WARNING: This is a long report with many pictures. You've been warned.
Hello and welcome to my first ever Flight Report! This report would cover about Qatar Airways flight 78 from Berlin-Tegel to Doha Hamad Intl.
But first, a little background.
I live in a boarding school in Germany, and this summer marks my first year living abroad all by myself. And the end of school. My school ends at August 26th but I decided to leave the school early, not only to get a good price, but also to escape the boredom that is the last week of school. I was also looking forward of 19 hours of resting, since I spent 2 weeks packing up my room! I was tired and bored, so the flight, where I got to do something different other than studying and packing, was a welcome relief for me. I was still going to school the day of the flight, since the flight leaves late at night.
But then, why Qatar Airways, when other, more well-known world-class airlines such as Lufthansa and Emirates also serves just such destinations? Well, apparently Qatar is the only airline that has a direct connection to Berlin AND Jakarta, through Doha, resulting in one connecting airport only. My family tends to use Emirates or Singapore when it comes for long-haul, which results in us having to flying on 3-leg flights, which is tiring. And then cost. I first found out about Qatar Airways when I was fare-searching for flights on the Internet. The reason was that my school is closing for 2 weeks for Fall break, and I have to go home, since my boarding school is closed. After a brief searching, I found out that Qatar Airways flies from Berlin to Doha and onward to Jakarta, for (at the time) only 593 euros return in economy! Other airlines don't offer flights costing even TWICE of that. At the time, an Emirates flight costs around 1300+ euros, and Etihad was no better at 1100+ euros. Other airlines such as SQ and LH costs upwards of 2200 euros (which was the cost for a QR Business class for that route at the time). Naturally, I chose Qatar Airways, and have been using them ever since. Except for a brief flirtation with Lufthansa during spring break (LH782), I always used Qatar Airways ever since.
So, without further ado, let's begin!
(All photos in this report are taken by my LG G3 smartphone, all on auto settings. The photos were originally in 4160x2340 res, 10MP, in this report it is downsized to 1920x1080. Some photos are in 2560x1440 res, I'll tell you which. The main reason I chose it is its OIS and Laser AF, which means that I can take shots quickly and it'll come out more-or-less perfect:) )
I was surprised to learn that I am going to fly with the runt of the litter in QR's long-haul fleet, the A330-200. It was supposed to be a larger A330-300, for a reason that I'd later learn. But anyway, I was spirited and ready to go. I left my boarding school at 7:30PM (Central European Time)
Taking the A115…
…and into the infamous arrow-straight A100.
The weather on that day was really nice. Sunny with relatively clear skies after 3 weeks' worth of bleak, cloudy and rainy weather.
The traffic jam was unexpected. It was already past working hours. I'm not sure why, but I guess I have to wait.
And into Flughafen Berlin-Tegel - Otto Lilienthal.
Got to just take picture of this Hainan Airlines' Airbus A330-300, setting for Beijing/Capital.
Flughafen Berlin-Tegel is Berlin’s main domestic and international gateway, and home to airberlin. Berliners (or Germans who’ve been there, no need for Ich bin ein… jokes here) would say that the airport is not as good when compared to other international airports of which Germany is renowned for, take a look at FRA and MUC for example. And certainly not befitting a global city such as Berlin (not to mention as Germany’s capital). And yet this airport has direct flights to North and Latin America, East Asia, Middle east, and more! Berlin has long overdue a proper international gateway (thanks to the Deutsche Teilung which forces Lufthansa to base its hub at Frankfurt, West Germany at the time). And despite a new airport that’s been built, the shining Berlin Brandenburg Airport, it isn’t opened yet due to some teething problems with fireproofing, and won’t likely be opened until 2017, if not later.
it's worth noting that Tegel was an example of German engineering at its best. The airport has a relatively small size, but could still hold a lot of passenger thanks to the hexagonal main terminal. It also allows for the shortest walking distance from entrance to gate. However by now it’s old and cramped and there are too many passengers on the airport. For now I’m content. But this is definitely an airport that I wouldn’t recommend to have a layover in. In fact I’d advise against spending too much time in the airport. There’s just nothing to be seen, and there’s no observation deck either. So, like me, arrive at the airport as late as safely possible (disclaimer: I wouldn’t be responsible if anyone misses their flight from Tegel because of this report).
