The airline with the best average rating is Qatar Airways with 8.3/10.
The average flight time is 4 hours and 5 minutes.More information
Report No: 2020-1103
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I needed to head back to the USA due to multiple events in December, I decided to fly Qatar Airways again on this route as they were both offering competitive prices and an ongoing x5 Qmiles promotion ( 4 times more miles than usual ) so I booked my ticket with Qatar Airways. Although this mini-series would be different as I used my Qcredits ( free upgrade vouchers ) on this trip as there were availability and the outbound leg of this trip would be in Business Class and for the first time, I was able to experience the Qsuites. However, the return leg to Turkey is planned to be in Economy Class unless things change.
The first report of this series would be onboard the Qatar Airways A320 onboard from Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport to Doha Hamad Airport in the lie-flat configuration. I would also cover a brief review about the non-premium ISG CIP Lounge in Sabiha Gökçen Airport.
Here is the routing for this series;
Load for todays flight
Business Class: 100%
Economy Class: 40-45%
Online check-in was pleasant as usual
Although, due to document checks at the airport, it is not possible to get boarding passes online for flights to/from the USA on Qatar Airways.
You might not believe me but I was the only passenger in Business Class two days before the flight, until QR cancelled the earlier SAW-DOH flight the same-day and the passengers got transferred to my flight.
I already had seat 3A for the QSuite leg as I was traveling solo and I wanted a window seat. Also a reminder that the window seats on the QSuites are reverse-headed.
And the confirmation of my seats.
The day of the flight, Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport was empty.
Such as the security check and the entrance. While entering the terminal, thermal cameras are measuring your temperature in addition to a ticket check by the security as only passengers are permitted inside the terminal.
Check-in was quick and smooth. 5 desks were available today and after a short wait, I was served. My bag was checked all the way through and my boarding passes for both flights and my lounge invitation at SAW. I knew that seat 02B would be occupied so I asked about an empty row but I was told that the Business Class cabin was full today.
Boarding passes and lounge invitation
Although there is a fast track, there was no wait at the Turkish Citizen lane so passport control was a breeze. For security, only a single lane was open and the wait was not bad. Although as usual at SAW, there were passengers complaining with the security about liquids and sharp objects.
To spend time before the flight I've headed to the ISG Lounge. At entry, there was a set of passengers negotiating about the walk-in fee, then paid the fee and asked for a refund so it took 2-3 minutes to enter the lounge.
Although the staff was friendly, there were almost no seats left and in the taken seats, people were sitting without masks when not eating and drinking. In addition, there were several mannerless people who listened to music or watched videos on the loudspeaker of their personal device.
There was meal boxes similar to my past visit which had a sandwich, salad and a dessert but when the lounge attendant brought the boxes, everyone was attacking to them.
These were the only things left at the buffet.
Also a reminder that the lounge only offers pre-packaged food.
The drink options are limited to soft drinks, coffee, espresso specialities and beer.
My selection for the day
A7-AHS from the lounge
Indeed, if QR had a flight at the night-block from IST, the lounge over there is one of the reasons I would prefer over SAW when flying QR. However, starting from 2021; this lounge would be rebranded as the Plaza Premium Lounge so we might see some positive improvements.
Due to the disturbing crowd in the lounge, I decided that going to the gate and seating there would be a better idea. Indeed, it was quieter over there.
At the gate, face shields were distributed by the ground staff.
About 30-35 minutes before scheduled departure time, the ground staff approached me to my seat and told me that I could board as many people were blocking the boarding lanes. I could definitely imagine how a difficult crowd they were able to manage.
After being welcomed by the crew at the aircraft door, I was escorted to my seat. Today's aircraft A7-AHS, was equipped with the lie-flat Business Class seats. It was a nice surprise as this route may get recliners as well.
The seat had a large IFE screen which was equipped with the Thales IFE system
The legroom is generous
Menus, headphones, "Travel with Confidence" kits, Nappa Dori branded amenity kits, and the menus were available at the seat.
The Nappa Dori amenity kit
The Travel with Confidence kit
Bottle of water
The IFE remote which also has a touchscreen
The seat pocket which only had the safety card
Shortly after I took my seat, welcome drinks were offered. I opted for a lemon-mint juice which was served with a refreshing towel.
By the way, champagne is available as a pre-departure drink on departures in Turkey.
The IFE screen interface
For most of the flight, the route map was on at my seat.
The touchscreen remote interface
Power outlets and USB ports were available at each seat
Before departure, the cabin supervisor introduced herself individually to all passengers seated in the Business cabin and offered me a refill for my lemon-mint juice.
About 10 minutes before our scheduled departure time, we were all set and we started our pushback.
