delivery etc., yet it seems that route expansion and passenger growth march on like an rebellious entity, completely ignorant of the troubles the aforementioned growing pains cause passengers.



Standing room only at DOH.



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Departure banks


I nestle down on a leather seat with sunlight beating down on me, and succumb to the soporific hubbub and melee about me. I fall asleep, with less than 50 minutes till my flight departure.

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zzz
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By the grace of… the extraordinary din of the terminal… something provokes me awake. I lambast myself for this careless falling asleep, and consider how much this must actually happen. Luckily boarding is a little later than usual too (as I have woken 10 minute before departure time).




Last Call.


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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 4, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 16940 times:

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DOH - MAN





Airline……………..Qatar Airways (QR)
Aircraft……………Airbus A330-202
Flight……………….QR23
Registration……...A7-ACK
Seat………………. (?)
Departure time......07.40 (08.30)
Arrival time………… 12.35 (13.31)
LF: 70%................. Y
Distance….. ……..3361 miles (7hrs 55 min)

Price………….…. Approx. $530.00 (combined ticket)



View Large View Medium
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Photo © Jjss
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Photo © Fabio Ferioli - Malpensa Spotters Group




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I am the last to board the bus, and happily there are only 6 of us on-board. I am bracing myself for the ‘long way round’, when we sway to the left and pull in beside one of the aircraft very close to the terminal. How nice… it will be an A330-200 today.



Quiet bus





Still a fan of boarding by stairs.



Friendly welcome and checking of boarding stub.



There seem to be no connecting aircraft and we pushback at about 70% l/f and I have a big fat spare seat beside me. What I am initially struck with is a mild but pervading pong of fish, not aromatic you understand. I like to enter a clean-smelling plane.


This is now the second time I have entered a QR flight at DOH and found that it has not be cleaned properly. QR also looses some points for the safety video, which fails, and has to be demonstrated manually. Some of staff shows a complete lack of professionalism, giggling and laughing during this process, fumbling through the moves and generally demonstrating that they are incredibly poor trained.



Water served on request.



I request water beforehand (which has become another one of my intrinsic service tests) and this is brought without fuss. We pushback late, and are departing some 45 minutes late, into the heavy air of the Middle East. We make a pleasant fringe of some frequently sighted DOH landmarks and then make for the British Isles.



45 minutes late to get going.



MAN bound




NDIA, which can’t come soon enough.





Finally, a development has popped up on these strangely shaped islands.



Headphone and pillow



Nabbed.



Meal service begins 50 minutes after take-off.



The full tray!



Coffee served



Sadly the meal today will be breakfast: by far the most disappointing meal of the day. And Qatar compounds this grey scene by sticking religiously to one of two options: Yes, you can have a lame attempt at a fry-up with an upsetting chicken sausage, or you can have pancakes/ crepes with some lactose-heavy sauce, and tangy berry compote. I don’t need a menu for this; it is the same each time. Oh, with noodles if flights are heading East.



Ask for beer and get this. First taste of ‘mainstream’ alcohol for 5 months.


It looks like some sort of roasted/ sautéed potatoes, anaemic chicken sausage, lacklustre but safe quiche and some sort of greens. In culinary mode: It also comes with a fresh bowl of tropical fruit, and furthermore with a hodgepodge of brand-named items: Heinz tomato sauce, President dairy products (assorted) and Smint mints (Which I stash for passing UK Immigration).



Main meal



Closer inspection of sad little sausage




Fruit



Strawberry yogurt




Condiments.




Towel


Airlines seem to do this increasingly, including all these brands. Overall I find the tray is thin on substance, and looks messy. The taste is unexceptional.



Whisky! It’s been way too long…



Arid views during breakfast



What is left.



FA’s kind in bringing me another tray



Steadily improving views



I really like this photo, not just because there is a silly name, but 8 months after I flew over, I found myself hitch-hiking through this incredible part of the world.


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I’d be swimming here (Lake Van) in a matter of months!



Thankfully I have no grouchy FA’s on this flight. Which is a surprise, since they were all Caucasian. But, hurrah, they are from Eastern Europe and understand a man’s penchant for a tipple, and remain friendly and obliging throughout the flight. In any case, I am pretty conked out, so in no mood to push the boundaries. I watch my standard edition of Pixars latest showing. The genre of film that absolutely suits me on planes is Pixar; the right mix light-heartedness and sophistication, I can’t keep up with complicated plots on flights.



IFE controller. I think these screens were not touch-screen.



Don’t be alarmed, that is apple juice


I don’t sleep. As if…



I keep myself going with well timed bings to the crew for coffee/ single-malt whisky. I suspect this way they will not get suspicious. Since it is never night-time, the crew seem fairly active throughout, passing on occasion with fruit juices.



Coffee and beer.



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So nice! My utopia…



As we start skirting Europe, the snack is served. This consists of QR’s predictably dull Monty’s Med Chicken and Veg wrap. A knock-off of wagon wheel also arrives to sweeten the experience.


Deja-vu



Demographic was largely from the Indian/ Pakistani communities around Mid-England.



Toilets were no cause for concern.



Almost at an end.



Cabin prepared.



Bye bye blue sky.


We begin descending into the permanent ceiling of moody clouds prevails over the British Isles. This is my first Mid haul into MAN, and I suppose I expected more. Just a little dull, but I want to be careful not to tread on the loyal MAN Anetters. You might want to finish reading this report here.



Slight squiggle.



A few heavy clouds about



Manchester centre off in distance.



Jet2 have gone very charter.



EK’s excellent daily A380 service.


We arrive at a gate that I suppose has become QR’s home away from home here.


Our gate awaits, and a few of you have stayed at this hotel.



Leaving my home for the past 6 hours.



Cabin on disembarking.


The plane unloads and I find myself out on one of those corridors scanning for the signs of best fit for me. A seamless transfer would be nice, but I must collect luggage and recheck-in at a different terminal.



The aircraft


My BE flight to GLA is not till 16.40, so I have plenty of time to mooch about. Which is just as well, as it is a time before my silver bullet case emerges on the luggage belt.



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[Edited 2013-08-02 11:40:08]


Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 5, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 16868 times:

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Not so Seamless







My transfer at MAN was far from seamless. This place in an absolute jungle of 70’s concrete heights. I disorientated myself by first heading to the car park to spot . Didn’t have time to get out to the viewing park. Got a picture of my aircraft and realised that there was little activity at this time of day/ year.



My aircraft resting for a short while.





Recall these tunnels from when I was a youngster and my folks would take me on holiday from here.



MAN has many mismatched elevators, multi-story car parks, contradicting signage, nonsensical passenger flows and generally lends to a feeling of confusion. Had to ask for directions from the lady at WHSmith.



To the train station



Overview of flights departing



Much cheered by this great poster of integrated transport solutions from MAN. Why? Well, Saudi Arabia is about as shoddy as public transport can possibly get.


Was a little too early for my potential face of with the BE check-in agents, so I went and bought some Scrumpy ciders (four pack) from the on-site supermarket, and went and drank these out in the chilly sun.



Walkways



Terminal 3 is improved, but still a little scruffy.



Scrumpy! What I imagine cats piss to taste like…


The BE check-in ladies were merciful. I knew well before I arrived there that I was grossly overweight (baggage-wise), and a mature BE lady with blonde hair soon cottoned onto this too. But she was very fair, and asked me take a few things out to bring it down to the 20kg mark (it was at 24kg, and should have been 19kg).


She encouraged me to slink off to the side for this, and seeing my consternation about what things to dispose of, she responded ‘I am sure that is fine, I don’t want you throwing away your cooking things’. More credit: She was chatty about where I had been, and said she thought they (Saudi’s) were a misunderstood bunch, as they had come to her counter and been as polite and friendly as anything. Good on this check-in agent. Window seat in the bag.

With the Scrumpy setting in, I decided I should clear security post haste. Security was excellent and very sophisticated. In summary: you plodded through the detector, and then the system guided you through one of two channels. Guilty/ Non-Guilty. I was clearly guilty. Then I went into a full-body scanner. I think it was at least. The UK has a ‘no scan, no fly’ policy for these which I fully support. One of the personnel looked at my large amount of luggage and joshingly said “well son, you’ll be lucky to get on with that much!” They were also really friendly. Noticeable improvement on the DOH treatment.


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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 6, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 16848 times:

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FlyBE hop up to Glasgow




MAN - GLA

Airline……………..FlyBE (BE)
Aircraft………….…Dash 8
Flight……………….BE346
Registration……....G – JECX
Seat………………. 19A
Departure time.......16.40 (16.53)
Arrival time………… 17.45 (17.44)
LF: 90%................ Y
Distance….. …..….195 miles (1hrs 5 min)

Price……………. Approx. $530.00 (combined ticket)



View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Roger Oldfield
View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Jeffrey Schäfer






We will be boarding soon.



Stuffy ground-level boarding gates.



I do like the boarding of these wee planes.



Prop.

I had absolutely no problems, and was even impressed when the FA caught me huffing and puffing with my bag into the small overhead lockers, and directed me towards a space at the back of the aircraft.
Great, let’s go! Glasgow.



Steady does it with my bag!


With no delay, and a full cabin (all business sorts), we made off towards the runway and embarked on a firm take-off.



Wheels up.



Another short hop, this time north to GLA


I might have focused more on this part of the report had it not been for the incredibly beautiful blonde that was seated beside me on this flight. She was my favorite sort of woman: empowered, blonde, beautiful, and an executive for Barclays. Yes! After such a stretch of strangled women in Saudi, this was something of therapy. What could be more contradictory than her offering to buy me a drink, and giving me a packet of pringles? Cheers doll.



Futile attempt to capture some sort of in-flight catering : pringles – ready salted.

I talked with Ms. Barclays Exec the whole flight. What can be said is that the two FA’s passed promptly through the cabin, and were professional, efficient and knowledgeable. Very sure of their jobs and were friendly with PAX. It was a really pleasant flight.



In cruise. Cabins are fine, a little dated.


Landing at Glasgow: a revelation. Welcome home. Passed through arrivals in no time, and by bad was waiting when I got there. Really nippy.



Familiar passing over Clyde river.



Cheery cleaners, and two thumbs up from the flight deck!







Home again.


My Dad was there, and it was a real joy to see the old goat once more. I believe my parents had been genuinely worried that I would not make it out of Saudi for my brother’s wedding.


Our local ferry service. We live on the Cowal peninsula.



The Clyde widens into an estuary here.

.

Dad could not take me all the way home since he had a curling match (he is emphatic about that sport), and dropped me at our local ferry. The crossing was classically beautiful (gloomy, moody, dramatic) and my mum was there to meet me with the dog on the Argyll side.



.



.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 7, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 16831 times:

.



Summary



Perhaps the title suggests the overall impression of this report: which was that Qatar Airways Qatar Airways performed, but performed somewhere below my expectations. My opinion is that, if you are going to be arrogant enough to consistently push the accolade of 5*’s, then you absolutely need to back it up in your product. Qatar doesn't always manage that.

Both my flights actually were really good, but I saw a degree of taking the eye of the ball: queue and check-in management, catering (now repetitive and suffering from cutbacks) and a poorly cleaned, pongy cabin.

I still see them as a superior carrier, but whereas before I had always seen them as the rising star, I now believe that they are a falling star. That is with a critical eye you understand. I am very sure that a lot of these slack areas will be tightened up when the NDIA opens, and alleviates a lot of pressure. For my part on this trip, EK was far superior.


