Thank you for your comments on my first TR: http://www.airliners.net/aviation-fo...ums/trip_reports/read.main/140151/
It encourages me to continue writing another, hopefully better reports. So, please allow me to give another try.
This TR however covers only the leg between Amsterdam and Doha. I do apologize for the lack of pictures like airport scenes, cabin views or window sights because I did not take any of it. Surely, I will be working on it for my next trip.
The holiday arrangement for Indonesia was started in January 2008. Couple months earlier, my partner and I flew Qatar Airways for the first time and I must say that their onboard service was a real satisfactory. The experience encouraged us to book another flight with Qatar.
Since Qatar does not fly directly to Amsterdam, it has appointed a sales representative to cover the Netherlands. I sent an e-mail to the agent with our travel itinerary and got a reply the next day. Their Business Class fare is not as expensive as other airlines like SQ, MH or even KL. So the confirmation quickly followed.
In the first instance, we supposed to fly with B777-300ER from Heathrow to Doha. I was excited about it because I would get a chance to try the new Business Class flat bed. Unfortunately there was a swap of the aircraft couple months before our departure and we ended up with A330-300. Still OK, but I rather preferred the 77W.
As I mentioned above, Qatar does not have any direct flight to AMS. So we needed to catch up with them in LHR. Our leg to LHR was on British Airways in Euro Traveler. It would also be my first flight with BA.
Our itinerary with BA was:
Route: AMS -LHR
ETD/ATD: 11.40 / 12.40
ETA/ATA: 12.05 / 13.05
Flight number: BA 431
Delivered: 24 March 1990
Load factor: C-?/Y -full
I love the fact that BA provides online check-in 24-hour prior to departure. They notified us on the e-mail that the online check-in became available. I happily complied and within minutes I had our boarding passes printed.
My BA boarding pass
The next day we were not in hurry to go to the airport. After having breakfast, we left home at 08.00 in the morning since we took the train on Sunday and wanted to have spare time in case of delay. The journey went smoothly and after one and a half hour we arrived at Schiphol.
We went straight to Terminal 3 which handle all intercontinental and BA flights. The BA check in area was pretty crowded for a Sunday. All the BA check-in kiosks seemed to be occupied. We had our boarding passes ready, so we passed the crowd towards Baggage Drop-off facility.
A BA lady, apparently an outsourced supervisor, blocked our way and verified whether we had already checked in. We said yes and showed our printed out boarding passes. The lady waived us through and we picked one of the less busy point.
Soon, it was our turn and the BA check-in agent tagged our luggage’s all the way to Jakarta. She offered checking us in on Qatar flights. We agreed. Later on we were changing the BA passes with the Qatar ones.
The passport control took long as usually with people crossing the lines. There were people trying to shove forward but they stopped when realized than we were not to give our place away. After passing the immigration, my partner wanted to have a cheese burger at McDonald’s. I did not buy any because I was still full of the breakfast and trying to keep some space in my stomach for the Qatar flights.
From McDonald’s we walked straight to the assigned boarding gate. It was quite a walk actually as it was situated at the far end of the intercontinental terminal. By the time we got there, there was people line forming. The door of the waiting room was just released and the rituals could get started. You know, belts off, shoes off, 100 ml liquid containers in transparent bags, etc. I did not have a belt on and wore sandals instead of shoes, so I got less preoccupied than my partner. The line kept growing and it would not surprise me that our flight was fully booked. Later I found out that an earlier KLM flight to Heathrow was cancelled and the passengers were rebooked to BA.
Upon entering the room, there was no sight of our plane. It was already 11.15 en our departure was likely to be delayed. The gate agents were in the mean time busy with assigning seats to the KLM passengers. The boarding pass said that the gate was closing at 11.25, but still no plane. Instead we were allowed to proceed to the holding room behind the gate agent desk. This turned out to be a mistake. An announcement followed shortly that the whole security check had to be redone because of circumstances and all of the passengers were asked to leave and wait before the security.
The security agents searched the room thoroughly and finally restarted the whole procedure with the passengers. Well, this time under the correct circumstances.
By the time everyone got through, our plane showed up.
Boarding commenced shortly after the inbound passengers deboarded and the crew change took place. It was our turn after the Club Europe passengers, elderly passengers and families with children were being called.
