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.

10 comments:

the writer said...

Thanks for the review Rob since I'm also looking for a good, decent-priced airline to fly home. However I also heard that my friends who flew with Qatar home from Europe must spent like 6-10 hours transit in Doha. Urgh

Rob Baiton said...

Writer...

My transit time was 5 hours. Then there was a delay that was listed at 3 hours (ended up being just 1.5) but we made up an hour in the air and ended up only being 30 minutes late on arrival in DC.

I should add that Qatar was like USD 500 cheaper than everyone else.

:D

Harry Nizam H. said...

Hi Rob,
It's good to hear from you again.
I can imagine you going to the U.S via Qatar and Europe, instead of through the Pacific. I hope you enjoy the long trip.

Rob Baiton said...

Harry...

Not sure what you mean? I am guessing that is not a bad thing?

Akhyari said...

Dude, thanks for the review. I flied from Jakarta-Singapore-Doha-London in June 2008, i found some interesting facts :
- Doha airport was full of...Qatar Airways (only). Compared to SHIA Jakarta, it was far less packed of aircrafts from different airlines.
- The terminal was too small, and not too fancy, considering that Qatar (and Qatar Airways) has delivered soo massive ads worldwide.
- In cabin, my table was broken, it could not be stowed.
- The cabin crews were all ok, but there was one male FA really unfriendly. I asked him about arrival card, he said, "pls help yourself, it's over there"

Rob Baiton said...

Akhyari...

Mate, I guess I just got lucky with a new plane and good service. One of the flight attendants on the Doha - DC leg was male (they seem to be a minority on Qatar Airways) and he was professional and always helpful.

I heard today from someone at the Indonesian Embassy that the return leg back to Jakarta is not nearly as pleasant as the trip on the way over to DC.

So, I am guessing another post will happen sometime after 31 March 2009.

Brett said...

Weird. To think: an airport worse than CGK! :)

Rob Baiton said...

Brett...

I don't know if it was weird but rather unexpected considering that the flight was pretty good.

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