FlyBE (whose stock-price is rapidly falling) did a really convincing job on my short hop. The Check-in agents were chatty and FA’s knew what they were doing, were business friendly and efficient and helpful throughout. I rate them more highly than QR for not claiming to be something that they aren't.


Trip report wise, where am I headed? My next report will be from a big trip I did between Papua New Guinea and Scotland in 2012/2013. I shouldn’t delay with that and hope to have it up in the next week (or so).


I have been absent from the forum for a while, and so genuinely hope you enjoyed this report and the conclusion of my time out in KSA.


Not, now, but ASAP, I will also pop some photos at the end of this of the Desert train and National Day. I still find Saudi Arabia a fascinating place. Since the dust has settled on my time in KSA, I do not regret the choice to go out there. It taught me a lot of important lessons about managing organisations, teaching and communicating.


My kindest regards and you know the chat: any comments, good, bad, confusingly indifferent, are gratefully received.



Happy flying,



Luke






View of home the next morning.


Sweet bacon – Full Scottish breakfast the next day



.

Previous reports


BA And Cityjet - Scotland To London (DND/GLA/LCY) (by lukeyboy95 Mar 31 2010 in Trip Reports)

(by Dec 31 1969 in Trip Reports)

An Indian Summer; The North – BA And IT (Part 1) (by lukeyboy95 Jun 11 2010 in Trip Reports)

An Indian Summer; The South – S2 And IT (Part 2) (by lukeyboy95 Jul 15 2010 in Trip Reports)

~A Promise Kept; To France For Chicken AF A380~ (by lukeyboy95 Oct 23 2011 in Trip Reports)

Pivo In Bratislava ; A Day With FR (by lukeyboy95 May 6 2010 in Trip Reports)

Part 1; The Rushes Run – BA Vs. Virgin Train 1st (by lukeyboy95 Dec 23 2011 in Trip Reports)

Part 2; To Venice For Filming With BA (by lukeyboy95 Jan 12 2012 in Trip Reports)

My African Safari (i) ; The Beginning (EZY/ QR) (by lukeyboy95 Feb 27 2012 in Trip Reports)

African Safari (ii) ;The Interlude QR LXR-DOH-KUL (by lukeyboy95 Apr 13 2012 in Trip Reports)

Africa (iii); The Medivac QR Rtn& A3 TLV-ATH (by lukeyboy95 May 19 2012 in Trip Reports)

Kingdom Calling;Exceptional Emirates (GLA)-DUB-RUH (by lukeyboy95 Aug 29 2012 in Trip Reports)

Saudi Internals; Nas Air (E90) Vs. Saudia (743) (by lukeyboy95 Oct 2 2012 in Trip Reports)

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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineYtraveller From United States of America, joined Jul 2013, 261 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 16300 times:

Hello,

I very much enjoyed your trip report. Thankfully those kids survived the crash almost unscathed; it really astonishes me that someone would give their keys to such little kids. Pretty weird.

I have always wanted to visit the Middle East, although family is a bit skeptical. I'm sure the UAE and Qatar are safe and great countries to visit, and I'm fascinated by the way of life over there. And Qatar Airways looks like a perfect way to start/end the trip, being a 5-star airline.

Anyways, is there a considerable difference between Emirates and Qatar Airways, if you've flown on both? Qatar Airways is supposed to be higher-ranked on Skytrax, but I've only flown on Emirates. Thanks  


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 9, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 16207 times:

.

Airlines operating out of RUH


Floor plan of RUH.


Non - Aviation photos of Saudi Arabia


Yes, as I was saying... a few pictures from my time in Saudi Arabia.

So I went off to Dammam and Khobar one day. I had heard this was rather the haven of the Expat scene, and about as liberal and tolerant as Saudi Arabia gets.


Finding the train station, which was rumored to be in this district. You could walk 3km's here and not see a single soul on the street.


Ancient sign for the station, which seems to show the Saudia logo


Station in Riyadh


Inside, risking a photo


Could do the booking online.


Rather grand atrium, which I was given a row for taking a picture of.


Railroads still carry freight, but are a bit thin on passenger services.


My entertainment for the 4 hour run to the East Coast - top prizes for guessing what is in the bottle!


Hardly enthralling landscapes, but it is nice passing all this barren desert in the comfort of AC train.


Tropical seating


Economy, or Al Qafila Class... Single ticket is about £10, which is pretty good I would say.


Spartan Dining car - that little fenced off part is the prayer area.


Bang on time arrival into Dammam station


Al Khobar (Ex-pat heaven) promenade.


Couple of Saudi ladies breaking loose... and leaving the house.


The national colour, apparently the trees needed lighting.


Sprinkler action


Actually one of the prettier mosques I had visited. I found most mosques in Saudi to be ugly and modernist.


That will be entrance then... sniff sniff



Dammam is known for its extravagant statues (as is Jeddah) - here are some multi-coloured fish heads.


My favourite places to eat in Saudi were always the Filipino places which would serve you a full meal, soup and water for a couple of pounds.


The station is about 5km out of Damam itself. Last night I had slept on a lawn in Khobar, as accommodation can be quite pricey in the Kingdom.


A little early. It is all very organised here.


The old rollings stocks... dusty devils....

They are being replaced with these



But, I think the Saudi's are having pipe dreams, since this is an artistic impression :



and the expansion plans


.




Anyway, on with it...


There was a beautiful sunset on this late-night express (hmph) into Riyadh


And I met some very enlightened young Saudis who took me for a burger, and were incredibly nice.




Miscellaneous scenes from Saudi Arabia.




I think this is Bin Laden Construction Group's tower.


I was out for National Day, which had been 'reintroduced' not so long ago. It had been done away with for a while, since celebrating anything but an Islamic holiday was an abomination, by way Wahhabi Islam, but reinstated to consolidate national identity.


Undoubtedly the best thing I ever saw in Saudi was this evening of cars cruising about the centre of Riyadh. Fairly mundane in any other country, but in KSA, it was something rebellious, something like pride and showed a great spirit of the Saudi's who are so often closeted.


The theme in Saudi is always 'someone is watching you' hence these eye's everywhere.










Doha flag no? Well... I saw a couple of Syrian flags, and the police stepped in and took these away.





No break from the praying though... the Mullahs were out in their brilliant Mobile Mosque Machine! Rounding up the people... you can see little water fountains extend from the back for ablutions



.

The Imam was really friendly, and took a few photos of me taking photos, said I was welcome here and gave me a free CD.


I was sniffing a little revolutionary spirit. I really hope there will be some positive upheaval in the future, peaceful change.


This is kind of a special picture of one of the Mutawa'ah, who most of my students despised. They are the religious police (Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice) and a fairly poisonous. They were out detaining people with their music playing to loud when I watched them. They sweep through Malls during prayer times, corralling people into the Mosque. They tend to stay well away from Westerners though...


Downtown Riyadh


A mall, where Saudi's like to spend alot of time. Single Men had only just been allowed into this mall..



The National Dish of Khabsa - which is an enormous platter of buttered rice, raisins, half roasted chicken, hot sauce - portion for one.




.

I suppose I will never forget my strange old time in the Kingdom.

.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 10, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 16119 times:

Hi Ytraveller

Thanks for being the first commenteer!

Quoting Ytraveller (Reply 8):
I very much enjoyed your trip report. Thankfully those kids survived the crash almost unscathed; it really astonishes me that someone would give their keys to such little kids. Pretty weird.

Good, I am glad. Yeah, a few things happen there.

Quoting Ytraveller (Reply 8):
have always wanted to visit the Middle East, although family is a bit skeptical. I'm sure the UAE and Qatar are safe and great countries to visit, and I'm fascinated by the way of life over there. And Qatar Airways looks like a perfect way to start/end the trip, being a 5-star airline.

It is fair to say the Middle East is one of the safest places in the world (as strange as that might sound). Crime is almost zero - I always felt incredibly safe in Saudi Arabia. I used to hitch about the place too without every worrying, and leave my room door open and pop out to the shops.

The biggest danger in all these countries are the bloody roads. Alot of inexperienced drivers in enormous cars are a recipe for disaster.

But yeah, if you don't mind the heat, the Middle East is a great place. Maybe wait till the trouble in Syria are over, and then head to that region.

Quoting Ytraveller (Reply 8):
Anyways, is there a considerable difference between Emirates and Qatar Airways, if you've flown on both? Qatar Airways is supposed to be higher-ranked on Skytrax, but I've only flown on Emirates.

No, I suppose not. They both offer much of muchness... QR used to seriously bowl me over with their service and quality, but I really think I see things slipping. In the future, I would go for EK (so long as the price was the same). I have found that QR tend to be a little cheaper than EK alot of the time.


Cheers Y Traveller.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3311 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 16002 times:

Another super report Luke! And congrats on your escape!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Having heard that the voices were potentially female, I decided not to run to the smoking wreck, as this might have landed me in hot water being non-Muslim. I was silently furious as this went against every humane instinct I had. Thankfully the local Pakistanis were already fishing the occupants from the wreckage; and its contents astounded me..... 8 children aged between 8 and 11 years old.

Oh dear, just, oh dear.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 2):
'to revive' - QR's language is almost as unnecessarily flowery as my trip report writing.

Ha, at least it wasn't me saying it!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 3):
Find the transfer very poor. This airport has gotten so horribly overcrowded and inadequate; each new route almost becomes heightens the melee. G4S is handling the security herding and screening at DOH. A pretty contract, but I find they are woefully inadequate;

G4S and DOH....a match made in hell itself

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
I am the last to board the bus

...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
45 minutes late to get going.

COuld it be all those latecomers for the tardy departure?! Still. good that you made it. Could have been an awkwardly long joueny home if you hadn't.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I%u2019d be swimming here (Lake Van) in a matter of months!

Ooh jealous! Really fancy a trip out to Van to see the swimming cats.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 6):
I might have focused more on this part of the report had it not been for the incredibly beautiful blonde that was seated beside me on this flight. She was my favorite sort of woman: empowered, blonde, beautiful, and an executive for Barclays. Yes! After such a stretch of strangled women in Saudi, this was something of therapy. What could be more contradictory than her offering to buy me a drink, and giving me a packet of pringles? Cheers doll.

Nice of her! Indeed, it's interesting seeing how people are treated around the world, and how similar people in different cultures have so widly varying options in life.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 6):
Cheery cleaners, and two thumbs up from the flight deck!

Super pic! I'm sure you could sell that BE!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 7):
Perhaps the title suggests the overall impression of this report: which was that Qatar Airways Qatar Airways performed, but performed somewhere below my expectations. My opinion is that, if you are going to be arrogant enough to consistently push the accolade of 5*’s, then you absolutely need to back it up in your product. Qatar doesn't always manage that.

Well, they're not quite the best, but far from the worst (in my experience). As you may know, EK won Airline of the Year award in Paris....



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 12, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 15863 times:

Oh no! The Skytrax inspectors are here!

On a completely unrelated topic Hello Gabriel, thanks for dropping in

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 11):

Another super report Luke! And congrats on your escape!

Thanks, though I have to admit I am disappointed that you didn't reap some glory upon me for using a glass of whisky as the cover photo, and missing the illicit home-brewed cider in the report... I will try harder next time.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 11):
Ha, at least it wasn't me saying it!

