It was December and I was getting homesick so I decided to plan a trip to India and on return a short stay in Qatar as well.
My trip back to India was probably one of the longest I have traveled at a stretch
QR 5690 MCO - IAD 16th Dec 1350 1601 A320 ( Operated by United Airlines)
QR 052 IAD - DOH 16th Dec 2200 1840 +1 B77W
QR 200 DOH - BOM 17th Dec 2230 0415 +1 B77W
I'm probably one of the most unfortunate ones who has not had the previlige to have a full fledged airport in his hometown. Be it in India, Qatar or the USA. So basically I was traveling DAB - MCO - IAD - DOH - BOM - PNQ.
First Leg of the journey: Orlando - Washington D. C (continuing to Las Vegas)
Flight no.: QR 5690
Operator: UA 1475 (Ted operating for united, but the aircraft was a new livery United plane .. phew!)
Aircraft Type: Boeing A320
Aircraft Registration: N439UA
Photo © Jason Whitebird
Terminal used: B
Terminal View & Check-in
I guess I have already fallen in love with Orlando airport, it is one of my favourites. Just the way one expects an airport to be. The Christmas decoration, the food courts shops etc just make the airport a classy one.
As I stepped down of my shuttle at the United/Ted entrance, I thanked the lady who drove us here. Before I could get into the line for check-in, one lady just asked me to weigh my bags. My bags were weighing 22 lbs and 42 lbs respectively. So I was all cleared for check-in. To all of you who have not visited the US, most domestic carriers encourage a self check-in process. You just have one staff member of that airline to assist the passengers as to how to go ahead with the check-in machine. Me being an international passenger had to go to the counter where manual check-in was going on, normally there are just 2 of such kind of the entire check-in counters.
I approched the counter and showed her my passport and UA ticket. She asked me my final destination and I replied "Mumbai". She then asked for my QR ticket, and after checking that she tagged my bags all the way to BOM. The QR boarding passes would be issued at IAD according to her. This lady was apparently rude and was almost yelling out every instruction, probably got pissed off that I was not paying for the checked-in bags, lol. After dropping my bags at the TSA counter, I was all free to explore the airport. Here are some pictures--
Security check was quick and pleasant, thankfully I did not have SSSS on my Boarding pass this time. Within minutes the whole process was over and I headed towards my gate. I went around had something to eat at Wendy's and then settled down at gate 40, replying to some mails
This was our aircraft
At 1315 hours Boarding began, systematic boarding with zones marked and all that. I personally like this style very much, was very impressed
the time when I traveled IAD-MCO in Sept.
Boarding & Flight Details:-
Flight No: UA 1475
Gate No: 40
Seat No: 25F
STD: 1350 hrs
Pushback: 1347 hrs
Airborne: 1401 hrs
Flying Time: 1 hour 50 mins
Loads: 156/156; 100% loads
Red carpet lane for Previlige club members
The plane was full, every seat occupied. Slowly and steadily everyone boarded the flight. Today our A320 was in the new UA livery, was looking good on this aircraft. We were greeted by the FA's and guided to our seats. Knowing the strict rules and fees applicable to the checked-in bags the over head bins in the plane seems to be overloaded. Some passengers had to leave their hand bags at the UA staff at the gate, some bags were checked-in some of them were going to be transported to IAD on the next flight. After all the passengers settled down, the captain announced departure to IAD and we pushed back at 1347 hours. We taxiied towards the runway and we were almost 4th in queue, so it took us some time till take off.
We were airborne soon and headed towards IAD, the FA announced that there would be a beverage service only similar to my previous flight.
Thankfully on this trip there were headsets given to every passenger, so we could enjoy some IFE. FAs were ok not as good as my previous Ted flight.
I actually found one FA deeply engrossed in enjoying her chewing gum ever since I boarded the flight. I wonder if that is acceptable for FAs but personally it looked utterly disgusting. Rest of the FAs were fine, nothing extra ordinary, but just fine. As the beverage services came I opted for Ginger ale.
That is Daytona Beach
We began our descend into IAD at around 1525 hrs and as the weather was forecasted it was overcast with some light showers expected. Our flight was smooth till now, but then when we started our descent it began to get a little bumpy. As we were on our finals I could see another aircraft landing as well, first time I ever witnessed to simultaneous landing.
Touchdown smooth, and within minutes we docked to the gate. Spotted the following on the IAD tarmac
Scheduled: 1601 hrs.
Touchdown: 1551 hrs.
Docking Time: 1600 hrs.
Our captain announced the terminals and gates for various airlines to help the passengers connecting to an international flight. Our plane was supposed to continue to Las Vegas, but it seems the passengers had to disembark and board another aircraft. We deplaned and since I had no bags to claim I headed to the Cafeteria at the arrivals area and relaxed there.
