Report No: 2020-1101
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to this brand new series on Qatar Airways where I would cover the post-COVID Economy Class service of Qatar Airways in two empty flights on a trip from Washington DC to Istanbul.
As there is a Presidential Proclamation banning non-US citizens & residents ( with exceptions ) boarding a flight from the EU/UK/Switzerland to the USA, the only feasible options between Turkey and the USA are Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Egyptair, and Aeroflot. As someone who values the price of the ticket and the experience that I would get onboard, I prefer Qatar Airways on most of my trips between Turkey and the USA as they both offer a decent product onboard and their IRROPS policy is generous. Also, being a Qatar Airways Privilege Club Platinum membership helps the journey to be even more comfortable.
The first flight on this report would contain a brief review of the Qatar Airways Airbus A350-900 on a flight from Washington Dulles Airport to Doha Hamad Airport. Before this flight, I was also able to visit the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Washington Dulles Airport and this report would also contain a brief review about the lounge.
Here is the routing for this trip
Loads for this flight
Business Class: 95-100%
Economy Class: 15-20%
Before online check-in, I got this upgrade offer but I simply rejected it because I knew that the Economy cabin would be empty for this flight.
Online check-in was quick and easy.
During the online check-in process, I was surprised that I was dumped back to row 30 as the front Economy cabin was blocked except for passengers with babies that would use the bassinets at row 16. All other passengers were seated in row 30 or behind due to weight balancing.
There was a weight balancing issue for the second leg as well but it didn't affected me this time.
The night before the flight, I spotted the aircraft that would take me to Doha and it was going to be A7-ALZ. Interestingly, this airframe was the first A350 that I've ever flown on and I have a report on this specific aircraft here in Flight-Report. It was going to be my second time on this aircraft.
During the day of the flight, I originally planned to use the 5A bus from L'Enfant Plaza which is a convenient way to access Washington Dulles Airport from the city. Although, there was the First Amendment Demonstration Activity going on in DC ( in other words: Trump supporters doing protests ) so bus 5A would start operating at Rosslyn, Virginia which is slightly away from Washington DC. I planned my accordingly as Uber and Lyft were asking surge prices for travel to the airport.
Then I planned to take the Silver line to Wiehle-Reston station and then take the Silver Line Express bus but I had another surprise. The Silver Line trains were only operating between Wiehle-Reston station and East Falls Church with 24-minute intervals due to single tracking. Plus all other lines were operating in a reduced frequency as well.
During that day, there were many anti-mask protestors during the metro as well. That's why the metro didn't stop on several stations due to public safety reasons.
Normally, the Silver Line should be expanded till Dulles Airport by now but the project is simply postponed until July 2021.
As I caught an Orange line, I decided to go to Rosslyn station and then take the bus 5A from there to the airport in order not to deal with a potential 24 minute wait for the Silver line.
After safely arriving at Rosslyn, VA. The bus scheduled to depart at 17:46 arrived on time.
And, we departed to the airport with 7 people. By the way, the bus is free of charge due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
About 1h50mins before the flight, I have arrived at Dulles Airport.
Dulles Airport was surprisingly empty during that day. Here is a guide of the terminal.
There were only 6 departures remaining for the entire night.
The Qatar Airways check-in desks were empty at that time.
As the Business class desks were occupied when I arrived, I was directed to one of the empty desks and was served by a friendly agent. My bags were checked through Istanbul and I was handed my boarding pass, baggage tags and a copy of the health form required for entry to Turkey. I was advised that I could use the Turkish Airlines Lounge in IAD and shortly later, I headed towards security.
Boarding passes for today
The West Security checkpoint was closed for the day.
Although the East Security Checkpoint was open. Security was empty so I was in the airside with no wait.
After security, I used the walkway to access Concourse B for the Turkish Airlines Lounge.