No, no, I am quite aware of it. If we had managed our Landan rendezvous, you would have found I actually speak the same way I write.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 11):
G4S and DOH....a match made in hell itself

Yes it appears. Both serial bastards...

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 11):
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
I am the last to board the bus

...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
45 minutes late to get going.

haha... what are you insinuating!? No, it was a late incoming aircraft IIRC



Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 11):
COuld it be all those latecomers for the tardy departure?! Still. good that you made it. Could have been an awkwardly long joueny home if you hadn't.

It could, and a puzzled father at the airport. But, would they rebook you free of charge if you missed your flight? I mean, they can't fine you can they? You could just refuse to leave and you are not legally allowed to stay in DOH airport for longer than 24 hours. They would have no choice. They'de probably fly me back to Saudi..... couldn't risk that.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 11):
Ooh jealous! Really fancy a trip out to Van to see the swimming cats.

Yes, I made sure to avoid that circus. I think it is on Youtube.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 11):
Nice of her! Indeed, it's interesting seeing how people are treated around the world, and how similar people in different cultures have so widly varying options in life.

Very different! It was a shock...

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 11):
Super pic! I'm sure you could sell that BE!

Haha... motivated work-force eh!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 11):
Well, they're not quite the best, but far from the worst (in my experience). As you may know, EK won Airline of the Year award in Paris....

I don't have my finger on that pulse Gabriel, but it is interesting. Yes, I know they are far from the worse. They have simply fallen from grace in my eyes... I suppose I am somewhat bias.


Luke!


.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1294 posts, RR: 4
Reply 13, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 15788 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hey Luke,

I saw your revive one of your old posts with a reply to it, and I almost thought this was an old thread too....Luckily I took a closer look at the date!!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):

*I wrote this report 11 months ago, but didn’t get time to publish it before I went off to Asia, so this is a bit overdue*

Way long overdue!!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I found EK absolutely top-notch for service, catering and overall product.

EK top notch for service, and QR the falling star....How the tables have turned...I still think EK has only a few shining gems...the rest are lacklustre....But then I have yet to fly QR while I've flown EK numerous times.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
It is something extraordinary, and unparalleled, to feel like a prisoner. It is also something that you might believe in the 21st century, ought not to be happening to those undeserved of it. Sadly, I was afflicted.

Sad!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I had been lured into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on a visa that would only allow me to leave with the permission of my employer. Who, in turn, demanded that I would serve 2 months’ notice and pay a month’s salary to leave their gainful employment.

Makes one wonder if those expats working there even sleep at night.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):

Which was a relief as I had begun to come apart at the edges, as shown below.

That is not the Luke we A.netters know...You really do seem so disheveled!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Thankfully the local Pakistanis were already fishing the occupants from the wreckage; and its contents astounded me

Pakistanis to the rescue...You see that all the time back home, no matter what the situation or how unsafe the situation, if someone needs rescuing, no holding back....a life saved is a life saved!! However, it is the simpler folk who are the first to reach out...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
.... 8 children aged between 8 and 11 years old.

Are you kidding me!! I am so glad that accident did not turn out far worse than that. I guess cars and petrol in Saudi Arabia is like kittens and pups to play with for children...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Yes… the driver was an 11 year old. Minutes later, fat-bearded fathers ran breathlessly down the road from the local wedding banquet hall… they had given their kids the keys , not uncommon, to see children driving cars here. All had blood stained thobes, yet were largely unharmed. My worry was not for the occupants of these tank-like American import cars which could drive over a land-mine unscathed, but for the innocent pedestrians (like me) who walk the street regularly conscious that motorists here don’t give a damn.

I think even far worse chaotic cities have some sense of pedestrians around them.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Another person has caught my attention.

Very sad again about the outcome of this poor individual. To be in that state, alone and abandoned in a foreign country and to have your fate decided by higher authorities is atrocious!!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I am humbled and touched when he gives me two presents, a wallet and some prayer-beads, and insists on giving me the very watch off his arm ‘for sentimental value’ (which was a phrase I taught his class with great difficulty the week before). Extraordinary.

Loyatly, friendship again is part of the culture of that part of the world.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 2):
The usual QR welcome of sookie-sweet and towel

I don't think I have ever seen any other airline offer sweets.... I presume not to induce vomitting later inflight. Or helps keep the ears open

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
What further annoys me is that 5 or so Abaya clad females are herded into the bus, and all men must sacrifice their seats and add to the crush.

That really made me laugh....Everyone being hurled to a corner.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Departure banks
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
z
zz
zzz

Oh Qatar when will you come to YYZ!!...I know YUL is only a hop away, should I really reach a state of frenzy to eventually fly with them.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Still a fan of boarding by stairs.

Did you not get harassed by the Airport personnel on the ground? Not so easy in Abu Dhabi.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Friendly welcome and checking of boarding stub.

Those Qatar logos on the shoulders on the shirt looks really tacky

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
Some of staff shows a complete lack of professionalism, giggling and laughing during this process, fumbling through the moves and generally demonstrating that they are incredibly poor trained.

This is Qatar Airways....so hard to believe!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Finally, a development has popped up on these strangely shaped islands.

What is this fascination of these islands. Is it the joy from being surrounded by water, whereas one would normally be surrounded by just sand? lol

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
What is left.

Thanks to by EY Japanese FA travelling as a passenger, I got to learn how to neatly pack everything back on the tray just the way it was presented to me lol

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I found myself hitch-hiking through this incredible part of the world.

So looking forward to these reports....but I though you were in Papua New Guinea or is that another set of treks.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
I watch my standard edition of Pixars latest showing. The genre of film that absolutely suits me on planes is Pixar; the right mix light-heartedness and sophistication, I can’t keep up with complicated plots on flights.

I think you just gave me the solution to my inflight movie choices...ha,ha..nothing like good old Pixar movies to keep one amused!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Demographic was largely from the Indian/ Pakistani communities around Mid-England.

Don't we just fill up all these Middle Eastern carriers LOL

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
A few heavy clouds about

Absolutely stunning pic!!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 5):
My aircraft resting for a short while.

You usually see a PIA tail in between there.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 5):
Scrumpy! What I imagine cats piss to taste like…

Hilarious.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
My Dad was there, and it was a real joy to see the old goat once more. I believe my parents had been genuinely worried that I would not make it out of Saudi for my brother’s wedding.

Boy, you must have really been glad to see your folks.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 9):
Economy, or Al Qafila Class... Single ticket is about £10, which is pretty good I would say

Those remind me of one of those Saudi airlines with the FAs that wear hats...Nas Air, can't recall

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 9):
The National Dish of Khabsa - which is an enormous platter of buttered rice, raisins, half roasted chicken, hot sauce - portion for one.

Hmm had lovely Fish Khabsa on my Etihad flight...yummy, and a very unforgettable dish....and boy did I have it style too.

I know you must have been heavily restricted to not being able to take photos freely in Saudi Arabia, but I was missing the Luke touch to your photos, something that leaves me totally mesmerised with your photos from other places around the world, namely from Africa and India. I can still remember a few of them in my head...

So looking forward to your treks from where you left off last time....don't delay in posting them here!!


User currently offlineRogerbcn From Andorra, joined Sep 2006, 1209 posts, RR: 20
Reply 14, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 15049 times:

Hola Luke!

Impressed once again by all the adventures you went through before flying away from Saudi Arabia.

Great pictures of your rail trip to Dammam, most enjoyable being able to use the railroad in there.

QR seems to have lost a star somewhere over the desert or the sea in your trips. DOH is no longer a valid option when travelling in Y, they have grown too fast to accomodate the amount of passengers they deal with everyday, some days of the week they even have two flights to BCN.

Loved you could go through those places shown on inflight maps, let alone swimming in the lake pictured. Imagine we could visit all the places seen from above, you are very barve man!

At least QR fueled you up with some whiskey  

Salut!

Roger



"At reise er at leve" H.C. Andersen (Travelling is Living)
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6824 posts, RR: 77
Reply 15, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 14938 times:

Hi Luke,

fantastic report which kept me entertained for a long time! Your stories are among the highlights here! What a great insight you gave into Saudi Arabia, I'm totally impressed. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Yes, I still can’t help think back to EK’s delightful meal they provided on a sector only 20 minutes longer than this.

EK's catering is superior to QR's, no doubt about that.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Find the transfer very poor. This airport has gotten so horribly overcrowded and inadequate; each new route almost becomes heightens the melee.

I don't consider QR any more until the new airport is open.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Some of staff shows a complete lack of professionalism, giggling and laughing during this process, fumbling through the moves and generally demonstrating that they are incredibly poor trained.

Totally unprofessional!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Sadly the meal today will be breakfast: by far the most disappointing meal of the day. And Qatar compounds this grey scene by sticking religiously to one of two options: Yes, you can have a lame attempt at a fry-up with an upsetting chicken sausage, or you can have pancakes/ crepes with some lactose-heavy sauce, and tangy berry compote. I don’t need a menu for this; it is the same each time. Oh, with noodles if flights are heading East.

It doesn't look bad, though. However, EK is not only ahead in terms of quality, but also quantity. It serves two full meals on these sectors.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Trip report wise, where am I headed? My next report will be from a big trip I did between Papua New Guinea and Scotland in 2012/2013. I shouldn’t delay with that and hope to have it up in the next week (or so).

Sounds very good!


All the best!


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlinereifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1364 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 14573 times:

Thanks so much for sharing so many insights about your trip to KSA. I heard about these stories of "forced detention", but I thought this would rather be an issue for bangladeshi workers than for Westerners. Pretty indrecible.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 1):
Annoyingly, he won’t check me through to Glasgow. I feel as though if QR are utilising this profit maximising technique of chumming up with Flybe, the least they might do is make it seamless by checking luggage through. Now I have to fret about being browbeaten by BE check-in staff.

I wasn't expecting them to be able to issue boarding passes on BE, but since it was sold as one ticket bags shouldn't have been an issue... strange...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 2):

Find the transfer very poor. This airport has gotten so horribly overcrowded and inadequate; each new route almost becomes heightens the melee. G4S is handling the security herding and screening at DOH. A pretty contract, but I find they are woefully inadequate;

I only transited once through DOH, it was from DXB to CMB. We had no security screening. I believe similar to Schengen, Doha considers some arrivals "safe" as DXB security standards are high enough (probably less in KSA; at least that was my impression when transiting with SV through JED...). The airpor tis indeed way too small, I was lucky enough to head strange to the lounge, which was by the well pretty full too...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 2):

By the grace of… the extraordinary din of the terminal… something provokes me awake. I lambast myself for this careless falling asleep, and consider how much this must actually happen. Luckily boarding is a little later than usual too (as I have woken 10 minute before departure time).

Lucky you   Happened to me in Istanbul once and woke up when they were already boarding.That said, if you are sitting near the gate and they're missing a checked in connecting guest, they will often walk around the gate area screaming your name and probably wake you up...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 2):
The full tray!

Looks not too bad for a breakfast!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
FA’s kind in bringing me another tray

That's nice  
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 3):

She encouraged me to slink off to the side for this, and seeing my consternation about what things to dispose of, she responded ‘I am sure that is fine, I don’t want you throwing away your cooking things’. More credit: She was chatty about where I had been, and said she thought they (Saudi’s) were a misunderstood bunch, as they had come to her counter and been as polite and friendly as anything. Good on this check-in agent. Window seat in the bag.