Checking-in was a breeze since I used online check-in, which was made available 36h prior to departure. Boarding pass was issued quickly, and I was on my way. Admittedly there are some problems since I was travelling with both backpack and hand-carry luggage, which under Qatar Airways, both were considered hand-carry luggage. Both also have computers in it, which means that my hand-carry luggage originally had to be put into the luggage hold. After some desperate haggling I was eventually let go. I’m lucky this time, but other potential Qatar Airways flyer, you’ve been warned. They were understandably not happy with me, but what is done is done. Lesson learned.
A view of the small check-in area
The flight information board. It's the only one for terminal 1 and 2, which means that you really have to remember your flight times.
Spot my flight?
I already ate before, which means that I didn't eat at the airport's Burger King, as usual. So I stopped at the airport’s Starbucks, only to find (with amazement) that Tegel now has free Wi-Fi! Apparently telekom.de now operates free wi-fi for the airport. However, you can only use it for one hour. The Wi-Fi is really fast though.
If you're curious, it's called Red Berry Yogurt Frappucino, a summer-exclusive drink. And yes, it IS as delicious as it says and looks.
The customary company shot.
Soon enough it was Boarding time. I therefore proceeded to the immigration counter. This is where another complaint was lodged: only 3 counters, and one is reserved to EU/Schengen Area passport holders, which was closed at the time. Thankfully the flight was 1/2 full, but on other times I swear that the flight was almost always full, as is with my Christmas trip back home. And at those time immigration becomes an unorganized mess.
I passed the border control with ease, and after final security search, I boarded the bus that would take me to my plane. I managed to do some plane spotting along the way. Do notice that, this being central Europe in the summer, means that the sun usually sets at around 9:30.
And finally my plane for the day!
The customary Flight-Report wing shot
Seat 16A would be my seat for the flight
After entering the airplane, I immediately settled down on my seat, 16A. I was pleased to find that there’s no one sitting beside me. Later I learned that we’d be flying only half-full today. Which is a first for me. During my times flying on this route (first on early November and on the middle of December) both flights were full. I was originally expecting a full flight but with very few passengers on board, it was a pleasant and welcomed surprise.
Some photos of the seat:
Seat pitch was standard (32). Do notice that, like many planes, window seats usually houses an IFE box under the seat, which obstructs legroom, as is the case here. The seats were decent, nothing special. They are a bit thin for my taste, but then other A330 seats feels the same.
Some photos of the IFE system:
The IFE control is done only via this remote…
…annoyingly stuck beneath the armrest. Whoever thought this was a good idea, is most evidently wrong. I kept accidentally pressing it through the course of my flight. >:(
I am still disappointed with the IFE system onboard QR’s A330s. It just pales in comparison to other Middle Eastern carriers such as Emirates and Etihad’ A330 IFE system. For westerners or europeans it might be good enough but it just wouldn’t work on me, which have frequented a lot of established asian and middle-eastern carriers such as GA, SQ, CX, EK, and others. Especially when we’re talking about world’s best airline 2015. With the amount of A350s and 787s they’re ordering I have a suspicion that QR wouldn’t upgrade the IFE system on their A330s as they would simply replace them with A350/ 787, but that is unlikely to happen in the short future, so it would be nice if they would upgrade it. And so is the cabin. It just looks so drab and old with its dark maroon seats and white cabin. It’s like a late nineties/ noughties airplane cabin (which it is) and doesn’t look as good today.
