Nice thing about this Qatar flight is that it’s late enough it’s still possible to more or less work a full day, and still get to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Since I had the extra time I headed out to the airport with Metrorail, and when I arrived around 6pm at the Qatar Airways check-in there wasn’t another passenger in site. Still took the rather confused agents nearly 15 minutes to check me in (since I was traveling on two separate tickets), but eventually they figured it out and I was off to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse which Qatar uses in DC.
The club was empty when I arrived, and since I’d missed lunch decided to grab a bite from the menu:
Combo of chicken and beef gyro, which was pretty tasty:
I was the only one in the lounge when I arrived, which gradually filled up to maybe 20 people tops over the next two hours. I’d read online that the lounge can get super crowded during busy times, but didn’t really have much problem with it. Plenty of space to work, plug in laptops/etc, and lots of seating. Plus full floor to ceiling windows which made for some good plane watching.
Soon, my ride to Doha was pulled up to the gate:
It was still nearly an hour until boarding, so plenty of time for another glass of champagne and a bit of dessert:
You can check seatmaps on Qatar right up until departure, and I noticed the entire first row of the plane was empty. Normally I don’t like bulkheads because they have less legroom and no storage, but decided an entirely empty and quite row was well worth it. Asked at the gate, and was no problem to change, and time to board!
Qatar flight 708
Washington DC, Dulles (IAD) to Doha, Qatar (DOH)
Depart 21:05, Arrive 17:00 next day, Flight Time 12:55
Boeing 777-300ER, Registration A7-BAN, Manufactured 2011, Seat 1K
Seat 1K turned out to be a great choice – tons of legroom and space:
…and pink bubbles and roses to complete the…mood?
Pre-flight champers selfie:
Today’s food and beverage choices:
Door closed, and the rest of the first row remained empty, which meant the flight would feel nice and private hopefully. The folks behind me didn’t seem very loud, so had high hopes.
Dine on demand is an interesting concept on board, and maybe I’m strange but I usually don’t think it’s executed well. Unless the crew is very good at anticipating your needs, you end up ringing the call button…a lot…and still not usually getting everything you want/expect. They were good about coming through and asking what I’d like to eat and drink, so told them I’d go with the chicken. Now, I assumed that since I ordered a main they’d bring other courses too, right?
First off, an impressive (and somewhat wasteful) breadbasket:
Then, then anticipated well and asked if I’d like the soup. Sure thing…and they brought it. But wait, I have to specifically ask if I want the “palate pleaser?” I would think that goes without saying, but, nope. Also, had to ring the call button at this point to request a refill on champagne as well. The soup was great, and very glad I had it:
When asked, of course (when I rang the button for more champagne) they were happy to bring the palate pleaser after the soup, but if was unfortunately kind of meh:
Before I’d even finished it, however, out came my main course. Uh, yeah, sorry about that…could I please have the appetizer first? Sure thing…they took the main back, and brought me the mezze platter, which was pretty tasty. Despite an empty glass, no offer of refills, but again happily provided when I rang the call button and asked for it:
Now it was finally time for the main, and switched to red wine. A rather nice tempranillo:
…and of course, there’s always room for the cheese plate, which was above average:
I was full at this point and decided to skip desert, but when I asked for a refill of the wine they brought out some nuts to go with it. I clearly hadn’t gotten the memo on getting things you want and avoiding things you don’t want. Hah!
After finishing my movie I put the seat down and fell straight asleep due to the comfy seat and pleasant cabin temperature. Having individual air nozzles at each seat goes a long way for comfort in my book, and I was out for 9 solid hours! With still 90 minutes to go, I was slightly hungry, and decided to have some breakfast. The crew recommended the muesli to start, which was a solid choice:
Just how many breads and jams does one person need?!
I’m not a big breakfast on planes person (mainly because it’s usually a giant carb-fest) but decided since it was after 3pm local time, I’d get the steak and eggs. It was surprisingly very tasty:
Just enough time to finish off an episode of NCIS before landing, and soon we were pulling up to the still rather new Doha Hamad International Airport. We were lucky enough to get a jetbridge, and was a quick walk to connecting security. No line at all, quickly through security, and less than 15 minutes after getting off the plane was in the business class lounge.
But, on the way, I ran into the world’s creepiest teddy bear. It was originally purchased by a member of the Qatari royal family for over $6 million, and he grew tired of it, so basically he’s using the airport now as free storage. Seriously:
Not going to go too into details on the lounge here, because at this point I was somewhat exhausted, and just wanted a shower and to chill. The lounge is, however, massive, and it took me a good deal of time just to figure out where the showers were. Once I found them, however, they were quite nice, and went a long way to making me feel much more human after a long flight.
Wasn’t really hungry after the flight, so just had a couple light munchies and of course a couple glasses of bubbly while waiting for my connecting flight. Well, kinda light:
The lounge wasn’t at all crowded though, and was almost too big. There are so many little nooks and crannies (and two floors) that it can be hard finding what you want if you don’t know where to look for it. However, internet was super fast, there was plenty of seating, and the food and drink were plentiful. As far as business class lounges go, it was definitely one of the best I’ve ever been in anywhere in the world.
So, I set off to my gate, which I kid you not was halfway to Saudi Arabia. It was a solid 15-20 minute walk away minimum, which turned out to be because we were at the dreaded bus gate. When boarding was finally called, however, business class was told to remain seated. After boarding all of economy class, they then invited us to board and it was clear why. We not only had our own bus, but it was a much nicer bus than economy had, and it still left before the economy bus did. Score! The “luxury” bus, and the crowded gate area:
Qatar flight 1443
Doha, Qatar (DOH) to Asmara, Eritrea (ASM)
Depart 21:30, Arrive 01:00 next day, Flight Time 3:30
Airbus A320, Registration A7-AHP, Manufactured 2011, Seat 3D
I wasn’t looking forward to this flight after the last one, but upon boarding got a huge surprise! Recently, Qatar Airways has outfitted a few of their A320 with the same-ish lie flat seats that United/Continental uses on their 757s. A nice product on a 757, but amazing for an A320. However, Qatar generally uses these on competitive and high profit routes to Europe, so I was told not to expect them…but was super excited when they showed up on my flight! Great seats for such a short flight:
…with an impressive menu as well!
I’m not sure what it is about these nuts, but they were super tasty:
I’m going to never want to see bread again after this trip!
Delicious starter plate…even the pate!
Once again I went with the chicken. I almost always order beef options when they exist, so this much chicken on planes is very out of character for me. However, it was super tasty and a good choice!
…and then. OMG. The mother of all deserts. Literally, quite possibly, the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted:
Normally, it’s easy to guess at flight time. One hour per 500 miles of distance, add a little for taxi on both sides, add another 10% or so if you’re going westbound. I didn’t know how this approx 1,100 flight could be 3:30 given that, but the routing we took explained it. We went way north of a straight line, most likely to stay out of southern Saudi airspace and not go anywhere near Yemen:
Arrival was about 10 minutes behind schedule, but I was excited…I was finally in Eritrea, well, almost….