airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 849
Joined: Tue May 01, 2001 7:42 pm

8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:26 pm


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There is nothing that can be said about Dubai that hasn't been said before. That's just as well because I have nothing to say about the city I am visiting. It isn't anything personal you understand - it's just I didn't see any of it. I remember the winter weather as being pleasant, and taking a much-needed shower before crashing into bed: that's about the extent of it. An original plan to arrive on Christmas day morning and leave on Boxing day - spending some 24 hours here - is scuppered by a strike in Nepal: such is the ability of long-distance travel to throw up unusual surprises at the eleventh hour. It's Day 2 of my round-the-world journey and less than five hours since I checked into my hotel room. "Good morning Sir, this is your morning call. It's 8 a.m." Already? It is time to be on the move again...

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DUBAI (GMT +4)
December 26, 2010
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I had started the journey yesterday in Kuala Lumpur. A 18-hour circuitous route here via Indonesia provided a quick insight into the thriving domestic scene - one that I'd like to examine in greater detail - as well as the first experience on a rejuvenated Garuda Indonesia. On many levels, the series of flights on Dec 25 - part of a hastily cobbled-together 'Plan B' itinerary - was surprisingly satisfying. If you haven't seen it, a detailed account of the first three sectors of the journey:

Kuala Lumpur to Medan - on Firefly ATR72;
Medan to Jakarta - on Sriwijaya Air B737-400; and
Jakarta to Dubai - on Garuda Indonesia A330-200

can be found in the first part of this round-the-world series.

But this is indeed another day, and the start of another series of flights that will hopefully get me to London before the day is out. And the experience surely can't get very much better than two sectors on Qatar Airways, the region's most highly regarded airline - at least according to Skytrax, which has rated it a lofty "5-star". Like some here on A.net, I regard that website as a bit of a joke, but my previous experiences on Qatar Airways suggest that, at the very least, my choice today is a safe one. No major surprises are in store.

And the day is starting out particularly well. A.netter Ronerone is at the hotel lobby to greet me on home turf, and has very kindly offered me a lift to the airport despite having a hectic schedule to keep ahead of his own multi-sector journey that includes a unique southern oceanic adventure on Air Austral (read his excellent trip report here!) Traffic is light and, at the entrance to DXB's Terminal One, we're soon saying our farewells - at least temporarily, for we have agreed to meet up in exactly one week's time to exchange notes when Roni swings by KUL as part of his exotic itinerary.

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http://www.gcmap.com/map?P=dxb-doh-lhr%0d%0a&MS=wls2&MR=300&MX=720x360&PM=b:diamond7:red%2b%25N
Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
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There are two main reasons why I'd chosen Qatar Airways to Heathrow via Doha: the first is pricing, which is among the lowest on Expedia for oneway travel between Dubai and London today. I could have gone slightly cheaper on Gulf Air or Kuwait Airways, and was tempted to upgrade to business class on Turkish going for double the cheapest economy price - but it is QR's equipment type on the route that clinched it. Between DXB and DOH, the Middle East's only "5-star airline" is flying the B77L, a type which has continued to elude me. The fact that the world's longest range airliner is being misused on a bunny hop adds to the attraction. I can't wait to add this plane to my list today! The longer haul between DOH and LHR is on the iconic flagship 001 - the route that started the ball rolling for QR (and by extension, the tiny state of Qatar's) attempt at world domination - and that's flown by the A346, one of my favorite airliners.

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The QR check-in area is quiet today, and there aren't any queues for the late morning flight 101 departing for Doha - one of an impressive eight flights a day the airline operates on the short hop across the Gulf. A friendly and efficient Filipina agent working one of the three economy desks says it's "very light" on the DXB-DOH sector today, and "about 70%" on the onward London flight but assures an empty seat next to me has been blocked, without my asking. She makes a cursory check of my passport - far less rigorously than the experience at Jakarta yesterday - and sends me off with a chirpy "Selamat Jalan". It's a good start on Qatar.

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There's a glassy wall at one end of Terminal One's check-in area that has a decent view of tarmac activity surrounding the ATC tower that straddles the two main concourses at Dubai International. Unless you're travelling on an LCC, these are the two monstrous tubular terminals (of which my camera captures only a small segment) you will likely be using at DXB. What's interesting here are the bits of the terminal that remain unseen - a massive subterranean complex underneath the tarmac that is exploited to the full extent in the newer Terminal Three. In order to get to your plane, a departing passenger from Terminal One will have descend into the depths - and many escalators and travelators later - reemerge at the shiny shopping mecca (below) that has become a DXB trademark.

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My flight is scheduled to depart from gate 115, which can't be more centrally positioned within the terminal's concourse 1. A food court with an excellent view of the tarmac is located right next door which means I may get to catch the arrival of my first B77L ride as I absorb that crucial first caffeine fix of the day. At an adjacent gate, a Virgin A346 is pushing back on its daily service to Heathrow. During the planning phase of this RTW, I had very briefly considered the option of a direct service to LHR, but the oneway fares on VS for instance are almost three times higher, effectively simplifying my decision-making. Apologies for the bluish tint from the anti-glare on these pics taken from the terminal.

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About an hour before scheduled departure time - and right on time - my ride on Qatar Airways arrives from Doha. Sadly, that's the extent of the good news. From a distance I see the unmistakable presence of winglets on the grey and maroon fuselage, which can only mean one thing: the B77L has eluded me yet again! I really shouldn't be surprised that on a short hop like DOH-DXB equipment substitutions can, and probably do, happen with great regularity, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing. 

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Operating flight 100 from DOH this morning is three-year old A7-ACM, among the newest of 16 A330-200s in Qatar Airways' fleet that are used primarily on medium-haul routes to Europe, the Indian subcontinent and Far East, as well as on short hops like this one. (On a more personal note - as I take stock of my flights at the close of the year - this unexpected ride pushes the A332 to the top of the list as my most flown aircraft type this year, accounting for 13% of all flights taken in 2010.) I may be missing the B77L today but it's a small consolation the views from where I'm sitting just in front of the DXB T1 McDonald's are really quite good: in addition to tarmac activity, the proximity of 12R-30L means that I'm also catching the last of the departures from the morning bank of EK flights.

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You can't possibly be bored airside in Dubai: with time, I'm sure one could easily fill a whole trip report entirely with planes spotted from this food court! This morning, among the more notable planes passing my window is this B77F - a relative rarity as one of only two triple-seven freighters in the Emirates fleet currently. Further away is a Dhaka-bound Biman en route for runway 30R. This particular A310-300, registered S2-AFT and wearing the airline's latest livery, is interesting for being a new addition to the BG fleet in 2010. Fancy that.

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Departure gate 115 is just a few steps away from my spotting vantage. I make my way there on time, but my fellow passengers are slow to trickle in. As boarding time approaches, the holding lounge is still sparsely occupied with only a couple of dozen passengers at most: if this is indeed the passenger load to Doha, QR could have downgauged today's flight to an A320 and still have room to spare! Not surprisingly, the boarding call at 11.10 a.m. is a general one - without the need to refer to zones or seat row numbers. There are no queues and the flow is leisurely: if only flying was always so civilized...

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Dubai to Doha 383 km
Qatar Airways flight QR 101 A330-202 A7-ACM
Dept: 1137 Arrv: 1135 (on time)


I am greeted at door 2L by a friendly stewardess dressed in maroon and sent down the aisle towards my seat in the aft economy cabin. Although I'd taken my time to board, the cabin - seats decked out in QR's standard maroon with pale blue or yellow headrest covers - is still mainly unoccupied. Everything looks immaculately clean and tidy. I must admit this is, for me, probably not the most exciting of interiors - one might even call it boring - but what must also be said of QR is its steadfast adherence to a consistent image both inside and out that's quite admirable. (Better than some muddled airlines I know that have gone on wild flights of fancy!) The same maroon color is used in J class as well, while the carpets are always grey, delivering the clear, unequivocal message that: yes, you're flying Qatar.

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The tone for a flight is often set by the first flight attendants one interacts with on board. And on this one, QR's got it all sewn up for me within moments thanks to Barbara, a naturally cheerful flight attendant who's been flying with the airline for all of nine months. She's friendly, polite, intelligent, approachable, proactive and professional - the epitomy of what good service should ideally be like in economy class. Spotting that I'd got my camera out, she chats with me about photography - even dipping briefly into the Canon v Nikon debate - before excusing herself to quickly help some passengers load their carry-ons. At moments like this, even a corny slogan like world's 5-star airline sounds totally believable.

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The interior appears to be in reasonably good condition. There are pillows at every seat while the pitch is a standard 32 inches, and nothing to complain about on a short-haul. Most of the center seats stay unoccupied with the light load this morning. I'd been wrong though in guessing that Christmas automatically equates to low load factors - Barbara tells me the inbound DOH to DXB flight was completely packed out, but quite the opposite on the return. "Looks like many are coming to Dubai to ring in the new year," reasons Barbara.

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All the seats feature PTV AVOD but on this short hop, it isn't switched on and headsets aren't handed out. Only the safety video is played on the screen before departure, while comedy of the Just for Laughs visual gags variety is aired mute during the flight. Boiled sweets are passed out - a nice touch - as the doors are closed, exactly on the dot. We push back from the gate 2 minutes later. Flight time to Doha is 45 minutes.

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Things have been going swimmingly so far, but if one was forced to find fault it'll be in the annoying IFE box that occupies such a large portion of the space underneath the seat in front of me that almost half the legroom is gone. That's something to keep in mind if you're planning to sit by the window on QR's A332s next time. The pedal-like legrests don't do very much for me either.

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The taxi to active runway 30R affords a view, on the port-side, of the massive EK hangars - like almost everything else in Dubai, they're record-breakingly huge. I'm not sure if they're the world's largest, but that hardly matters for I reckon you can't go too wrong with using superlatives liberally in the UAE - if some monument isn't currently the biggest or tallest, it just means China has momentarily overtaken to take poll position for a year or two, before the completion of the next Gulf mega structure. And so on. Two A380s are spotted resting here between flights. I still can't get over the fact EK already has 15 of them in its fleet - and that's larger than the entire orders of most airlines taking delivery of the A380.

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As we roll onto 30R, the view is of construction work on another superstructure - and that is DXB's Concourse 3 which will, when completed early next year, be able accommodate no less than 18 A380s at any one time. Work seems to be progressing well, with the building starting to take shape. As we are light as a feather today, our short take-off run is rather undemanding: we lift off slightly more than halfway down the 4000 meter runway. The view below is of the kilometer-long Concourse 1 where we had earlier been parked, while just beyond the airport perimeter is the city of Dubai proper. This is undoubtedly also the largest downtown city airport in the world.

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We climb over Deira, the city's oldest neighborhood in which the airport is located, on the east side of the Dubai Creek. The past and future of this amazing trade-dependent maritime city is strangely intertwined in this small area - creek-side docks still repair wooden dhows, as A380s climb out above them many times a day. On the other side of the creek is Bur Dubai and then the newer parts of the city sprawl westward from there.

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The world's tallest building stands out in the hazy distance as a "hey, look at me" monument. It dominates an area known as Downtown Dubai which is fast becoming the new moneyed center of the city. Our heading directly west brings us quickly over the Persian Gulf and a distant view of the beaches of Jumeirah before haze and low cloud obscures the vista.

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Back aboard QR101, it's interesting to see the ambient mood lighting switched on even for a short hop like this one. It's not long after this pic is taken that the seat belt signs are switched off, main cabin lights switched on, and service starts in earnest.

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The contents of the seat pocket include the Oryx Entertainment Guide - QR calls it "a multiplex in the sky" - not much use on this flight, but at least it's useful for planning ahead for what to watch on my sector to LHR. The choices are not as extensive as that on EK's ICE (which airline's is?) but it's easily among the best around with a selection of over a hundred movies and even more TV programs. The inflight magazine dubbed "5-Star Reading" features stories on Nice, Phuket and Hanoi, among this airline's latest destinations. It added only 10 new points to its route network in 2010.

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The crew have now put on a dark service jacket over their light color blouses - presumably in lieu of aprons. Catering on this flight is quick and comes in the form of pre-packaged water, OJ and hot chicken roll with an upper-crust name. Perfectly fine, and the pie is quite tasty - but a hot coffee would have been very much appreciated too.

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It's not long before we start our descent for Doha International, located beside the turquoise waters of the Gulf. We're soon making a smooth landing and taxing the short distance to the airport terminals. The opening in mid-December of a new Arrivals Terminal results in a detailed bilingual announcement about what to do when disembarking. All are bus gates at DOH, but now arriving and departing passengers are to be processed in separate buildings. "To avoid getting off at the wrong terminal", each passenger holds a boarding pass folder that's been color-coded: a blue folder indicates someone destined for the Arrivals Terminal while a yellow folder belongs to a transfer passenger headed for the Transfers and Departures building. First and Business class passengers meanwhile are transported and processed seperately at a dedicated Premium terminal or Arrivals lounge, depending on whether they're connecting or terminating. It's all rather complicated and I'm not surprised to see many passengers getting off at the wrong stops: I'm sure it happens after every flight.

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continued below...
 
airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 849
Joined: Tue May 01, 2001 7:42 pm

RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Tue Feb 15, 2011 4:29 pm



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DOHA (GMT +3)
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If reviews are to be believed, Doha International Airport is not among travelers' (or at least economy passengers') favorites as it struggles to cope with the ever larger volumes of traffic brought in by a rapidly growing national carrier. Both facilities and tempers appear to frequently fall short. The authorities are however hoping that all this angst is temporary as a spanking new airport is currently being built to the east of here - the $11 billion New Doha International Airport, slated to open in 2012, will naturally be one of the world's largest.

I may just be lucky today, but my passage through this terminal is almost hassle-free. After a quick boarding pass check and an equally brisk security scan, I am shuttled up some escalators and straight to the boarding gate for my onward flight. The connection time between flights is an hour and a quarter - which, for an airport that moves its passengers around by bus, effectively translates to no time at all to look around. The boarding process for Qatar flagship 001 is already underway at gate 12.