The concourse was empty with more airport staff compared to passengers
After a short walk, I was at the Turkish Airlines Lounge at Washington Dulles Airport. Although Turkish Airlines is a Star Alliance carrier, Qatar Airways contracts this lounge for their Business Class passengers and elites so I accessed this lounge through my Qatar Airways Privilege Club Platinum membership. Due to the new restrictions where QR does not allow discounted Business Class passengers without status to access the lounge, the lounge staff had a list of eligible passengers so she had to check whether my name was on the list or not. My name was on the list so I was admitted in.
The lounge tables were realigned according to social distancing measures. The business corner and the TV area was open.
There was a buffet but it only had pre-packaged food.
Self service tea and coffee was also available, as well as soft drinks.
The bar was also open and I was able to enjoy some Turkish beer.
About an hour before our scheduled departure time, I left the lounge and headed to the gate. A7-ALZ was there.
The gate area was not crowded. Before boarding, face shields were being distributed to passengers as it's mandatory to wear them on Qatar Airways flights in addition to face masks.
50 minutes before scheduled departure time, boarding started with the respect of priorities and I was the second passenger to board. During the boarding process, random bag searches by the US Customs and Border Protection agents were also made and the body temperature of all passengers were measured by the ground staff.
After being welcomed by the crew, I have headed to my originally assigned seat 30A for this flight. A pillow and a blanket was already present.
As you could imagine, the legroom was super generous at the exit-row.
The seatback pocket only had the safety card and waste bags.
The overhead panel
While waiting boarding to be completed, I decided to discover the IFE system.
This A350 was equipped with the Thales IFE system
Every seat also had a power outlet, in addition to an USB port located under the IFE monitor.
A view from the window during boarding
During the boarding process, I was surprised to see a utilized earphone at the seat adjacent to mine. When I reported it to the crew, they were really sorry about it and they apologized me about it.
Route for today's flight
Before the boarding process had finished, I decided to visit the lavatory, which was clean at that time.
Shortly after I returned to my seat, I was greeted by the cabin supervisor for the day and she introduced herself and asked if I need anything. A few seconds later, the cabin crew who would serve my area introduced herself and then gave me two refreshing towels.
Later on, Travel with Confidence protective kits, amenity kits and headphones were distributed.
Boarding was completed earlier than scheduled so we've pushed back 16 minutes before our scheduled departure time.
At that time the safety video and the COVID-19 related precaution video was monitored from the IFE screens.
After a taxi of 10 minutes, we took off and we were in the air.
A photo after takeoff
For those who don't know, Qatar Airways is offering free Super Wi-Fi onboard all of their flights until 2 January 2021 so I was able to benefit from the free Wi-Fi service for the entire flight. Plus, the Wi-Fi upload and download speeds are better than many of the other airlines that offer paid Wi-Fi.
A photo over eastern suburbs of DC
The city of Baltimore
Route map at that time
Shortly after the seatbelt signs have been turned off, the aperitif service had begun with pretzels and a choice of drink. After the aperitif service, the cabin crew appeared one more time to take dinner orders. The crew serving my area also asked if I would like to choose my breakfast selection at that time in order not to disturb me if I was sleeping so she could serve me my choice when I wake up.
The city of Philadelphia
New Jersey coastline
Shortly later, I checked the movie options for this flight. As there aren't many movies released in 2020, the movies that were on the IFE system were mostly movies from 2018 and 2019.
Shortly later dinner was served. The options were beef, chicken and vegetarian and I opted for the beef option which was the Chili con carne. The tray also had bread, a bottle of water, a salad, and a blackcurrant cheesecake.
The chili con carne was one of the best Economy Class dishes that I had onboard and it was delicious. Although, I would like to mention that for outstation departures, the meal portions are much smaller compared to DOH departures.
Chili con carne
Stuffed potato and sour cream sauce
During the meal service, refills were offered for my red wine and after the meal service, tea&coffee was served alongside with a Godiva chocolate. Also, refills were offered for the tea&coffee service by the crew.
