Report No: 2020-804
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to this brand new post-COVID series that I would fly transatlantic again. As I was satisfied with Qatar Airways the last time and their prices were reasonable, I decided to fly Qatar Airways again. In this series, you would realize that the experience is pretty similar to my last transatlantic series, however, I always find it useful to share FR's on repetitive routes for reference.
This time my journey would start in Sabiha Gökçen Airport rather than Istanbul Airport and I would review the ISG CIP Lounge at Sabiha Gökçen Airport. Also, this time my flight from Turkey to Doha would be operated by a narrow-body aircraft rather than a wide-body aircraft. For the datamark, the aircraft type of this flight have changed from an Airbus A321 to Airbus A320, the day before the flight.
Here is the routing
Loads for this flight
Business Class: 50% ( 6/12 pax )
Economy Class: 67% ( 89/132 pax )
As this itinerary was rebooked 2 days before the flight due to schedule changes, after my new ticket has been issued, I have immediately received upgrade offers for both QR flights on this itinerary. I didn't take both of the offers.
Online check-in was smooth, however, as my document needed to be verified at the counter, I was unable to get a boarding pass.
For the SAW-DOH leg, I have already requested an exit seat, which I had it.
Unfortunately for DOH-ORD, I was left with a regular window seat at OLCI.
About 2h30mins before scheduled departure time, I was almost there at SAW
The entrance of the airport was crowded.
The terminal building
As the central entrance was empty, I've used that entrance to enter the terminal, there was no wait at the initial security checkpoint
The terminal was empty compared to my previous visit 2 weeks ago
FIDS as I've entered the terminal, not much international traffic that day
Check-in was done quickly and efficiently by the ground staff, I handed my checked baggage and my carry-on as well as due to Turkish Civil Aviation Directorate regulations, larger carry-ons that could not fit under the seat should be checked-in on hold and are not permitted inside the cabin. This applies for all flights from/to Turkey.
I was handed all three boarding passes, however, my bags were checked through Chicago as I would need to reclaim them over there due to customs formalities.
And the lounge invitation which we're not used to see anymore.
As I needed to go to one of the ATM's before exiting Turkey, I've headed to the arrivals level and noticed this COVID testing area. As the USA does not require COVID tests for arriving passengers, I didn't need to stop by, however it's located behind McDonald's at the arrivals level. It might be useful for some others traveling.
As I had time, I've enjoyed a drink and cookie at the Starbucks at the arrivals level.
After finishing my coffee, I've headed upstairs towards security and passport control where there was no wait. Before heading to passport control, a security officer was checking the dimensions of hand baggages and turning away people with larger hand bags as they needed to be checked-in.
Also at security, a family from Kazakstan were really angry as security has confiscated their water bottles and their kids toy super soaker. The family and the police officers were talking about the toy super soaker but there were no exceptions made for water. Also interestingly, liquids are permitted through security at Kazakstan so they might not be familiar to the rules in the rest of the world.
Most airside shops and restaurants were open at that time.
In Sabiha Gökçen Airport, Qatar Airways contracts the ISG Lounge. While entering the lounge, I was handed a single use Wi-Fi code.
The lounge is pretty small, however, the seating was comfortable.
However, due to COVID, the offerings were reduced.
Only meals in plastic packages were served and the packages consisted a salad, a sandwich and a dessert.
There were also individual desserts available.
And soup was available and that is all. Compared to the contract lounge in IST, this lounge is far behind in terms of offerings.
Soft drinks were available, however, as an alcoholic beverage, only beer was being served. There was also a coffee machine that was not photographed.
While at the lounge, I was able to spot the incoming aircraft.
While it was almost time for boarding, I've headed to the gate area.
Our flight would depart from gate 201B.
Here is a shot of A7-AHD
Before boarding the ground staff handed face shields for passengers. About 40 minutes before departure, boarding started with priority eligible passengers in the left lane and Zone 1 passengers in the right lane.
At the jetbridge, also a QR personnel scanned boarding passes for verification.
Another photo of A7-AHD.
After being welcomed by the crew, I have headed to my seat 14A located in the emergency exit row. Another crew was waiting for me at my row and greeted me and thanked me for being QR Platinum, she introduced herself and told me that she would be the crew serving me that day.
The legroom was great and the seat itself was comfortable; however, for a reason I don't know both window emergency exit seats in row 14 and 15 did not recline while the middle and aisle seats did.
The seat is equipped with the OryxOne IFE system and also has a USB port and power outlet.
The IFE system is the old one which almost has the same content, however, the touch screen did not respond all the time and the system was slow itself.