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I join the queue where a very stringent passport check is underway ahead of the gate lounge. The spine of my passport is examined in detail, the pages are counted and stamps are reviewed, while the covers are rubbed vigorously several times - presumably to discern if I am the holder of a forged or stolen document. From the look of disappointment on the official's face when he hands me back my passport, I get the feeling my being led away in handcuffs to a dusty cell would have really made his day. But alas, not today mate.

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An apron bus is already waiting downstairs - it seems to be occupied with families and rather elderly folk - looks like I had unknowingly boarded ahead with those passengers requiring special assistance. That's good news: it's great to be on the first bus headed for the waiting A340-600 on the tarmac, which means an easier time catching cabin shots without the distraction of too many passengers. After a short drive from the terminal, we make a clockwise spin of the long fuselage down the starboard side from the nose to the tail of this gorgeous plane, and end up parked by the back stairs on port side.

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What happens next is, well, nothing. We are parked stationary for the next ten minutes or so. Is anybody home? The aft door remains firmly shut while the crew - if they're on board - are either unaware we're here (after all the window shades look like they're down), or are not yet prepared to receive us. Meanwhile, the passengers - some of whom are already dressed for London weather - wait impatiently...

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There is some activity in the interim when our bus moves out to allow a refueling truck access to the plane, and I am finally able to grab a quick shot of the long Airbus fuselage in its entirety. I'm in no hurry to board - it's nice hanging out here for a while actually - but I can guess my fellow passengers probably don't share the same sentiment. When our bus next reaches the back stairs again, it seems someone's alerted the crew about us and the door is finally opened. That's when the prisoners from the bus surge forward in a sprint, anxious to quickly buckle themselves into their next metallic tube!

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In case you're wondering, the color of the sky hasn't suddenly changed. The more than subtle shift in color tones comes about because I'm now outside the bus. The earlier pics were taken through glass tinted to keep the strong Arabian sun out. Once outside though, there's no choice but join the rest on the stairs - keen as I am to loiter around taking more pics, I have a nagging suspicion there are rules against it. Still, it's just a great feeling being here - boarding a plane as long as an A346 via stairs and catching sight of the large Trents up close from ground level. I think inhaling Jet A-1 is keeping me on slight high too.  

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I take my time, trying to savor the moment, as I board A7-AGD - Qatar Airways' last delivered (in 2007) of a fleet of A340-600s so small (4 planes) it almost seems boutique. This may be my first ride on a QR A346, but I'm ticking it off my sixth airline - not too bad a record I think considering that not more than a dozen airlines in total have ever applied their liveries to the world's longest passenger aircraft. A more senior-looking crew member - dressed in darker uniform - greets us at the door, and I am directed the few steps to my seat at row 50 in the aft cabin.

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Doha to London (Heathrow) 5,246 km
Qatar Airways flight QR 001 A340-642 A7-AGD
Dept: 1302 Arrv: 1720 (on time)


The interior of this A346 is almost identical to the A332 I had just been on. The seats are maroon, seat-backs are light and carpets are grey, while the pitch appears similar. Configuration at 2-4-2 is of course identical too. Like on the earlier flight, everything looks neat and tidy - the only noticable difference being the presence on this longer flight of a crimson blanket, together with pillow, at each seat. Consistency in the hardware is obviously hard to beat on QR.

Unfortunately the same can't be said for the software. I'm not expecting a stewardess quite as perfect as Barbara on this flight, and would have happily settled for half a Barbara, but even that may be asking too much of a crew today who are rather reserved for some reason. To be fair, some crew members are friendlier than others, but it's really the prevailing mood that could probably be best read in an ultra-soothing voice as one of those weather-inspired QR television commercials: this afternoon en route to London, we're anticipating a large swath of gloom descend on the cabin - the thick fog is unlikely to lift until after we land at Heathrow. The weather. Sponsored by Qatar Airways: the world's 5-star airline. 

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Other trip reporters who take their jobs far more seriously than I, and who religiously rate every aspect of an airline, will undoubtedly have dealt QR the third degree over the standard of its inflight service today. What more on a flagship service. But I'm in far too cheerful a mood to be bothered: I'm just glad I am aboard an empty-ish flight (I overhear a crew member mention there are 163 passengers - this plane seats 306) and heading on-time and in the right direction around the world. Also, another aspect I really do like about the boarding process at DOH is the fact that passengers come in batches - much better for taking cabin pics. With economy class boarding from the back door, stewardesses face aft to greet passengers - and that's something you don't see very often these days.

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This is a view of my "space" by the window for the next seven hours - decent enough - together with the promised empty seat next to me as a bonus. I'd been quite lucky on this trip with empty seats next to me on every flight so far. As I begin to settle in, there's commotion at seat 49K where an elderly lady, looking like how I imagine Agatha Christie's Jane Marple to be, is complaining. "I had requested for a seat at the front of the plane and they've put me here... I don't like the back!" she says, probably a little more loudly than she realizes. A proactive crew member would have offered Miss Marple an alternative or at least engaged her in conversation - for I suspect a chat is what she's after anyway - but the maroon stewardess (let's call her Rita) helping her responds with a fixed stare and in a frustrated tone says: "madam, but this is your seat" - which doesn't help matters.

Rita (who doesn't appear in any of the pictures here, in case you're wondering) must be having a bad day, for I don't see her crack a smile the entire flight. That Miss Marple is one her charges wouldn't have improved her mood one bit. "What place is this called?" I hear Miss Marple ask the passing Rita, as we sit on the ground awaiting other boarding passengers. Rita pierces with another icy stare: "Doha... in Qatar," comes the very reluctant answer. "Oh, we're still in Qatar then? I thought we'd gone," Miss Marple responds. "What's that name again of the town you mention?" I can't even describe the look Rita gives in response - but there's no doubt we're in for an interesting flight!

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As the last of the passengers board, Captain Mahindran comes on the blower with a detailed account of flight facts and figures - done so precisely and slowly it's almost as if he knew some nut back at 50K was conscientiously copying it all down. We're aboard an Airbus A340 dash 600, the first officer is Abdul Rahim; it'll take us about 10 minutes to taxi to the northern-facing runway, where we'll accelerate to about 300 km/h prior to lift off, he says. Initial cruising altitude is at 32,000 feet, rising to 40,000 ft midway and reaching speeds of 800 km/h in final cruise. Our routing will take us overhead Bahrain, Kuwait, Baghdad, Turkey, the Black Sea and then (generically) "Europe". Flying time to London is seven hours and ETA is 1730. It's cold there - minus three degrees Celcius expected on arrival. "I am very sure you will enjoy and cherish the personalized service from my team of dedicated personnel," concludes Captain Mahindran, just as a glum-looking Rita is passing out boiled sweets in the aft cabin. Aah, cherished moments - don't I just love them.

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Just like on my earlier Garuda flight, passengers start occupying the empty middle seat blocks as we push back in hopes of a conversion later into a flat-bed. I'm comfortable where I am though, especially on a daytime flight in which I have no intention of sleeping for any long period of time - the IFE box on the A346 is also a lot less bulky than on the A332.

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Our take-off run is undemanding with the Trents staying remarkably quiet - and we're soon headed out of Doha. It's the sound of a crying infant at the bulkhead that accompanies us on the climb, but it's almost matched in my vicinity by a sudden outburst from Miss Marple, who's traveling alone but apparently talking aloud to somebody on how best to handle a crying baby. "You want to be keeping the child upright. That's right, upright! Don't parents know how to deal with children these days?" Everyone around keeps an embarrassed, discreet silence.

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Above, I believe, is a partial view of the end of one of the runways at the New Doha International Airport, built on reclaimed land. As we climb further, a huge offshore residential and commercial development comprising a chain of artificial islands known as The Pearl-Qatar comes into view. According to the developer's website, the strange off-shoots you see below is known as Isola Dana, or nine outrageously exclusive "private islands" that are available for sale. Each island is about 18,000 square meters, but the website doesn't mention how much it'll set you back for. But you know what they say: if you need to ask the price, it's probably not for you...

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Once the seatbelt signs come off, the crew meticulously proceed to lower the window shades and darken the cabin - never mind it's only lunchtime right now. I just can't understand this obsession, particularly among airlines in the Middle East, to keep everyone in the dark! To darken the cabin after the meal is understandable but just after take-off? Rita gets no resistance shutting the shades all along our cabin, that's until she reaches me: I'd like some natural light if that's okay, I say politely, in an attempt at civilized civil disobedience. She doesn't insist or protest but gives me one of her infamous stares before moving on: that's all I need, Rita must be thinking, some crazy woman in 49K and then this dickhead at 50K! Looking around, I am only one of 2 defiant passengers in the entire aft cabin.

Hot towels are passed out and then service starts with drinks from a bar trolley. "Whisky please. A double," Miss Marple says in a tone audible four rows away. "I need it to keep me warm. I've never been on a plane as cold as this. Emirates isn't like this." It's Rita again at the receiving end, and instead of offering a solution, she's refuting the passenger's claims: "we set the temperature at a comfortable level." This sets Marple off on a quest for public opinion: "Is anyone else cold? Isn't it freezing?" I think the entire cabin heard that.

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I'm meanwhile hiding behind a movie and noise-cancelling headphones, desperately trying to avoid being dragged into any further conversation involving Rita and Miss Marple. I am largely successful until my movie is abruptly interrupted for an on-screen "menu presentation". Interesting how all money-saving ideas are done for environmental reasons these days!

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The choices don't look too bad. The on screen menu presentation is bilingual - in English and Arabic - but it's also annoyingly lengthy because each language cycle is run twice. Of course I would have prefered a paper menu, even if it's less environment-friendly.

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What follows next is interesting. The crew come around to lower passengers' tray tables and supply each with blue designer table mat of sorts made of hard paper. It's not quite a business class table cloth but the extra frill is a nice surprise - in steerage which bears the brunt of cost-cutting, anything remotely different feels special.

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The meal is also a success. Presentation on the clear trays isn't too bad, but pity about the plastic cutlery. I don't regret choosing the vegetarian paneer makhani as a main course, while the greek salad to start is excellent, as is the pudding. I have no complaints at all about the quality of the meal.

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Cabin lights are back on for the meals so I have no qualms in keeping my window shades fully open. The dry desertscape of Iraq passes underneath us as the meal trays are cleared away. Since overflying the beleaguered country for the first time last year on EY, it's not as much a thrill anymore the second time round, but I guess it's still somewhat special if it still warrants a couple of PTV screen shots!

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Hot beverages aren't served on the tray but seperately after the meal on Qatar. A small detail, but like the table mat, it's appreciated. The coffee is very good by the way. QR offers excellent catering in its premium classes and I'm glad to see that it maintains a decently high standard in economy class as well.

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The flight is now quiet, with the passengers fed and contented. Most are either sleeping or watching their PTVs. Even Miss Marple - who's been supplied with a mountain of blankets - is rather subdued. She asks for aspirin but Rita, rightly, refuses to accede on account of the few whiskies she's had over dinner. We're making good progress and are now heading out above the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan close to the Turkish border. Clouds obscure the views after this. A quick visit to the loo reveals a clean, well-maintained facility. And then it's time for a quick snooze.

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It's late afternoon over central Europe. Daylight is fading and a snow-covered Polish countryside shimmers as nameless towns slip by beneath us, but I'm feeling a little unsettled. You see, I choose old books to re-read on year-end trips and on this one, I brought two which I thought would be appropriate at different stages of the journey. I'd been dabbling in and out of Tadeusz Borowski's This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen since Dubai, but it is here - appropriately over Poland - that his unsentimental writing of death and deprivation starts to take its toll on me. I'd forgotten how powerful it was.

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About two hours before landing, a light snack comprising a tasty lamb kashmiri wrap, cookies and beverage is served. Like for the main meal, the service first starts with the 'laying' of the tray with a table mat. Captain Mahindran soon comes back on the blower with an update on London weather - it's cold but at least there's no further snow to close down LHR - and with no ATC delays anticipated, we should be landing 20 minutes ahead of schedule. He ends by thanking us for flying Qatar.

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Mood lighting that was mainly bluish through the flight turns golden yellow as we start our descent for Heathrow. It's already totally dark outside but the clear skies afford views of the Thames Estuary - the city lights getting more prolific as we head westward into greater London on Boxing Day night. Most of my attempts at catching night shots end in utter failure, but there are one or two fluke shots that are half-decent enough to be posted here.  

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The Qatar flagship makes a smooth landing on 27L at 1710 and is at its Terminal 4 stand ten minutes later. We've arrived in London on schedule which - in December 2010 in Europe - cannot be taken for granted, by any means. I'd been lucky so far - I can only hope it'll stay that way for the rest of the trip.

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last words


A carrier with a tagline like 'world's five-star airline' invariably invites the retort "really?" Especially when the basis for this marketing fluff was an award by a rather questionable online airline survey portal. What does Qatar Airways mean to you? If I am to be brutally honest, I'll have to say it's taken me awhile to take the airline seriously. But I'll also have to admit that having flown QR a couple of times already, it's hard not to have a few good things to say about it. And have a natural bias in its favor.

I'd previously only flown on - and been impressed by - QR's Business Class (there's a yet unwritten trip report, which I don't think I'll ever get to now!) but sometimes, the real test is in economy class. These two flights with Qatar have shown an airline that probably deserves to be rated highly, especially for the hardware, but with consistency in service an issue - something that isn't quite as obvious in J class. The differences between Barbara on QR101 and "Rita" in QR001 are so stark they could be working for two different airlines. In the end of the day, I think analysis like this amounts to nought - it's really the luck of the draw! 

Thanks for joining me on the journey so far. I hope you will join me for my next three sectors from London. There's some unique catering on the way...

.

.