Really nice agent. BE has a pretty bad reputation, but this staff member is for sure a nice ambassador for them,.


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 17, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 14407 times:

Hi, thanks for the latest replies, always nice to see!



You Flysimboy

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
I saw your revive one of your old posts with a reply to it, and I almost thought this was an old thread too....Luckily I took a closer look at the date!!

Yes, I am going through a process of replying to everything in my life. So, a good thing you checked the date! And always nice to have one of your thorough replies. I put the reports into smaller parts to help you as I know you like 'quoting! '.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
Way long overdue!!

Well, that is how I roll!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
EK top notch for service, and QR the falling star....How the tables have turned...I still think EK has only a few shining gems...the rest are lacklustre....But then I have yet to fly QR while I've flown EK numerous tim

Yes, they have. Once they were exceptional, but they don't measure up as far as I am concerned.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
That is not the Luke we A.netters know...You really do seem so disheveled!

HAHA! No, I was quite harassed. My company was at one point refusing to allow me to go back to my Brother's wedding, even though they had said it was fine when I signed my contract.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
Pakistanis to the rescue...You see that all the time back home, no matter what the situation or how unsafe the situation, if someone needs rescuing, no holding back....a life saved is a life saved!! However, it is the simpler folk who are the first to reach out...

I know, any other country and I would have been there. But you can land yourself in very hot water in KSA for even glancing at a woman.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
I think even far worse chaotic cities have some sense of pedestrians around them.

Absolutely. I feel much safer traffic-wise in the megalopolises of Asia! They are aware of pedestrians!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
To be in that state, alone and abandoned in a foreign country and to have your fate decided by higher authorities is atrocious!!

Yeah, there are serious human rights violations going on in this part of the world. There have been alot of abuses of African workers, especially maids, in many of the Arab countries.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
Loyatly, friendship again is part of the culture of that part of the world.

Exactly... there are alot of WONDERFUL people in this area of the world too...

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
I don't think I have ever seen any other airline offer sweets.... I presume not to induce vomitting later inflight. Or helps keep the ears open

It used to be quite standard, and was normally to keep your ears good and proper.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
That really made me laugh....Everyone being hurled to a corner.

Haha, yeah, it was a bit like that. I respect the rules in KSA, but when you are in an international airport, you should be treated the same as any other passenger.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
Did you not get harassed by the Airport personnel on the ground? Not so easy in Abu Dhabi.

No, no... and anyway, they have very limited powers, so I would take even if I was given a telling!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
Those Qatar logos on the shoulders on the shirt looks really tacky

They do! They aren't captains or something. I also think their blazer looks a little cheap too...

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
This is Qatar Airways....so hard to believe!

yep! Alot of new staff, and they probably always rely on the safety video showing on the screen.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
What is this fascination of these islands. Is it the joy from being surrounded by water, whereas one would normally be surrounded by just sand? lol

I don't know! It would be my worst nightmare to live there... tasteless

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
So looking forward to these reports....but I though you were in Papua New Guinea or is that another set of treks.

I was, I was hitch-hiking from PNG to Scotland... you'll see!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
Don't we just fill up all these Middle Eastern carriers LOL

You are a mobile workforce indeed!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
You usually see a PIA tail in between there.

Yeah, not sure where that was that day!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
Boy, you must have really been glad to see your folks.

Super glad... even more than when I go off travelling for 14 months or so, since in this occasion I was actually being PREVENTED from going home, where as on any other trip, at the drop of a hat, I can be home within a day.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 13):
I know you must have been heavily restricted to not being able to take photos freely in Saudi Arabia, but I was missing the Luke touch to your photos, something that leaves me totally mesmerised with your photos from other places around the world, namely from Africa and India. I can still remember a few of them in my head...

So looking forward to your treks from where you left off last time....don't delay in posting them here!!

Hopefully I will redeem myself. Yeah, you have to walk on eggshells sometimes when taking pictures in the Kingdom. Have to say, most people never minded though...




.



Hi Roger! Thanks for the reply!

Quoting Rogerbcn (Reply 14):
Hola Luke!

Hola!

Quoting Rogerbcn (Reply 14):
Impressed once again by all the adventures you went through before flying away from Saudi Arabia.

Yeah, well I thought I ought to make the most of the opportunity instead of moping about! But independent travel in the region was always really challenging since the public transport is dismal.

Quoting Rogerbcn (Reply 14):
Great pictures of your rail trip to Dammam, most enjoyable being able to use the railroad in there.

Yeah! It was good fun, and few other passengers on board.

Quoting Rogerbcn (Reply 14):
QR seems to have lost a star somewhere over the desert or the sea in your trips. DOH is no longer a valid option when travelling in Y, they have grown too fast to accommodate the amount of passengers they deal with everyday, some days of the week they even have two flights to BCN.

Yeah, grown to fast. EK amazes me, as it seems to be coping with its growth now it has a better hub. Still an inconsistent service from EK as they many TR's show...

Quoting Rogerbcn (Reply 14):
Imagine we could visit all the places seen from above, you are very barve man!

haha... that has always been my ambition. I almost always fly over this little bit of the world, and it looks so dramatic from above. The sort of far east of Turkey...

Quoting Rogerbcn (Reply 14):
At least QR fueled you up with some whiskey  

Yes, yes, credit where due. Whisky not as good as EK's selection though...

Thanks Roger.






.



Hi Plane Hunter a.k.a U

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 15):
Hi Luke,

fantastic report which kept me entertained for a long time!

Good, that indicates you actually read the words, so a well done for that!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 15):
What a great insight you gave into Saudi Arabia, I'm totally impressed. Thanks for taking the time to put this together.

Yeah, I mean, none of the pictures are very newsworthy, but I thought that since it is a region that we get little insight into, that I should tell a few stories about the place. I am still fascinated by the place...

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 15):
EK's catering is superior to QR's, no doubt about that.

Well yeah. And for me, after price, catering (and within that, ahem, alcohol) and service are the priorities. It's only ever the service I worry about with EK.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 15):
I don't consider QR any more until the new airport is open.

No, and I think things are likely to improve from then on. What on earth would QR do if their star was temporarily removed? They'de have to totally re-brand their airline since 'the world's four-star airline' doesn't have the same ring.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 15):
Totally unprofessional!

Yeah, and I know you take this part very seriously. Poor show from them - it was basically two of them copying a third, with a slight delay and alot of fumbling.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 15):
It doesn't look bad, though.

No, no. Not the worst I have had. Just dull

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 15):
EK is not only ahead in terms of quality, but also quantity. It serves two full meals on these sectors.

Yes, and I seem to think a little more variety for the breakfast meal? But, recall EK skipped out on the second meal when I did my DUB-DXB. But your last account had them serve two meals. Not sure what the deal was there.



.




Hello Reifel

Quoting reifel (Reply 16):
Thanks so much for sharing so many insights about your trip to KSA.

My pleasure, thanks for a nice reply!

Quoting reifel (Reply 16):
I heard about these stories of "forced detention", but I thought this would rather be an issue for bangladeshi workers than for Westerners. Pretty indrecible.

Yes, that is the incredible thing. But, the truth is they see any foreign worker as subservient to their needs alot of the time. It would likely be COMPLETELY different if you worked for a good company/ oil company etc. But my lot were a bad bunch. I should have read the warning signs (http://www.expatexchange.com/expat/index.cfm?frmid=289&tpcid=3348294) but I was completely misled by my recruiter. Saudi's also give a very hard time to fellow Arabs, who are paid a fraction of Westerner's pay and given alot of demanding work.

Quoting reifel (Reply 16):
I wasn't expecting them to be able to issue boarding passes on BE, but since it was sold as one ticket bags shouldn't have been an issue... strange...

That is what my thinking was.

Quoting reifel (Reply 16):
I only transited once through DOH, it was from DXB to CMB. We had no security screening. I believe similar to Schengen, Doha considers some arrivals "safe" as DXB security standards are high enough (probably less in KSA; at least that was my impression when transiting with SV through JED...). The airpor tis indeed way too small, I was lucky enough to head strange to the lounge, which was by the well pretty full too...

Yeah, pretty miserable. At the right time of day it could probably be bearable.

Quoting reifel (Reply 16):
That said, if you are sitting near the gate and they're missing a checked in connecting guest, they will often walk around the gate area screaming your name and probably wake you up...

Most likely, I am an very deep sleeper though.

Quoting reifel (Reply 16):
Really nice agent. BE has a pretty bad reputation, but this staff member is for sure a nice ambassador for them,.

Yeah, they all seemed quite upbeat when I flew them.

Cheers!



.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 18, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 14290 times:

Hi

Great report, thanks for sharing it with us.
QR seems to deliver the same high standard as usual.
Nice railroad pics as well.

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 19, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 14050 times:

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 18):

Hi

Great report, thanks for sharing it with us.
QR seems to deliver the same high standard as usual.
Nice railroad pics as well.

Greetings
Marc

Yo Marc, always nice to hear from you sir! Thanks very much for the encouraging words...

Yes, the trains were good in Saudi, the best type of public transport I used!



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineglobalflyer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 934 posts, RR: 3
Reply 20, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 13955 times:

Hi Luke... as I said before you are the most adventurous person I know! Great TR! I was only in KSA for two days and that was enough for me!   I do agree that I prefer EK over QRas well. The crews just seem more polished and the food and service are so good! I cannot wait for the NDIA to open for QR. That will really help! Glad you made it back safely! Take care! Cheers, Will


Landing on every Continent almost on an annual basis!
User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2444 posts, RR: 4
Reply 21, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 13701 times:

Nice TR! Well done, as always...

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Doha Arrivals.
Find the transfer very poor. This airport has gotten so horribly overcrowded and inadequate; each new route almost becomes heightens the melee. G4S is handling the security herding and screening at DOH. A pretty contract, but I find they are woefully inadequate;

I would like to share a story... I just arrived in Doha in June 2013 on LCC-LowCostCarrier RAK AIRWAYS, connecting to UNITED AIRLINES (2 separate tickets!!!). On top, RAK AIRWAYS flight was late and baggage was labeled only to Doha...

The Qatar Airways Ground Crew took everything away from me... All my documents, passport, itineraries etc!. Within 20 minutes an agent not even managed to check me in at the UNITED counters (landside, while I was still sitting in the departure lounge with a nervous breakdown) -but also took my bag out of the RAK flight (ATTN, this was a connecting flight from Kathmandu with several hundred bags!) and re-labeled it to my final destination and all with a smile. Needless to say, that I was shown the right way and gate for my UNITED Y-class flight! Remember I have arrived in DOH on a LCC carrier! Doha is by far, believe me, in terms of customer service THE BEST TRANSFER ARPORT in the world!   


User currently offlineTUGMASTER From Northern Mariana Islands, joined Jul 2004, 702 posts, RR: 9
Reply 22, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 13568 times:

Hey Luke,

Great to be reading another well thought, well written TR.
Enjoyed it immensely.

However, as happy you are of escape from the Kingdom, I sense a sort of sadness and perhaps dare I say failure , ..?
I have been fortunate enough to stumble upon your ramblings and musings over the past 3 years, and cannot say enough great & wonderful recommendations to all and sundry, to look them up and check 'em out.

But this time... this was different....The joy of Western Scotland quickly subdued by the loss your wanting of KSA for something that it wasn't...?

