Since I last flew Qatar Airways in 2016, seemingly the whole aviation world has gone mad for them. Having flown them around a dozen times previously, I was wondering what all the fuss was about. As it happened, I was looking for somewhere to go over the May bank holiday weekend, and it just so happened that they had a sale on, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to see what they were like in 2019. I won’t report on every flight – just two. This first one between Oslo and Doha, and one of the QSuites equipped flights between Singapore and Doha.
This part of my journey starts out in Oslo city.
Soon enough, it was time to take the train back to the airport
Upon reaching the terminal, it was over to the check in desk where the standard burgundy rug was in place at the Business check in counter. There wasn’t any wait and I was processed in a minute or two. Next, it was through security, where there was a fast track. However it wasn’t a real fast track as such, just the sort where you basically jump the queue and are spat out at the front of the regular line. As it wasn’t particularly busy, I didn’t really gain anything. Once these formalities were done, it was up to the lounge. There aren’t too many options in Oslo – A couple of SAS lounges for the Star Alliance carriers and a third party one for pretty much everyone else. Part of the third party lounge is host to a premium section. There wasn’t any mention made of this when I entered the lounge, although looking at the sign next to the entrance I was entitled to access through my airline status anyway… not that there was anyone checking credentials. I guess as the entrance is a little hidden, not too many people seem to notice it. This part of the lounge was far superior to the somewhat drab main part of the lounge. And best of all it wasn’t anywhere near as busy.
Well over an hour before departure, the FID flashed up as boarding. From previous experiences, I remembered that they do seem to start boarding quite early in Oslo and with passport control to clear too, I made my way down to the gate where I found A7-ALR waiting, an eighteen month old Airbus A350-900.
At the gate, there were separate areas laid out depending on what boarding group you were in, meaning when boarding came around it was all very efficient. I was welcomed at the door and escorted to my seat of 2A.
Ready and waiting was a bottle of water, a blanket and an amenity kit along with a pillow and blanket.
A few moments later, newspapers and menus were handed out.
Followed by welcome drinks and a hot towel.
We pushed back and made our way over to the runway, although due to ATC restrictions we had to hold for a good twenty minutes or so.
Once we lifted off, the initial bar service began.
Followed shortly after by the main meal service. I chose the pea soup to begin, followed by the scallops with a main of chicken kabsa, the chocolate tart for dessert and washed down with a coffee and Godiva chocolates. All courses were very tasty and an improvement over what I remember from fling with Qatar previously.
I then settled down with a film, of which there are plenty to choose from. However the selection didn’t seem to be all that up to date. There were still more than a few on the system from 2016. During which time, I rang the call bell for a coffee. This was delivered fairly quickly. No repeat of my 2016 experience here where I had to ask three times before eventually giving up!
On the bar area mid-cabin, there was a selection of fruits and snacks laid out. Normally there would be champagne too, but as I was flying during ramadan, alcohol was kept more subtle.
As this was one of Qatar’s shorter sectors, by the time I had finished watching the film, the flight was fast reaching its conclusion. With around an hour to go, a snack was offered. I opted for the chicken shawarma wrap, although the wrap itself didn’t contain any chicken. It was still tasty enough though.
Shortly afterwards, we started descent and landed a few minutes ahead of schedule. However by the time we made it to the gate, we were a couple of minutes behind schedule, but with a seven or so hour connection to my next flight this wasn’t really an issue for me personally.
The transfer security at Hamad International has improved greatly since I last passed through. Before, it could only be described as utter chaos. On this occasion, it was far more civilised although there didn’t appear to be anyone actually checking eligibility to the premium lane.
All in all, a solid flight with Qatar Airways. There had been quite a few changes over the last few years between this occasion and the last time I flew them. Both good and bad. The good points were that the catering has seemingly improved, the crew seem a lot less robotic than before and even if you’re now on one of the older aircraft, you’ll still get a good seat. Some of the cut backs that I noticed though were that pyjamas aren’t pro actively offered on every flight now. Also the contents of the amenity kit is so sparse now, they may as well not bother. Although these are very minor points – I rarely pay all that much attention to amenity kits anyway!