.
Here's a list of my previous trip reports (in chronological order, from latest)

8 Days Around The World - Part 1: Garuda Rising (by airpearl Jan 16 2011 in Trip Reports)
The Jewel Amiss In Crown On Royal Jordanian (by airpearl Sep 26 2010 in Trip Reports)
Flat & Low: Premium Class On AirAsia X (by airpearl Sep 1 2010 in Trip Reports)
Flying Mugabe's Private Jet: Air Zimbabwe KUL-PEK (by airpearl Jul 25 2010 in Trip Reports)
On Asiana Business: Chicken Soup For The Seoul (by airpearl Jun 20 2010 in Trip Reports)
Happy 50th Birthday TG! Retro Flight To Hong Kong (by airpearl May 7 2010 in Trip Reports)
Propping Down To Singapore On A Firefly (by airpearl Mar 28 2010 in Trip Reports)
Upping The Game: On Etihad In J & New F (by airpearl Feb 9 2010 in Trip Reports)
The AF A380 Gets TSAed: To JFK On Boxing Day (by Airpearl Dec 30 2009 in Trip Reports)
Software Surprises On Emirates: BKK-DXB Vv On A380 (by Airpearl Dec 20 2009 in Trip Reports)
Gulf Air First KUL-BAH-KUL On Jet’s B77W (by Airpearl Oct 31 2009 in Trip Reports)
Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J (by Airpearl Aug 22 2009 in Trip Reports)
Korean Y Experience - Older A330 & Brand New B77W (by Airpearl Jul 25 2009 in Trip Reports)
The Fiesta Route To Manila: In Economy On MH & PR (by Airpearl May 24 2009 in Trip Reports)
Gulf Air (And Proxy) London Roundtrip In F & J (by Airpearl Jan 6 2009 in Trip Reports)
Flying On Borrowed Time: Thai A340-500 (by Airpearl Dec 7 2008 in Trip Reports)
Singapore Airlines Business Class To Melbourne (by Airpearl Nov 8 2008 in Trip Reports)
The Qantas A380 Inaugural (by Airpearl Oct 20 2008 in Trip Reports)
Trijets Rule OK: Biman Bangladesh DC10-30 (by Airpearl Jun 25 2008 in Trip Reports)
Ups & Downs: CX First Class Across The Pacific (by Airpearl Jun 4 2008 in Trip Reports)
Battle Of The Kebayas: Malaysia Vs. Singapore (by Airpearl May 17 2008 in Trip Reports)
From Song Thaew To 747: Domestic On Thai Airways (by Airpearl Apr 24 2008 in Trip Reports)
Short Hop, Big Suite: Cathay’s New F On 747 (by Airpearl Apr 9 2008 in Trip Reports)
How The Other Half Lives: F Class On ANA & Thai (by Airpearl Apr 3 2008 in Trip Reports)
An Indian Indulgence With Jet And Kingfisher (by Airpearl Mar 20 2008 in Trip Reports)
Inaugural AirAsia X And Routine A380 In A Weekend (by Airpearl Nov 13 2007 in Trip Reports)
Etihad To London In J And F (by Airpearl Oct 23 2007 in Trip Reports)
Cathay Pacific New J Class On A330-300 KUL-HKG (by Airpearl Oct 10 2007 in Trip Reports)
 
PlunaCRJ
Posts: 301
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2007 8:05 pm

RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:32 pm

Thank you for such a nice read!

It sounds like you had a very nice trip. And with the Mrs. Marple- Rita duet onboard, the IFE was top notch.

I'm now looking forward to the next leg of your RTW voyage... that preview you left surely looks very interesting (appetizing?)!

Regards,
 
JL418
Posts: 401
Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 5:20 pm

RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:35 pm

Hi Airpearl!

thank you very much for posting! I was craving for a reason to skip away from the utterly tiring calculations of AB Inbev ROE for fiscal years 2009, 2008, 2007 (and their year-on-year averages of course) and there you are! I guess you pretty much saved me from suicide. 

What more can I say? Another brilliant piece of writing from you, as usual - whenever you'll plan to write down a travel book, drop me a line, I'll go and buy it in a heartbeat.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
There is nothing that can be said about Dubai that hasn't been said before. That's just as well because I have nothing to say about the city I am visiting. It isn't anything personal you understand - it's just I didn't see any of it.

I adore your headings in italics. This is no exception and makes me wonder: weren''t you sad about having to rush from one place to the other without the chance to actually see the places you were visiting?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Two A380s are spotted resting here between flights. I still can't get over the fact EK already has 15 of them in its fleet - and that's larger than the entire orders of most airlines taking delivery of the A380.

I can't get over the fact that the current 15 ones represent something like 15% of the overall amount of A380s ordered by EK! Sometimes I wonder whether EK isn't pushing the envelope a little bit too far.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Our heading directly west brings us quickly over the Persian Gulf and a distant view of the beaches of Jumeirah before haze and low cloud obscures the vista.

Thank you for the pictures and for the guided tour! Photos were absolutely stunning, sea looked almost Seychelles-ish.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Still, it's just a great feeling being here - boarding a plane as long as an A346 via stairs and catching sight of the large Trents up close from ground level.

I guess that boarding such an airplane via stairs must have been something like a jump-in-the-past experience: I'd felt like boarding a, I don't know, 707 in those glamorous Pan-Am years.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
s afternoon en route to London, we're anticipating a large swath of gloom descend on the cabin - the thick fog is unlikely to lift until after we land at Heathrow. The weather. Sponsored by Qatar Airways: the world's 5-star airline.

Definitely the highlight of the whole TR!!! I always found the QR ad on BBC World quite, well, dull but making fun out of it never crossed my mind!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
A small detail, but like the table mat, it's appreciated. The coffee is very good by the way. QR offers excellent catering in its premium classes and I'm glad to see that it maintains a decently high standard in economy class as well.

I guess small details like this, plus the gentle touch at check in back in DXB, have made QR deserve its five-star rating.
 
Flightsimboy
Posts: 1408
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2005 12:49 pm

RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:59 pm

Great trip report, and written with such an easy style, that is quite your own.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
From a distance I see the unmistakable presence of winglets on the grey and maroon fuselage, which can only mean one thing: the B77L has eluded me yet again!

A bit of a disappointment but a B77L on a 45 minute flight, quite bizzare.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
but what must also be said of QR is its steadfast adherence to a consistent image both inside and out that's quite admirable.

Yes Qatar does have that one fine quality about them. Well pretty much like Lufthansa I guess.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The tone for a flight is often set by the first flight attendants one interacts with on board.

I guess this is why they keep the friendlier ones on board to stand right up front at the door.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
And on this one, QR's got it all sewn up for me within moments thanks to Barbara, a naturally cheerful flight attendant who's been flying with the airline for all of nine months.

Poor girl, I wonder how long she will last? Keeping up to Qatar's dictatorial rules in regards to it's cabin crew.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
That's good news: it's great to be on the first bus headed for the waiting A340-600 on the tarmac, which means an easier time catching cabin shots without the distraction of too many passengers. After a short drive from the terminal, we make a clockwise spin of the long fuselage down the starboard side from the nose to the tail of this gorgeous plane, and end up parked by the back stairs on port side.

I would have passed out   

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Once outside though, there's no choice but join the rest on the stairs - keen as I am to loiter around taking more pics, I have a nagging suspicion there are rules against it. Still, it's just a great feeling being here - boarding a plane as long as an A346 via stairs and catching sight of the large Trents up close from ground level. I think inhaling Jet A-1 is keeping me on slight high too.

Loved the inaling that kept you high!! Glad you had no problems photographing the aircraft while on the tarmac. Usually a big no no in the Middle East.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
This may be my first ride on a QR A346, but I'm ticking it off my sixth airline - not too bad a record I think considering that not more than a dozen airlines in total have ever applied their liveries to the world's longest passenger aircraft.

Sixth airline on an A346!! Have to read your other reports to see which the other five were.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Captain Mahindran comes on the blower with a detailed account of flight facts and figures - done so precisely and slowly it's almost as if he knew some nut back at 50K was conscientiously copying it all down.

Not a nut but a Hercule Poirot to match up with the Jane Marple you had on your flight   The accounts about Ms. Marple were quite amusing.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Even Miss Marple - who's been supplied with a mountain of blankets - .

This was the funniest of them all  
 
aflyingkiwi
Posts: 428
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:23 am

Hi Airpearl

Another superb trip report with brilliant photo's as is always on your reports.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
There are two main reasons why I'd chosen Qatar Airways to Heathrow via Doha: the first is pricing

Just wondering, What was the price.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Filipina agent working one of the three economy desks says it's "very light" on the DXB-DOH sector today, and "about 70%"

It's always nice to have a flight with a low load.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I still can't get over the fact EK already has 15 of them in its fleet

I still can't believe that EK will have 90 of them. It's a big testament to EK's growth plans.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
What happens next is, well, nothing. We are parked stationary for the next ten minutes or so. Is anybody home?

  

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
I begin to settle in, there's commotion at seat 49K where an elderly lady, looking like how I imagine Agatha Christie's Jane Marple to be, is complaining. "I had requested for a seat at the front of the plane and they've put me here... I don't like the back!" she says, probably a little more loudly than she realizes. A proactive crew member would have offered Miss Marple an alternative or at least engaged her in conversation - for I suspect a chat is what she's after anyway - but the maroon stewardess (let's call her Rita) helping her responds with a fixed stare and in a frustrated tone says: "madam, but this is your seat"

I'm not exactly sure who's side I should take for the Mrs Marple-Rita debacle. Considering it was a low load it would probably be best for the crew member to move her up but she does sound like a tricky passenger so it could lead to whole new things.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
The meal is also a success.

All the meals look well presented and nice to eat. Good job by QR.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Thanks for joining me on the journey so far. I hope you will join me for my next three sectors from London. There's some unique catering on the way...

Ooooh, can't wait

Regards,
aflyingkiwi
 
767747
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Feb 16, 2011 3:58 am

Great report, airpearl!

Looks like you had a nice trip with Qatar. The more I read about them and see reports about them, the more I am impressed with their offerings in all their classes! A hot chicken wrap in Economy? Unheard of in America on domestic flights! And the table mat? Wow! Impressive. I definitely agree; its the small things that make a difference.

Thanks for sharing!

Matthew (767747)
I love to fly!
 
airbusfanyyz
Posts: 1410
Joined: Tue Oct 29, 2002 1:01 am

RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Feb 16, 2011 4:19 am

Love the last photo! Thanks for sharing.
I've wanted to fly QR for a while but the DOH transit has always discouraged me.
But they're supposed to start service to Canada soon... so maybe I'll take the plunge.  
 
MH017
Posts: 1473
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2005 4:17 am

RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:16 am

Hi Airpearl,

Wonderful, just wonderful the way you write and add those topnotch pictures to your TR...

Having flown QR myself for quite some years now, I've to attest, though, catering in Economy-class have declined a bit now with all these horrific wraps (before they were snacks), with tastes not always up to for "Westeners"...

Having expanded so fast during the last few years, it's a no brainer, cabincrew consistency had to suffer one way or the other  

Business-class flights on QR, however, were the best ever I've taken sofar, both catering the service-wise...

Looking forward to your next installment(s), esp. after giving us a pre-look with your last picture !
don't throw away tomorrow !
 
Burj
Posts: 745
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:33 am

Awesome trip report! It just seem so wrong to be boarding a "5 star airline" via stairs!

O.K. WHAT THE HECK is that last picture? That is just disturbing looking!
 
PlaneHunter
Posts: 6512
Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:17 am

RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Feb 16, 2011 9:03 am

Hi Airpearl,

I just returned from a trip and your report is the first one I clicked at - and yes, it was a very good decision! Once again you delivered an excellent review full of details and accompanied by many great pictures.

After reading the report, I feel a bit frustrated about my latest failure to book QR - which is still missing in my log. It seems there's always a reason why I cannot get on QR...bad flying times prevented me this time from choosing QR for my upcoming vacation in the UAE.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Between DXB and DOH, the Middle East's only "5-star airline" is flying the B77L

Amazing, isn't it?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
and that's flown by the A346, one of my favorite airliners.

Good choice!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Apologies for the bluish tint from the anti-glare on these pics taken from the terminal.

Nice shot - cannot wait to try one of these birds soon. I hope it's a good alternative to QR...

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
the B77L has eluded me yet again! I really shouldn't be surprised that on a short hop like DOH-DXB equipment substitutions can, and probably do, happen with great regularity, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing.

That's too bad - but yes, equipment changes are common on that route.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
You can't possibly be bored airside in Dubai: with time, I'm sure one could easily fill a whole trip report entirely with planes spotted from this food court!

No doubts about that! I wish viewing options would be better.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Spotting that I'd got my camera out, she chats with me about photography - even dipping briefly into the Canon v Nikon debate - before excusing herself to quickly help some passengers load their carry-ons.

Nice!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Flight time to Doha is 45 minutes.

So long?  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
That's something to keep in mind if you're planning to sit by the window on QR's A332s next time. The pedal-like legrests don't do very much for me either.

That's disappointing - I'm wondering whether it's the same on all QR A330s and A340s.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Catering on this flight is quick and comes in the form of pre-packaged water, OJ and hot chicken roll with an upper-crust name. Perfectly fine, and the pie is quite tasty - but a hot coffee would have been very much appreciated too.

EK handed out trays on my DXB-DOH-DXB flights, but didn't offer hot drinks either.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I join the queue where a very stringent passport check is underway ahead of the gate lounge. The spine of my passport is examined in detail, the pages are counted and stamps are reviewed, while the covers are rubbed vigorously several times - presumably to discern if I am the holder of a forged or stolen document. From the look of disappointment on the official's face when he hands me back my passport, I get the feeling my being led away in handcuffs to a dusty cell would have really made his day.

Shame on that guy if he really had this attitude.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
This may be my first ride on a QR A346, but I'm ticking it off my sixth airline - not too bad a record I think considering that not more than a dozen airlines in total have ever applied their liveries to the world's longest passenger aircraft.