We took our seat on the back of the plane just before the last row. I found the seat pitch pretty tight, but it is edible for a short leg. The last row was eventually taken by a mother with her two children. The father was seated couple rows forward. They spoke Indonesian to each other, presumably the rebooked connecting KLM passengers from Indonesia.
Eventually the plane took off about an hour later than the scheduled.
The flight attendants were efficient but not very chatty. Understandable as they had to do the snack and beverage run on a packed short flight.
British Airways wrap
Sorry for the blurry picture. The wrap was not bad though.
The children were however kicking the back of our seats many times. My partner was not amused, “What is this kicking thing all about?”. I turned to the mother and talked firmly in Indonesian, “Could you please stop them kicking our seats?” It worked out. The children remained silent during the rest of the flight.
We landed an hour behind schedule, leaving us two hours to connect to Qatar. I was thrilled to catch the glimpse of T5 and hoping that we could deboard through one of the long glass aerobridges. Instead, we were assigned the remote parking stand. They sent two busses sent to pick up the Euro Travel passengers which resulted in long waiting in the aircraft. At the end we were jammed in one of the busses, making me impossible to take photos of T5, even to look outside.
The architecture of T5 was stunning and very airy. At that moment, I should have taken my chance to photograph before we stepped into the coach to T3.
Our last experience on T3 was horrific. Miles long waiting line curling up on every corner of the building before going through the security. We ended up standing there for 45 minutes.
But it was history. We could walk straight to the security area, finding a short line before the X-ray. We and many other passengers were queuing in the line. Until one of the security guy yelled at us, “Why are you standing there? There is nobody right here!” Perhaps instinctively? The security check has never been so hassle free and soon we arrived at the transfer desk of Qatar. There was a couple being attended before us. So far so good.
But the agent at the transfer desk took apparently all time, that a long queue was forming behind us. A lady with a baby in the hand stepped forward passing the disgusted eyes of other people in the line. I noticed her moving. Even she was with her baby, there was no way I would give my place away. The lady said to us, “I just want to ask him (the agent) how long it is still going to take because we have to catch our plane,”
After she returned to her place in the line, it was our turn. The agent printed out new boarding passes and took in our BA ones. He handed out the lounge invitation and wished us a pleasant flight.
My QR boarding pass
Our first itinerary with QR was:
ETD/ATD: 15.05 / 16.05
ETA/ATA: 23.59 / 00.30
Flight number: QR 12
Registration: (I forgot to write it down due to our late arrival in DOH)
Load factor: F-?/C-22 out of 24/Y-?
Qatar used to send the First and Business Class passengers to United Red Carpet Lounge in T3. Since UA moved to T1, Qatar has made another arrangements. For us and other Business Class passengers on the flight, it would be Servisair Executive Lounge.
We were greeted by a friendly lounge attendant and directed to a separate room for Qatar passengers. Inside there were about twelve couches, each two facing one table. In the middle, there is a small buffet, displaying crackers, peanuts, juices, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks except for beer. Beer can be ordered outside at the main buffet. The view was limited as the lounge is located on the top floor in the middle of T3. Toilets are not even on site.
The lounge attendant said that she would notify us if the boarding started. We were not actually waiting for it. After we treated our self with Ale’s, we left the lounge.
It was again a long walk to the gate. The boarding has already started as we arrived and we went directly down the jet way. We were greeted by a friendly female flight attendant. She took our boarding passes and left us to her colleague who showed us our seats.
An Indian male flight attendant, Vijay, was assigned for our aisle. As soon as we settled down, he introduced himself and took the order of our welcome drink, Champagne.
The boarding procedure went smoothly and the doors closed on time.
In some other way, our plane has not yet been granted a takeoff slot. We ended up waiting at the gate for another hour. I was worried about our tight connection in DOH. When I expressed my worries to Vijay, he tried to calm me down, “Don’t worry. It will be taken care of.”
He collected our empty glasses and asked if we wished a top up. That was a welcome choice as I got thirsty of all the waiting.
Just after our second champagne arrived, our plane got pushed back. Even it was a long ride to the active runway, we could barely finish the champagne. When it became our turn, Vijay approached us. It looked like he was about to collect our half empty glasses, but instead saying to our surprise, “During takeoff, you can just hold on to the glasses. “ then disappeared behind the curtains. My partner and I looked at each other, and we both knew that it was against the safety regulations but we preferred not to spill any drops.