A/C : 8/10
Boarding& ground Formalities: 8/10
I was personally disappointed with UA this time as I had a relatively pleasant experience with them in September. Hopefully things would be better next time, if I fly with them.
Second Leg of the journey: Washington Dulles - Doha
Flight no.: QR 052
Code Share: UA 4700
Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-3DZ/ER
Aircraft Registration: A7-BAB
Photo © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt
Terminal View & Check-in
After a significant wait in the cafeteria, I went to the QR check-in counters at around 7pm. When I had arrived I checked with QR and was informed that check-in counters open 4 hours before departure, that was around 6pm local time. Just before entering the queue there was a passport check and general enquiry as to cross check that the passengers had packed their bags themselves and made sure nothing dangerous was in it. After that I joined the queue which took a bit of time to move. Apprantly today passengers were heading everywhere in the Indian Subcontinent including COK,TRV,CCJ,PEW and some destinations like MLE, SIN etc. As my turn came I was greeted by an Arab female, checked my passport
and handed me two boarding cards IAD - DOH and DOH - BOM. And thankfully this time I did not have an SSSS as well!
Security check was quick and then headed towards a long walk towrds the gate area. There was plenty of time before boarding, the aircraft was just docked to the gate. There were many empty gates around and I went into one of those and was having a nice time with my laptop. Soon I started chatting with a guy who apparently had arrived from DOH on the same flight that evening and was waiting for a flight to DTW.
I observed that there was no exit point immigration which was new to me. I asked this friend if this was the case or did I miss it in any way. I did however guess that the I-94 surrender at the check-in desk acts as our exit point check.
After our conversation ended I headed back to the actual gate assigned and noticed that the crew were just boarding the aircraft.
Boarding & Flight Details:-
Flight No: QR 052
Gate No: B22
Seat No: 28D
STD: 2200 hrs
Pushback: 2215 hrs
Airborne: 2228 hrs
Flying Time: 11 hours 35 mins
Loads: 256/335; 76% loads
J class, children and passengers with special needs were boarded first. Then the Y class passengers were boarded sequentially. We were welcomed by a sweet FA and were guided to our seats.
On long haul flights I prefer to be seated on the isle seats, it is better to move in and out at your own convenience, and on a B77W in a typical 3-3-3 configuration the middle column 3 seats are the best, the middle passenger can alternate the "excuse me"s with the person on his left and right. It was yet raining in IAD, and soon at 2155 hrs we were welcomed by the flight deck crew giving us the details of the flight. Our flight was going to be for around 11.5 hours and initally the ride would be bumpy. We pushed back and within 15 minutes we were airborne, thankfully no queue for take off.
Once we were airborne, we could feel the bumpy ride. till almost an hour and a half the passengers and crew were asked to remian seated. Therefore after 1.5 hours the crew could actually get up and start the meal services thus combining the drinks and meal service. Amenity kits, sweets and hot towels distributed first followed by the menu card. There were 3 options chicken,lamb and Vegetarian, each one equally tempting. Here are few pictures
Soon after the meal was over trays were cleared, and I dozed off for a couple of hours. The mood lighting of the aircraft was in full swing and I have clicked them on various occasions. The FAs were constantly doing the water and juice runs and made sure they did that every 90 minutes or so.
The IFE in particular is not all that great whem compared to EK,SQ. They have a good selection of movies, but then a person who is spoilt by EK, SQ would definitely demand more from QR! The IFE on QRs B77W is perfect for a medium haul flight.
After few hours we were served some Ice cream ( Ben and Jerry Chocolate fudge). Dorritos, chicken/veg rolls were among the options as well in the galley as some inflight snack.
I was now engaged into the triology that a normal passenger does on long haul flights: Sleep, IFE, looking around the aircraft. I quickly managed to enagage in a conversation with the crew and my they were a talkative bunch (kidding) but yeah they knew their airline very well.
Important note is that the loos were well maintained, and the FAs made sure they were stoked adequately throughout the flight.
As the hours flew by we were above DAM, and the crew started their second meal service(breakfast). Hot towels were distributed first. 3 choices of meal, I opted for omlette.
The meals were truly delicious, and I'm the one who actually never liked the QR catering. Once the meal was done another round of drinks ended the service as the Captain had announced our descent into Doha. We flew over DMM, BAH and with a sharp U turn over Mesaieed we were on short finals on RWY 34.
Scheduled: 1840 hrs.
Touchdown: 1810 hrs.
Docking Time: 1815 hrs.
Within minutes we parked at our bay which was next to the terminal. Premium passengers were taken to the terminal in cars and we were bussed
to the terminal.