That's quite an achievement! IMO, the A346 belongs to the most attractive planes to fly on.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Rita (who doesn't appear in any of the pictures here, in case you're wondering) must be having a bad day, for I don't see her crack a smile the entire flight. That Miss Marple is one her charges wouldn't have improved her mood one bit. "What place is this called?" I hear Miss Marple ask the passing Rita, as we sit on the ground awaiting other boarding passengers. Rita pierces with another icy stare: "Doha... in Qatar," comes the very reluctant answer. "Oh, we're still in Qatar then? I thought we'd gone," Miss Marple responds. "What's that name again of the town you mention?" I can't even describe the look Rita gives in response - but there's no doubt we're in for an interesting flight!
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Hot towels are passed out and then service starts with drinks from a bar trolley. "Whisky please. A double," Miss Marple says in a tone audible four rows away. "I need it to keep me warm. I've never been on a plane as cold as this. Emirates isn't like this." It's Rita again at the receiving end, and instead of offering a solution, she's refuting the passenger's claims: "we set the temperature at a comfortable level." This sets Marple off on a quest for public opinion: "Is anyone else cold? Isn't it freezing?" I think the entire cabin heard that.

Must have been fun!   

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The choices don't look too bad. The on screen menu presentation is bilingual - in English and Arabic - but it's also annoyingly lengthy because each language cycle is run twice. Of course I would have prefered a paper menu, even if it's less environment-friendly.

That's quite cheap, I prefer menu cards anytime.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The meal is also a success. Presentation on the clear trays isn't too bad, but pity about the plastic cutlery. I don't regret choosing the vegetarian paneer makhani as a main course, while the greek salad to start is excellent, as is the pudding. I have no complaints at all about the quality of the meal.

Wow, the meal looks quite good.


Thanks again for sharing this great report!


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
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NZ107
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:22 am

Hey Airpearl!

Fantastic continuation from the first part.. Flying on Roni's favourite airline  

Superb pics.. Great attempts on approach to LHR. Now, where did you steal that title pic from?  It's amazing..

I guess the word consistency hangs over a lot of airlines and QR is no exception. Though the flights seem quite nice.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
we're soon saying our farewells - at least temporarily, for we have agreed to meet up in exactly one week's time to exchange notes when Roni swings by KUL as part of his exotic itinerary.

Wasn't that planned well!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
B77L, a type which has continued to elude me

And it continues to do so!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The fact that the world's longest range airliner is being misused on a bunny hop adds to the attraction.

The EK A345s are now misused.. No longer flying the nonstop flights which they were originally assigned to, the 77W has found its way to be just as capable. It's a shame to see these birds only doing short-medium haul flights! Well, for me anyway - seeing that they don't come here anymore. Better for the general enthusiast who only needs to travel a short distance to say that they've flown on it (I guess much like my Tasman hop, eh  ).

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
assures an empty seat next to me has been blocked, without my asking

Great service. It's nice to be reassured that before you get on the plane!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
the B77L has eluded me yet again! I really shouldn't be surprised that on a short hop like DOH-DXB equipment substitutions can, and probably do, happen with great regularity, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing.

Oh well.. Maybe it's suggesting to you to try some longer flight to experience the LR-ness in its entirety, not some 45 minute hop!  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The tone for a flight is often set by the first flight attendants one interacts with on board. And on this one, QR's got it all sewn up for me within moments thanks to Barbara, a naturally cheerful flight attendant who's been flying with the airline for all of nine months. She's friendly, polite, intelligent, approachable, proactive and professional - the epitomy of what good service should ideally be like in economy class. Spotting that I'd got my camera out, she chats with me about photography - even dipping briefly into the Canon v Nikon debate - before excusing herself to quickly help some passengers load their carry-ons. At moments like this, even a corny slogan like world's 5-star airline sounds totally believable.

That sounds like THE way to be greeted in Economy on any airline. If only all FAs were like that!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
All the seats feature PTV AVOD but on this short hop, it isn't switched on

That's a shame.. I'd still like to utilise/have a look at what's available..

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
that is DXB's Concourse 3 which will, when completed early next year, be able accommodate no less than 18 A380s at any one time

Wait. When's that new Dubai airport going to be finished? Oh, that's right. I never understand half of the construction work that goes on around Dubai!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
looks like I had unknowingly boarded ahead with those passengers requiring special assistance.

Nice work!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
That's when the prisoners from the bus surge forward in a sprint, anxious to quickly buckle themselves into their next metallic tube!

I guess none of us will ever know what it is that makes these people act the way they do.. They want to be the first onboard the plane and they also want to be the first off it!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
This is a view of my "space" by the window for the next seven hours - decent enough - together with the promised empty seat next to me as a bonus. I'd been quite lucky on this trip with empty seats next to me on every flight so far. As I begin to settle in, there's commotion at seat 49K where an elderly lady, looking like how I imagine Agatha Christie's Jane Marple to be, is complaining. "I had requested for a seat at the front of the plane and they've put me here... I don't like the back!" she says, probably a little more loudly than she realizes. A proactive crew member would have offered Miss Marple an alternative or at least engaged her in conversation - for I suspect a chat is what she's after anyway - but the maroon stewardess (let's call her Rita) helping her responds with a fixed stare and in a frustrated tone says: "madam, but this is your seat" - which doesn't help matters.

Rita (who doesn't appear in any of the pictures here, in case you're wondering) must be having a bad day, for I don't see her crack a smile the entire flight. That Miss Marple is one her charges wouldn't have improved her mood one bit. "What place is this called?" I hear Miss Marple ask the passing Rita, as we sit on the ground awaiting other boarding passengers. Rita pierces with another icy stare: "Doha... in Qatar," comes the very reluctant answer. "Oh, we're still in Qatar then? I thought we'd gone," Miss Marple responds. "What's that name again of the town you mention?" I can't even describe the look Rita gives in response - but there's no doubt we're in for an interesting flight!

Oh dear. Sounds pretty annoying to me. At least you'd surely know what city/country you transit through. And it also sounds like Miss Marple's on something.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Each island is about 18,000 square meters, but the website doesn't mention how much it'll set you back for. But you know what they say: if you need to ask the price, it's probably not for you...

Nor will they be able to tell you how long the island will last before sinking back into the Gulf!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
She doesn't insist or protest but gives me one of her infamous stares before moving on: that's all I need, Rita must be thinking, some crazy woman in 49K and then this dickhead at 50K!

LOL.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
until my movie is abruptly interrupted for an on-screen "menu presentation". Interesting how all money-saving ideas are done for environmental reasons these days!

At least Air NZ does it in a way that isn't quite as disturbing and you can still watch your movie.. Doesn't last too long either!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
supply each with blue designer table mat of sorts made of hard paper.

I must say that not only do menus take up less material than those table mats, they probably provide just as much use to the normal passenger than the table mats do! They go to such lengths to have this table mat yet cut back on menus..

The food does look nice, so does the rest of the cabin.


Thanks again for this wonderful instalment.. Should I be put off by the next part following that picture you added?  


Cheers,
Nicholas
It's all about the destination AND the journey.
 
gabrielchew
Posts: 3720
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 5:43 am

RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Feb 16, 2011 11:10 am

Sounds like QR are still pulling their weight in the Airline world. There's nothing quite like boarding (or disembarking) in DOH - all those widebodies, the desert breezes (if you avoid the heat of the summer), the Jet A, and a reassuring service on QR. The Economy terminal in DOH really isn't great though. In the evening peak it's a nightmare - the Premium terminal on the other hand is lovely! Seems like you got a bit of a mix of crew, although all seemed efficient if not friendly.

Funny they take away the menus to save the evironment, but replace them with much larger 'tablecloths' - perhaps they couild print the menu on those?
http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LGW-OPO-LGW,LHR-FCO-CTA-LIN-LCY,LHR-AMS-GRQ-SEN,LTN-CPH-LHR-ORD
 
airpearl
Topic Author
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:04 pm

Hey guys, appreciate your stopping by and putting your comments down. Qatar Airways is one of those airlines that are very well covered on A.net - though strangely more in J class then Y - and I'd wondered if I could add anything new to the collective knowledge. I still don't know if I did, but I'm glad you enjoyed Miss Marple-Rita tug-of-war... what would I have done without them!

Quoting PlunaCRJ (Reply 2):
Thank you for such a nice read!
It sounds like you had a very nice trip. And with the Mrs. Marple- Rita duet onboard, the IFE was top notch.

Thanks PlunaCRJ! And the IFE was exciting and totally unpredictable  
Quoting JL418 (Reply 3):
thank you very much for posting! I was craving for a reason to skip away from the utterly tiring calculations of AB Inbev ROE for fiscal years 2009, 2008, 2007 (and their year-on-year averages of course) and there you are! I guess you pretty much saved me from suicide.

Glad I was there for you JL418! But I don't envy you for your new assignments, my friend...

Quoting JL418 (Reply 3):
whenever you'll plan to write down a travel book, drop me a line, I'll go and buy it in a heartbeat.

Thanks   Once upon a time - when I was more idealistic - I thought that'd be something I would do. Just travel and write and compile it into a book. Of course, then reality intervened - making me realize that I'd go broke before I get half way through it! But if that book ever happens... I'll make sure I keep your email  
Quoting JL418 (Reply 3):
weren''t you sad about having to rush from one place to the other without the chance to actually see the places you were visiting?

Absolutely. Sometimes I wished I had a lot more time - but it's usually an unsatisfactory trade-off. That's why my purely 'flying' trips so often include places I'd been to before - then I don't feel guilty not seeing them.

Quoting JL418 (Reply 3):
I guess that boarding such an airplane via stairs must have been something like a jump-in-the-past experience: I'd felt like boarding a, I don't know, 707 in those glamorous Pan-Am years.

I have yet to board an A380 via stairs - now that would be awesome!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 4):
Great trip report,

Thanks Flightsimboy, appreciate it.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 4):
Yes Qatar does have that one fine quality about them.
Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 4):
I guess this is why they keep the friendlier ones on board to stand right up front at the door.
Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 4):
Poor girl, I wonder how long she will last?

I see we have one QR fan here...  
Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 4):
Loved the inaling that kept you high!! Glad you had no problems photographing the aircraft while on the tarmac. Usually a big no no in the Middle East.

Yeah, I kept it quite discreet - the previous time I was at DOH, I'd been warned before...

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 4):
Sixth airline on an A346!! Have to read your other reports to see which the other five were.

I did one on EY last year, but the most of rest (SA, CX, LH, TG) were my pre-TR writing days unfortunately.

Quoting aflyingkiwi (Reply 5):
Another superb trip report with brilliant photo's as is always on your reports.

Thanks much Aflyingkiwi.

Quoting aflyingkiwi (Reply 5):
Just wondering, What was the price.

The fare was USD261, but taxes and surcharges add another USD120 or so.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 6):
Great report, airpearl!
Looks like you had a nice trip with Qatar.

Thanks Matthew, not a bad experience at all.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 6):
The more I read about them and see reports about them, the more I am impressed with their offerings in all their classes!

It's definitely worth a try. And as it's usually priced below EK on the routes I fly, it's very good value for the money.

Quoting airbusfanyyz (Reply 7):
Love the last photo!

Haha... I think that's getting very mixed reviews!

Quoting MH017 (Reply 8):
Wonderful, just wonderful the way you write and add those topnotch pictures to your TR...

Hey there MH017, good to hear from you and thanks for your kind words.  
Quoting MH017 (Reply 8):
I've to attest, though, catering in Economy-class have declined a bit now

I suspect that must have been the case - but I think the decline in quantity (and sometimes also quality) applies to virtually every airline these days.

Quoting MH017 (Reply 8):
Business-class flights on QR, however, were the best ever I've taken sofar, both catering the service-wise...

I agree - I too had some great flights on QR which I think offers an almost 'old fashioned' service style in J class compared with the other gulf airlines.

Quoting Burj (Reply 9):
Awesome trip report!

Thanks Burj!

Quoting Burj (Reply 9):
O.K. WHAT THE HECK is that last picture? That is just disturbing looking!
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 11):
Should I be put off by the next part following that picture you added?  

Hahaha... believe it or not, that's what was offered to me aboard an European legacy carrier. It's not as horrific as it looks though  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
I just returned from a trip and your report is the first one I clicked at - and yes, it was a very good decision! Once again you delivered an excellent review full of details and accompanied by many great pictures.

Hey PH, welcome back   Thanks for the nice words - hope you had a great trip!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
I feel a bit frustrated about my latest failure to book QR - which is still missing in my log. It seems there's always a reason why I cannot get on QR...bad flying times prevented me this time from choosing QR for my upcoming vacation in the UAE.

It's strange... I always pictured you as having flown QR before. But I must be remembering your Oman Air flights.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
Nice shot - cannot wait to try one of these birds soon. I hope it's a good alternative to QR...

Aah, that's interesting - a VS report from you soon?

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
Shame on that guy if he really had this attitude.

I wasn't so much offended as bemused - looking intimidating may have even been in his brief!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 10):
That's quite an achievement!

Thanks - it took years of hard work  
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 11):
Fantastic continuation from the first part.. Flying on Roni's favourite airline

Hahaha Nicholas. Absolutely!!!

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 11):
Wasn't that planned well!

Yeah, it's a strange coincidence and totally unplanned, but worked out well!

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 11):
Well, for me anyway - seeing that they don't come here anymore. Better for the general enthusiast who only needs to travel a short distance to say that they've flown on it (I guess much like my Tasman hop, eh &nbsp .

I am rather tired of the 77Ws actually - they're taking over so many of the routes that used to be flown by 345s, 346s, 744s, 772s... sigh... the consolation is that some of these planes are still flying - even if they're somewhat misused. I can see you're really missing the 345s on the trans-Tasman!

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 11):
Oh well.. Maybe it's suggesting to you to try some longer flight to experience the LR-ness in its entirety, not some 45 minute hop!

That must be it!!! You know, Europe was in such a state weather-wise in mid- December, I started looking for alternatives to bypass the continent completely on this RTW trip - just in case. One of the choices on Expedia that jumped out at me was a DL 77L DXB to ATL - but of course that didn't happen.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 11):
Nor will they be able to tell you how long the island will last before sinking back into the Gulf!

