Welcome to this Flight-Report! This report focuses on my first experience flying in J on QR's refurbished A330 J product following an incident. This report isn't as full of pictures as I would like it to be since I'm not sitting on a window seat (and I wasn't planning to write this report in the first place, which explains the empty firs half of the report), but I hope you would enjoy this report!
This report is very special to me. It marks my first anniversary flying with Qatar Airways. It's also my first flight with a Silver membership. My first ever lounge access (alone), and my first ever J experience. More on that later on…
I originally booked my flight to leave Berlin at December 15th and to return at January 7th 2016. The main reason is because I'm cashing in on QR's double miles and points promo that ends on the 15th. And all was well until my school published my end-of-the-year exam schedule that's starting on the 15th and continues after the holiday, at January 6th. How coincidental is that? And only 2 weeks before my travel date! Of course I panicked because I thought that changing my flight date was going to be pretty expensive, but luckily when I checked, it's going to cause me only ~€152 on top of my €874 ticket. Mind you, at a total of €1026 that's still cheaper than the cost of flying the same route with EK or EY.
After school (and an easy English test) I checked in for my flight on-line immediately. I found it strange that they already confirmed the passport (probably saved by my Frequent Flyer data) and that initially the website wouldn't print my pass until some time (3rd try). Originally I planned on taking public transport to the airport, and save me some money in the process. However, since I haven't finished packing up (the procrastination is strong with me), I realised that I won't make it to the airport with public transport on time. So I rang a cab at the last minute, and left.
Nothing interesting to see. In the winter the sun already sets at 4. By the time I left my dorm it was pitch-black outside. I encountered some traffic (Staugefahr, wenn Sie Deutsch sprechen können), probably rush-hour traffic. However, I figured that it wouldn't endanger my flight since it was still rather early (I left my dorm at 18:00 for my 21:10 flight, and this journey usually takes my only ~30min due to direct access via Autobahn) so I just let it be. I ended up arriving at the airport at 18:55.
One of the advantages of being a QR Privilege Club Silver member is that you're allowed to check-in on the Business Class counter. On that day the Economy Class check-in and bag drop counters were full, while the J counter was nearly empty. After what must've been the most painless and nicest check-in experience I ever had, I set to cash in my benefits of being a FF member: Lounge Access. I asked the check-in counter lady for a lounge I can use, and she directed me to the BA Terraces Lounge.
The lounge is close to Starbucks and is just below the Air France/ Air Berlin Lounge. Unfortunately I didn't took any pictures of it (hence why I used the Oneworld picture). However, it's brightly lit and refreshingly decorated, featuring contemporary looks that would appeal to everyone. There are a lot of comfortable seats and charging points aren't so hard to find. Sadly, food were non-existent (just a couple of wrapped sandwiches) and not too many alcoholic drinks, most of them running empty. There are a substantial amount of non-alcoholic drinks available, though. Overall for what Tegel is mostly used for (short-range intra-European flight), the BA Terraces Lounge is more than decent enough. I made myself some Bailey's and drank champagne. The Lounge does have its own Wi-Fi, however it isn't very fast when compared to Tegel's Wi-Fi, although you can use the Wi-Fi for an unlimited amount of time while Tegel's only good for an hour.
At around 20:30 I made my way to the immigration and check-in area. On the way I met a fellow Indonesian coming home for the holidays. He's in his late thirties and works for a German telecommunications company. We chatted a bit and we soon found a common interest of planes and flying (his favourite plane being the B77W) and has flown with QR frequently, being a Privilege Club Gold member. Apparently he's flying in J after he upgraded from Y during check-in. After clearing immigration he went off somewhere. By this time it was around 20:40 and boarding had well commenced. However I was seated at the front of the plane so I have to wait a bit before my sequence was called. And this is where it all began…
I handed my ticket to the ticket check-in person. But when he scanned it on the ticket scanner, apparently a conflict occurred. It won't recognize my ticket! He ran the ticket through again several time but nothing happened. Meanwhile, since the whole thing took a while, passengers queuing behind me were directed to check-in from the Business Class lane. A short while later a senior QR officer came and he explained what has happened. Now, my German wasn't perfect but I think they said something about a couple (Australian/ Austrian, Australien/ Österreicher) that happens to be sitting in my place, and that they were insistent on sitting together. I think they must've checked in ahead of me and there has been a mistake in the online check-in. Now I was accepting my fate of being the victim of the system and having to reassigned to the middle row somewhere far back of the full plane with lots of kids crying etc etc. The two offficer handling my case seemed hesitant and unsure of what they should do. And I was being looked at by fellow passengers. Obviously after the recent events there has been heightened paranoia and security and I was anticipating this to happen one way or the other. Finally they started tapping the screen on the computer and printed a new ticket and handed it to me.
