O V E R V I E W :
The long awaited trip home has finally arrived, after not being home for the longest period of time, 14 months. Qatar was the clear winner when booking was made offering the cheapest fares for the dates I wanted, slightly under £500, about £480 for my return flight home. This is not my first flight with QR, having first flew with them to London from KL back in 2013, I was rather excited to see what have changed since then, as they recently reclaimed the World’s Best Airline award from Skytrax. When initial booking was made, I chose the earliest flight out of LHR as I was promised my very first A350 ride but sh*t happened and there was an equipment change shortly after to the Dreamliner, which I had already tried on QR on one of my first flights with them. Thankfully I chose another A350 flight on the inbound journey back to London when booking was made.
Qatar Airways – QR 6 – LHR – DOH
Flight time: 08:00 – 16:45 (08:14-15:56)
Duration: 6 hours 45 minutes
13th August 2017
Endured the long tube journey in the wee hours to the west from the east and proceeded for my luggage drop off via the online check in counters upon arrival at Heathrow, which thankfully had a shorter queue compared to those who did not check in online.Nice to see some colours on a boarding pass which is not the norm nowadays, even on certain full service carriers. Spotted a familiar bird that I have not gotten a chance to fly on yet thus far, in the near future hopefully?Tough shot of my Dreamliner, not too pumped as I already had my virgin Dreamliner flight on QR back in 2013. Boarding commenced with a magazine rack in sight which is always a plus to some in flight reading pleasure (often neglected by most full service carriers these days). Glimpse of the empty cabin as I was one of the very first to board this section of the plane. Kinda wished that it stayed like this after boarding completed but no it did not happen. 😦Decent legroom onboard the Dreamliner. Pillows and blankets provided on every seat, seemed to be the same as what I remembered from my flight with them 4 years ago. It would be shocking if any of these basics were removed from a medium long haul flight anyways. 😛Headphones that are definitely better than SQ’s.A rather full load to Doha that morning. No hot towel provided but refreshing towels are given out, better than nothing eh?Safety demo done via the IFE screen. In seat pocket content nicely placed within a see through folder, ruined by me as I separated them just for this shot. 😛A very simple menu just on a single sheet being handed out, in contrast to the booklet type menu I received few years back. I personally appreciate this being distributed in physical copies as part of the inflight experience, rather than it being shown via the IFE or the crew asking between the options when the carts are rolled down. Also, note that 3 options of mains are being offered, which is on par with SQ. One of the key features that I love on the Dreamliner would be the electronic window shades. Spot the difference it makes above!Lavatory visit.Take 2. Nothing to shout about. The most awaited time on any flight, the meal service! Time for breakfast finally, after only having some cookies on my tube journey to Heathrow. First impression is that the food tray has changed since 2013 and QR now adopt a tearable seal lid for the hot food in contrast to the aluminium cover lid most airlines use, not entirely sure about the motive but possibly related to reducing the weight of the food carts? I went for the chive omelette and chicken sausage, taste wise it was good but I felt that the portion could be improved. Second meal service is carried out just before descending into Doha with a snack, sweet and savoury with the vegetarian or non-vegeterian option being handed out, which was similar to what I recalled being present in 2013. Loved both the sweet and savoury option, definitely a decent snack before arriving. Had the snack with my drink of choice, tea!It might not be my very first flight with Qatar but it was my first time approaching the new Hamad International Airport, which from pictures seem miles ahead in contrast to the tiny terminal building I experienced back in 2013. I can still remember the horrible bus journey being ferried from the parking bay which seemed to be located in another country to the terminal building back then, thankfully I will not go through that this time. Interestingly, after disembarking the aircraft passengers were not directed to the separate arrivals floor but released to the main departures area, hence the exemption from going through security clearance again for transiting passengers like myself, which is very much appreciated. 🙂 Not particularly sure about the reason for this but it might just be due to the sheer amount of passengers that are transiting on this flight from London?First impressions of the terminal building is indeed a positive one, looking very modern and sleek, and definitely not as crowded as the neighbouring Dubai International. There is an iMac island of computers for use but it was either the Windows guy in me that does not know how to operate them or they are all just not available to use, probably the former I reckon?Flight information displays are ample and conveniently located for ease of identifying your boarding gate. Stage set up for a special announcement it seemed, featuring the iconic big teddy bear that is stranded in the terminal building as it is not able to secure a seat on any aircraft out of DOH. 😛View whilst having a quick bite at the food court which offers not much but a decent selection of food and beverage. Nothing much to do in the terminal besides shopping (unlike the Changi experience), hence it was time to head to my boarding gate for my final sector to KUL!
Qatar Airways – QR 844 – DOH – KUL
Flight time: 19:35 – 08:30 (+1) (19:47 – 08:13)
Duration: 7 hours 50 minutes
13th August 2017
Almost home!Interesting practice at Hamad International, and possibly only for QR, that the seating area within the holding lounge has seats allocation based on the boarding zones noted on your boarding pass, which might help a little in terms of the efficiency of boarding the aircraft. Not so friendly aerobridge for picture opportunities featuring a glimpse of the Triple 7 that will bring me home that evening. Slightly different, older generation seats as compared to my earlier flight on the Dreamliner. Amenity kit provided in Economy is so rare nowadays, glad that QR kept this aspect with a slight change noticed compared to the sling pouch designed kit I got back in 2013. Decent content within the amenity kit with the lip balm that caught me by surprise. Thumbs up indeed. Unfortunately for this flight I have been assigned a seat next to an inconsiderate passenger as you can see above, have not been so annoyed on a flight my entire life! Menu offerings for this flight. F&B service in full swing shortly after take off. Being Asian, I went for the Asian selection of beef with rice and it definitely tasted legit. Also, a special shout out to the mango juice that is offered onboard, love them very very much (as well as the ones provided on EK flights). Fast forward after a couple of attempts in trying to have a good rest but failed due to annoying passenger next door, it is snack time before landing!Felt good to be back at this side of the world again after so long and it was straight to breakfast at my local hawker food centre right after leaving KLIA. 🙂
C O N C L U S I O N:
Overall, it was 2 enjoyable flights on Qatar, from the hard product to the soft products offered, it has definitely been in line with my expectations from my prior flights with them back in 2013. There were a few instances of cost cutting measures noticed (from the simplified menu to the food portion offered), but nevertheless the entire flying experience in Economy was not reduced to the bare basics, which is definitely what makes QR stands out and no wonder it managed to reclaim its title as the World’s Best Airline. The move from the old airport in Doha to Hamad International definitely contributed to the pleasant overall experience in contrast to my horrible encounter at the airport few years back. All in all, friendly service provided by the crew and up to date entertainment system with good catering offered, I was already looking forward to my return journey back to London (and finally losing my A350 virginity fingers crossed)! 🙂