As Shaun mentioned, we’ve all been recovering from stomach bugs and having had a terrible day yesterday, I am finally over the worst of it. At least I hope!
I flew on a Wednesday from Frankfurt Airport to Singapore via Doha with Qatar Airways in economy class. The first flight was with a 747 and the second with a 330. Usually I make a stopover in Singapore on my way to and from Australia, so this journey was shorter and more comfortable than usual. 6 hours of flying followed by a 55 minute break and then another 6-7 hours of flying.
I expected a little more of Qatar Airways than I usually do when preparing for a big trip because I had heard lots of great things about the airline, and I have to say that I have mixed reviews.
In general the service on my two flights was great. On the first flight I had the nicest stewardess I have ever had. She brought all the things requested with a smile and even had small chats with me and the girl sitting next to me. We had a great time on the flight and were treated exceptionally well. At one point we ordered a drink and she brought it to us with a chocolate. She also said that if we ever wanted a cocktail in future that we should just bring the recipe with us and they’d make it.
On the first leg I had a dinner which was beef and potatoes with herbs (the other choice being chicken) which was quite good. It didn’t taste too much like the typical airplane food which was great. They also offered drinks many times during the flight which made it a very comfortable journey. At no point did I have to push the service button. On the second leg we were served breakfast and it was a choice between an omelette and garlic rice with chicken. I chose the chicken but regretted it. It was not very good and I did not end up eating much of it.
One thing that I was quite disappointed with was the ‘warm towel’. Maybe I’ve just had it too good previously on Singapore Airlines flights, but these were mentioned on the Qatar Airways website so I was expecting real towels, but instead we were basically offered moist towelettes which had been steamed. The end result was that we received tiny cloths which were burning hot when still folded into tiny squares, which quickly became cold once unfolded.
The little bag which all passengers in economy class receive contained a pair of socks, ear plugs and a toothbrush. Pretty standard stuff.
The main thing that I was not so happy with was the stopover. I had 55 minutes to get to my next flight which I thought would be just adequate, however I got out of the first plane with only about 20 minutes to go. After this, I had to get on a bus to the airport where I then had to proceed to the next gate (which had changed location without any notice to connecting passengers) and then wait for another bus which took us on a 20-minute journey to the actual plane. I was not the only passenger who had this problem. By the time we got to the plane we were at least 30 minutes late, and then it took even longer until more late passengers arrived and the plane was ready for takeoff. It was a nerve-wracking experience which I would not like to repeat. I think the main concern of mine is that we were told nothing and I had no idea if the second flight had already taken off. The least they could do is to inform connecting passengers about what’s going on and get us to leave the plane first. When I got to the gate written on my boarding pass, the staff told me that the flight had already left, and I was left to worry until another staff member said that the gate had merely changed. You can imagine the sighs from all the other connecting passengers behind me as well.
This one is more my own fault, but another thing was that online check-in starts 36 hours before the flight. I assumed that it was 24 hours like the other airlines, and therefore did not get a good choice of seats. On the first flight I was in an aisle seat but for the second, longer flight I was squashed in between two men. So be aware of this!
All in all, I think that Qatar Airways is a relatively good airline and I have definitely had worse, however I would be wary when booking flights with a layover that is shorter than an hour. Of course, every flight is different and stewards and stewardesses vary, but my experience was generally positive. Once I return to Germany perhaps I’ll have some updates for this post…