Report No: 2020-705E
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It's now time to return back to Turkey and this time my return journey would start in Los Angeles. In this report, I would share my experiences on the Qatar Airways A350-1000 from Los Angeles to Doha with a brief review of the empty TBIT at LAX. As most lounges at LAX were closed, I've visited the American Airlines Admirals Club at T4 and this report would also cover a brief review of that lounge.
Also, this flight is the longest flight I've ever taken until this report is published.
Here is the routing
Loads for this flight
Business Class: %40-45
Economy Class: %65-70
A few days before the flight I have received the usual upgrade offers from Qatar Airways.
The offers were $1420 for the LAX-DOH leg, $630 for the DOH-IST leg, and $1804 if I purchase both of them at the same time.
During online check-in, the upgrade rate for LAX-DOH had been increased to $1670.
And here is the check-in confirmation; the system wasn't able to issue a boarding pass so I would have needed to stop by a check-in counter.
Also, discounted Super Wi-Fi codes were offered for purchase. As LAX-DOH is a very long flight and $8 is very reasonable, I purchased a Wi-Fi access code for that flight online.
The night before my flight, I've spotted from Flightradar24 that A7-ANJ would be the aircraft taking me from LA to Doha.
About 2h15min before the flight, my Lyft driver dropped me at the Tom Bradley International Terminal where the majority of the international flights depart at LAX.
Qatar Airways operates at Terminal B.
FIDS as I've entered the terminal.
The QR check-in desks were just behind the FIDS that I took the previous photo. The Priority check-in lane was empty and in 5 minutes, I was served by a friendly agent.
Also during my check-in process, I was welcomed by one of the QR ground supervisors.
During check-in, I also asked for one of the bulkhead window seats and the agent was happy to assign me one but she warned that in case an infant needs the bassinet, I would be moved back to another seat.
The original LAX FIDS, not that many flights that day
The other side of the check-in hall was empty
The TSA checkpoint was empty, however, there were two lanes open at all, one for TSA Pre and another one for other passengers so it took about 10-15 minutes to clear security at LAX. There were no designated security lanes for Business Class passengers and airline elites at that time.
After passing the security check, the first thing that was visible was the closed stores around the terminal
The majority of the food court outlets were closed as well. Panda Express, Vino Volo Restaurant & Starbucks were the only food merchants open at the terminal. The Hudson's store was also open.
In TBIT, all the lounges were closed, including the brand new AMEX Centurion Lounge that hasn't been officially opened yet.
The oneworld Business Lounge operated by Qantas was closed until further notice.
Same thing for the QF First Lounge.
The KAL Lounge, the Los Angeles International Lounge, and the *A Lounges were also closed.
So while I was waiting, I decided to visit the AA Admirals Club in T4 to spend time.
The walkway between TBIT and T4 was deserted.
At that time an Air France 777 had arrived from Paris-CDG.
Terminal 4 was more crowded than Terminal B.
And the lounge entrance, unlike MIA, evidence for the Flagship Lounge was not removed here in LAX. While entering the club I was greeted by a friendly club agent and she apologized that they weren't offering a full service today so I should have kept my expectations low. By the way, I've also asked when the Flagship Lounges would re-open and they kindly answered me that they did not have any information about that.
After going upstairs to the club level, another agent told me that I needed to sit at my own seat and do not move but I was welcome to visit the bar or the buffet which only had fruits. During my visit, the club was empty and there were about 7-8 passengers in total, 4 of them being in the same family.
The lounge has a view of the AA gates in T4 and T5, plus some of the JetBlue gates in T5.
Shortly after I sat down, one of the servers took my drink order and provided me a food bag. I've opted for the house red wine which tasted alright.
And here was the snack box, chips&guac, jellies, some nuts, and a brownie.
As you could see, the quieter back side of the lounge was totally empty.
And the back area of the club has a view of TBIT and other AA gates. At that time an Air New Zealand 787 had parked to TBIT and a BA 787 was taxiing to the terminal.
About 1h20mins before the flight, I've left the club and headed to my gate, here is a photo of the empty AA Flagship Lounge.
While walking back to TBIT, this Emirates 777 had parked to TBIT and was being catered for its flight to Dubai.
While waiting for boarding to start, I had a cold drink from Starbucks.
At that time there were announcements made from the ANA gate that passengers would only receive a limited amount of meals onboard and no duty-free shopping would be offered so they were kindly asked to eat at the airport.
A7-ANJ would be the aircraft taking me to Doha.
At the next door, we had this British Airways 787 getting prepared for its flight to Heathrow.