A/C : 10/10
Boarding& ground Formalities: 9/10
Transit In Doha:-
This was the first time ever I had actually transitted in Doha. Since I stayed there all childhood I wa sone of the O & D passenger of Doha. So I headed towards the security check for transit passenger instead of the immigration ( first time ever !). A host of arrivals were expected from MXP,JFK,LON, etc etc and were going to crowd the Indian Sub continent flights. All the India, Pakistan , Bangladesh, Sri Lanka flights were packed to the brim, many of them over booked. I called home and informed my family that I was at the DOH airport. I found a seat for myself and starting checking my e-mails with a cup of coffee besides me. Transit time for me was almost for 4 hours, meanwhile I looked around the airport and witnessed some major departures.
Third Leg of the journey: Doha - Mumbai
Flight no.: QR 200
Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-3DZ/ER
Aircraft Registration: A7-BAI
Photo © Josh May
I must say , DOH airport is good for short transfers only. The age old cafeteria is absolutely insufficient, that place has been there ever since my dad was in his late 20s. The loos were awful and the duty free section that sells chocolates, cookies etc. is just small, cannot handle the huge volume of traffic in the evening that DOH witnesses everyday.
As the clock struck 9.30pm we were told that there were some issues with the crew and there would be a delay of 45 mins. I was already exhausted with the travel from MCO and a delay was slightly disappointing at this stage. I just wandered around the airport more and decided to take more pictures. Boarding was announced at 2230 hrs finally.
Boarding & Flight Details:-
Flight No: QR 200
Gate No: 8
Seat No: 18A
STD: 2230 hrs
Pushback: 2310 hrs
Airborne: 2318 hrs
Flying Time: 2 hours 55 mins
Loads: 335/335; 100% loads
We were bussed to our aircraft and I was under the impression that it was a same plane service from IAD - DOH , but then we were taken to the aircraft that arrived from JFK. Apparantely BOM-DOH-IAD has a same plane service and JFK-DOH-BOM has a same plane service. Our bus stopped at the rear door of the B777-300ER and we boarded the aircraft. We were greeted by a beautiful Kenyan FA, who guided us to our seats.
Who needs J when you have such generous legroom lol
This flight was overbooked and the extra 12 people were accommodated on the 9W flight to BOM which leaves at 2315 hours DOH. At 2300 hours we were all set for departure, and the crew were already anticipating a hectic 3 hour journey.
Hot towels were distributed once we were airborne, followed by a meal service. This time however no menu cards, just Veg or Non Veg. A typical ME India flight. The food however was even better than the IAD - DOH flight, maybe because it was Indian food . I opted to have some Vodka and 7 up for my drink.
Meal was done with and after playing around with the IFE for some time, it was already time for descent.
We were already over Mumbai and soon we touched down on RWY 27 at Mumbai International airport. Now typical of many educated Indians, just as we exited the RWY a passenger opened the over head lockers. But when the crew noticed that, and Arab female FA pushed that person down to his seat at twice the velocity he used to stand up. Pretty emabrassing, the passenger sitting next to me, an uneducated person knew that we have to sit till the seat belt sign is off.
Just as we were about to halt I just told the FA ( As I was on the bulkhead seat the FA was facing me directly on the jump seat)now you can relax that the flight is over. She smiled and replied well there is another full flight waiting to go back to Doha!.
Scheduled: 0415 hrs.
Touchdown: 0440 hrs.
Docking Time: 0455 hrs.
We disembarked shortly and now we everyone hurried to the immigration. It was crowded but the whole process was wuick and efficient. The officers were alert and were doing their job quickly. It was a lengthy wait for my bags though, half an our to pop up.
I stood in the lines for customs, but since it was too crowded the Customs official selectively let people go and I was one of them. Another sensible thing done at BOM is that they have a separate customs queue for Senior citizens and unaccompanied ladies.
It took a while to get out of the airport and waited for my 4 hour ride to PNQ. At 0900 hrs I was at my place in PNQ.
A/C : 10/10
Boarding& ground Formalities: 8/10
If there is anything that I'm impressed with QR is their consistency. and this time the catering impressed me as well. DOH airport is a drawback but not all that dreadful as it is projected. I would certainly recommend this airline as it has good inflight service, and also a good long haul product. As you all know I'm bounded with QR till my family is in Doha, after that I may switch my loyalty elsewhere.
Queries/suggestions/criticisms always welcome from our members
P.S links to my previous TRs
BOM-DOH-IAD-MCO; QR B77W/ UA A320
Yes,the Trijets Do Rule! SIN-BKK-SIN Biman/AirAsia
Inaugural SQ B77W From BOM - SIN & Return
Trip To HYD ( Shamshabad ) On Kingfisher Airlines
BOM-DEL-BOM On IC A321 & B743 Combi