May 172011

Part I of the trip was a positioning trip, and being it was booked with miles I needed to find a route with two seats up front to the Middle East from London. Easier said than done just about six weeks before the holidays. After much digging (and many thanks to United’s new one way awards) I scored a route that I thought would be perfect: LHR-FRA on LH followed by FRA-RUH-DOH in business. Unfortunately, I found out later there’s no way to get off the plane in RUH, so well technically in Saudi Arabia, some people would debate counting it….it wasn’t to matter in the end.Made it to Heathrow around 8am thanks to the rare trip without a hitch on the Piccadilly Line, and checked in with Lufthansa. No problems at all, everything looks good, off to the Star Alliance lounge to wait. Unfortunately, that’s when we noticed the inbound was still at the gate in FRA thanks to a combination of LH’s website and arrivals monitors. When it became obvious we weren’t going to make it….we hit up the Lufthansa transfer desk. Took the agent a bit to figure things out, but very soon we had something I’ve never seen before: confirmed tickets on the nonstop flight on Qatar leaving at noon, and actually arriving in Doha at the same time! I was quite shocked LH would do this on a UA-issued award ticket….no way United would have booked offline to protect award passengers!

Soon we were FIM-ed and off to make the bus trek over to terminal four at Heathrow. Qatar uses the Skyteam lounge, which was actually quite nice except for the barely functional internet connection. Now, onto the flight!

QR 12
London Heathrow (LHR) to (DOH)
777-300 registration A7-BAQ
delivered just 4 days before this flight!

First time on Qatar, and was stunned at the high level of service in business class. Both the hard and soft product easily beat out anything LH and UA offer in any class – simply amazing flight. Going back through my records I only have one photo from the flight, but this gives you a little taste of one of the two appetizer choices on this flight.

A full lunch was served shortly after takeoff with a choice of two appetizers (I chose the Mezza plate above) followed by a salad which was huge and three choices of mains. Unfortunately, I forgot what the main was but remember being pretty impressed. Dessert and/or cheese followed.

I remember watching an amazingly bad movie (who doesn’t like bad movies) and the 6.5 hour flight went by in no time. A “light” snack was served before landing, but it was anything but light. It consisted of 5-6 small tapas sized dishes and deserts….amazing.

I can’t say enough good things about Qatar in business on the 777-300ER. Hands-down the best hard and soft business product I’ve ever seen in 30+ airlines. I can’t imagine how nice F must of been on this flight.

Landed in Doha a few minutes ahead of schedule…well at least I think it was Doha. The bus ride to the terminal was long enough that I think we were parked somewhere in Saudi Arabia. Off through immigration, and into a taxi to the W Hotel.

Get to the hotel, pay the taxi, head to the desk to check-in and….no wallet. Must have left it in the cab, which by this point was long gone. Fortunately the colour of the cab indicated to the W staff which company it was with, so they called and talked to a dispatcher who promised to try and track it down. Assuming that was even possible…not the way I wanted to start this trip out.

Shockingly, we got a call the next morning from the taxi company. They had tracked the driver down, he had turned it in, and we could head out to their office to pick up the wallet. When we got there it was there was an “inventory” slip that listed every Dollar, Pound, Rial and Dirham inside. Talk about amazing honesty.

Spend the rest of the morning touring around Doha (highly recommend the Museum of Islamic Art which is pictured below to anyone who visits) and soon it was off to the dump that is Doha Airport for our first ever Middle East low-cost flight on Fly Dubai to Dubai!

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