Photo heavy post ahead!
When trying to decide how to capitalize on some of the great rates from Qatar Airlines, Hubs and I debated for a very quick few hours before deciding on booking the Atlanta route from Doha (via Dubai). We hadn’t planned on going home to the States this summer, but with rates at nearly half price (for 2 business class tickets), there was nothing else to do but hit ‘purchase.’ Of course, that was January, and here we are in June.
While I could post about each segment, I think I’m going to capture the outward and inbound flights.
So, all aboard for the third ever DOH-ATL flight!
The day started early at 3:30AM for a wake up to be ready for our 4AM Careem pick up. Having just flown Emirates to the United States last week, I’ll have to say that the included limo pick up is a great addition and one we would really have enjoyed on arrival in Atlanta.
Even at 4:30AM, Terminal 1 at DXB had a long line and I was glad we could skip the queue to the 1st class check in. On our way to the train to the new and fabulous D Concourse, we encountered a fairly strange moment (literally, it was 4 in the morning and a woman was SHOUTING in Arabic on the phone – to the point that every person on the train was sending stares her way).
Quickly putting distance between ourselves and the crazy person, we went upstairs to the Qatar Premium Lounge (separate from the other airlines), where we were promptly greeted. Strange, but I guess there is some logic behind not having an actual desk, our tickets were quickly scanned. While I do not have much of an appetite at 5AM (nor, am I particularly thirsty), I was impressed by the set up and overall design of the lounge and Terminal D (and would’ve loved to check out the Martini Bar and restaurant, had it been a different time of day).
We boarded easily and with one of the nicest crews ever, make the quick 45 minute flight to Doha (arriving promptly on schedule at 6:30AM, even if we pushed back a few minutes late). Side note: while I’m certainly not one to judge, demanding that the crew puts your champagne into plastic cups so you can keep drinking on take off at 6AM seems a bit, shall we say, déclassé.
Off the plane into a bustling Hamad (skipping the suck wagon altogether!), we head upstairs to the Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge. I was actually peckish at this point, so we ordered some tasty sandwiches from the main restaurant before moving over to the deeply seated chairs. Overall, the lounge is light years beyond my memories of DOH (both the QR lounge and the Oryx lounge).
Heading downstairs, we arrive at the gate more or less promptly at boarding time, only to find, yikes, there is (of course) straight up chaos. How the Gulf carriers have not figured out a separate, dedicated or sane approach to getting their premium cabins on first, I have no idea. More or less elbowing our way to the front, we stepped onto the 777-300ER, taking a seats 2A and 2B. Having flown in both Emirates and Etihad most recently, I forgot there were ‘dated’ cabins in the GCC. It’s not that the business cabin was bad, it’s just their competitors do it far better. Hell, Qatar themselves do it better.
As I was on a business class flight (with similar timings) from DXB-ORD last week, the comparisons between the two airlines were especially fresh in my mind. Points for entertainment, food selection, seating and service all go to Emirates, with Qatar not falling anywhere particularly memorable (I prefer the amenity kit on Qatar, but only by the smallest of margins). I don’t know if it’s because of the dated set up (had I not been traveling with my husband, there would be very limited privacy) or the ‘C’ team of service (for my departure beverage I clearly asked for a mimosa and was presented with both a glass of orange juice and a glass of Brut — I mixed my own), but the entire flight just felt basic (and not what I expect of a GCC carrier).
After making nice with the purser, we were served breakfast and then put our own mattresses on our seats. Given I had been up since 3:30AM, a nap was fairly easily to come by, and I slept for a few hours. Business class checked in at 50% (with economy at capacity, including 64 requests for wheelchairs. We were lucky, considering the inaugural flight had over 100 requests). I felt genuinely fortunate to be up front. Another small ‘win’ for Qatar was passing out pajamas and slippers (yes, even on a day flight because you know Mama loves her fat pants).
Service during the flight was…weirdly proactive and equally absent? I don’t know how else to explain it. We could get what we asked for, but then couldn’t find anyone. Having come off two wonderful Emirates flights (seriously, some of the best service I’ve had in nine years), this crew was transactional at best.
Entertainment was (as one would expect) not as good as Emirates, but decent, with the exception of no wifi. On a 14 hour flight, let’s just say wifi is definitely appreciated, if nothing more than to pass the time. Furthermore, without a place to charge your laptop (connections only for USB), there wouldn’t be a lot of time to get work done (if that is what you needed to do).
Given how much we paid, I’m okay with the flight, but there is plenty of room for improvement (across the board). Having flown QR (biz class) to Dulles and out of NYC in 2013, I was surprised to have a less than fantastic experience. Additionally, we flew the direct Delta (!) flight for a few years (when it was running out of Dubai to Atlanta), I would give the nod currently to the former Delta route (however, given the ongoing
immature battle between Delta and QR in Atlanta, I’d just as rather fly someone else and be done with it).
Also, Qatar, please please please, can you just bring some chips on the plane?
Have you flown Qatar Airways recently? Would love to hear your thoughts!