Still, it benefits from a good amount of programs and movies offered. QR apparently continues to routinely update their IFE system which could only be beneficial to the passenger. Major Hollywood blockbusters are available, as well as movies in other languages. There are also TV programs in Arabic, Turkish, Chinese, German, French, etc. as well as Bollywood movies. In short, there really is something for everyone. Now, if only they had HIMYM…
After the flight safety video, the airplane was pushed back, and we are ready for taxiing. While taxiing, I do noticed that one of the runway (08R/26L) was being cleaned very quickly. I failed to notice them and took photos of it, but it was interesting. Never saw that before. We’re taking RWY 26R for takeoff, and the cabin lights was switched off
After takeoff, the cabin lights went back on. Food menu was, in QR’s apparent attempt to save the environment, displayed on the IFE screen, which (again) I also failed to take photos of. There are 3 options that night: Chicken pasta, Beef with potato, or vegetarian pasta. To be honest, I was surprised that QR changed their vegetarian meal out of Tegel. It used to be a vegetarian (but not vegan) Indian curry with rice and paneer (indian cottage cheese) which was SUPER delicious. So I, rather disappointedly, chose the Beef with potato menu.
Stainless steel cutlery. Now THIS is proper cutlery.
The beef is hidden under the tomato sauce layer. The potato was decent; not too watery or dry. The beef was, well, mixed: It was succulent and juicy but at the same time it didn’t feel like beef meat. The broccoli was overcooked, as usual in Y foods. Then we have an inexplicable salad of weird-tasting stuff, a good brownies, and bread with butter. A little Mars bar was also served. All in all a nice, if underwhelming, dinner.
The FAs then came again to ask for last-chance drinks. I asked for tea, and also asked them to bring me cold beer later. Perhaps it’s because of the half-full flight, but the FAs were being really attentive that night. One particular male FA which served me was enthusiastic and full of smile. In return, I also return the favour by smiling and being polite with him. Apparently before serving this DOH-TXL-DOH leg he was flying to CGK as well. And yes, he kept that request to serve beer after tea.
I later managed to took some pictures of the lavatory
2 cups of Heineken probably wouldn’t be enough for many, but it did the trick for me. After beer I decided to catch some sleep, which the beer assists. I think I fell asleep somewhere north of Budapest, only to wake up later (for a reason I don’t remember) above Ankara. I slept again afterwards. I only woke up as the airplane cruises between Bahrain and Iran only to be greeted by this beautiful sky:
The plane then inches ever closer to Doha, and soon we started descending.
Over the airport
The weather was foggy/dusty at the time, which is understandable given that Qatar is a desert country and winds blew quickly there, leaving a fine layer of dust in the air that clouts visibility. I was just about able to finally see Doha and Hamad airport, although the camera couldn’t see them. The approach path was rather long, but soon we were in final approach.
A picture of our cabin on final approach
Again, a soft touchdown. Thank the airport’s 4000m+ runways, and the pilot’s skill, we can barely feel the airplane touching down on the ground. However we didn’t taxi to a gate, instead we stopped at a parking space.
As I was in the safety check-in area, I couldn’t take pictures of it. But it’s a big space of nearly 10 operational safety check line, which is helpful - our flight wasn’t the only flight arriving at the time. I cleared the safety check smoothly, and onward to the flight information display board to check my next flight, but I later learned that it wasn’t available yet - I would only later found my flight 1h before boarding time.
That's all people. Thanks for reading to the bottom. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, feel free to write in the comment section below! Auf Wiedersehen / Sampai jumpa!
Berlin - TXL
Doha - DOH
A flawless flight, despite a rough start. Qatar has been my favorite due to a good combination of quality and price, that has rightly earned it a five-star airline award. Qatar might not be the most popular yet thanks to Emirates, but it is on the rise, and I am confident of the airline’s ability to grow further. While a bit rough here and there, Doha Hamad airport is a good alternative to Dubai’s crowded airport, and is an immeasurable improvement to the old airport. Everything here feels luxurious and classy, which it should be as it’s only one-and-a-bit year old now. Improvements have been made too: Wi-Fi coverage is now widespread and level, which is a problem during the airport’s early days. While it isn't filled to the brims with shops and restaurants as Dubai, it is still a good airport by anyone's standard. Job well done, Qatar.
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