He said: You'll be flying on Business Class, Sir. Sorry for the inconvenience.
And I was like,: I'm sorry?! Did you say I'm going to fly on…
Yes, Sir. Your seat is on 5E, that's on the aisle. Here you go. Frohe Weihnnachten
Ah, okay. Schönen Abend.
I was flustered for the first 15 seconds after I was checked-in (might be the alcohol and confusion). Afterwards my mind cleared and I cried and laughed gleefully(in my mind, of course. I'm not a lunatic :p) in the jetbridge on my way to the bus. What inconvenience, I AM FLYING IN J!!! I might've looked like a smiling idiot (and some that know of the fact that I got upgraded) but I couldn't care less about what people think about me. Crowded bus? No problem! Cold weather? No problem! I am looking forward to eating, sleeping, and drinking for the next ~5h30m to Doha on a red-eye flight. That's when I decided to write a report on this flight.
Oh yes. Business Class, baby!
I was feeling impossibly happy as I see the A330-300 parked beautifully on the tarmac. I think I was the only one taking pictures of the airplane (fulfilling the Asian setereotype here!), and I soon went on board. Not before I took the company shot, though:
I was even more surprised as I climbed on board. It's no longer the old, drab cabin I flew on previous reports. It's a modern one, with colourful mood lightings and all that is more inline with QR's other airplanes. It also features a new Business Class seats in a rather tight 2-2-2 semi-herringbone arrangement, complete with the new IFE system. The seats leave little table space, however.
Placed on the seats were comfortable and plush pillows and amenity kit (I took the picture later) containing a lotion, eau de toilette, and a smaller bag containing eye cover and socks. The lavatory contains preplaced razor and toothbrush kits. Meanwhile, the noise-cancelling headphones were made by Panasonic, standard affairs on QR and many other airlines, but their quality was worse than my Bose QuietComfort 20is (which I used for the full duration of the flight).
My thoughts were interrupted by the stewardesses greeting the passengers. As they see my ticket that says Business Class one of them took me to my seat (which isn't very far away from the door). She then put my baggage up the storage bin. Mr. Telcomman (alias) spotted me and asked me what I was doing here as we happened to be sitting on the same row. I soon explained the whole situation and commented on how lucky I was, being bumped up and all. We chatted about the plane we're flying and that both of us agree that this J cabin is so much better than the older one for this type of airplane. He also added that these seats were similiar to the ones installed on QR's newer B77W that he happened to fly on about 3 months ago.
While we were chatting his seatmate, a German, came and he excused himself. Shortly later we were greeted one-by-one by the stewardesses. And for several passengers(yours truly included), thanked us for joining QR's Privilege Club. My assigned stewardess is called Naomi, and that she came from Africa. She also told me that there's also an Indonesian stewardess serving J. She then began to take champagne order and apologised that the boarding would be late, and offered to serve me champagne. The choice was between a Brut or Rosé and I took the Brut.
I liked the Brut. It's not bitter and was very refreshing. I thought at the time that the Rosé would be too sweet and I was happy with my choice of poison.
Soon after the champagne was served, boarding was completed and that Naomi told me that we would began pushback really soon. And no-one was sitting beside me! This really must've been a flight sent down the heaven. I looked around and asked Naomi of how full the flight is; she replied that Economy is 95% full and Business is 80% full. Since we are still waiting, she pulled out the menu and drinks list from the pocket behind my seat (had I noticed it) so I can have enough time to choose which main I'm going to have.
I finished my champagne as the airplane was being pushed back. The FAs were quick to collect them. However, Tegel at this time of the year is very busy and we've got many airplanes taking off and landing before us. On account of our airplane being a heavy I think they are clearing smaller airplanes so that ours won't cause so much delay due to the big wake turbulence. But finally we started taxiing. Safety videos were played through the screen as usual but halfway through the IFEs crashed, forcing the crews to continue safety demonstration manually. Hmm. Perhaps still glitches in the new IFE system. We'll have to see.
After what seemed like a long while we taxied to the runway and took off quite lazily to the Berlin sky. We took off at 21:41 CET, some 31 minutes late from the scheduled departure time. Shortly after take-off the seatbelt sign was switched off and that means I can recline the seat to a more comfortable position. And at the same time, the IFE system sprung back to life, giving me a chance to explore the system
The IFE can be controlled via a touchscreen or a small console by your side, should you are unable to reach the main screen. The screen was very large, nearly 20inch-ish and you wouldn't have any problem looking at it even with the seats folded fully flat. It's also very bright and sharp and looks and feels like a very high quality screen. Even better news is that it's fitted with the new Oryx One IFE system found on other QR planes, which is excellent. However, the A330 still isn't retrofitted with on board Wi-Fi just yet. On my last flight I remember the Oryx One IFE interface also made it to Y as well, albeit you have to control it via the console and it was pretty hard to navigate, being a touchscreen-based system. However both share the modern looks and is a welcomed and much-needed upgrade from the old system. Personally I felt that the console is a bit fussy and I quickly resorted to using the touchscreen instead. I found the IFE to be well-stocked with movies and TV shows, and soon I watched Veteran (2015), a South Korean movie after my friend's suggestion.