I don't know why boarding took a lot of time, however, there was a family blocking the aisle for 5 minutes as 2 of them were seated separately. The family had 2 blocks in the front ( 6 people ) and the other two passengers were seated at the back. The crew asked for them to take their original seat as they were going to figure out the issue after boarding was completed which they did.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Qatar Airways does not have printed inflight magazines anymore, however, the safety card is still there in the seat pocket.
Also, headphones were available at the seat pocket.
Shortly after boarding was completed, refreshing towels were provided by the crew.
And we had started our push back.
At that time the safety video featuring Robert Lewandowski was being monitored from the personal screens.
While pushing back, Pegasus aircraft were visible. For those who don't know, Pegasus Airlines handles the majority of flights in Sabiha Gökçen Airport.
While we were taxiing to the runway, the cabin crew have distributed the "Travel with Confidence" kits. The kit has masks, gloves and a small hand sanitizer.
Pegasus aircrafts are everywhere
The tower of SAW
The Turkish Technic hangar
We were going to take off from runway 06.
And we're taking off
We're gaining altitude
The city of Izmit
Route map after we took off
After the seatbelt signs have turned off a video about the charity program was shown from the personal screens. At that moment, the crew came to take my food order. The options for this flight were chicken, beef stew and pasta. I've opted for the pasta option.
Before the meal service had started, I've also visited the lavatory, which was cleaned by the crew just before my usage.
Route details after I returned to my seat
During this flight, I've decided to watch the movie American Bistro which was good.
Shortly later, the meal service had begun. The tray was the same as my IST-DOH flight the previous month. The tray had a salad, Godiva chocolate, a bottle of water, milk, bread, and a dessert. Butter was available on request.
I have chosen the same main course as well, however, it was delicious so I didn't regret eating the same meal.
Penne Pasta, Tomato Salsa Sauce
Cheddar Cheese Grated, Green Peas, Parsley
After the meal service, tea&coffee service had begun so I've opted for a coffee with Bailey's.
Also, I was offered pretzels while enjoying my movie.
Route map just before we arrived at Doha
Before landing, a video about home quarantine at Qatar was shown for people returning to Qatar. This video was shown both in English and Arabic.
After the video, connecting gate information was available.
Before landing, the cabin supervisor and the crew serving my area came to me and thanked me for flying Qatar Airways. Both of them and the other crew on duty were great during the flight.
And we had landed to Doha ahead of schedule.
As usual, Qatar Airways aircraft were on sight.
More of them
Even even more,
And finally, we had parked at remote stand H2 next to this Dreamliner that arrived from Budapest.
After saying goodbye to the crew, I have left the aircraft from the front door.
As I am a Qatar Privilege Club Platinum member, I am normally eligible for the Al Maha service, however, this time I didn't reserve it; interestingly, an Al Maha stewardess that served me in a previous flight recognized me, welcomed me to Doha and asked if I was the one that requested the service. Interestingly, the passenger who booked the Al Maha service did not show up.
And, after a short bus ride, we were inside the terminal.
This report has come to an end.
The journey would continue in the next report.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
Although the experience in SAW was pleasant, the lounge was a disaster compared to the contract lounge in Istanbul Airport. Otherwise, the check-in, security, passport control were smooth. The shops and concessions available at SAW are also nice. The flight itself was also a pleasant flight; the seat was comfortable and the legroom in the exit-row was generous, although the seat did not recline, which wasn't the issue when I had the 2 neighboring seats to myself. The touchscreen was not functioning properly and there was no Wi-Fi onboard this flight, but the IFE system had decent content so I was able to enjoy a movie. Also as there were power outlets and USB ports, I was able to charge my phone and bluetooth headphones onboard this flight. The meal was outstandingly delicious and I really enjoyed eating the main course. Also, the crew made the flight more enjoyable by constantly asking if I needed something, offering pretzels and drinks throughout the flight. I also find it strange that we were using a remote stand at arrival despite DOH not being at capacity, however, they had 3 buses ( 1 for J and 2 for Y ) so social distancing was a bit possible within the buses.
To conclude, it was a great flight onboard one of the narrow-body aircraft in the Qatar Airways fleet, however, whenever possible, I would prefer to fly on a wide-body for the extra comfort.
(+) Efficient check-in process
(+) Wait times for security and passport control
(+) Services available throughout the terminal
(+) Priorities respected throughout the boarding process
(-) Boarding was really slow
(+) Comfortable seats
(+) Friendly lounge staff
(-) Lack of proper food at the lounge
(+) Comfortable seats and decent legroom at the exit-row
(+) The meals which were delicious
(+) Friendly cabin crew onboard
(+) Toilets were kept clean during my visits
(+) IFE system content and the availability of power outlets and USB ports
(-) The touchscreen at the IFE system did not function properly, although it was working
(-) No Wi-Fi offered on this flight.
Nothing special to mention