LOL!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 12):
Sounds like QR are still pulling their weight in the Airline world. There's nothing quite like boarding (or disembarking) in DOH - all those widebodies, the desert breezes (if you avoid the heat of the summer), the Jet A, and a reassuring service on QR.

Nice summary Gabriel, and agreed - though I wished there was a little more variety in the widebodies at DOH

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 12):
Funny they take away the menus to save the evironment, but replace them with much larger 'tablecloths' - perhaps they could print the menu on those?
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 11):
I must say that not only do menus take up less material than those table mats, they probably provide just as much use to the normal passenger than the table mats do! They go to such lengths to have this table mat yet cut back on menus..
Like you guys I can't understand it either. It'd be nice if QR had both, but given a choice between the two, I'd still go for the menu.

Cheers
airpearl
 
AlwaysOnAPlane
Posts: 296
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:37 pm

Hey airpearl. Nice to catch your latest instalment, been waiting in anticipation for a while.

Again, so well written and all the info we need is right there for us.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
From a distance I see the unmistakable presence of winglets on the grey and maroon fuselage, which can only mean one thing: the B77L has eluded me yet again!

Shame. A chance to ride the 77L will present itself in time im sure. An excuse to keep chasing one.


I like your pictures of downtown Dubai. How things change and at such a pace too.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
this afternoon en route to London, we're anticipating a large swath of gloom descend on the cabin - the thick fog is unlikely to lift until after we land at Heathrow. The weather. Sponsored by Qatar Airways: the world's 5-star airline. 

Never has SKY news weather been more interesting   I watch just to see what lines they will come up with next.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
"What place is this called?" I hear Miss Marple ask the passing Rita, as we sit on the ground awaiting other boarding passengers. Rita pierces with another icy stare: "Doha... in Qatar," comes the very reluctant answer. "Oh, we're still in Qatar then? I thought we'd gone," Miss Marple responds. "What's that name again of the town you mention?"

Ha ha, the joys of getting old eh? Im in no rush.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Most of my attempts at catching night shots end in utter failure, but there are one or two fluke shots

Your picture in the Right turn is interesting. Wonder if it would be accepted into the Anet photo section? Worth a try i say..


Looking forward to your next sectors airpearl, vermin and all.


Cheers, Lee
 
ba319-131
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:10 pm

Hi Airpearl!

Great report and pictures, did enjoy!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
my ride on Qatar Airways arrives from Doha. Sadly, that's the extent of the good news. From a distance I see the unmistakable presence of winglets on the grey and maroon fuselage, which can only mean one thing: the B77L has eluded me yet again!

- Bummer! I guess I've been lucky, not missed out on any expected planes, ok, famous last words now!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The pedal-like legrests don't do very much for me either.

- I've never bought into these things in economy, never worked for me.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
keen as I am to loiter around taking more pics, I have a nagging suspicion there are rules against

- I got that feeling there too

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Rita gets no resistance shutting the shades all along our cabin, that's until she reaches me: I'd like some natural light if that's okay, I say politely, in an attempt at civilized civil disobedience. She doesn't insist or protest but gives me one of her infamous stares before moving on: that's all I need, Rita must be thinking, some crazy woman in 49K and then this dickhead at 50K!

- That was so funny, got a real good laugh out of that  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Looking around, I am only one of 2 defiant passengers in the entire aft cabin.

- If I had been on the flight there would have been 3 open  

I must say my 4 J QR segments last year were pretty good, aircrew, IMO, are better than the ground staff, theye need more work. The wife enjoyed them so much she would be willing to travel QR on her own if need be, normally something she reserves for BA.

Looking forward to the next installment!

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
 
signol
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:20 pm

Thanks for this report - awesome pictures, great interpretation, and just what I needed when deciding if I should book a QR flight (JNB-LON and return). I might just do that - when the funds are available of course!

signol
Flights booked: NWI-AMS-JNB-DUR, JNB-AMS-NWI
 
airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 849
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Thu Feb 17, 2011 5:55 am

Hey all, thanks for your comments.

Quoting AlwaysOnAPlane (Reply 14):
Shame. A chance to ride the 77L will present itself in time im sure. An excuse to keep chasing one.

Haha... yes, that's a good way of looking it! Thanks for stopping by Lee.

Quoting AlwaysOnAPlane (Reply 14):
Ha ha, the joys of getting old eh? Im in no rush.

Indeed. I felt a little sorry for Marple - thought she really ought to have been travelling with a companion.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 15):
Great report and pictures, did enjoy!

Hey thanks Mark.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 15):
I've never bought into these things in economy, never worked for me.

Yup, they're effectively useless I think. The "footrest nets" in Y on QF A380s on the other hand are a great innovation and improvement on these things - I wished more airlines would introduce them, or at least something similar.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 15):
must say my 4 J QR segments last year were pretty good, aircrew, IMO, are better than the ground staff, theye need more work. The wife enjoyed them so much she would be willing to travel QR on her own if need be, normally something she reserves for BA.

I do remember those flights well from your reports. I was flying QR at about the same time too - we were transiting DOH on the same day, if I recall correctly, but at different times though and in opposite directions.

Quoting signol (Reply 16):
just what I needed when deciding if I should book a QR flight (JNB-LON and return).

Thanks Signol - JNB-LON would be an interesting routing with QR!

Cheers
airpearl
 
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NZ107
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Thu Feb 17, 2011 6:29 am

Quoting airpearl (Reply 13):
I am rather tired of the 77Ws actually - they're taking over so many of the routes that used to be flown by 345s, 346s, 744s, 772s... sigh... the consolation is that some of these planes are still flying - even if they're somewhat misused. I can see you're really missing the 345s on the trans-Tasman!

I haven't flown on any of these widebodies enough to form an opinion but I've heard quite a bit from others about how much they hate flying the 77W.. I haven't had a chance to fly EK since then so I guess I'm not missing the A345s too much just yet.. Still have LA's A343 to try.. But either way, it's only a 3-4 hr flight at the most and any widebody is enjoyable over an A320/737 if given the choice!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 13):
One of the choices on Expedia that jumped out at me was a DL 77L DXB to ATL - but of course that didn't happen.

Sounds like it would have made this series quite a bit shorter too   The 77L would take quite a bit of effort to get on from where I am.. Can't have them all!


Cheers,
Nicholas
It's all about the destination AND the journey.
 
ojas
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Thu Feb 17, 2011 12:21 pm

HI airpearl.

A fantastic TRip report, one of the few people on A.net whose TR's I follow (especially since I fell for your Biman DC - 10 trap &nbsp 
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
and that's flown by the A346, one of my favorite airliners.

Me too, it's smooth as silk 

I did a trip back in Jan 2010 where I too had a B77L and A346 in my itinerary. However in my case the A346 was "abused" so to say as I was flying IAH-DOH-BOM.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
and "about 70%" on the onward London flight but assures an empty seat next to me has been blocked, without my asking. She makes a cursory check of my passport - far less rigorously than the experience at Jakarta yesterday - and sends me off with a chirpy "Selamat Jalan". It's a good start on Qatar.

Nice touch.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
om a distance I see the unmistakable presence of winglets on the grey and maroon fuselage, which can only mean one thing: the B77L has eluded me yet again! I really shouldn't be surprised that on a short hop like DOH-DXB equipment substitutions can, and probably do, happen with great regularity, but that doesn't make it any less disappointing.

Sad, however as you know equipment changes are so frequent around the GCC here are 2 of my favorite substitutions so far.

EY scheduled A332 actual B77W
EK scheduled A332 actual A343

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
if only flying was always so civilized...

.

How I wish!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
lthough I'd taken my time to board, the cabin - seats decked out in QR's standard maroon with pale blue or yellow headrest covers - is still mainly unoccupied. Everything looks immaculately clean and tidy. I must admit this is, for me, probably not the most exciting of interiors - one might even call it boring - but what must also be said of QR is its steadfast adherence to a consistent image both inside and out that's quite admirable. (Better than some muddled airlines I know that have gone on wild flights of fancy!) The same maroon color is used in J class as well, while the carpets are always grey, delivering the clear, unequivocal message that: yes, you're flying Qatar.

Yeah, given the Qatari flag has Maroon over it, there is a lot of emphasis on that colour.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
At moments like this, even a corny slogan like world's 5-star airline sounds totally believable.

Agreed

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
All the seats feature PTV AVOD but on this short hop, it isn't switched on and headsets aren't handed out. Only the safety video is played on the screen before departure, while comedy of the Just for Laughs visual gags variety is aired mute during the flight.

Same thing on my EY flight, unfortunately that was the only redeeming feature of the entire trip.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I'm not sure if they're the world's largest, but that hardly matters for I reckon you can't go too wrong with using superlatives liberally in the UAE - if some monument isn't currently the biggest or tallest, it just means China has momentarily overtaken to take poll position for a year or two, before the completion of the next Gulf mega structure.

LOL, so true!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The choices are not as extensive as that on EK's ICE (which airline's is?) but it's easily among the best around with a selection of over a hundred movies and even more TV programs.

EK's IFE is the best hands down!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
It's all rather complicated and I'm not surprised to see many passengers getting off at the wrong stops: I'm sure it happens after every flight.

I talked to some people and it is working relatively fine as opposed to what was expected.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
I may just be lucky today, but my passage through this terminal is almost hassle-free.

Not lucky day but lucky hour. Try being there between 6am - 8am; 6pm - 8 pm and 11pm to 1am and you will probably have things to say like DOH airport uis crap, Qatar should not have airports, QR needs to shut down, Qatar should not exist int he world blah blah blah.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
which, for an airport that moves its passengers around by bus, effectively translates to no time at all to look around.

And trust me there is not an iota of attraction worth looking around.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
The spine of my passport is examined in detail, the pages are counted and stamps are reviewed, while the covers are rubbed vigorously several times - presumably to discern if I am the holder of a forged or stolen document. From the look of disappointment on the official's face when he hands me back my passport, I get the feeling my being led away in handcuffs to a dusty cell would have really made his day. But alas, not today mate.

LOL

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
We are parked stationary for the next ten minutes or so. Is anybody home?

It happens occasionally and I know why, but won't tell it in public.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Consistency in the hardware is obviously hard to beat on QR.

True.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
this afternoon en route to London, we're anticipating a large swath of gloom descend on the cabin - the thick fog is unlikely to lift until after we land at Heathrow. The weather. Sponsored by Qatar Airways: the world's 5-star airline.

Oh I love those ads.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
lady, looking like how I imagine Agatha Christie's Jane Marple to be, is complaining. "I had requested for a seat at the front of the plane and they've put me here... I don't like the back!" she says, probably a little more loudly than she realizes. A proactive crew member would have offered Miss Marple an alternative or at least engaged her in conversation - for I suspect a chat is what she's after anyway - but the maroon stewardess (let's call her Rita) helping her responds with a fixed stare and in a frustrated tone says: "madam, but this is your seat" - which doesn't help matters.

Rita (who doesn't appear in any of the pictures here, in case you're wondering) must be having a bad day, for I don't see her crack a smile the entire flight. That Miss Marple is one her charges wouldn't have improved her mood one bit. "What place is this called?" I hear Miss Marple ask the passing Rita, as we sit on the ground awaiting other boarding passengers. Rita pierces with another icy stare: "Doha... in Qatar," comes the very reluctant answer. "Oh, we're still in Qatar then? I thought we'd gone," Miss Marple responds. "What's that name again of the town you mention?" I can't even describe the look Rita gives in response - but there's no doubt we're in for an interesting flight!
Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
"You want to be keeping the child upright. That's right, upright! Don't parents know how to deal with children these days?" Everyone around keeps an embarrassed, discreet silence.
Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Hot towels are passed out and then service starts with drinks from a bar trolley. "Whisky please. A double," Miss Marple says in a tone audible four rows away. "I need it to keep me warm. I've never been on a plane as cold as this. Emirates isn't like this." It's Rita again at the receiving end, and instead of offering a solution, she's refuting the passenger's claims: "we set the temperature at a comfortable level." This sets Marple off on a quest for public opinion: "Is anyone else cold? Isn't it freezing?" I think the entire cabin heard that.


That was some pure original entertainment!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
What follows next is interesting. The crew come around to lower passengers' tray tables and supply each with blue designer table mat of sorts made of hard paper. It's not quite a business class table cloth but the extra frill is a nice surprise - in steerage which bears the brunt of cost-cutting, anything remotely different feels special.


This is something even I couldn't figure out, you give those plastic trays and have those useless designer mats.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
To darken the cabin after the meal is understandable but just after take-off? Rita gets no resistance shutting the shades all along our cabin, that's until she reaches me: I'd like some natural light if that's okay, I say politely, in an attempt at civilized civil disobedience. She doesn't insist or protest but gives me one of her infamous stares before moving on: that's all I need, Rita must be thinking, some crazy woman in 49K and then this dickhead at 50K! Looking around, I am only one of 2 defiant passengers in the entire aft cabin.

LOL, the reason I here for this activity is to make the mood lighting effective ... is it true?

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
A carrier with a tagline like 'world's five-star airline' invariably invites the retort "really?" Especially when the basis for this marketing fluff was an award by a rather questionable online airline survey portal. What does Qatar Airways mean to you? If I am to be brutally honest, I'll have to say it's taken me awhile to take the airline seriously. But I'll also have to admit that having flown QR a couple of times already, it's hard not to have a few good things to say about it. And have a natural bias in its favor.

I'd previously only flown on - and been impressed by - QR's Business Class (there's a yet unwritten trip report, which I don't think I'll ever get to now!) but sometimes, the real test is in economy class. These two flights with Qatar have shown an airline that probably deserves to be rated highly, especially for the hardware, but with consistency in service an issue - something that isn't quite as obvious in J class. The differences between Barbara on QR101 and "Rita" in QR001 are so stark they could be working for two different airlines. In the end of the day, I think analysis like this amounts to nought - it's really the luck of the draw!

Summed up pretty well, too bad the crew on DOH - LHR weren't as good as the earlier.

Once again thanks for sharing your report.
Great leaders don't tell you what to do ... they show you how it's done!
 