Anyway... enough of that....

Glad to have you back Mr .

As the Great Man once said....."Stay Alive".

Tugmaster


User currently offlineEL-AL From Israel, joined Oct 2001, 1313 posts, RR: 13
Reply 23, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 13518 times:

Hey Luke,

This was simply brilliant. From the second I opend this report I couldn't take my eyes off till the very last word.

Thank you so much for this rare and interesting view to the inside of Saudi Arabia, can't find something like this everyday. To be honest, I was more interested in the non-av parts of this report.

I am glad you do not regret about the time you spent in KSA after all.

Thx again, it was breathtaking. Jonathan



"In Israel, on order to be a realist, one's must believe in miracles" - David Ben Gurion.
User currently offlinezizou From Australia, joined Oct 2000, 1535 posts, RR: 4
Reply 24, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 13126 times:

Great report. Has opened my eyes to the kingdom of Saudi. Wouldn't mind staying there.

User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 25, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 12917 times:

.

Replies. yee haa...


Hi Will

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 20):
Hi Luke... as I said before you are the most adventurous person I know! Great TR! I was only in KSA for two days and that was enough for me!  

Haha, well, the next trip report will be even more of an adventure!

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 20):
I do agree that I prefer EK over QR

I do at the moment, but it may change. I am a deprived child, not having flown SQ or the Korean airlines at all...

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 20):
Take care! Cheers, Will

Thanks matey!




.



Hello Debonair

Quoting debonair (Reply 21):
Nice TR! Well done, as always...

Cheers!

Quoting debonair (Reply 21):
I would like to share a story... I just arrived in Doha in June 2013 on LCC-LowCostCarrier RAK AIRWAYS, connecting to UNITED AIRLINES (2 separate tickets!!!). On top, RAK AIRWAYS flight was late and baggage was labeled only to Doha...

The Qatar Airways Ground Crew took everything away from me... All my documents, passport, itineraries etc!. Within 20 minutes an agent not even managed to check me in at the UNITED counters (landside, while I was still sitting in the departure lounge with a nervous breakdown) -but also took my bag out of the RAK flight (ATTN, this was a connecting flight from Kathmandu with several hundred bags!) and re-labeled it to my final destination and all with a smile. Needless to say, that I was shown the right way and gate for my UNITED Y-class flight! Remember I have arrived in DOH on a LCC carrier! Doha is by far, believe me, in terms of customer service THE BEST TRANSFER ARPORT in the world!   

That is interesting. Seems you recieved a really good service all in all. Pray tell, what were you doing coming from Kathmandu with lots of bags? Work? Expedition?

I have heard a few people grumble about transfering at DOH. It needs to be very smooth... I think depending on what time of day you pass through makes a big difference to!

Cheers!


.


Hello TugMaster

Quoting TUGMASTER (Reply 22):
Great to be reading another well thought, well written TR.
Enjoyed it immensely.

Wonderful!

Quoting TUGMASTER (Reply 22):
However, as happy you are of escape from the Kingdom, I sense a sort of sadness and perhaps dare I say failure , ..?

Perhaps. You would be able to pick up on this better than I would, looking from the outside.

Quoting TUGMASTER (Reply 22):
recommendations to all and sundry, to look them up and check 'em out.

One and all are welcome to read!

Quoting TUGMASTER (Reply 22):
.The joy of Western Scotland quickly subdued by the loss your wanting of KSA for something that it wasn't...?

Perhaps. My expectations were scuttled by bad employers.

Quoting TUGMASTER (Reply 22):
."Stay Alive".

I do try! Thanks again for the comment!




Hello El-Al

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 23):
Hey Luke,

Greetings Jonathan, thanks for the reply.

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 23):
This was simply brilliant. From the second I opend this report I couldn't take my eyes off till the very last word.

Gosh, didn't think my writing was that arresting!

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 23):
Thank you so much for this rare and interesting view to the inside of Saudi Arabia, can't find something like this everyday. To be honest, I was more interested in the non-av parts of this report.

aaah ha ha... yeah people know that I like to focus as much on the non-av parts of the report. Mix it up a little!

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 23):
I am glad you do not regret about the time you spent in KSA after all.

Thx again, it was breathtaking. Jonathan

You are very welcome. No, I don't regret, and it has made me appreciate the freedom of living and working in the West alot more than I ever did!



.


Hi Zizou

Quoting zizou (Reply 24):
reat report. Has opened my eyes to the kingdom of Saudi. Wouldn't mind staying there.

Thanks for dropping in. No, it isn't bad if you can do without some of the essentials. I think you need focus and strength to be unaffected by everything there.

The weather is very nice though!


.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineLuftyMatt From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2009, 428 posts, RR: 0
Reply 26, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 12800 times:

That was a fantasticly written trip report! I can tell that your an English teacher   It would probably make for a good novel/travel guide, with a bit of padding  
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Got a picture of my aircraft and realised that there was little activity at this time of day/ year.

You've obviously turned a blind eye to the numerous Monarch and Thomson line up at T2! Not to mention the unidentified white aircraft parked with them.



Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 6):
FlyBE (whose stock-price is rapidly falling) did a really convincing job on my short hop. The Check-in agents were chatty and FA’s knew what they were doing, were business friendly and efficient and helpful throughout. I rate them more highly than QR for not claiming to be something that they aren't.

I completely agree with you here, I've flown FlyBe quite a lot this year and have always found their service to be excellent and far superior to other Low cost and even other scheduled airlines!

Once again a fantastic trip report, I felt like I was there myself. I look forward to reading further trip reports from you.



chase the sun
User currently offlinemusapapaya From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2004, 1093 posts, RR: 0
Reply 27, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 12684 times:

Thank you for your report, very nicely written!

My personal feeling on QR is they lack consistency, i have only done 6 sectors with them, between MAN and DPS via DOH and SIN. Some of the crew were nice while some of them were a bit tired. The experience in DOH, I agree with you, was chaotic to say the least.

On one of the sectors there was a debate between me and one of the crew members because they have not even heated that famous chicken wrap properly. They said its hot outside but I said to them the chicken was even frozen! Having a 'Compliance' background I asked them what their SOP was about heating the wrap etc and the crew was not even apologetic to me.

If I have the choice, like between MAN and HKG (my home town), I tend to avoid QR as far as possible.

musapapaya



Lufthansa Group of Airlines
User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2444 posts, RR: 4
Reply 28, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 12533 times:

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 25):
Pray tell, what were you doing coming from Kathmandu with lots of bags? Work? Expedition?

Hi, I used only the short hop from Ras-al-Kaimah to DOH- interestingly this was a continuation of the KTM flight...
BTW. originally my flight was to arrive at Hamad Int. Airport Doha - but the opening was postponed.


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 29, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 12533 times:

.

Hi Matt

Quoting LuftyMatt (Reply 26):
That was a fantasticly written trip report! I can tell that your an English teacher   It would probably make for a good novel/travel guide, with a bit of padding  

Haha... I have quit from that profession I am afraid, but still like to write whenever I can!

Quoting LuftyMatt (Reply 26):
You've obviously turned a blind eye to the numerous Monarch and Thomson line up at T2!

Yes. well... ahem... there is that. I am afraid I don't tend to concentrate on charters! But, I am sure you have great days down in MAN!

Quoting LuftyMatt (Reply 26):
Not to mention the unidentified white aircraft parked with them.

Yes, didn't notice that. A white elephant. Not sure what that was...

Quoting LuftyMatt (Reply 26):
I completely agree with you here, I've flown FlyBe quite a lot this year and have always found their service to be excellent and far superior to other Low cost and even other scheduled airlines!

Yeah, I rated them highly. I really hope they can begin to prosper once more as they seem to be loosing alot of money at the moment. Maybe as the economy picks up...

Quoting LuftyMatt (Reply 26):
Once again a fantastic trip report, I felt like I was there myself. I look forward to reading further trip reports from you.

Cheers buddy, more reports soon I promise.





.

Hello Musa!

Quoting musapapaya (Reply 27):

Thank you for your report, very nicely written!

You are very welcome, thanks for giving it a read!

Quoting musapapaya (Reply 27):
My personal feeling on QR is they lack consistency

Yeah, they do... alot of airlines do lack this. Very hard to get an accurate picture of what you can expect...

Quoting musapapaya (Reply 27):
On one of the sectors there was a debate between me and one of the crew members because they have not even heated that famous chicken wrap properly. They said its hot outside but I said to them the chicken was even frozen! Having a 'Compliance' background I asked them what their SOP was about heating the wrap etc and the crew was not even apologetic to me.

Goodness! That is no good at all... they can be quite arsey when they want to be. I have a suspicion that crew are generally 'rushed' through training alot of the time to keep up with expansion. I know nothing really though...


.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineAI121 From Canada, joined Jan 2011, 55 posts, RR: 0
Reply 30, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 12528 times:

Hi Luke,

I am glad things worked out for you with your employer at the end. Places like middle eastern countries are hit or miss. Either people enjoy their experience being there or hate it and just want to get out of there. Sadly, there are lot of Indian/Paki slave laborers stuck in those countries because they dont even have their passports with them anymore, neither can they afford air fare. There's a documentary about that topic on Vice, titled 'Slaves of Dubai'.

Keep us updated with your future adventures. Always love to read your reports.

- Dhruv.



dhRuv
User currently offlineTheAviator380 From UK - England, joined Feb 2013, 408 posts, RR: 0
Reply 31, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 12525 times:

Lovely TR mate.

Your TR's are one of the rare TR's around which tells us so many nice details about trip, flights and most importantly culture, places you been to...Bravo bravo.

Let's discuss about your flight atm.

QR looks very avg, to me. Not much difference in service which Akhmad had on his TR few months ago. 5* rating to them ? god knows how and why.

I also hate when crew are talking among themselves and giggling laughing when people are boarding. That Batman place looks interesting near lake Van   hehe..

Horrible scenes when kids aged 11 driving cars around !! silly that.

MAN airport is bog standard airport nothing fancy or exciting about it to be honest.

Hope to see you more TR's from you in future. Cheers.


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 32, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 12526 times:

.


Hello AI121

Quoting AI121 (Reply 30):

Hi Luke,

Greetings Dhruv!

Quoting AI121 (Reply 30):
I am glad things worked out for you with your employer at the end. Places like middle eastern countries are hit or miss.

They are... I would go back to work, but do much more research into the terms and conditions of my employers!

Quoting AI121 (Reply 30):
here are lot of Indian/Paki slave laborers stuck in those countries

Indeed... it can be a sorry sight to see. It is mostly ignored by everyone though...

Quoting AI121 (Reply 30):
There's a documentary about that topic on Vice, titled 'Slaves of Dubai'.

Interesting site, will try and look that up a bit.

Quoting AI121 (Reply 30):
Keep us updated with your future adventures. Always love to read your reports.

- Dhruv.

Will do where possible! Thanks for the kind comment. . .





.



Hello Aviator380

Quoting TheAviator380 (Reply 31):
Lovely TR mate.

No bother, thanks for the reply!

Quoting TheAviator380 (Reply 31):
Your TR's are one of the rare TR's around which tells us so many nice details about trip, flights and most importantly culture, places you been to...Bravo bravo.

That is good to hear... yeah, most of my 'regular readers' know that it is what I enjoy writing about.