The gate area was set while I arrived at the gate. At that time face shields were being distributed to passengers and all passengers except for those in Zone 1 and eligible for Priority boarding were asked to take a seat.
Boarding had started 40-45 minutes before scheduled departure time with the respect of priorities. I was the first passenger to board the aircraft in Economy Class and at the door, I was greeted by one of the cabin crew members. Also at the jetbridge, random bag checks were made by the security.
For this flight, my seat was going to be 16A, the window seat in the first row of Economy Class.
I usually prefer the bulkhead row on Qatar Airways as the legroom is super generous and I would have both a view of the window and aisle access at the same time.
Each seat onboard has a personal IFE screen
A personal touchscreen remote
And power outlets, USB ports are also available under the IFE screen.
The seat pocket did not have any literature onboard and only had a waste bag and the safety card.
The overhead panel
Our neighbor at LAX, an ANA 777-300ER
The IFE system could be used in multiple languages.
The IFE menu
Our route for today, the flight time for the day was 15h5mins.
While boarding was going on, a Korean Air 777 was passing by.
And shortly after boarding had finished, we were getting ready to push-back.
The 200- gates at TBIT that would open soon.
And while we were pushing back, the safety video was played from the personal screens.
After the safety video, refreshing towels, headsets, a hygiene protective kit, and an amenity kit was distributed by the cabin crew.
And we're pushing back
The gate that we have just left. At that time the cabin service director for Economy Class has come to me and introduced herself and asked if I need anything.
T4, the home of American Airlines
More AA aircraft
T5 on the left, T6 on the right
T6 on the left, T7 on the right
United aircraft at T7
And some more in Terminal 8.
And some aircraft parked at remote stands waiting for their flights.
Some of the grounded United aircraft
And after a taxi of 5-10 minutes, it was our turn to take-off.
And, we were in the air
Shortly after take-off, the COVID-19 safety video was shown from the IFE screens.
Passing near Rolling Hills and Long Beach
Shortly after the seat-belt signs have been turned off, I've visited the lavatory which was clean at the time during my visit. During my subsequent visits during the flight, on some occasions there were clean but on some others, they were not.
Shortly later as I took my seat, the aperitif service had started with the choice of drink plus pretzels.
And that time, we were passing over a rural area.
And the route map at that time
Before the service, one of the cabin crew members came to me and told me the preferences for the lunch service. The options were beef, chicken, and vegetarian. I've opted for the beef option.
When the service began, I've opted for a mango juice as a drink.
The tray had a salad, a chocolate&caramel pudding as a dessert, bread, and a bottle of water. I've also asked for butter but it wasn't loaded on today's flight.
The main course prepared by Do&Co was surprisingly good, this was one of the best outstation meals that I had from flights from the USA.
Braised BBQ Beef
Mashed potatoes and assorted vegetables
And later on, tea&coffee service had begun and drinks were served with a small chocolate.
At that time, we were somewhere over Canada.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the report, I purchased the discounted Super Wi-Fi option from the web before the flight and used it throughout the entire flight. I had a promo code that I would enter at this point.
For those who didn't pre-purchase Wi-Fi, they were able to purchase the Super Wi-Fi for $10 or use the complimentary 1 hour package.
The internet was really fast
And, YouTube videos could be streamed onboard at 288p or 360p.
A shot from Flightradar24
And another one from Flight-Report.com
Besides the Wi-Fi service that I used throughout the flight, I have also enjoyed watching two movies onboard.
My selections for this flight
During the flight, the cabin crew was constantly offering juices, water, and movie snacks for those who were awake.
Just about an hour before the mid-flight snack one of the passengers didn't feel well so an announcement was made that a medical staff was needed, shortly later, a medical staff showed up and the passenger was escorted by the cabin supervisor to one of the QSuites for a better rest, about 3-4 hours before arrival when that passenger felt better, he was escorted back to his original seat in the rear Economy cabin.
During mid-flight, the cabin crew once again asked my preference for the service. The options were a mushroom&potato masala pastry or a vegetarian pastry. I've opted for the former option which was served with pretzels and a choice of drink.
The sandwich was delicious as usual.
As I've taken a short nap, at this point, there was another drink run made by the cabin crew.
And while over Romania, the cabin crew offered me snacks while I was enjoying a movie.
Shortly later, we were near somewhere I am really familiar with. :)
While we were over the Southeastern Anatolia region of Turkey, the cabin crew came and asked for my breakfast choice. The options were a frittata, eggs, and vegetarian. This time I've opted for the scrambled eggs option.