Econojetter
Posts: 356
Joined: Thu May 24, 2001 11:24 pm

RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Thu Feb 17, 2011 2:17 pm

Hey there Airpearl. Been waiting for this installment and it definitely did not disappoint!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
eleventh hour. It's Day 2 of my round-the-world journey and less than five hours since I checked into my hotel room. "Good morning Sir, this is your morning call. It's 8 a.m." Already? It is time to be on the move again...

LOL... "glutton for punishment" comes to mind. What we endure to make our flying interesting...

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
highly regarded airline - at least according to Skytrax, which has rated it a lofty "5-star". Like some here on A.net, I regard that website as a bit of a joke,

I'm really sorry to see such a questionable and useless propaganda machine gain traction in the industry. My experience on QR has been just fine. But when an airline starts to plug Skytrax, it loses a lot of its shine in my eyes.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
There are pillows at every seat while the pitch is a standard 32 inches, and nothing to complain about on a short-haul.

From memory, for a nominal 32 inches of pitch the legroom on QR felt quite a bit above average.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The pedal-like legrests don't do very much for me either.

There is nothing quite like the QF foot nets, but I do end up using the regular footrests. Pressing down on them helps to relieve some of the numbness in the bum after a few hours.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
It's all rather complicated and I'm not surprised to see many passengers getting off at the wrong stops: I'm sure it happens after every flight.

Complicated indeed. The transit experience will definitely benefit huge amounts from the new airport.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
- looks like I had unknowingly boarded ahead with those passengers requiring special assistance. That's good news: it's great to be

A.net trip reporters are definitely special needs  
- need to board early to take pictures.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a pre-boarding announcement. At this time, we would like to invite passengers requiring assistance such as those traveling with infants and passengers with physical difficulties to pre-board through door B. Also we would like to invite passengers intending to showcase our service today in trip reports on airliners.net and similar boards to take advantage of the pre-boarding option for superior photo-taking opportunities. Please present your SLR or point-and-snap camera equipment to the ground crew for inspection before proceeding. Please also note that photos may only be taken of our cabin crew when they are smiling."

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
This may be my first ride on a QR A346, but I'm ticking it off my sixth airline - not too bad a record I think considering that not more than a dozen airlines in total have ever applied their liveries to the world's longest passenger aircraft.

Outstanding record. I'm still only chasing my third.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
This sets Marple off on a quest for public opinion: "Is anyone else cold? Isn't it freezing?" I think the entire cabin heard that.

Oh my... I suspect Marple rather enjoyed pushing Rita's buttons...

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
I am largely successful until my movie is abruptly interrupted for an on-screen "menu presentation". Interesting how all money-saving ideas are done for environmental reasons these days!

How about putting the menu in the info section of the IFE for reference as and when the passenger desires as opposed to interrupting the entertainment or overlaying the text just like a certain other 5-star airline has done?

...

and what's the fine offering shown in your final photo? I do hope it was a snack and not the main meal; the single portion of roach 'n rodent can hardly be considered the equivalent of surf 'n turf. Sigh... cost cutting...
:D   

Thanks again for sharing and looking forward to the next ones.

[Edited 2011-02-17 06:26:35]
 
PlaneHunter
Posts: 6512
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Thu Feb 17, 2011 3:44 pm

Quoting airpearl (Reply 13):
Thanks for the nice words - hope you had a great trip!

  

Quoting airpearl (Reply 13):
But I must be remembering your Oman Air flights.

Yes, I got Oman, but not Qatar.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 13):
Aah, that's interesting - a VS report from you soon?

Yes, that's the plan.


PH
Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
 
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CARST
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Thu Feb 17, 2011 11:43 pm

Great TR airpearl, I really enjoyed reading about "Rita" and the old lady, you have an interesting style of writing down your experiences.

The question remaining is, did the lady try to poke the dragon or was it just her natural behavior? Nevertheless QR seems to be a really good airline, worth flying in Y.


Awaiting your future TRs,
Carst
 
airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 849
Joined: Tue May 01, 2001 7:42 pm

RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Fri Feb 18, 2011 7:37 am

Hi guys, thanks for the further comments and kind words.

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 18):
I've heard quite a bit from others about how much they hate flying the 77W.. I haven't had a chance to fly EK since then so I guess I'm not missing the A345s too much just yet..

I think a 77W isn't bad at all - certainly one's first experience should be as exciting as any new plane - but the fact that it seems to be taking over so many of the long haul routes that were once flown by much more 'interesting' aircraft makes it far less sought after. I used to be excited catching a 77W - but nowadays go out of my way to avoid it if there's an older and more unusual plane I can choose instead. I am very sure you will soon get the chance to ride on it - they'll be around for some time...

Quoting NZ107 (Reply 18):
Sounds like it would have made this series quite a bit shorter too   The 77L would take quite a bit of effort to get on from where I am..

Well, you never know - seems like the perfect aircraft to do a AKL-DXB nonstop!

Quoting ojas (Reply 19):
one of the few people on A.net whose TR's I follow (especially since I fell for your Biman DC - 10 trap

Hey Ojas - man that was more than 2 years ago!!! This is going to plague me for the rest of my life, isn't it?   Seriously though, thanks for stopping by and sharing the very useful insight into QR.

Quoting ojas (Reply 19):
I did a trip back in Jan 2010 where I too had a B77L and A346 in my itinerary. However in my case the A346 was "abused" so to say as I was flying IAH-DOH-BOM.

I do recall that trip report - weren't you travelling in J for one of the sectors? I truly love it when airlines 'abuse' their planes in this way - that's how I got on LH's A346 (KUL-BKK), and for my first flight on TG's (HKG-BKK).

Quoting ojas (Reply 19):
Sad, however as you know equipment changes are so frequent around the GCC here are 2 of my favorite substitutions so far.
EY scheduled A332 actual B77W
EK scheduled A332 actual A343

Now, these are substitutions I wouldn't mind at all, especially the EK 343!

Quoting ojas (Reply 19):
Same thing on my EY flight, unfortunately that was the only redeeming feature of the entire trip.

Which flight would that be?

Quoting ojas (Reply 19):
I talked to some people and it is working relatively fine as opposed to what was expected.

There were quite a number of QR staff awaiting the arrival of our bus though, and the passengers who looked a bit 'lost' when alighting were quickly approached and redirected back to the bus, if necessary.


Quoting ojas (Reply 19):
Not lucky day but lucky hour. Try being there between 6am - 8am; 6pm - 8 pm and 11pm to 1am and you will probably have things to say like DOH airport uis crap, Qatar should not have airports, QR needs to shut down, Qatar should not exist int he world blah blah blah.

Haha, indeed. I'd read some of these horrific stories too and was therefore very pleasantly surprised at my own experience.

Quoting ojas (Reply 19):
It happens occasionally and I know why, but won't tell it in public.

Hmmm, now I am very curious...

Quoting ojas (Reply 19):
the reason I here for this activity is to make the mood lighting effective ... is it true?

Well, I suppose so... I thought it was to set the mood for more passengers to snooze so the crew aren't constantly saddled with requests for drinks and such like, especially on a daytime flight? A useful money-saving tactic too.

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 20):
Hey there Airpearl. Been waiting for this installment and it definitely did not disappoint!

Hey there Econojetter - thanks for stopping by! And the compliment  
Quoting Econojetter (Reply 20):
"glutton for punishment" comes to mind. What we endure to make our flying interesting...

Outside this forum, casual readers may have stronger terms along the lines of some mental disorder to describe what we get up to - but in here, this does seem to be the "norm" among A.netters now... hahaha

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 20):
I'm really sorry to see such a questionable and useless propaganda machine gain traction in the industry.

Sad indeed. But I wonder if it's not a reflection of life today in which marketing superficialities rule the world...

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 20):
"Ladies and gentlemen, this is a pre-boarding announcement. At this time, we would like to invite passengers requiring assistance such as those traveling with infants and passengers with physical difficulties to pre-board through door B. Also we would like to invite passengers intending to showcase our service today in trip reports on airliners.net and similar boards to take advantage of the pre-boarding option for superior photo-taking opportunities. Please present your SLR or point-and-snap camera equipment to the ground crew for inspection before proceeding. Please also note that photos may only be taken of our cabin crew when they are smiling."

   this is SO good... how we wish!

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 20):
and what's the fine offering shown in your final photo? I do hope it was a snack and not the main meal; the single portion of roach 'n rodent can hardly be considered the equivalent of surf 'n turf.

Hahaha... good one. It was as part of the bread selection between the starter and main course.  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 21):
Yes, that's the plan.

Will look forward to that one PH!

Quoting CARST (Reply 22):
Great TR airpearl, I really enjoyed reading about "Rita" and the old lady, you have an interesting style of writing down your experiences.

Thanks Carst, glad you enjoyed it.

Quoting CARST (Reply 22):
The question remaining is, did the lady try to poke the dragon or was it just her natural behavior?

You know what, I really can't tell, probably a mixture of both - she did calm down later in the flight but before landing, started asking some really strange questions about where the plane is going after London...

Cheers,
airpearl
 
SurfandSnow
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:59 am

This part made me laugh even harder than the first! I love your "Miss Marple" character. The flight just wouldn't have been the same without her! Can't wait to see who you meet next  .

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The fact that the world's longest range airliner is being misused on a bunny hop adds to the attraction.

Sadly, the only way many of us get to enjoy aircraft otherwise reserved for expensive long haul stuff!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Further away is a Dhaka-bound Biman en route for runway 30R. This particular A310-300, registered S2-AFT and wearing the airline's latest livery, is interesting for being a new addition to the BG fleet in 2010. Fancy that.

She certainly does look good!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
like almost everything else in Dubai, they're record-breakingly huge. I'm not sure if they're the world's largest, but that hardly matters for I reckon you can't go too wrong with using superlatives liberally in the UAE - if some monument isn't currently the biggest or tallest, it just means China has momentarily overtaken to take poll position for a year or two, before the completion of the next Gulf mega structure. And so on.

LOL, sounds about right. Whilst China has a booming economy and massive population to justify such things, we recently saw that Dubai can barely afford to pay for these things...

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
a spanking new airport is currently being built to the east of here - the $11 billion New Doha International Airport, slated to open in 2012, will naturally be one of the world's largest.

Sounds like it can't come soon enough!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
From the look of disappointment on the official's face when he hands me back my passport, I get the feeling my being led away in handcuffs to a dusty cell would have really made his day. But alas, not today mate.

Am I the only one who never has had any trouble with immigration (except for Canada, where they seem to think I am a drug mule)? Perhaps being a pale mutt of Irish/Scottish/Polish origin helps my case, but be it Asia, Middle East, Europe, Latin America, Caribbean, or the U.S. I've had nothing but friendly smiles and expedited access to the country.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
"What place is this called?" I hear Miss Marple ask the passing Rita, as we sit on the ground awaiting other boarding passengers. Rita pierces with another icy stare: "Doha... in Qatar," comes the very reluctant answer. "Oh, we're still in Qatar then? I thought we'd gone," Miss Marple responds. "What's that name again of the town you mention?" I can't even describe the look Rita gives in response - but there's no doubt we're in for an interesting flight!

LOL, I can hardly take her seriously. How can you possibly not have a clue where you are? It's not like she is on an unscheduled stopover or something...

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
it's almost matched in my vicinity by a sudden outburst from Miss Marple, who's traveling alone but apparently talking aloud to somebody on how best to handle a crying baby. "You want to be keeping the child upright. That's right, upright! Don't parents know how to deal with children these days?"

Sounds like one can go to her for any and all advice, unless it pertains to geography.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Isola Dana, or nine outrageously exclusive "private islands" that are available for sale. Each island is about 18,000 square meters, but the website doesn't mention how much it'll set you back for. But you know what they say: if you need to ask the price, it's probably not for you...

Those islands hardly seem private at all. If I had that kind of dough to spend, I'd much rather have a remote tropical island far away from the hustle and bustle of a major metropolis like Doha...

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
"Whisky please. A double," Miss Marple says in a tone audible four rows away. "I need it to keep me warm. I've never been on a plane as cold as this. Emirates isn't like this." It's Rita again at the receiving end, and instead of offering a solution, she's refuting the passenger's claims: "we set the temperature at a comfortable level." This sets Marple off on a quest for public opinion: "Is anyone else cold? Isn't it freezing?" I think the entire cabin heard that.

Ah yes, the much awaited clash of the titans!

Despite Miss Marple's objectionable demeanor, it sounds like Rita might want to reconsider her profession. When it comes to customer service, the customer is always right!
Flying in the middle seat of coach is much better than not flying at all!
 
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NZ107
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Fri Feb 18, 2011 11:17 am

Quoting airpearl (Reply 23):
Well, you never know - seems like the perfect aircraft to do a AKL-DXB nonstop!

Whoops, sorry - that was in the context of I would have to go a long way to catch one at present! AKL-DXB is out of the question as EK have utilised all their current rights to NZ and they can suffice by sending passengers through Australia. If not, then there'd definitely be 2x A380s into AKL daily!
It's all about the destination AND the journey.
 
chepos
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Sat Feb 19, 2011 11:42 pm

Thank you for sharing, excellent trip report. I am anxiously waiting for the next installment. I had a Rita on my EK flight from SFO-DXB, this woman was a witch- I swear you had to pay her to crack a smile. The rest of the crew was a mix bag, some were very friendly and courteous and the others not so much. I guess this is some of the inconsistencies found with all Gulf carriers.

Regards,

Chepos
Fly the Flag!!!!
 
The777Man
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:44 pm

Excellent continuation of your RTW adventure with fantastic pictures!

Too bad QR changed the 77L to a 332.....I have myself flown on a QR 77LDXB-DOH on the same flight.

Looking forward to the next installment!

The777Man
Boeing 777s flown: UA, TG, KE, BA, CX, NH, JD, JL, CZ, SQ, EK, NG, CO, AF, SV, KU, DL, AA, MH, OZ, CA, MS, SU, LY, RG, PE, AZ, KL, VN, PK, EY, NZ, AM, BR, AC, DT, UU, OS, AI, 9W, KQ, QR, VA, JJ, ET, TK, PR, BG, T5, CI, MU and LX.. Further to fly.. LH 777
 
bps3458
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Tue Feb 22, 2011 5:06 am

Hi Airpearl,

another great and very amusing trip report. Really looking forward to the next episodes.

