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Qatar Airways Redeems Itself

Thu Oct 15, 2009 9:38 am

Someone must be reading these forum boards.

This TR is a response to my previous TR, titled “insert name here.” If you read it you will know I had a disappointing experience. However, QR totally redeemed itself on the flight back to Singapore.

Airline: Qatar Airways
Flight: QR 83
Sector: JFK-DOH
Equip: Boeing 777-300ER
Class: Economy
Seat: 37A

I flew B6 from PBI to JFK and arrived at JFK around 730pm. I took the Airtrain from T5 to T4 and luckily the QR check in desk was open more than 3hrs prior to the flight. I had tried to check in online, but noticed that QR doesn’t seem to allow online check in from airports in the US.

I asked the check in agent if the flight was empty, and she said yes. So I asked her if she could get me an aisle seat and block the two seats next to it so I could stretch out. She got me 37A, a window seat, and blocked 37B and C. This was going to be a good flight. She also got me seat 12D for the DOH-SIN leg.

After checking in I had some food and walked a bit around T4. 2hrs prior to the flight I passed the security check point, since it was empty. Too bad, because the airside of the terminal is pretty boring as there are hardly any shops.

Time passed by quickly and the flight got called for boarding. I boarded quickly and made my way to the back of the plane. I spread some books and other stuff out in the two seats next to me so no one else would think about taking them. The flight seemed loaded oddly, as some pax were seated one next to the other (and were clearly not traveling together) while there were a lot of empty rows. Surprisingly, not too many people stretched out in the empty seats.

Right after take off, I took two Tylenol PM and stretched out on my three seats. I missed the first meal and slept for about five hours. When I woke up the crew was handing out Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. A bit of an odd choice for a mid-flight snack, but it was good. After this, I went to the aft galley and helped myself to two chicken wraps and a bag of Doritos. While I ate this I watched some of the IFE, which I still think is OK, but not quite as good as SQ’s Krisworld.

After I finished eating, I tried sleeping again. Unfortunately QR must not like it’s econ pax to stretch out and sleep, as the arm rests do not retract fully backwards but only about half way. Also, the seatbelts do not fully go in between the seats but the latch point sticks out a bit, so it can be painful on your body unless you put a pillow in between. I slept for another 3 to 4 hrs and woke up around the time they served breakfast. As much as all the other meals were pretty good, this one was not very nice. The bagel served was stale and the eggs were rubbery. Luckily I was not very hungry at the time. I went to the aft galley and chatted to the F/As and asked them what to do in Doha for 7hrs.

We landed soon and I headed through immigration and got a visa on arrival for QR100. After this I took a taxi to the Sheraton hotel, at the far end of the Corniche promenade, and then started walking backwards. The walk is quite nice as the weather was good. It was a bit warm, but not very humid and quite breezy. After walking back I went to Souq Waqif, which is a bazaar that has been restored in the old Arab bazaar style. It looked a bit fake, but it was nice. I stopped at a café to smoke some hookah and drink Turkish coffee. I was there for nearly two hours and then walked to the main road, got a taxi and went to the airport.

At the airport I cleared immigration quickly and went to the Oryx lounge. I paid QR140 to get in and immediately took a shower, which was very welcome as I felt disgusting. After this I had some food and caught up on some emails.

Airline: Qatar Airways
Flight: QR 638
Sector: DOH-SIN (with continuing service to CGK)
Equip: Boeing 777-300ER
Class: Business
Seat: 5B

About one hr before the flight I went to the gate, and as I passed the gate, I noticed the computer said “CHG SEAT FR 12D to 5B” and the gate agent scribbled 5B and C Class on my boarding pass. I asked what this was and she said “You have been upgraded to business class.” Score!!! I wonder if someone from QR read my previous report and felt the need to impress me, haha. Well, this was turning out to be quite good. The bus took us to the plane, which was quite far away. I went up the front stairs while the other pax used the back ones. As soon as I got in I was offered champagne. I immediately noticed some differences, good and bad, compared to SQ. Drinks on QR are served as follows: The F/A first brings out a glass and then comes around and pours directly from the bottle, very nice. A hot towel was offered that actually remained both warm and wet while using it on my face and hands, unlike SQ. Another very nice touch, and something I have complained about SQ many times, was that we got an amenity kit from Aigner and PJs as well. I think SQ is falling behind a bit, as they only offer socks and eyeshades and only offer PJs in First and Suites. The two downsides of QR vs SQ is that SQ has very nice noise-canceling headphones, much like the Bose QC2. SQ also has the best Business Class seat on the 777-300ERs, although QR’s seat is much better than the Spacebed. But that is not a fair comparison, as the Spacebed is pretty old.