Flightradar24 screenshot at that time
Before I slept, the cabin crew offered me to move at the front cabin which was blocked for weight purposes. As there were a lot of empty rows, I moved to row 27 for the remainder of the flight and enjoyed my Economy Class suite and had a great sleep for 5-6 hours.
When I woke up, I asked the crew about the mid-flight snack but they told me that they've already served it. However, they've told me that they could still heat a sandwich for me so they've asked my choice and the sandwich was delivered within 2-3 minutes with my choice of drink.
I've opted for the Mushroom & Potato Masala Pastry which was delicious.
We were over Hungary at that time
For a couple of hours, I was on the internet on my laptop and drink runs were made about every 30-45 minutes throughout the flight.
After enjoying the free internet service for a while, I've decided to watch this movie "21 Bridges" which was good indeed.
While I was watching the movie, the cabin lights were turned on for the brunch service.
While I was watching my movie, my choice of brunch had arrived to my seat. For this service the options were chicken, scrambled eggs and vegetarian. I've opted for the scrambled eggs option which was served with a strawberry yoghurt, fruits, bread and a bottle of water.
As a drink, I've opted for tea and mango juice.
Having delicious meals on QR is not a coincidence anymore for me as this meal was also delicious and enjoyable. Although this meal was repetitive as I already had it on my flight in LAX-DOH flight back in July 2020.
Chicken meat balls, potatoes and vegetables
Drink refills were offered throughout the breakfast service and chocolate was handed when the trays were collected.
A view from the window when I opened my window blind.
Before arrival, for those passengers terminating their journey in DOH, a video about the quarantine and arrival process was shown on the personal IFE screens.
By the way, for those who wonder, here is the legroom on a general row with no extra legroom. Still decent in my opinion.
Before the bar was being sealed for landing, the cabin crew asked me if I would like anything from the bar as they would be unable to serve it afterwards. A few minutes later, both the cabin crew serving my area and the cabin supervisor came back to me and asked feedback about the flight and thanked for my loyalty.
After cabin preparations were made, we continued our descend and landed at runway 34R.
The terminal while we were leaving the runway
As I was sitting in the wrong side of the aircraft, I wasn't able to do some spotting at DOH but I was able to take a snapshot of the construction work going at the airport.
After a short taxi, we have parked at gate B8.
During the deboarding process, as there were only a few passengers in the Economy cabin, social distancing was observed and after a 10 minute wait for Business Class passengers to leave we were out of the aircraft.
At Doha Hamad Airport, there was a surprise. The door to the departures hall was open and we didn't need to clear transfer security. At the gate, there was an attendant with a helmet equipped with thermal camera that checked our body temperatures and then we were inside the departures hall.
Here is a final shot of A7-ALZ.
After heading into the departures hall, it was time for me to head to the Al Mourjan Lounge for the overnight layover.
The journey would continue in the next report.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
To conclude this report, it was another fantastic transatlantic flight with Qatar Airways in Economy Class. Other than the lounge offering only pre-packaged food due to cost-cutting, everything was perfect. The food, the free Wi-Fi, the amazing cabin crew on duty, and obviously my Economy Class Suite made the flight really enjoyable. Also upon arrival at Doha, it was nice to not clear transfer security as it's an additional hassle ( however, I would be honest that DOH transfer security is one of the most efficient airport security checkpoints in the world ). There is not much else to say as everything went smooth and perfect without any issues.
(+) Reasonable wait for check-in and security
(+) Boarding has made with the respect of priorities
(-) Difficulties accessing the airport due to the public events
Turkish Airlines Lounge
(+) Comfortable seating
(-) Only pre-packaged food being available; a huge downgrade
(+) Comfortable seats and decent legroom
(+) The presence of the IFE system, power outlets & USB ports
(+) Free high-speed Wi-Fi being provided
(+) Delicious onboard meals
(+) Crew pro-actively offering something throughout the flight
(+) Fantastic crew
(+) Nice to not need to reclear transfer security