Cheers from Brisbane,

Peter
 
MSS658
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:38 am

Thanks for sharing this nice trip report. Sorry to hear that you did not have the 77L on the DXB-DOH route.
Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
 
ronerone
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:48 pm

Airpearl,

An excellent count on QR -the airline i have yet to try!- and a great follow-up to your RTW series. As with the rest of your reports, the pictures you take are uniquely crisp and very attractive!   Not to forget, the fairytale writing! Brilliant all around my friend!

Consistency -or lack of it- is easy to complain about, but maintaining it positively seems to be one of the tougher chllenges for airlines, even those with the so-called 5-star rankings. However, it seems QR is of those that minimizes this gap (and i must add that i think SQ's gap is growing to an alarming size   )

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
That's just as well because I have nothing to say about the city I am visiting. It isn't anything personal you understand - it's just I didn't see any of it.

Well, you did see the parking lot at your hotel, approximately 2km of Dubai's typical streets, a traffic light, and DXB's curbside  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
that includes a unique southern oceanic adventure on Air Austral (read his excellent trip report here!)

Many thanks for the reference   .. And it was a great quick prelude meetup!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
is flying the B77L, a type which has continued to elude me. The fact that the world's longest range airliner is being misused on a bunny hop adds to the attraction.

Too bad you did not get the 77L! Not much different to any 777 on the inside, and your everyday person would not know anything for sure! But just the fact that '777-200LR' is printed on the safety card in the seat pocket in front of you makes a ride on this bird in a league of its own in the 777 world  
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
seats decked out in QR's standard maroon with pale blue or yellow headrest covers

I am not a big fan of this maroon theme!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Two A380s are spotted resting here between flights.

One to operate EK003 to LHR, and the other destined for the 4-ish PM flight to JED!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
The spine of my passport is examined in detail, the pages are counted and stamps are reviewed, while the covers are rubbed vigorously several times - presumably to discern if I am the holder of a forged or stolen document. From the look of disappointment on the official's face when he hands me back my passport, I get the feeling my being led away in handcuffs to a dusty cell would have really made his day. But alas, not today mate.

If these guys are anything like EK's or EY's USA security staff, then i think all this passport molestation seems make-believe haha  
Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
this afternoon en route to London, we're anticipating a large swath of gloom descend on the cabin - the thick fog is unlikely to lift until after we land at Heathrow. The weather. Sponsored by Qatar Airways: the world's 5-star airline.

And not to forget the piercing shot of the green eye wrapped around a forest of mascara'd eyelashes  
Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Rita (who doesn't appear in any of the pictures here, in case you're wondering) must be having a bad day, for I don't see her crack a smile the entire flight. That Miss Marple is one her charges wouldn't have improved her mood one bit. "What place is this called?" I hear Miss Marple ask the passing Rita, as we sit on the ground awaiting other boarding passengers. Rita pierces with another icy stare: "Doha... in Qatar," comes the very reluctant answer. "Oh, we're still in Qatar then? I thought we'd gone," Miss Marple responds. "What's that name again of the town you mention?" I can't even describe the look Rita gives in response - but there's no doubt we're in for an interesting flight!

LOL .. Miss Marple sounds like she's on her last journey of a multi-hop one-week long RTW or a circular Indian Ocean rollercoaster  
Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Hot towels are passed out and then service starts with drinks from a bar trolley. "Whisky please. A double," Miss Marple says in a tone audible four rows away. "I need it to keep me warm. I've never been on a plane as cold as this. Emirates isn't like this." It's Rita again at the receiving end, and instead of offering a solution, she's refuting the passenger's claims: "we set the temperature at a comfortable level." This sets Marple off on a quest for public opinion: "Is anyone else cold? Isn't it freezing?" I think the entire cabin heard that.

  

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
What follows next is interesting. The crew come around to lower passengers' tray tables and supply each with blue designer table mat of sorts made of hard paper. It's not quite a business class table cloth but the extra frill is a nice surprise - in steerage which bears the brunt of cost-cutting, anything remotely different feels special.

Now this is interesting! I have been hearing about this new service for quite some time now, and i think this is my first time to see it!

I believe everything apart from the tray itself is disposable. Not only does it add a premium-ish touch with the addition of the table cloth, but the disposable items also look very stylish!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
There's some unique catering on the way...

Can't wait for the next one!


Thanks a lot for sharing my friend!

Cheers,
Roni
Fly Roni. Aviation Journeys. Photos. Videos.
 
akhmad
Posts: 2497
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Sun Feb 27, 2011 6:40 am

Hi Airpearl,

Sorry for being on the late side of the party. The first thing I want to say is how gorgeous your pictures are. Their clearness and depth caught my attention immediately. It must have been something to do with the choice between Canon and Nikon.

The second thing is how I love the way you entertain us all the way from the beginning until the end. A vivid story, just like the previous part. It was yet worth the wait! Thanks a lot for bringing up the two tales of QR. One with the flying start from DXB thanks to the courteous check-in agent and charming Barbara on board. Other with the uninspired Rita and her amusing encounter with Miss Marple.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
in exactly one week's time to exchange notes when Roni swings by KUL as part of his exotic itinerary.

I cannot wait for another beautiful reports to come up.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
Apologies for the bluish tint from the anti-glare

Anti-glare? Where?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
You can't possibly be bored airside in Dubai: with time, I'm sure one could easily fill a whole trip report entirely with planes spotted from this food court!

A hidden paradise in hectic DXB T1. Good to know that!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The choices are not as extensive as that on EK's ICE (which airline's is?)

The EK's ICE Widescreen, you mean?

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
I'm in no hurry to board - it's nice hanging out here for a while actually - but I can guess my fellow passengers probably don't share the same sentiment.

Haha, I would have thought the same.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Interesting how all money-saving ideas are done for environmental reasons these days!
Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Of course I would have prefered a paper menu, even if it's less environment-friendly.

I would suggest the menu printed on a recyclable paper to take away.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
We're aboard an Airbus A340 dash 600, the first officer is Abdul Rahim; it'll take us about 10 minutes to taxi to the northern-facing runway, where we'll accelerate to about 300 km/h prior to lift off, he says. Initial cruising altitude is at 32,000 feet, rising to 40,000 ft midway and reaching speeds of 800 km/h in final cruise. Our routing will take us overhead Bahrain, Kuwait, Baghdad, Turkey, the Black Sea and then (generically) "Europe". Flying time to London is seven hours and ETA is 1730. It's cold there - minus three degrees Celcius expected on arrival. "I am very sure you will enjoy and cherish the personalized service from my team of dedicated personnel

Amazing how the captain went into the details. Really kind of person I like.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
I don't regret choosing the vegetarian paneer makhani as a main course

You know what? I got addicted to paneer makhani and other paneer dishes while visiting India.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
I hope you will join me for my next three sectors from London. There's some unique catering on the way...

I look forward to it. Well, that distinctive shoe stowage of the blueish neighbour seat, I think I know which airline it might be.

Thanks again for sharing, Airpearl! An inspiring morning read while overcoming the jet lag.

Cheers,
Suryo
Friends forever
 
airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 849
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:48 pm

Hey guys, thanks for your comments and nice words. My apologies for replying a bit late.

Hi again SurfandSnow,

Quoting SurfandSnow (Reply 24):
Sadly, the only way many of us get to enjoy aircraft otherwise reserved for expensive long haul stuff!

True, so true. Catching 'em on short runs also feels great - almost like getting something on special offer.

Quoting SurfandSnow (Reply 24):
we recently saw that Dubai can barely afford to pay for these things...

But it does seem like things are back on the rebound. The wonders a rich relative and short memory can do!

Quoting SurfandSnow (Reply 24):
LOL, I can hardly take her seriously. How can you possibly not have a clue where you are? It's not like she is on an unscheduled stopover or something...

She was quite the character - from the time she arrived escorted by a f/a, and complaining about being "at the back". Still I was quite shocked at her question and realized she should really be travelling with a companion.

Quoting SurfandSnow (Reply 24):
Sounds like one can go to her for any and all advice, unless it pertains to geography.

LOL absolutely!

Quoting SurfandSnow (Reply 24):
Those islands hardly seem private at all. If I had that kind of dough to spend, I'd much rather have a remote tropical island far away from the hustle and bustle of a major metropolis like Doha...

They may be going for those with so much dough they have "a few" private islands - this is merely "the one in the Gulf"  
Quoting NZ107 (Reply 25):
then there'd definitely be 2x A380s into AKL daily!

That can't be so long down the road, I figure...

Quoting chepos (Reply 26):
Thank you for sharing, excellent trip report.

Thanks chepos! I am sure we all will get our fair share of 'Rita's - on some carriers more than others though  
Quoting MSS658 (Reply 29):
Thanks for sharing this nice trip report. Sorry to hear that you did not have the 77L on the DXB-DOH route.
Quoting The777Man (Reply 27):
Excellent continuation of your RTW adventure with fantastic pictures!
Too bad QR changed the 77L to a 332.....I have myself flown on a QR 77LDXB-DOH on the same flight.

Thanks MSS658 and The777Man, the 77L seems to be staple on the route but guess I was just unlucky this time. But the hunt continues...

Quoting bps3458 (Reply 28):
another great and very amusing trip report. Really looking forward to the next episodes.

Hey Peter, thanks for stopping by. Am (slowly) working on the next episode and hopefully by next week.

Quoting ronerone (Reply 30):
Consistency -or lack of it- is easy to complain about, but maintaining it positively seems to be one of the tougher chllenges for airlines, even those with the so-called 5-star rankings. However, it seems QR is of those that minimizes this gap (and i must add that i think SQ's gap is growing to an alarming size

Hey my friend Roni, good to hear from you. You played a critical part in this TR of course - making sure the trip reporter got to his assignment on time! The lapse in service on this QR flight was frankly a surprise as all the ones I'd taken so far were really quite good. As for SQ, well, you seem to be flying them quite a lot on them these days   Closet supporter? Hahaha

Quoting ronerone (Reply 30):
Well, you did see the parking lot at your hotel, approximately 2km of Dubai's typical streets, a traffic light, and DXB's curbside

Indeed! And as much airline info as can be crammed into a 5 minute conversation!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 30):
But just the fact that '777-200LR' is printed on the safety card in the seat pocket in front of you makes a ride on this bird in a league of its own in the 777 world

Yeah that's it really. And you alway hungers for the birds you can't get.  
Quoting ronerone (Reply 30):
If these guys are anything like EK's or EY's USA security staff, then i think all this passport molestation seems make-believe haha

Now you mention it - I remember a fellow passenger on EY last year getting the third degree prior to the AUH-LHR flight. He was carrying an EU passport from Spain but was interrogated at length on why he was flying to the UK. A bit too much?

Quoting ronerone (Reply 30):
LOL .. Miss Marple sounds like she's on her last journey of a multi-hop one-week long RTW or a circular Indian Ocean rollercoaster

I should have asked her... she may have been on a joyride too!

Quoting ronerone (Reply 30):
I believe everything apart from the tray itself is disposable. Not only does it add a premium-ish touch with the addition of the table cloth, but the disposable items also look very stylish!

Wow didn't know that. Impressive then. For an almost entirely disposable trayful that doesn't look it.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
The first thing I want to say is how gorgeous your pictures are. Their clearness and depth caught my attention immediately. It must have been something to do with the choice between Canon and Nikon.

Hahaha... hey Suryo, thanks very much for your nice words and welcome home. Like QR service, my photo quality consistency alternates between a Barbara and a Rita - sometimes a Miss Marple too. I'm glad it was closer to a Barbara for you today  
Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
The second thing is how I love the way you entertain us all the way from the beginning until the end. A vivid story,

Thank you - glad you were entertained!

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
I cannot wait for another beautiful reports to come up.

More pressure from you, I see. haha. While on the subject of TRs, I have to say that I've given up on the 'other' QR report - it's just dragged too long.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
Amazing how the captain went into the details. Really kind of person I like.

Having read most of your reports - I totally believe it. You will like him a lot.

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
You know what? I got addicted to paneer makhani and other paneer dishes while visiting India.

I look forward to hearing about it!!! The trip report is on the way, I trust?

Quoting akhmad (Reply 31):
I look forward to it. Well, that distinctive shoe stowage of the blueish neighbour seat, I think I know which airline it might be.

I thought you might...  

Cheers
airpearl
 
lukeyboy95
Posts: 1058
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:05 am

Good afternoon Airpearl,

And once again, an enormous thanks for the time you have invested into creating this latest in your round-the-world series. QR could take a note in consistency from you, as this was without doubt, a superbly written account.

And alas, I read this is the staffroom at a mud-brick school two hours outside Kampala in Uganda. Alas, I should be typing something out for music, but no-one is the wiser. I don't hang about African school if that is what your thinking! I am a temporary english teacher; the kids emitting little Scottish phrases!

Back to matters at hand. Well, I can't give an unbiased opinion on QR, for in my eyes they can do little wrong in terms of the all round package; price, service and stop-overs. You see I have come of aviation age with QR, and they were my first airline to fly solo with. So I feel quite enthusiastic to read this account; oh and you cover the nuances of cattle class like a master!

The disparity in cabin crews has ironically, and this could be construed as an oxymoron , become a consistent QR quirk. It seems their eagerness to pluck FA's globally has lead to some very bitter apples slipping in. Now, almost each time I have flown the LHR route, there are those with a poor attitude. The more obscure routes attract a much better bunch. They do somewhat sully the experience with their aurora of negativity and approachability.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
A friendly and efficient Filipina agent working one of the three economy desks says it's "very light" on the DXB-DOH sector today, and "about 70%" on the onward London flight but assures an empty seat next to me has been blocked, without my asking.

Wonderful start. Only enhancing my filipino stereotype, and making me more eager to marry one when I come of age.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
his own multi-sector journey that includes a unique southern oceanic adventure on Air Austral (read his excellent trip report here!)