Quoting TheAviator380 (Reply 31):
QR looks very avg, to me. Not much difference in service which Akhmad had on his TR few months ago. 5* rating to them ? god knows how and why.

No, I know. I just think they are overhyped. 5* should be about mastering the whole package, from check-in until your final destination...

Quoting TheAviator380 (Reply 31):
MAN airport is bog standard airport nothing fancy or exciting about it to be honest.

Phew, glad I am not the only one with these thoughts. Suppose I have always been spoilt always flying in and out of LHR.... .




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Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1663 posts, RR: 53
Reply 33, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 12532 times:

Dear Luke,

amazing report! I was so consumed with all the adventures and the vivid stories you told. What an experience!

Amazing pictures and detail of your trips around Saudi, and especially of the rail ride! Things we do not even know existed!

Sadly however, such working conditions you experienced and described -while not uncommon- are very saddening.

As for QR, i think i totally agree with your view on them. They are a consistent carrier that offers a highly reputable soft product. But digging deeper into their ground service -expecting this is improving with the new airport- and the catering for instance, i think there still is ample room for improvement.

Many thanks for sharing this with us! Looking forward to more always!

Cheers,
Roni



A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1294 posts, RR: 4
Reply 34, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 12524 times:
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Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 17):
And always nice to have one of your thorough replies. I put the reports into smaller parts to help you as I know you like 'quoting! '.

Always a pleasure to reply....however I hope it is not an inconvenience for you to take the time to reply back to all of them lol.....I hope I am not getting a reputation here of being a "quoter"  ....Quoting from your reports is like riding an elevator in a New York skycraper in the 60's...up and down, up and down but it makes every moment of the ride pleasurable...thanks again for the report...


User currently offlinejwhite9185 From United Kingdom, joined May 2007, 1339 posts, RR: 12
Reply 35, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 12527 times:

Hi there Luke,

I recall you being pretty desperate to leave Saudi Arabia at the time, so interesting to learn the story in a bit more detail. I guess it can be looked back on as "an experience" now though.

QR dont look too bad, although having looked at your pics and read your description, I'm in agreement that EK seem just that bit better.

That chicken sausage that was served for breakfast does look pretty anaemic.

Nice scenes from MAN too - one of my favourite airports in the UK, but god knows why!

Looking forward to your next report!



A300,A319,A320,A321,A333,A343,A346,A388,732,733,734,735,738,741,742,744,752,763,772,77W,788,Q400,DC10,E145,E170,E175,E19
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 36, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 12523 times:

.


Hi Roni, thanks for dropping in

Quoting ronerone (Reply 33):
Dear Luke,

amazing report! I was so consumed with all the adventures and the vivid stories you told. What an experience!

Haha, well, you are very kind. Always nice to have you pay a visit and raise the tone of my reports! Yeah, it was an experience that gets better the longer I am away from that place.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 33):
Amazing pictures and detail of your trips around Saudi, and especially of the rail ride! Things we do not even know existed!

Sadly however, such working conditions you experienced and described -while not uncommon- are very saddening.

Yeah, strange old place. I foresee big changes in the next couple of decades. They can't hold onto this old, strange way of life.... not in the information age, where the young of the country are all desperate to get out and explore the world.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 33):
As for QR, i think i totally agree with your view on them. They are a consistent carrier that offers a highly reputable soft product. But digging deeper into their ground service -expecting this is improving with the new airport- and the catering for instance, i think there still is ample room for improvement.

Yeah, I just see them slipping. I would never shy away from flying them, but weighing up them and EK (outbound flight), EK definitely pipped them. Which even I was surprised was...

Thanks once again Roni. Look forward to some of your reports coming through the pipeline in the future!


.........

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 34):
Always a pleasure to reply....however I hope it is not an inconvenience for you to take the time to reply back to all of them lol.....I hope I am not getting a reputation here of being a "quoter"  ....Quoting from your reports is like riding an elevator in a New York skycraper in the 60's...up and down, up and down but it makes every moment of the ride pleasurable...thanks again for the report..

As if... it is always a highlight to get a reply off you! It also lets me understand that you have a specific eye for the detail!




.............................




Evening Mr White

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 35):
Hi there Luke,

Hi!

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 35):
I recall you being pretty desperate to leave Saudi Arabia at the time, so interesting to learn the story in a bit more detail. I guess it can be looked back on as "an experience" now though.

Yeah, now it can. My life was so incredibly different out... the society eroded alot of my identity over time, which I guess was pretty serious!

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 35):
QR dont look too bad, although having looked at your pics and read your description, I'm in agreement that EK seem just that bit better.

No, no... true though when you compare the two experiences. Will try not to fly QR till NDIA opens up. Sure they will pull up their trousers, or gown or whatever Al Baker wears, when that time comes!

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 35):
That chicken sausage that was served for breakfast does look pretty anaemic.

Yes, I have a big thing against pale sausages, probably haunted from primary school meals.

Quoting jwhite9185 (Reply 35):
Nice scenes from MAN too - one of my favourite airports in the UK, but god knows why!

Nice! It wasn't by any means the worst and staff were all really friendly, which for me is the most important thing experience wise in an airport!


.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8561 posts, RR: 54
Reply 37, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 10954 times:
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Hi Luke,

Nice report and pictures, thanks for sharing with us.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
*I wrote this report 11 months ago, but didn’t get time to publish it before I went off to Asia, so this is a bit overdue*

- No worries, I'm in a similar boat.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
A few Harry-Spotters were watching the endless procession of incoming QR metal/ carbon

- At least the terminal has views, the Premium Terminal has rubbish views.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
What I am initially struck with is a mild but pervading pong of fish, not aromatic you understand. I like to enter a clean-smelling plane.

- Yuck!

I think your QR experience is just like and EK, EY, QR experience, is all hit and miss depending upon the crew. A few years back I had 3 awful EY flight's but 1 excellent one, all down to the down to the crew.

Re Saudi Arabia, I had no intention of ever visiting there, and see no need to ever visit, seems a vile country, you are were too brave for your own good, awful place that has no respect for non nationals - I hope they don't ever buy the A380!

Cheers

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently onlineNZ107 From New Zealand, joined Jul 2005, 6436 posts, RR: 38
Reply 38, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 10829 times:

Hi Luke,

Another great TR, thanks for sharing! Loved the photos of KSA too... Wonder if I'll ever explore the mysterious place!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 1):
My final day was a maelstrom of activity. I had to sign, countersign, politely placate, compliment, dash and rush, break tempers with banks, fret, folly... but the essential element was the handing over of my 'Final Exit Visa' which prompted a hum of joy, that might evolve into a roar of Braveheartesque 'FREEDOM' when the wheels lifted off. The smile from my face was unshiftable.

Reminds me a bit of the movie Argo... Sounds so crazy!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 2):
Ghawar oil fields. Saudi's bread and butter.

I'd love to have a frack at that  
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
What I am initially struck with is a mild but pervading pong of fish, not aromatic you understand. I like to enter a clean-smelling plane.

Disgusting!


The QR flights didn't seem overly bad but when you compare them side by side with EK, it does seem to show why EK were Skytrax airline of the year.. With as much salt as you want to pour on this result! I suppose with you and your second helpings when it comes to meals, it hasn't seemed to matter if the 'meal' (note: singular) was slightly on the small side! Time to see what the difference NDIA will have on transits. The state of DOH looks appalling. You wonder if the security people are there out of compulsion more than anything (I've always wondered why passengers coming off a plane are subject to yet another screening when they're still airside etc) - I'd be concerned if the normal security is that blase about it though.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 7):
My opinion is that, if you are going to be arrogant enough to consistently push the accolade of 5*%u2019s, then you absolutely need to back it up in your product.

Indeed.. Though who knows if they'll change their ways quickly or not! My feeling is that it'll stay like this for a while!


On the other side, Flybe looked nice. And now you've got me craving Pringles!  


Thanks for sharing, looking forward to seeing the next compilation of your adventures all written up!


Cheers,
Nicholas



It's all about the destination AND the journey.
User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5124 posts, RR: 55
Reply 39, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 10539 times:

Luke,

You know, I am a HUGE fan of your reports. And, this instalment reminded me again why I am such a huge fan. So many of us here forget that aviation exists within a society, and that society influences much of the industry. Your very accurate observations driven by a deep need to get under the skin of the surroundings have left me very impressed. I have a very close friend of mine from India who always says that one should be comfortable seamlessly to go between different worlds - flying First Class on SQ or 9W and then immediately to an youth hostel. I follow this, and it is good to see you do the same. It is great to push our own boundary.

There are very few areas of the world with such systematic human rights abuses - the GCC countries lead that. However, I think it is great that you highlighted the good people there as well. Keep in mind though after having spent some time in the Kingdom, I question everything ... for example, would they have become friends with you if you were not white and/or a person from (insert) an African country or Bangladesh? The other thing I have understood spending time in the GCC is that none of the countries are alike. Bahrain (and Bahrainis) are fare more enlightened and kind along with the Omanis. Most of the Emiratis are super nice as well. It is usually those in the Kingdom (again, not all - one of my dearest friend is a crazy Saudi exiled in Boston) and worse in Qatar that display some of the worst human traits.

Which brings me to Qatar and Qatar Airways. I am beginning to understand Mr. Baker. Some of the new crew members are completely unprofessional and need to be fired on the spot. Or, their manager of HR and recruiting should be fired. I have had some incredibly poor behaviour and have gotten close to writing to Mr. Baker personally - have refrained by giving them a good chat in the galley because a write-up would almost always lead to their firing. It seems to me that they have forgotten that they are their for the passengers. And, if you are on a flight to Sri Lanka or Pakistan (routes, especially, Pakistan where QR makes good money), then the crew display an attitude that just needs to be corrected.

Finally, what can I say about DOH? I have written 2 reports on how much it sucks - and, I was in JCL! Along with probably CDG, one of the worst transit experiences in the world.

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and comments. I really appreciate it tremendously.

Saludos,
Alex



Live, and let live.
User currently offlineflyenthu From United States of America, joined Dec 2012, 372 posts, RR: 0
Reply 40, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 10392 times:
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Hello:

Nice trip report. I visited KSA in my teens many years ago when my dad worked there for a couple of years. The pics brought back memories. Thanks for sharing!

Regarding QR, you are right about the 5 star claim. I just flew on QR (IAH-DOH-CCU and return) last month. While I really liked their product, I do not think it is 5 star- whatever that means. I posted a trip report as well. Check it out! (shameless plug   ). SQ's Y product is superior to QR's in my opinion. However, also having flown in EK, I would put QR's Y product above EK. Perhaps, more room in QR's Y (3-3-3) makes that difference compared to EK's (3-4-3). Also, I found QR's cabin crew to be much nicer than EK's.

Best,

Flyenthu


User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 41, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 10378 times:

Hey Luke. You have a very entertaining way of telling your story. This, combined with the many interesting places you get to visit (and the way you choose to visit them no less) is the perfect recipe for
a book. I've been reading a lot of travelogues recently and many of them have the same flair as your stories. I'm sure you get this question a lot but do you plan to put together a wee book about your worldly adventures?

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Yes… the driver was an 11 year old.

Holy crap. Most parents would not trust an 11 year old boy to operate a TV remote control let alone a car. So let me get this straight. It's OK for an 11 year old to operate a car in Saudi Arabia but it's not OK for a woman?

