Report No: 2020-1102
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 second report on this flight would contain my overnight layover in Doha in the Al Mourjan Lounge plus the Flight-Report of the short flight from Doha to Istanbul onboard the Boeing 777-300ER.
Here is the routing for this trip
Loads for this flight
Business Class: 35-40%
Economy Class: 30-35%
After arriving from my previous flight, it was time to head to the Al Mourjan Lounge for my long layover. Originally, I only had a 1h20min connection at Doha, however, the evening flight from Doha to Istanbul-SAW was cancelled so I decided to take the early morning flight to Istanbul-IST instead of cancelling or postponing my trip which forced an overnight layover in Doha.
The famous Teddy Bear while I was walking to the lounge
As I arrived to the escalators of the Al Mourjan Lounge, my boarding pass was checked and I was invited upstairs.
While I arrived at the lounge, the check-in desks were full so I was asked to take a seat while an agent gets available. As an agent got available, my boarding pass was scanned and I was told that a quiet room cubicle was already reserved for me due to my long layover. This was a nice gesture as I was already going to request one.
So here is the Quiet Room cubicle which has a sleeper chair and a sofa and I nice place to rest during the layover where the airport hotel is expensive.
One of the new features of the quiet room cubicles is that blankets, eyeshades and some other amenities are provided upon request.
Also, USB charging ports were added to these cubicles.
After spending a couple of hours napping at my cubicle, around 22:00, I've headed to the restaurant to have dinner. Compared to my previous visits, there was a new a la carte option as well which I tried some options from there.
As a starter, I went for the buffet options where I preferred some mezzes and asked for some pita bread from the bread bar. As a drink, I've asked for still water and a glass of Lallier Grande Réserve champagne.
Then I continued with a set of prawn nigiris.
As a main course, I've ordered the tagliatelle pasta which tasted really good.
For the dessert part, it was really hard to choose something as there were many available options. I choose to have a strawberry mousse, a caramel cake, some ice cream and some macarons.
Then I ordered hot water with mint before I head for another round of sleep at my sleeping room cubicle. By the way, before leaving the restaurant, I was offered to fill out a feedback form where I shared my appreciation with the staff and added my feedback about the lounge.
Before I headed to sleep, I ordered a bottle of water, just in case if I need one.
After another round of sleep, I've woke up about 05:00 and headed to the showers, a shower room was available within 2-3 minutes after my request. I have asked for an hairdryer and a dental kit which was promptly served.
At 05:58, I left the quiet room area and headed to the restaurant for breakfast. Here is the FIDS.
The lounge wasn't empty compared to my previous visits in the summer, though, it was still about 20-25% capacity.
During the breakfast service, I mainly preferred food from the buffet rather than the a la carte menu.
Here is my selection for the day. As a drink, I opted for mint tea and the mango smoothie. During my breakfast experience, drink refills were offered upon request.
After finishing my breakfast, I left the lounge about 1h10mins before scheduled departure time and headed towards gate A7.
While entering the concourse, there was a boarding pass control as the airport doesn't want passengers to go sleep at empty gate areas during their layover. Only passengers departing from the concourse are admitted through that checkpoint.
There was a queue at the gate, although there was no wait at the priority lane and I was immediately served by the first available agent.
At the gate, all larger carry-on's were being gate checked as the Turkish Civil Aviation Directorate prohibits all larger carry-on's to be placed inside the cabin on all flight to/from Turkey as a COVID precaution.
While entering the gate area, the ground staff was asking passengers if they had a face shield and they were distributing face shields for those passengers who doesn't have one.
While waiting for boarding, I spotted this QR 777-300ER which was going to head to Manila that morning.
About 45 minutes before scheduled boarding time, boarding was announced with the respect of priorities. There were some Economy passengers without status who lined up but they were asked to take a seat until their group number has been announced.
After being welcomed by the cabin supervisor by name, I have headed to my seat 10K which is located in the first row of the Economy cabin.
Here is the legroom at the bulkhead row.
The overhead panel
And here is our neighbor, another QR 777-300ER, but heading to Madrid rather than Istanbul.
While waiting for boarding to be completed, I decided to check the IFE system. This aircraft was equipped with the Panasonic ex2 IFE system.
The IFE main menu
While boarding was going on, the cabin crew serving my area came to me, introduced herself and asked if I wanted any beverage. I've opted for a cup of water which was promptly served.
After boarding had finished, refreshing towels were served.
Which was followed by Travel with Confidence protective kits which have masks, gloves and a mini hand sanitizer.
At that time, the safety video had started playing.
And after the safety video had finished, headphones were distributed.
Later on, we started our pushback
Another shot of A7-BEW which was heading to Madrid as QR149.
Some QR aircraft at remote stands
A7-BEC which had arrived from Lahore as a cargo only flight.
Construction is still going on at the terminal expansion project.
Some more photos of the construction going on
More QR aircraft at the other side of the terminal
QR 777-300ER which had just arrived from Hangzhou, China from a cargo-only flight.
Another QR 777-300ER, this time arrived from Muscat as QR1149 which is a passenger flight.
A7-BAZ which had arrived from Shanghai that morning as a cargo-only flight.
More QR aircraft at the terminal.
The Emiri terminal
And after a wait for our turn, we have departed from runway 34R towards the North.
Shortly after takeoff, the curtain between the Business Class cabin and the Economy Class cabin had been closed and the video related to the charity project was monitored.
At that time Super Wi-Fi was activated. This flight had free high-speed Wi-Fi for the duration of the flight, although the signal wasn't strong compared to the previous flight.
Passing over the northern part of Qatar.
Route map at that time.
After takeoff, passenger information forms for Turkey were distributed by the cabin crew. The form is available in English and Turkish.
