21 March 2009
Qatar, Doha, and Qatar Airways
I had the pleasure of flying with Qatar Airways all the way from Jakarta to Washington DC. You can probably guess that this is going to be positive in terms of the comments about Qatar Airways.
Qatar Airways bills itself as the 5-Star Airline and this is probably apt based solely on my only experience with the airline and this is in spite of a delay in Doha.
The planes are new so this is always a good start as this means that the comfort level is likely to be good. I was not disappointed on this front. Although, more leg room would never go astray.
The service was first rate. The food was 5-star. It really was like eating at a hotel, Parmesan covered chicken breasts with roast pumpkin and beans...awesome. Even more fun was that when the lights went down there was a self-service option. That is, the staff provided hot and cold sandwiches, as well as drinks. You just meandered your way back to the galley and helped yourself to whatever you wanted - very cool.
The flight was long, so it was nice that the service and food was excellent.
I did not get to see any thing much of Qatar and Doha, except what I could see from the terminal and flying in and out of the airport. However, I got to see more of the international terminal in Doha than I wanted to.
For an international airport that is supposedly a hub for those travelling in the Middle East then it still has a fair way to go on that front. There is probably a litany of complaints in this regard that I should keep to myself, but hey, that would not be me.
For an international airport there is next to nothing in the terms of duty free shopping. There is really only one shop and this is hardly duty free. I was looking at buying a real camera (real being something other than point and shoot) however the duty free price in Doha was the equivalent of IDR 3 million more expensive than what I could pay for it at a legitimate electronics shop.
However, such is life on that front. That, though, was not the big thing for me. The toilets / restrooms were of a quality that made the restrooms at Soekarno-Hatta look like a 5-star joint. Each of the toilet facilities at the terminal required one to have Jesus-like skills, particularly the ability to walk on water. And, at least two of the restrooms were under repair. For me this is just crazy for what is supposedly a 5-star airport. Nevertheless, on the positive side the water was hot which meant there was a certain enhanced cleaning possibility if you know what I mean.
The security at the terminal was interesting to say the least. I am all for enhanced security if this means that I am guaranteed of flying safe. As someone transiting through the airport the security was pretty strict. To get of the plane and into the terminal required all of your stuff to be x-rayed, this included taking off your belt. However, this was ramped up on getting into the lounge to reboard the plane. What made this experience even less fun was that the security staff were scary in an agressive way.
Getting into the lounge required not only the belt to come off again, but the shoes, face towels, hankies, laptops, cameras, coins, keys, mobile phones, and the list goes on. This is part and parcel of an increased security presence however getting shoved against a wall and yeleed at not to move while your stuff goes through the x-ray machine is a little disheartening.
So, in short Qatar Airways service and food was excellent! The terminal at Doha was a little less than expected.