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Which was a relief as I had begun to come apart at the edges, as shown below.

It's hilarious how the camera decided to focus on the bed in the background and not on you... Just teasing.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 1):
he only way a foreign employer can leave the Kingdom (when he/ she has come on an employment visa) is by through the permission of his or her company.

What kind of a stupid rule is this? Oh, wait, I forgot what country you were in.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Whisky! It’s been way too long…

You can take the Scotsman out of Scotland but you can't take Whisky out of a Scot!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Thread starter):
Recall these tunnels from when I was a youngster and my folks would take me on holiday from here.

I loved those tunnels when I used to fly out of MAN. They felt so futuristic back in the day (especially when they were illuminated with those blue lights).

I'm having a ton of fun following your travels around the world. I apologize if I don't always drop by to leave a comment but I'm usually overwhelmed by how much is going on in each of your reports (this is by no means a request for you to tone it down!). Be assured though that I'm following your travels very closely indeed! You are one crazy cat, but I guess you know that already!

Cheers,

Stojan



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlineeastafspot From France, joined Jan 2008, 794 posts, RR: 20
Reply 42, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 10344 times:

As usual Luke, what a splendid report that goes deep into extraordinary details.

KSA intrigues me more and more and the bonus at the end is much appreciated.
A friend told me that even if the country is wealthy, the state of some main cities suggests otherwise.
Maybe you've already given your opinion previously ( sorry in that case), but what are your thoughts about the new city for women worker only ?

And last question, your employement visa does not allow you at all to go to the neighbouring countries even for 3or4 days vacations ?

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
This is now the second time I have entered a QR flight at DOH and found that it has not be cleaned properly.

Oh dear, lack of time maybe ! You confirmed it was not a one-off during my last QR flights

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
Smint mints (Which I stash for passing UK Immigration)

Lol, great strategy !

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
FA’s kind in bringing me another tray

Portions are quiet generous with QR (don't know about EK though), did not you fancy trrying the pancakes ?

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
I found myself hitch-hiking through this incredible part of the world.

WOW, can not wait for the next trips!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 6):
I might have focused more on this part of the report had it not been for the incredibly beautiful blonde that was seated beside me on this flight. She was my favorite sort of woman: empowered, blonde, beautiful, and an executive for Barclays. Yes! After such a stretch of strangled women in Saudi, this was something of therapy. What could be more contradictory than her offering to buy me a drink, and giving me a packet of pringles? Cheers doll.

So, did you get her phone number ?  .

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 6):
Cheery cleaners, and two thumbs up from the flight deck!

Awesome picture, no better way to arrive at home !


Thank you for sharing the end of your KSA adventures !

Regards

Léonard



Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
User currently offlinenethkt From Thailand, joined Apr 2001, 1088 posts, RR: 3
Reply 43, posted (1 year 2 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 10168 times:

A very enjoyable trip report. Thank you for sharing all those pictures. RUH is amazing!!

Totally agree with all aspects of your QR experience, 5 stars airlines? I think NO.
Hub airport, Catering, Hygiene, Plastic crockery etc.
I refuse to fly them again until they can manage with the new airport at least.

I can't wait to see how they will push up again with the 380 delivery next year.

Thank you once again.
NET-HKT



Let's just blame it on yields.
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 44, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 9949 times:

.
Gosh.

Seem to be falling behind with the replies!

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 37):
Hi Luke,

Nice report and pictures, thanks for sharing with us.
Greetings Mark That is no worries, thanks for the reply!

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 37):
- No worries, I'm in a similar boat.

Yeah, well, as long as they are within a range of 2 years I think it matters not.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 37):
- At least the terminal has views

Indeed... rather excellent ones. Not much variety it has to be said... sure that will slowly change over time.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 37):
I think your QR experience is just like and EK, EY, QR experience, is all hit and miss depending upon the crew. A few years back I had 3 awful EY flight's but 1 excellent one, all down to the down to the crew.

Yeah absolutely. My crew seemed fine, just think the airline lacks a 5-star finish. It's the arrogance of the 'pushing' that gets me.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 37):
you are were too brave for your own good,

haha... yeah, that might be true. Too curious perhaps...

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 37):
I hope they don't ever buy the A380!

HA! With their capacity issues, I wouldn't write it off. You can always transfer in less than an hour!








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Quoting NZ107 (Reply 38):
Hi Luke,
Evening Nicholas, always a pleasure, never a chore.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 38):
Another great TR, thanks for sharing! Loved the photos of KSA too... Wonder if I'll ever explore the mysterious place!

You might do Nicholas... they are going to start issuing tourist visas in the next few years in a bid to diversify their economy.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 38):
I'd love to have a frack at that  

Well - wouldn't we all. What is great is that all the recent shale gas boom has drastically reduced Saudi Arabia's strategic powers in the world community. The day that goes altogether is when we see a revolution,

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 38):
The QR flights didn't seem overly bad but when you compare them side by side with EK, it does seem to show why EK were Skytrax airline of the year..

Yeah. Can absolutely see that.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 38):
it hasn't seemed to matter if the 'meal' (note: singular) was slightly on the small side!

No, I always tend to ask for a second portion. haha... the meal wasn't too small. Perhaps I should have toned down my criticism!

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 38):
You wonder if the security people are there out of compulsion more than anything (I've always wondered why passengers coming off a plane are subject to yet another screening when they're still airside etc) - I'd be concerned if the normal security is that blase about it though.

Yeah, I think it is largely pointless. Never seen anything major foiled by these secondary checks. I have been through from landside before in Qatar and it was similarly lacklustre. Went through with alot of liquids and a far-away looking attendant.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 38):
Indeed.. Though who knows if they'll change their ways quickly or not! My feeling is that it'll stay like this for a while!

I suspect...

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 38):
Thanks for sharing, looking forward to seeing the next compilation of your adventures all written up!

Of course sir. Starting writing tonight... you know how long that sort of thing takes!



...................................................................................




.
Evening Alex

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
You know, I am a HUGE fan of your reports.

Well, I do now. That is very kind of you and appreciated.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
So many of us here forget that aviation exists within a society, and that society influences much of the industry.

Absolutely - my reports tend to bring in alot of non-aviation themes. If a report is only aviation then it looses perspective. You are always good about setting the stage I have found, though less destination photos that we used to get!?

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
Your very accurate observations driven by a deep need to get under the skin of the surroundings have left me very impressed.

haha... thanks. I do try not to offend anyone, have had no Saudi Anet members comment yet, so may have failed in that respect.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
flying First Class on SQ or 9W and then immediately to an youth hostel. I follow this, and it is good to see you do the same. It is great to push our own boundary.

Well, 1st class is the goal Alex. But yeah, I need few luxuries.... my last trip was carried out on £4.00 a day. Yipee... was never happier!

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
There are very few areas of the world with such systematic human rights abuses - the GCC countries lead that.

Absolutely. It is barmy what that area of the world gets away with in flagrant knowledge by the international community. I dare bring up historical aspects, but I am sure that has a bearing on the attitudes somehow.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
for example, would they have become friends with you if you were not white and/or a person from (insert) an African country or Bangladesh?

No. I doubt it... But that they were civil was the priority!

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
none of the countries are alike.

No, each has a unique take on the way they are 'modernising'. Still to spend time in Yemen and Oman.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
Or, their manager of HR and recruiting should be fired. I have had some incredibly poor behaviour and have gotten close to writing to Mr. Baker personally - have refrained by giving them a good chat in the galley because a write-up would almost always lead to their firing.

Well, it's become rather in vogue to go off and work for one of these gulf airlines for a spell, for many young people in Western Europe. I think alot of the time their hearts are not in it. At least QR take what you say seriously.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
seems to me that they have forgotten that they are their for the passengers.

absolutely. They've totally lost track of this human element.

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
Finally, what can I say about DOH? I have written 2 reports on how much it sucks - and, I was in JCL! Along with probably CDG, one of the worst transit experiences in the world.

DOH the factory. Never heard a good word (apart from one earlier poster on this report! )

Quoting abrelosojos (Reply 39):
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and comments. I really appreciate it tremendously.

Saludos,
Alex

You are very welcome!




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Hello Flyenthu

Quoting flyenthu (Reply 40):
Hello:

Thanks for the comment.

Quoting flyenthu (Reply 40):
Nice trip report. I visited KSA in my teens many years ago when my dad worked there for a couple of years. The pics brought back memories. Thanks for sharing!

Goodness how interesting. So you were old enough to remember? Where you in a community? Riyadh or Jeddah or Dammam?

Quoting flyenthu (Reply 40):
Regarding QR, you are right about the 5 star claim. I just flew on QR (IAH-DOH-CCU and return) last month. While I really liked their product, I do not think it is 5 star- whatever that means. I posted a trip report as well. Check it out! (shameless plug   )

Got it. Was very interesting, and especially for such a long sector as the one you flew!

Quoting flyenthu (Reply 40):
Also, I found QR's cabin crew to be much nicer than EK's.

Yeah. That also depends. You can get a vast array of QR aircraft in various conditions, and the same with EK.




...........................................................................

Hello there Stojan!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 41):
Hey Luke.

Yep!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 41):
You have a very entertaining way of telling your story.

Haha.... that is good. Like to mix it up a little in the forums!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 41):
This, combined with the many interesting places you get to visit (and the way you choose to visit them no less) is the perfect recipe for
a book

Goodness! Well, perhaps one day, when I put up my travelling feet I will write a book 'Around the world in 954 hitches' or some such thing...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 41):
I'm sure you get this question a lot but do you plan to put together a wee book about your worldly adventures?

I am not sure.... see below!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 41):
a lot of travelogues

There are alot of people out there in the world doing alot of travelling, so I am just one of many thousands are my thoughts. I had even tried to do a blog, but found being engrossed in a laptop all the time made the quality of the travelling suffer. I am quite technologically backwards!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 41):
Holy crap. Most parents would not trust an 11 year old boy to operate a TV remote control let alone a car. So let me get this straight. It's OK for an 11 year old to operate a car in Saudi Arabia but it's not OK for a woman?

Haha... yeah. Little hypocritical eh! This was one thing that made me so angry... the roads were just insanely dangerous out in KSA.... not to mention that everyone thought if they crashed and died, they would be on a first class ticket up to paradise. Such is the strength of belief!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 41):
It's hilarious how the camera decided to focus on the bed in the background and not on you... Just teasing.

Yeah! I suppose the wall had more spirit and optimism at that time. Never noticed!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 41):
What kind of a stupid rule is this? Oh, wait, I forgot what country you were in.

Yeah! It is arcane... I honestly do not know how they get away with that!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 41):
You can take the Scotsman out of Scotland but you can't take Whisky out of a Scot!

Haha... it is indeed in the blood. Although my blood whisky levels had dropped to dangerous levels by the time I left.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 41):
They felt so futuristic back in the day (especially when they were illuminated with those blue lights).

Indeed... bit of a come down when I visited there this time!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 41):
I'm having a ton of fun following your travels around the world. I apologize if I don't always drop by to leave a comment but I'm usually overwhelmed by how much is going on in each of your reports (this is by no means a request for you to tone it down!). Be assured though that I'm following your travels very closely indeed! You are one crazy cat, but I guess you know that already!

Cool to hear Stojan.... Absolutely no obligation to comment, so when one comes though, it is all the more excellent. And yeah, even my parents have a bit of trouble keeping up with where I am , or going, in the world!