Dinner was served immediately after take off. It started with a sushi appetizer followed (in my case) by a steak wrap, which was delicious. This I washed down with sparkling San Pellegrino and a nice Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand. I hardly ever find good tasting wines in the air. After eating I felt very sleepy, so I changed into the PJ’s and freshened up in the toilet. I then pushed the one button in the seat to convert it to a bed. I was expecting a zig-zag type bed like the Spacebeds, but to my surprise it was a 180-degree fully flat bed which was very comfortable.

Despite a loud conversation between a lady of an origin that I won’t identify and a man of a different origin which I will also not identify in the spirit of being ultra-PC (else I will be grilled on the flames of hell), I managed to sleep a good 4hrs or so. I woke up just in time for breakfast. What was a bit surprising is that the F/A set my table with table cloth, cutlery, etc, but I got no food. Then another F/A asked me if I wanted anything, so I said sure, maybe some fruits? So she brought me a fruit platter, which was OK. After that she asked me if I wanted anything else, and I was wondering if they really catered that personally to each and every passenger or whether my upgrade had been very last minute and they didn’t cater for me. Either way, I asked for pancakes, which were delicious. Another thing I liked better about QR compared to SQ is that when I ordered a cappuccino, it was brought in a big mug, whereas SQ serves it in an espresso cup. The one thing I disliked is they put in the sugar for you, which I prefer to do myself as I don’t like too much sugar with coffee.

The other one thing I dislike about QR is that they pick up the blankets about 30mins prior to landing. I understand this probably makes the cleaning of the aircraft faster and easier, but given that on 4 QR flights the cabin felt a bit like a freezer, it would’ve been nice to keep the blanket up until the last moment.

After breakfast I got up, changed back into my clothes and freshened up. Landing was on 20R and we had a quick taxi to T3, gate A10 I believe.

Conclusion: QR was very good on the return flight. Goes to show that you can have both very good and very bad experiences. Also goes to show that I am an impartial observer, albeit one with very high standards and very hard to please if you read all of my reports.

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RE: Qatar Airways Redeems Itself

Thu Oct 15, 2009 4:06 pm

Well, now that's more like it! Better than your last TR which I might have gone a bit overboard with my comments! hehe

Glad you enjoyed your trip, and the free upgrade! Did you take any pictures?
لا اله الا الله محمد رسول الله
Posts: 8159
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2001 1:27 pm

RE: Qatar Airways Redeems Itself

Thu Oct 15, 2009 8:52 pm

Hi Coal,

Nice follow up TR!

Just shows,you can never tell how the flights will turn out. I have 4 QR J class flights early next year, will be interesting to see how they turn out.


Posts: 713
Joined: Sat Feb 05, 2000 5:31 am

RE: Qatar Airways Redeems Itself

Fri Oct 16, 2009 2:38 am

Glad you had a good return flight. Sounds more like QR should be.
You should contact their customer relations about your previous experience.
Thanks for posting
I prefer to be crazy and happy rather than normal and bitter
Posts: 70
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 9:33 pm

RE: Qatar Airways Redeems Itself

Fri Oct 16, 2009 9:39 am

Nice little report here.

I've just read your previous QR trip report and it appears that QR were well below the mark for a "5 Star" airline. However, your return trip seems to be a lot more promosing towards QR!
Recently Flown Airlines: Air Malta (KM), My Travel (MYT), First Choice (FCA), Swiss (LX), Virgin Atlantic (VS), Monarch

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