Later on, the cabin supervisor had came to me and greeted me for the second time ( first time at the aircraft door during boarding ) and thanked for my loyalty.
By the way, I forgot to mention that the seats have power outlets and USB ports.
Shortly after takeoff, the service had commenced with breakfast where the options were eggs, bread pudding and vegetarian. I've opted for the bread pudding which was served with yoghurt, fruits, strawberry jam, chocolate, a bottle of water and a croissant. Butter was available on request.
As a drink I've opted for a mango juice and coffee with Bailey's. As there were no Bailey's in the trolley serving my area, the crew told me that she would bring me some but it took a while for my Bailey's to come.
However, after 10 minutes, I pressed the call button and both the crew performance manager and the crew serving my area apologized for the delay and also brought me hot coffee as my old coffee had already been chilled.
Here is the main course which was delicious as always.
Vanilla Chocolate Pudding
After the meal service, drink refills were offered.
After spending some time on my computer, I've visited the lavatory which was clean during my visit.
Shortly later, I asked snacks from the crew which was served with my drink of choice.
About 25-30 minutes before landing, the cabin crew started preparing for our descend and I was asked if I would like anything from the bar before the drinks was sealed for landing.
Here is a shot of the Business Class cabin from my seat
Some photos at that time
The Black Sea
The Istanbul Park racing track which hosted the Formula 1 Turkish Grand Prix the day before this flight.
A rare view
The Golden Horn
Passing by Istanbul Atatürk Airport
Halkalı train station
Atatürk Olympic Stadium which would host the 2021 UEFA Champions League Final
The airport is visible
Turkish Airlines operations center
And we've landed 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
The IST tower
From a different angle
The presidential terminal
The passenger terminal
Some grounded TK aircraft at the unused taxiways
We're almost there
MEA A330-200 at the terminal
Taxiway D is under maintenance
Grounded TK A321's
Turkish 787-9 and Uzbekistan Airlines 787-8
After a taxi of 10-15 minutes, we have parked at gate A2 next to this TK Boeing 787-9 that was going to head to Chicago-ORD that day.
After another 10-15 minute wait for the curtain to be opened as Business Class passengers would deboard first, I was inside the terminal and go an unpleasant surprise that the escalator was not working.
At the arrivals level, I was able to take a shot of A7-BAJ
And another one before heading to passport control
IST was empty and the escalators didn't work here as well.
Although there was only two agents dedicated for both Turkish citizens and flight crew, there was no wait for passport control and I was in the baggage claim hall without any wait.
Bags would be delivered at carousel 8 which is the furthest away baggage belt at the other end of the baggage claim hall.
Mandatory passage through the arrivals duty free store.
While I arrived at the baggage belt, my bags were already there and I left the baggage claim hall immediately after I claimed my baggage. There was only another passenger besides me at the carousel as the majority of the passengers onboard our flight were not Turkish citizens and there was a wait for non-Turkish citizens at the passport control.
FIDS after I left the baggage claim hall
Later on, I went upstairs to meet a relative which was going to pick me up from the departures level. Interestingly, the AtlasGlobal desk was still there but there was nothing inside the office. AtlasGlobal ceased operations earlier this year.
The departures level of IST which was empty
And now, it was time to leave the airport so this report has come to an end.
Thanks for reading and hope to see you in another report.
Similar to my previous flight, this flight was also an enjoyable flight with Qatar Airways. The ground experience in Doha Hamad Airport was perfect as I had access to the Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge because the Business & First Class status lounges were closed at that time ( they have reopened in early December 2020 ). Since my last visit to Al Mourjan, there were lot of improvements in the food offerings in the restaurant including a la carte dining, sushi & salad bar offerings. Plus, the quiet room cubicles now have amenities which was a significant improvement; however, I'll appreciate if they offer pillows as well. Also, the lounge staff was friendly and some of the staff that has recognized me from previous travel greeted me in Turkish during my stay. The flight itself was also enjoyable, I had a whole row to myself and the service was really great except for the fact that the cabin crew forgot to bring Bailey's as I requested but after a hit in the call button everything was solved within a minute. However, I would also give credit to the cabin crew as they offered me a PDB and refills/snacks throughout the flight which you would not see in any other carrier in the Economy cabin even if you're a top tier elite. Although Wi-Fi doesn't work over Southeastern Turkey and Northern Iraq, for the rest of the flight, the free Wi-Fi worked perfectly so it made the ride more enjoyable. Lavatories were kept clean throughout the flight which was also a nice touch. After arriving in Istanbul and entering the terminal, it was not nice to see that the escalators and travelators were not working. Although that meant a good exercise after a long flight and with no wait at the passport control ( for Turkish citizens ) and with my bags waiting for me at the carousel, the arrival experience at IST was pleasant.
To conclude the trip, the US Presidential Proclamation banning non-US citizens/residents transferring from the EU & UK, pushed me to fly with Qatar Airways as they offered the most competitive prices and the better service within the airlines that I am able to fly. Also being a top-tier elite with Qatar Airways also helps the journey to be more enjoyable. In the future, QR would be one of my top choice airlines and I hope to review more QR flights here in Flight-Report.
(+) Boarding made with the respect of priorities
QR Al Mourjan Lounge
(+) Improvements at the lounge since my last visit
(+) A la carte dining now being introduced at the restaurant
(+) The quiet room cubicles now have some amenities
(+) The space in the lounge would give you huge personal space
(+) The excellent lounge staff
(+) Comfortable seats and decent legroom in the bulkhead row
(+) Delicious breakfast onboard
(+) Free Wi-Fi being offered on this flight
(+) Friendly crew
(+) Lavatories were kept clean throughout the flight
(-) The IFE system was a bit ancient and slow
(+) No wait for passport control and baggage reclaim
(-) The escalators and travelators were not working
(-) Long taxi to the gate