............................................................................

Bonjour Leonard

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 42):
As usual Luke, what a splendid report that goes deep into extraordinary details.

Thanks my friend, nice to hear from you!

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 42):
A friend told me that even if the country is wealthy, the state of some main cities suggests otherwise.

That is very true. They generally try to give an impression of wealth and opulence only in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam, since few visitors get to the other places. It is a strange old thing to see very poor Saudi people when such a vast amount of the native are stinking rich (in respect to how much work they do).

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 42):
Maybe you've already given your opinion previously ( sorry in that case), but what are your thoughts about the new city for women worker only ?

Oh silly! So condescending it is not true... it is just to ward of critics, and silence any trouble-makers. It means nothing whatsoever. A gimmick.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 42):
And last question, your employement visa does not allow you at all to go to the neighbouring countries even for 3or4 days vacations ?

No it does not. You can come on a temporary one, which does allow this. But, I was mislead, and could absolutely not leave the country. I could apply for an exit stamp, which would allow me out for a bit. But my company refused to give them.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 42):
Oh dear, lack of time maybe ! You confirmed it was not a one-off during my last QR flights

No, happened once before. Yeah, it was late arriving.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 42):

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 4):
Smint mints (Which I stash for passing UK Immigration)

Lol, great strategy !

haha.... I don't think they would really take issue even if they smelt a bit of booze.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 42):
Portions are quiet generous with QR (don't know about EK though), did not you fancy trrying the pancakes ?

No! I really am not keen on sweet food as a main! I know they do these well, I have heard. Maybe from yoU!?

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 42):
So, did you get her phone number ?  .

Haha... she was happily married. But, I am sure I will find my powerwoman out there one day, one flight!

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 42):
Awesome picture, no better way to arrive at home !

haha... yeah it was a cheery welcome. They had been watching me take pictures in MAN too!







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Hello netKHT - I was in your neck of the woods not so long ago! Should have shouted you out for some spotting!

Quoting nethkt (Reply 43):
A very enjoyable trip report. Thank you for sharing all those pictures. RUH is amazing!!

Well, it is certainly a very different place. Yeah, amazing!

Quoting nethkt (Reply 43):
Totally agree with all aspects of your QR experience, 5 stars airlines? I think NO.
Hub airport, Catering, Hygiene, Plastic crockery etc.
I refuse to fly them again until they can manage with the new airport at least.

I think no too... they need to see how SQ does things before they talk up their products in such a way.

Quoting nethkt (Reply 43):
I can't wait to see how they will push up again with the 380 delivery next year.

Yeah. I think it may help them, definitely with the NDIA on the books... It gives me joy to see how much this has been delayed... This is rare in Qatar and will be a great dent on their pride!


...........



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineSR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1740 posts, RR: 39
Reply 45, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 9356 times:

Thanks for a good read as always Luke. Shame to hear about what you went through as an employee. Having worked in the region myself (albeit in more "human" countries) I do hear many stories and am still surprised things like this happen. Fantastic pictures of Saudi Arabia thought, really! You mentioned the contrast that exist between how friendly the locals are while at the same living in what most Western countries would deem "oppressive." I have found this to be true as well in my travels through out the region. Glad to see you have come to the same conclusion with regards to Saudi Arabia.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 7):
For my part on this trip, EK was far superior.

I have flown a lot of QR over the last few years and have recently had to switch my travel to EK (company policy, not necessarily my choice) and its interesting to hear you say this. I actually think both of them are very similar in many aspects, yet polar opposites in others. To be honest neither EK or QR would be my first choice (or even second choice) when it comes to Middle Eastern carriers if I was paying out of pocket. However you just can not deny the giant global network that both airlines have created through their respective hubs in such a short amount of time. Network convenience is what keeps me on their planes, not loyalty, product or service standards.


User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1294 posts, RR: 4
Reply 46, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 9085 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Found this interesting documentary on Saudi Arabia in transition and thought I'd share it here...Wish there was a more hi-defintion version, but it's the content matter that is great, if not the quality of the film

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au9Aqd_-2hc


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 47, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 8708 times:

.



Thanks SR 103!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 45):
Thanks for a good read as always Luke.

Glad you enjoyed

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 45):
Fantastic pictures of Saudi Arabia thought, really!

Yeah, quite an interesting place. It's gonna open up much more in the future!

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 45):
how friendly the locals are while at the same living in what most Western countries would deem "oppressive." I have found this to be true as well in my travels through out the region.

Oh yeah. I felt much safer out here than back in the UK.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 45):
To be honest neither EK or QR would be my first choice (or even second choice) when it comes to Middle Eastern carriers if I was paying out of pocket. However you just can not deny the giant global network that both airlines have created through their respective hubs in such a short amount of time. Network convenience is what keeps me on their planes, not loyalty, product or service standards.

Nice to have your thoughts on the matter. I mean, I suppose I fall under a catagory that is 'wahtever is cheaper' but am very keen to fly with the like of Oman/ Turkish. Company give you any reason for the switch to EK? And you have found it a step down in quality?


.



Hi Flightsim

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 46):
Found this interesting documentary on Saudi Arabia in transition and thought I'd share it here...Wish there was a more hi-defintion version, but it's the content matter that is great, if not the quality of the film

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=au9Aqd_-2hc

Thanks alot for putting that link up. So nice Youtube do long vids nowadays. Will give it a watch tonight.


Luke.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineMHTripple7 From United States of America, joined Feb 2008, 1107 posts, RR: 8
Reply 48, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 8544 times:

Wow, nice Trip Report.

I really think these Skytrax ratings are crap. I've flown on several "5 Star" carriers including MH, OZ, and CX and while I had very enjoyable flights on all, I don't really think there was anything that set them apart from the others. It seems to me that QR falls into the same boat.

With that said, QR is definitely on my list of airlines to fly.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 3):
Meanwhile, the queues and crowds for the (seemingly same number of) toilets such a joke that I no longer felt the call of nature, I noticed that whilst the old terminal had mutated well enough to have added a few dozen extra gates etc., it had no managed to give the same expansion in facilities; water, catering and sleeping areas in particular. The throng of crowds was quite a sight.

What a pathetic transfer experience at DOH. This might be a reason alone to fly with EK or EY instead.

Congrats on finishing your time up in Saudi Arabia. It doesn't look like much fun, but I could see it being a good experience for growing and maturing as a person. I'd love to visit some day, but obviously the visa makes things a tad complicated.

Thank you for sharing!


User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 49, posted (1 year 2 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 8303 times:

.


Hi MHTripple7

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 48):
Wow, nice Trip Report.

Thanks for a very nice comment!

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 48):
I really think these Skytrax ratings are crap. I've flown on several "5 Star" carriers including MH, OZ, and CX and while I had very enjoyable flights on all, I don't really think there was anything that set them apart from the others. It seems to me that QR falls into the same boat.

Yeah, it is all a load of bollocks. I am sure it will only be a matter of time before the scale of bribing that goes into some of this is made public.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 48):
This might be a reason alone to fly with EK or EY instead.

Definitely - I really think EK was better for me.

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 48):
I could see it being a good experience for growing and maturing as a person.

Yeah, it sure was that. I will not forget alot of the lessons I learnt. And will apply those if I ever have to manage an organisation!

Quoting MHTripple7 (Reply 48):
but obviously the visa makes things a tad complicated.

That is going to get much easier in the future my friend!

Luke!


.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
User currently offlineeastafspot From France, joined Jan 2008, 794 posts, RR: 20
Reply 50, posted (1 year 2 months 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 7809 times:

Hello Luke

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 44):
That is very true. They generally try to give an impression of wealth and opulence only in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam, since few visitors get to the other places.

Fair enough, actually how many of them have you meet there?

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 44):
Oh silly! So condescending it is not true... it is just to ward of critics, and silence any trouble-makers. It means nothing whatsoever. A gimmick.

Ok, thank you very much for your input!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 44):
No it does not.

Sorry to read that, you've learnt something at least!

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 44):
Maybe from yoU!?

Certainly not as the first choice too, but probably for the sake of comparing   .



Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
User currently offlinethegivenone From Austria, joined Jan 2008, 192 posts, RR: 0
Reply 51, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 6 days ago) and read 6445 times:

Hi Luke,

An absolutely incredible report, yet again. I thoroughly enjoy reading your prose, humor and the many detailed anecdotes of your travels. Through your KSA report series I got the chance to live vicariously through you in a country that I have yet to visit and only know about through second-hand information. Although I have visited other parts of the Middle East, I really enjoyed gaining some insights into the functionings of the kingdom, from internal railways to singles-admitting shopping malls!

I have to say that Qatar Airways really baffles me. Or perhaps I am just expressing bewilderment towards the Skytrax rating system. To be fair, I have never flown on them myself, but from the various reports I read, it seems like the advertised 5-star experience is more the exception than the norm. I feel that the Airliners.net community is a good sample population, as all opinions a shared whether positive or negative. The on-ground experience in Doha should be loosing them half their points all together and, although people complain about EK's inconsistent service levels, it seems like QR is suffering from the same problem. When reading QR reports I come to the same conclusion as the one you expressed in closing – that maybe Qatar is (presently) a bit of a falling star rather than a rising one. I am sure the move to NDIA and some cracking down on service standards will help to reverse that however.

Thank you for the time and effort you have obviously invested to piece this report together. I know I speak for all when I say that it was absolutely worth it  

-Ollie


User currently offlinechepos From Puerto Rico, joined Dec 2000, 6225 posts, RR: 11
Reply 52, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 6188 times:

Very entertaining trip report, I enjoyed your pics particularly the ones from inside KSA


Fly the Flag!!!!
User currently offlinelukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1096 posts, RR: 32
Reply 53, posted (1 year 1 month 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 5941 times:

Hello, nice to see the report is still around-ish




Hello Leonard

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 50):
Fair enough, actually how many of them have you meet there?

Not too many!

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 50):
Certainly not as the first choice too, but probably for the sake of comparing   .

Yeah, all comparisons are good. I should have a little more variety in my life over BA and QR I know...









*********************************************


Hello Ollie

Quoting thegivenone (Reply 51):
An absolutely incredible report, yet again. I thoroughly enjoy reading your prose, humor and the many detailed anecdotes of your travels.

You are welcome my friend, and thanks for dropping in and leaving such a well worded comment, always nice to know what readers are out there...

Quoting thegivenone (Reply 51):
only know about through second-hand information.

Yeah, the place suffers from this alot, but I expect it to change dramatically in the future.

Quoting thegivenone (Reply 51):
from internal railways to singles-admitting shopping malls!

All sorts to be seen in the Kingdom. I felt an incite would be nice, there have been reports before but very little on the actualy country itself. Took me along time to be comfortable with taking photos publically.

Quoting thegivenone (Reply 51):
expressing bewilderment towards the Skytrax rating system.

Yeah, absolutely no transparency and rationale seem to be two factors. But alot of paying public take it very seriously...

Quoting thegivenone (Reply 51):
Thank you for the time and effort you have obviously invested to piece this report together. I know I speak for all when I say that it was absolutely worth it  

Thanks for taking the time to comment!





****************************************************



Hi Chepos

Quoting chepos (Reply 52):
Very entertaining trip report, I enjoyed your pics particularly the ones from inside KSA

Excellent, thanks for the comment. I hope everything is delightful in PR.

.



Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
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