The takeoff was powerful and we just managed to keep the champagne inside the glass.
After the fasten seat belt sign was switched off, Vijay appeared and collected our empty glasses. He soon distributed hot towels which were presented on a mini wooden tray and said that he would be returning to take our meal order.
I browse through the menu card. I decided that I would stick to the Asian option.
QR lunch menu
Vijay kneeled on the eye level and started writing down our orders. I opted for rosé champagne to go with the appetizer, while my partner the normal one.
The appetizer arrived with our champagnes. It consisted of pickled onion, stuffed wine leaves and kalamata olives.
While Vijay was collecting the appetizer plates, another flight attendant prepared us for the starters. I love the way Qatar presents each course. Firstly, they lay down the table cloth. Then, they set the table with cutlery, salt and pepper containers, butter plate and bread basket. Finally they delivered the starters.
I ordered the classic Arabic mezze.
My partner opted for seafood cocktail. A nice chardonnay was poured.
It was a lovely start of our flight. Soon after the starters were cleared away, the main dishes were served.
My partner ordered roasted crayfish with tarragon sauce and saffron rice.
For me the Indian vegetarian dish. I just love Indian food. I have been trying to prepare one. Unfortunately none of them turned out so delicious as this one I got.
The meal was truly enjoyable. I was completely full when it came to desserts. Therefore I ordered double espresso with a nice Cognac. My table cloth were removed and my espresso arrived shortly after accompanied with a box of lovely Godiva chocolates.
My partner was still into desserts and ordered some ice cream. Can you see the chocolate coating on the strawberry?
After the meal, the light was dimmed to let everyone get some sleep. Perhaps of the excitement, I did not manage to catch any sleep. I just dozed off a bit couple times and got awake minutes later. Eventually, I got off my seat and paid a visit to the galley.
The flight attendants were on their lunch, but almost everyone of them stood up to ask if I needed anything. I just replied, “Oh, please. Don’t bother. Enjoy your meal. I just want to stretch a bit.”
Vijay joined us in the galley after serving First class passengers and we chit chat around about my trip, my experience so far with Qatar and about the crew self like where they come from, how long they have been working with Qatar, etc. The purser asked in the mean time whether I fancied a glass of whiskey which I could not resist. She even added, “You know what? Let’s make it double.”
So I ended with double whiskey chatting with Vijay. He was a friendly, hospitable and dedicated man. Just like the other flight attendants. No doubt that the flight attendants of Qatar brighten the five stars they have earned.
At one stage, Vijay murmured, “I am a bit peckish. Do you want some caviars? There are plenty left from the First Class.” To which I replied, “I love to.” I quickly turned to the other flight attendants, “Come join us with the caviar.”They politely declined the offer and explained that they do not like caviars. That is fine with me and Vijay. So Vijay was off to the First Class galley and returned with a jar of Caviars and some toasts.
We continued chatting, while Vijay was preparing the caviar on the toast. He did not even let me to take over.
Time flies when you are having fun. The flight attendants sprung suddenly in action for the next serving and I realized it was time to return to my seat, next to my peacefully sleeping partner. The lights were switched on and the flight attendants started serving the indulgence.
QR Indulgence Menu
The serving consisted of sandwich, mini tart haddock, mini tart lemon and forest berries. On the left plate scones with clotted cream and jam.
Each of them was delightful. Soon after the flight attendants cleared up the cabin, we prepared for landing. During the chat with Vijay, I asked if I could be on a picture with them. The crew finally called me to the galley for the photo session. Unfortunately, Vijay was not pictured.
Our plane finally touched down in DOH a half hour behind the schedule. A dedicated Premium Terminal bus was waiting at the platform for a rapid transfer of the delayed connecting Business Class passengers.
When our plane came to a stop, I looked around since I wanted to say goodbye to Vijay but he was nowhere to be seen. We were rushed to the dedicated bus and there was still less than ten minutes to board our connecting flight to Jakarta. When ten minutes were over, we arrived at the boarding gate in the Premium Terminal, just to find out that our flight were retimed from 00.40 to 01.40 due to the late arrival of our plane.
The gate agent smiled to us and said, “Why don’t you go upstairs and relax in our lounge?” At that moment it sounded like heaven.