Roughly 30 minutes after departure, the FAs started taking dining options. Naomi again came to my seat and took the menu and drinks list from the pocket and took my orders. I asked for Bacardi as aperitif, and a Mushroom cream soup as appetizer. For mains I took the chicken option accompanied with a Dr.Loosen Riesling (Lieblich) since I knew that a dry-sweet Riesling matches well with chicken. As dessert I chose Panna Cotta instead of a cheese platter (I'm not a huge fan of cheese), ended by Baileys for digestif. Speaking of which, here's the extensive menu and the drinks list:
And my Bacardi as aperitif came, accompanied by dried nuts
Then my table was laid and lined with cloth.
And a platter of bread was served. Too soft and warm in my opinion.
Around 10 minutes later my appetizer came. I chose the mushroom soup as appetizer since the Arabic Mezze doesn't look too interesting to me and I decided to keep it western for this flight. I wasn't disappointed; it's creamy and taste really good. However it wasn't served as warm as I would've liked. But overall I think this is a good, if not remarkable, choice.
Next the main course came. I picked the Chicken with lentils option. The dish took a little while to come out, about ~15 minutes after the appetizers. But then our Business Class was almost full and the dish were being prepared onboard, so I can live with that, so as long as the dish turned out great. A bit like Y, since I was seated the furthest from the galley I was among the last to be served the main. I have to say I am not disappointed nor blown away with it. The chicken breast is succulent and have a good texture, perfectly cooked. But it lacks taste. However the lentils, dressed with tarragon jus and honey makes for a delightful savoury-sweet taste that goes well with the chicken.
the image was rotated for some reason, and I couldn't fix it. Sorry for the inconvenience!
For drinks the FA suggested the Dr. Loosen Riesling. I agree, as the sweet and refreshing Riesling goes well with the chicken. I was done in ~20 minutes
About ten minutes afterwards the FA comes with my dessert. The panna cotta taste good and creamy, but the taste combination of the chocolate base and vanilla ice cream is indeed too vanilla and monotonous. in my opionion serving it with a sweet-sour-tasting sauce, like blueberry would be nicer as it'd be more refreshing. But overall I wouldn't mind eating this again.
To finish I had Baileys for digestif. Afterwards I took a quick trip to the toilet to take some pictures. In the toilet were pre-placed razor and toothbrush kits. Usually they were placed in the amenity kit, but I guess by putting it in the toilet it saves space in the amenity kits. Again, some Giorgio Armani products, like lotion, eau de toilette, et al.
The meal service ended around 1,5-2 hours after departure. By now I had finished my movie and was feeling really drowsy from the lack of sleep and alcohol so I reclined the seat to bed position, laid the blanket and positioned the pillow to a comfortable position and slept right in. It was a long and eventful day and I deserve every sleep I got. I had a long layover in front of me and I need to be well-rested. I checked the map, and shock, we were already above Turkey. And there are only ~3 hours of flight-time left so I quickly went to bed, and immediately fell asleep.
My bed, fully made. You can tweak the seat recline, lumbar, and leg rest on this seat. There are also 3 pre-set setting: the seat fully upright (for take-off and landing), lounge (the seat reclined halfway and the leg rest reclined halfway), and lastly bed (all fully reclined)
I woke up only ~30mins before landing as a result. Everyone else had their seats in the upright position with their seatbelts on and my head hurts. What little sleep I had was ineffective and my head hurts. Yep, I got a bit hung over after the drinks I took just 3 hours prior and was now feeling its full effect. Nevertheless I woke up, put my seat in the upright position, put the seatbelts on, and prepare for landing. The rest of the flight was uneventful.
Landing wasn't very smooth. Touchdown was textbook standard but the airplane braked quite heavily causing several stuff from seats (and my headphone) to fall down. It only took us a short while to reach our gate, unlike the beginning of the flight. We taxied to a halt in concourse A (I forgot which gate). Soon the airbridge docked and the J passengers were disembarked first. I bid Naomi good-bye, and heads straight into the transfer area. Our airplane was docked quite away from the transfer and security check area, it took me ~10m to reach the area. The security check areas were crowded, and we weren't allowed to take pictures. I looked at the FIDS, but my flight (QR954) haven't showed up. So I proceeded to the food court, and then onward to the quiet rooms to catch some extra sleep.