Also to be fair, on second main course services, the trolley starts the service from the rear of the cabin so after the crew taking my order, I needed to wait 15-20 minutes for my tray to be served.
Here is the brunch tray, which had the main course, a fruit plate, yoghurt, bread, and a bottle of water. I've asked for a mango juice with my brunch.
This main course was also delicious and I enjoyed it.
Chicken meat balls, potatoes and vegetables
Later on, while the trays were being collected, I've asked for a cup of coffee with Bailey's which was promptly served.
At that time arrival and connecting gate information were available.
And the moment while we're over Qatar
And shortly later, we were approaching to Doha. Before the seat belt signs have been turned off, both the cabin crew serving my area and the cabin service director for Economy Class thanked me for flying Qatar Airways and asked me if I enjoyed the flight.
A shot from the tail cam
The Emiri Terminal
And we have touched down at runway 34R.
The first thing visible after we landed was Qatar Airways aircraft as usual.
The tower of DOH
Some more QR aircraft in the apron.
Construction for the terminal expansion was going on. Probably they're trying to finish it until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Runway 16R/34L was closed for maintenance.
During our taxi to our parking position, the only visible aircraft was Qatar Airways aircraft. It's really rare to see another airline here in Doha.
And some more QR aircraft
Similar situation in the jet bridges
And, we were going to park at gate C4
Both of our neighbors were QR aircraft.
This one had just arrived from Istanbul and was going to head to Bangalore as a cargo-only flight.
And another shot from the tail-cam.
After the seat-belt signs have been turned off, deboarding first started with Business Class passengers which were followed by Economy Class passengers.
At the gate, an Al Maha stewardess was waiting for me and was ready to escort me to the lounge and through the security checkpoint. Also, at the top of the escalator, there were ground staff checking if passengers had their face masks and shields on, for those who left their shields at the aircraft, they were providing new face shields.
And now, this report has come to an end.
This series would continue with the last report that would be published soon.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
To conclude this report, I could tell that it was surprising to see TBIT this empty with most of the stores and restaurants closed, plus all of the lounges closed. I'm glad that at least there were some facilities open and the security wait times were around normal. Terminal 4 looked a bit more normal with more vendors open and more crowded. I have nothing special to mention about the AA Club in T4 but it's sad to see the wonderful AA Flagship Lounge over there closed. Also, it was a nice touch that priorities were respected during boarding as it was very hot in the terminal and I moved to my seat with an overhead AC panel as quickly as possible. Like the DOH-IAD leg, the bulkhead seats were comfortable and had decent legroom. At least this time, I didn't have a neighbor so the flight was more comfortable than that one. Plus, with the option of pre-purchasing Super-Wifi for the entire flight, the flight become more enjoyable. The crew was great as usual, and the meals were super delicious compared to an ex-US departure where you might face the worst airline meals in the world. Although, it was sad that butter wasn't loaded to this flight. Compared to my previous DOH-IAD flight, the other negative things were that the lavatories were not kept clean at all times, I recall seeing toilet papers on the floor, unflushed closets; and most funnily there were at least 20-30 people during the flight who tried to sneak through the curtain to Business Class, in all occasions the crew sends them back to Economy Class, however, when sitting in the first row of Economy Class, people trying to go through the curtain seems a bit disturbing. However, both the lavatory issue and the curtain sneak issue were not the fault of the crew but the passenger broad on this flight. There were also disturbing passengers that did not close their window blinds during day time. Although, the crew made the flight enjoyable by constantly asking if I needed something and promptly serving drinks during the flight. In DOH, we arrived at a jetbridge which was a nice touch where it's possible to end up with a remote stand and a temperature of 45 C outside. Also, it's always a nice gesture that QRPC Platinum members could benefit from the Al Maha Gold package so someone had met me at the gate and escorted me through security to the Al Mourjan Lounge. So, it was an enjoyable transatlantic flight with QR, however, I hope that my next transatlantic flight would be better than this flight.
(+) Efficient check-in process
(+) Priorities respected throughout the boarding process
(-) No priority security check available
AA Admirals Club T4
(+) Comfortable seating
(+) Friendly lounge staff
(+) Contents of the meal bag being better than other AA clubs that I visited
(+) Power outlets and USB ports available everywhere in the lounge
(-) Not that much stuff in the lounge to do
(+) Comfortable seats and decent legroom
(+) Delicious meals throughout the flight
(+) Attentive cabin crew members
(+) IFE options
(+) The reasonable Super Wi-Fi offer and the quality of the internet
(-) Toilets were not clean throughout all my visits
(-) No butter was loaded on today's flight
Nothing special to mention