Plugging fellow members reports, I like your style!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
but it is QR's equipment type on the route that clinched it. Between DXB and DOH, the Middle East's only "5-star airline" is flying the B77L, a type which has continued to elude me. The fact that the world's longest range airliner is being misused on a bunny hop adds to the attraction. I can't wait to add this plane to my list today! The longer haul between DOH and LHR is on the iconic flagship 001 - the route that started the ball rolling for QR

Both highly appealing factors. Indeed, untill recently it looked like QR002 was the only LHR flight to serve two hot meals. Not sure if this has changed. Having recently been on their 77L, I can confirm this is a plane you will want to enjoy on a longer sector.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
There's a glassy wall at one end of Terminal One's check-in area that has a decent view of tarmac

I know it well, great vantage point

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
if only flying was always so civilized...

I must say, I do find QR flying a very civilised affair. The immediate environment reminds me of entering somewhere of class.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
but what must also be said of QR is its steadfast adherence to a consistent image both inside and out that's quite admirable.

Yes, its steadfast. And, yes as any corporate image depends upon, its consistent. But after some chats with some QR FA's, I have found they are extraordinarily strict with employers, rule with an iron fist, and are pretty cut-throat. Whether this is what gives them a better product than EK I don't know, but it appears the same slightly oppressive regime that is fueling the development of Doha, is apparent also with it's airline at times.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
It's not long before we start our descent for Doha International, located beside the turquoise waters of the Gulf.

That has become a trademark of the QR descent for me.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
The spine of my passport is examined in detail, the pages are counted and stamps are reviewed, while the covers are rubbed vigorously several times -

I suppose they don't want to be seen as a soft-touch transit point, especially given their great connections to the 'naughty nations'. Wasn't there a recent bomb-scare that alluded authorities whilst taxiing in Doha. Freight?

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Is anybody home?

Hilarious. QR are a bit sleepy at this. They were most likely having a good old natter, savoring the peace.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
it almost seems boutique.

wonderfully worded

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Also, another aspect I really do like about the boarding process at DOH is the fact that passengers come in batches - much better for taking cabin pics.

I dislike it on account of you're never quite sure when to move into that excellent exit seat that no-one appears to be occupying. Oh, and then the bus gets in from the connecting BOM flight!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
; it'll take us about 10 minutes to taxi to the northern-facing runway, where we'll accelerate to about 300 km/h prior to lift off,

I am sure this made your day!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
But you know what they say: if you need to ask the price, it's probably not for you...

Oh god, this sent a chill down me. There is something about a Scot in Africa that made break this rule somehow....

Quoting airpearl (Reply 1):
Hot beverages aren't served on the tray but separately after the meal on Qatar. A small detail, but like the table mat, it's appreciated. The coffee is very good by the way. QR offers excellent catering in its premium classes and I'm glad to see that it maintains a decently high standard in economy class as well.

And a chocolate!? Going all out it appears... Coffee is a stylish affair with QR.

In flight meals also looked very excellent. They're wraps are getting pretty tedious though, at least you managed to get something other than the chicken-balti old-hat I seem to receive.

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 4):
Keeping up to Qatar's dictatorial rules in regards to it's cabin crew.

Indeed, staff turnover must be ridiculous. They have to stay a minimum of 2 years or return heavy training costs.

Sorry, this was a bit lengthy a reply. But I thoroughly enjoyed this report. I am on the cusp of booking a flight LXR -DOH-KUL as I will get a transit hotel on the inbound, and so long as it doesn't book up, on the outbound too. Unlike most who fly with QR, I scour for poor connections to get the transit quirks! I do have a question for you though; the price is quoted in Egyptian pounds (approx 3726). Given their recent troubles, is this currency likely to weaken? It has stayed strong all through the crisis.

Airpearl, the last photo left me a little confused. I await eagerly.

Kindest regards,

Luke
Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
 
airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 849
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:15 am

Hiya Luke

Thanks for the nice words all the way from way out in Uganda. I remember you saying you're off to Africa sometime back but didn't realize you were still there! I am very envious of your current predicament though - hope you're enjoying your teaching stint. I'm sure you're doing a smashing job injecting Scottish slang into the vocabulary of Ugandan kids  
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 33):
almost each time I have flown the LHR route, there are those with a poor attitude. The more obscure routes attract a much better bunch. They do somewhat sully the experience with their aurora of negativity and approachability.

Interesting isn't it? I hear it happens on other airlines too when the flagship routes get mediocre crew, while more enthusiastic service is dispensed on the more obscure sectors. I guess it could be a matter of seniority (which breeds disillusionment in many airlines these days) and the ability to select the plum routes to serve on.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 33):
Only enhancing my filipino stereotype, and making me more eager to marry one when I come of age.

In that case, fly the premium classes on CX and you'd be in heaven... service was so good once I'd been tempted to propose marriage after a flight haha

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 33):
Having recently been on their 77L, I can confirm this is a plane you will want to enjoy on a longer sector.

Which route did you fly the 77L?

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 33):
But after some chats with some QR FA's, I have found they are extraordinarily strict with employers, rule with an iron fist, and are pretty cut-throat. Whether this is what gives them a better product than EK I don't know, but it appears the same slightly oppressive regime that is fueling the development of Doha, is apparent also with it's airline at times.

I hear and read about the strict regime too. But on the other hand, I wonder if QR is not following airlines like SQ in some respects where working conditions are quite draconian. A wife of a friend, who was a stewardess with SQ for a couple of years and now with EK, describes moving over as "liberating".

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 33):
I dislike it on account of you're never quite sure when to move into that excellent exit seat that no-one appears to be occupying. Oh, and then the bus gets in from the connecting BOM flight!

Bummer! haha.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 33):
And a chocolate!? Going all out it appears... Coffee is a stylish affair with QR.

It definitely feels special. I remember from the recesses that LH used to do the same with their coffee service complete with separate tray on long hauls.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 33):
I am on the cusp of booking a flight LXR -DOH-KUL as I will get a transit hotel on the inbound, and so long as it doesn't book up, on the outbound too. Unlike most who fly with QR, I scour for poor connections to get the transit quirks!

So you're visiting KUL or travelling further on? Totally understand the search for long connections - the transit hotel is like a special bonus! Enjoy while you can: it's probably not going to last as they build up frequencies from DOH and make sure connections at every flight bank are covered like with EK.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 33):
the price is quoted in Egyptian pounds (approx 3726). Given their recent troubles, is this currency likely to weaken? It has stayed strong all through the crisis.

That translates to about $632 according to xe.com - not bad as prices go for Mid East-Far East return tickets. The Egyptian pound seems to have held its ground surprisingly well despite the crisis, mainly due to intervention from the central bank. Am not an expert on this, but I think as the situation in Egypt is far from stable, there's more definitely more downside risk to the pound. When and how far is anybody's guess.

Cheers
airpearl

[Edited 2011-03-04 23:47:32]
 
lukeyboy95
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Mon Mar 07, 2011 2:49 pm

To follow-up;

Quoting airpearl (Reply 34):
but didn't realize you were still there!

Yes, still going strong-ish. This is my half way stop, as it is my objective to get from Cape Town back to Scotland by mostly only hitchhiking, and no flying! So it is taking a somewhat more 'African' pace.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 34):
I'm sure you're doing a smashing job injecting Scottish slang into the vocabulary of Ugandan kids

They have had more influence on me as it stands, and I speak slowly and with a slightly African accent! I'll get my Scots back eventually.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 34):
Interesting isn't it? I hear it happens on other airlines too when the flagship routes get mediocre crew, while more enthusiastic service is dispensed on the more obscure sectors. I guess it could be a matter of seniority (which breeds disillusionment in many airlines these days) and the ability to select the plum routes to serve on.

Nail on the head. Somehow these witchy ones seem to climb the seniority ladder quickly, and yes, they all like to go to London and do their shopping.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 34):
Which route did you fly the 77L?

Actually I am a terribly bad person, and not that aviations savvy. It appears I flew a 77W (not the same?) and that was DOH-JNB-CPT. And the smaller cabin was a dream!!

Quoting airpearl (Reply 34):
So you're visiting KUL or travelling further on? Totally understand the search for long connections - the transit hotel is like a special bonus! Enjoy while you can: it's probably not going to last as they build up frequencies from DOH and make sure connections at every flight bank are covered like with EK.

Well, I think I might just limit myself to KUL. If I find AirAsia are doing some rediculous price to somewhere wonderful, then I may move on. But I had 2 days in KUL before, and really rather liked it. I reckoned it was excellent for food, culture and a few sites. I mostly go placed for the nosh. It also has the best (or worst) connections as QR run a somewhat erratic show from there. Sadly it seems you're government has plonked a heavy tax on beer; my other factor for deciding destinations.

Quoting airpearl (Reply 34):
That translates to about $632 according to xe.com - not bad as prices go for Mid East-Far East return tickets. The Egyptian pound seems to have held its ground surprisingly well despite the crisis, mainly due to intervention from the central bank. Am not an expert on this, but I think as the situation in Egypt is far from stable, there's more definitely more downside risk to the pound. When and how far is anybody's guess.

Yes, it is not overly bad. Thanks for your advice. I do not think it is bad, especially given I will get 2 nights in a transit hotel, and, well I rather like flying out from interesting places. And reckon LXR is pretty 'out-there!'
Breaking down the stereotypes - one by one
 
airpearl
Topic Author
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Sun Mar 13, 2011 1:55 pm

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 35):
Yes, still going strong-ish. This is my half way stop, as it is my objective to get from Cape Town back to Scotland by mostly only hitchhiking, and no flying! So it is taking a somewhat more 'African' pace.

Wow, that's a really cool adventure Luke. I had once fantasized going overland between the Cape and China and even went to the extent of planning it (and wondering how I'd make it across the Sudan alive) but I never got round to the real thing - so here's someone who is very envious of your journey.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 35):
They have had more influence on me as it stands, and I speak slowly and with a slightly African accent! I'll get my Scots back eventually.

LOL. Gone native, I believe it's called - using that politically incorrect, colonial term.  
Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 35):
Actually I am a terribly bad person, and not that aviations savvy. It appears I flew a 77W (not the same?) and that was DOH-JNB-CPT.

Not bad person, just not so mad - similar engine, similar wing, only 77L is smaller but with longer range.

Quoting lukeyboy95 (Reply 35):
Well, I think I might just limit myself to KUL.

Do let me know when you'll be in town - your travel stories could well be traded for a couple of highly-taxed beers.... hahaha.

Cheers
airpearl
 
akhmad
Posts: 2497
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:40 pm

Quoting airpearl (Reply 32):
I have to say that I've given up on the 'other' QR report - it's just dragged too long.

Can I do anything to change your mind?

Quoting airpearl (Reply 32):
The trip report is on the way, I trust?

You have seen the first part.  
Friends forever
 
Braniff747SP
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Sat Mar 26, 2011 4:33 pm

One hell of a trip you took... Seems like fun.
The 747 will always be the TRUE queen of the skies!
 
abrelosojos
Posts: 4050
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RE: 8 Days Around The World - Pt 2: Five-Star Flagship

Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:13 pm

Hey - great report as usual. I am consistently impressed by your quality of writing and pictures. Wish I had the ability to take proper pictures!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
I join the queue where a very stringent passport check is underway ahead of the gate lounge. The spine of my passport is examined in detail, the pages are counted and stamps are reviewed, while the covers are rubbed vigorously several times - presumably to discern if I am the holder of a forged or stolen document. From the look of disappointment on the official's face when he hands me back my passport, I get the feeling my being led away in handcuffs to a dusty cell would have really made his day. But alas, not today mate.

= Seriously, what is up with that @ DOH? I get lots of blank looks with my Liechtenstein passport, but at DOH I had a guy question whether I could go visa free into the U.S. At the premium terminal, he went to look over TIM twice and then was still not convinced. This is all fine because I get it that I am not the average traveler with the average passport - however, then he went on inspecting each page and rubbing visa pages so hard that the stamp sticker from my Nigeria visa peeled off! At that point, I was like ... "listen, if you damage anything else, I am not flying this aircraft and am heading back through immigration to file a complain". Weirdly, he calmed down.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
this afternoon en route to London, we're anticipating a large swath of gloom descend on the cabin - the thick fog is unlikely to lift until after we land at Heathrow. The weather. Sponsored by Qatar Airways: the world's 5-star airline.

= Priceless.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):

Other trip reporters who take their jobs far more seriously than I, and who religiously rate every aspect of an airline, will undoubtedly have dealt QR the third degree over the standard of its inflight service today.

= Hehe. As my recent 9W-F report is indicating, people do pour over my scores  . And yes, I'd have taken a .5 out ... but then again, you are a nicer person than I am!

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
there's commotion at seat 49K where an elderly lady, looking like how I imagine Agatha Christie's Jane Marple to be, is complaining. "I had requested for a seat at the front of the plane and they've put me here... I don't like the back!" she says, probably a little more loudly than she realizes. A proactive crew member would have offered Miss Marple an alternative or at least engaged her in conversation - for I suspect a chat is what she's after anyway - but the maroon stewardess (let's call her Rita) helping her responds with a fixed stare and in a frustrated tone says: "madam, but this is your seat" - which doesn't help matters.
Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
"What's that name again of the town you mention?" I can't even describe the look Rita gives in response - but there's no doubt we're in for an interesting flight!

= Classic! And here sums up QR on the air for me - though to be fair, I have had more of the Barbara types than the Rita types on QR.

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
The crew come around to lower passengers' tray tables and supply each with blue designer table mat of sorts made of hard paper.

= Ironic isn't it - whatever happened to their desire to be environmentally friendly ... besides, this coming from a country building artificial islands?

Quoting airpearl (Thread starter):
"What's that name again of the town you mention?" I can't even describe the look Rita gives in response - but there's no doubt we're in for an interesting flight!

= I think this is hilarious. Imagine how Ali Baker would have reacted?

Thanks for this iconic report.

Saludos,
A.
Live, and let live.

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