At SAW, it's really rare to see a non-Turkish carrier. Almost all of the planes parked where either TK, AJA or PC.
At that time, the safety video was played.
After the safety video, one of the crew members came to take my meal and drink order for dinner.
Pegasus A320neo which would head to Erzincan the next morning and a Pegasus 737-800, which arrived that evening from Dalaman, at remote stands
More Pegasus aircraft at remote stands
The Turkish Technic hangars at SAW
While we were continuing to taxi, a video about COVID pre-cautions were shown
AnadoluJet 737-800 heading to Kuwait as TK7678.
Shortly later it was our turn and we took off.
Last photos of SAW
City of Kocaeli ( İzmit )
At that time, the video about the charity project was monitored
Shortly after the seatbelt signs have been turned off, I've visited the lavatory which was clean at that time.
The lavatory had amenities from Rituals.
Here is the menu for today's flight.
Champagne options for today's flight
3 different white wines and 3 different red wines were available on todays flight
Dessert and port wine options
And, other alcoholic drink options
For the aperitif service, I've opted for the Chateau La Marzelle red wine from France which was served with nuts.
About 20 minutes later, the appetizers were served. For today's flight, I've opted for the Arabic mezze option. The tray also had Arabic pita bread, regular bread, butter, and the dessert that I would cover later.
Signature Arabic mezze
Hummus, tabouleh and moutabef served with Arabic bread
Also I was served olive oil of my choice for the bread. I've opted for the balsamic vinegar olive oil for this flight.
For the main course, I've opted for the pasta option which was the Saffron tortellini which tasted really good. Also, refills for the wine were offered throughout the meal service.
Creamy mushroom sauce
The dessert for this flight was the passion fruit brûlée. However, this dessert wasn't burnt as the description, it tasted really good as well.
Passion fruit brulée
After the meal, I've ordered a café latte.
Shortly later the cabin lights were dimmed and the route map at that time
While I finished my coffee, the cabin crew handed a refreshing towel and then I set my seat to the full bed mode and had a nap for an hour or two.
Before landing to Doha, cabin lights were turned on and chocolate was served by the cabin crew.
Later on, videos about quarantine at Qatar was shown for passengers terminating their journey in Doha.
Shortly later, we have landed at Doha runway 16L.
As usual, the main sights of DOH are other QR aircraft
The terminal expansion construction going on
Qatar Airways 787-8 that would head to Prague in a few hours
Qatar Airways 777-300ER that would head to Chennai as QR8358, a cargo-only flight
And we've parked at remote stand H6.
While waiting for the buses to arrive, our neighbor was pushing back.
Within 5-10 minutes the stairs and the buses arrived and after saying goodbye to the crew, I have left the aircraft.
The next flight of A7-AHS would be to Kathmandu the next evening.
There was a dedicated bus for Business Class passengers and after all Business Class passengers have boarded, we headed to the terminal.
After a short bus ride, we've arrived at the terminal. By the way, passengers whose final destination was Doha was asked to stay onboard the bus and only transfer passengers were asked to leave. 4 out of 12 Business Class passengers onboard this flight were transfer passengers.
After heading into the terminal, I've headed upstairs to transfer security.
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.
My first Business Class experience with Qatar Airways was really enjoyable. Despite the bad lounge in Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen Airport, with a very mediocre offering selection and a horrible ambiance; the ground experience was pleasant. The onboard experience was perfect similar to my experiences back in the Economy cabin on my previous trips. The cabin crew was attentive and helpful, the food & beverage selection onboard was great, the seats were comfortable ( both during take-off and lie-flat positions ) and toilets were kept clean throughout the flight. The only negative part about the journey was that this flight didn't have Wi-Fi but as I slept for the majority of the flight, that didn't matter that much. Also, a small negative part of the journey was that I didn't have priority meal selection as a QRPC Platinum member during the flight; meal orders were taken from front to back; although as they didn't run out of anything until I ordered my food so that wasn't an issue on this flight.
To conclude, I'm happy to learn that the SAW Lounge would be operated by Plaza Premium in the future, which would be a great improvement. Also, QR's short-haul Business Class product is great and wonderful and I definitely recommend everyone to try QR Business Class one day.
(+) Friendly ground staff
(+) Efficient check-in, security, passport control process
(+) Boarding made with priorities being respected
(-) Not easy to find a seat
(-) Mediocre offerings
(-) The ambiance
(+) Comfortable seats
(+) Delicious meals
(+) During meal services drink refills were proactively offered
(+) Toilets were kept clean throughout the flight
(+) IFE system content
(+) Friendly cabin crew
(-) No Wi-Fi available on this flight
(+) Private bus for J class passengers
(-) It took a bit long for the stairs to arrive