Thanks for reading this report! Sorry for the lack of content on the actual flight as I was sleeping for more than half of the flight, and wasn't seated at the window. Leave a comment if you enjoy!
British Airways Terraces Lounge
Berlin - TXL
Doha - DOH
Departure: As usual, despite the traffic jams. I made it to the airport on-time and checked in immediately without any problem. The BA Terraces Lounge is indeed a nice place to be, but I personally wouldn't stay up late in the lounge with an empty stomach. As for the security, I would advise against bringing a lot of computers as you would have to take them all out, or else you would have to it all over again (I've been there, and they're not happy at all). Security has been stepped up in the wake of recent attack, as a result immigration took more time than usual. I remember seeing 2 Egyptians were being held back by authorities for further checks, and that in my case the immigration officer questioned me several times about my personal details since I look quite different to my passport
Flight: Like I said, this is my first ever J trip and everything matches my expectation. Although the flight was delayed by almost half an hour, the flight arrived on-time. We took-off and landed without a hitch, although the landing was a bit shoddy (too much braking). But the flight itself was free of turbulence, except for a brief moment when we were passing eastern Turkey.
Cabin: The 2-2-2 seating arrangement was pretty dense for a long-haul Business product. From my perspective (as a first-timer) this is more an enough for me, as there are plenty of leg space, and the seats lie flat. The privacy screen is tall and in bed mode the screen sunk quite some way down, so privacy is good. However for some the tight arrangement may be bothersome, as the table is small, and that window passengers have no direct access to the alley without (possibly) alerting their seatmate. Otherwise the new cabin is a step up from the old one. Not to mention it has a new IFE system.
Crew: The FAs were polite and quick to respond to calls, However since we're flying on a full load they looked pretty busy and as a result I don't think that they are serving us to the best of their capability. There are 4 FAs + 1 chief purser serving 24 passengers on the flight. However they always come through with the request and wasn't too intrusive or chatty, which I liked. My assigned FA is very knowledgeable on drinks, and she made a great selection of drinks based on my meal choice. Overall befitting of a 5-star airline.
Arrival: Doha's Hamad airport delivers again. Modern and efficient; it's leagues ahead of the old one. There seems to be little change to the airport, however. Wi-Fi speed is still mediocre and internet calls are impossible. But food is plenty, for all budgets and tastes, and the silent rooms are heavenly, especially for those with long layovers (or tired/drunk passengers). Charging points are a rarity though; except for the lounge and the Eat Street food court, I can't seem to find any working ones. Worse, Qatar is using a 3-pin charging point similar to the UK, which means I (coming from Germany and originating from Indonesia) have to bring my own adapter.
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Thank you very much for your flight report! Flying J for free is always a pleasure!
Beware that there is a picture of your travel documents where we can see your first name, last name, ticket number and frequent flyer number... You should consider removing this picture or modifying it to blur those private data.
Happy New Year ;)
thanks! by the way, just noticed that... the wrong file was uploaded since both pictures are of the same name and the site just took them both as the same.
and happy late new year to you too!
Thanks for sharing this report with nice pictures!
Glad to hear that you are upgraded to J and no seatmate next to you! For your case (the couple occupied your seat) QR is so generous to upgrade you to J even Y still have empty seats.
It is interesting to note that semi herringbone seats are installed on this retrofit A330. I would expect QR would adopt the reverse herringbone just like their brand new A350s. BTW they are still very functional and comfortable. The IFE looks good. And the catering is decent and tasty
Look forward to your next trip!
Well I think that's most likely down to the fact that I have a QR Privilege Club membership (Silver) so instead of changing my seats to another one in Y I got bumped to J instead. Regarding the seat arrangements, I think it's down to the fact that the A330 is used in a lot of routes with more Y flyers instead of J - therefore the space reserved for J is small and crowded, while there's a lot of space for J passengers (with a 32 pitch as well, in a 2-4-2 confg). It's also the fact that at the moment the A330 is QR's biggest airplane (in terms of seat numbers) just under the 777-200LR (which are used almost exclusively on US routes) and the 777-300ER (which is too big for several airports), while the 787-8 isn't big enough, and have fewer J seats due to its 1-2-1 configuration. Until more A350s come though, that is. But at least the cabin was upgraded to a better one, because the old one was just... old and drab.
Thank you! A very well written and interesting report.
I tried this aircraft in my trip IST-DOH & DOH-IST the business class is really comfortable and it looks new
thank you very much
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