After almost two weeks spent there, time came to hit the sky. I was very keen to try out Gulf Air but some troubles early last year forced them to axe the 2 months old Ugandan route. Thanks God with the arrival of the Oryx, a one way ticket cost only USD 480 to London and USD 550 to Paris. A no brainer!
My friend dropped me off rather in advance because i confused the QR536 arrival time with the QR537 departure time. The best local football team was going to play an African Champion League game in Tunisia.
With no on-line check-in available, i've made my way to one of the two counters opened, but it took ages due to some players lined up on both lanes. After a 10 minutes wait a QR agent opened a third counter specifically for them. Afterwards an issue on printing out the BP happened. The check in agent, holding my credit card, mentioned a computer failure.
Check-in desks, with the intriguing C-9 (= Ethiopian Cloud Nine)
A bit chaotic!
Time to go upstairs (no lift is available for passenger with disability) to the emigration and then to the lounge.
Since I don't have any top tier status with QR, a friend told me about a nice promotion at the Pearl Lounge. It's operated by National Aviation Services (NAS) a renowned provider of ground handling services company based in Kuwait. Apparently they own or operate some lounges in Egypt, UAE too along with having agreements at few European airports like LGW, LHR and AMS too.
Usd 10 was the entry fee (now it costs usd25), 12h45 represented the theoretical time of check in as showed on the receipt, the strict receptionnist lacked of understanding for the reason of the late at 13h35, instead of the aforementioned time. He finally waived me in after a fierce negotiation.
A not so private area with departure lounge behind the panes
Cold snack offering
Beverages and fruits
The best seats in the house
Watching comfortably Rwandair and Ethiopian birds
Think global, act local :-)
Boarding was called few minutes after the ET flight to the same destination – Entebbe – and while the first group of passengers got a ride in a Cobus 2000 or 3000, the second group (where i was) had to walk to the aircraft. No complain since it was not raining.
QR537: Leg Kigali – Entebbe
We were welcomed onboard by an Asian crew and given the seat direction, I was sad to do not see any local hostess though. Loads were light and one could choose any upfront seat, what me and two business men did.
B737 Ethiopian backtracking runway 10
The attractive business cabin…
… remained vacant
Moving upfront to the bulkhead seats
TAKE OFF VIDEO AT KIGALI:
Once the wheels up, the snack service enhanced the quantity tried on KLM and ET flights on the same leg consisting on a juice or water. Here a starchy cake could sponge the drink.
The Free Trade Zone
Kigali airport overview
Armrest tablet and built in USB plug
IFE system activated and basic F&B service for the 55 minutes short hop
More less 35 travellers bound to Doha or beyond
The dazzling Lake Victoria on approach
Downtown Kampala, 30 miles away
LANDING VIDEO AT ENTEBBE/KAMPALA:
The Entebbe-based airline
No passenger left the aircraft to Uganda. ( J cabin was empty)
QR537: Leg Entebbe – Doha
After moving backwards to the assigned seat, Y cabin got almost full mainly by Westerners and Asians. The middle seat remained unoccupied so we both enjoyed extra space.
TAKE OFF VIDEO AT ENTEBBE/KAMPALA: .
The seat recline
IFE boxes that reduce the foot-room
The befitting legroom
Nalubaale Power Station and the city of Jinja
Sunset over the Ethiopian desert
Once the service began, an unhygienic discovery partially ruined my appetite, the tray was filthy and greasy with some evidences of lack of cleaning. The hostess was shown this but she did not really care nor apologize !
Choices were either beef or fish, and i opted for the latter, The food tasted okay, and the content of the tray was filled generously.
After the coffee service, i've requested an Amarula liquor or similar but she answered that gin vodka or whisky only were available… that's really poor (no rum or brandy neither what a shame!!). So i finally sticked with water.
Can you guess the previous snack service?
Menu visible in the IFE
Cabin almost full
The rest of the flight was uneventful, i've tried to watch a movie in the super rich IFE, the screen was not really sensitive, and had to hit hard to activate the features.
We flew quiet early over Doha, like 1h in advance, but the captain said the congestion would force us to circle around, and indeed after 30 min we landed ahead of schedule.
A cool option
Bathroom somewhat clean
LANDING VIDEO AT DOHA:
Deplaning and embarking in DOH always mean pax bus (not for long though). Also according to many travellers, DOH is not photo friendly, so I tried to be discrete for taking fuzzy pictures.
A stolen picture of AHH
TRANSIT AT DOHA AIRPORT
DOH was rather crowded at this time of the night. Of course the mega shopping centre called for great bargains thus avoiding the temptation for a shopping spree represented the biggest challenge here!
Thanks to my Premier Mastercard, i was granted a free access to the Oryx lounge ( one among the few allowing a free guest entry too), also used by AF/KL, BA, LH Elite members and J class.
Located at the mezzanine the three receptionists were extermily busy at this peak time of the night. The f&b offering was correct, and the lounge provides computer stations, a resting area and showers. Also smokers can find their area within.
Public departure lounge
Foreign airlines & other card memberships admitted here
Main seating area
The couch surfer style?
One of the buffets
Wines, spirits and more can be obtained upon request
The quietest place out there (first door on the left after reception) + corporate photo
I was pretty exhausted on the flight to London so like a big lazy cat i ate and slept only;-)
Kigali - KGL
Doha - DOA
It was a good flight with convenient timings and a modern product for a narrow body. The transit visa requirement in DOH is an advantage too compared to many European hubs. The crew was nothing close to 5 stars but for the rock bottom fare paid, it was the least of my concern. With their actual pricing and travelling times, i do think it is worth flying QR to East Africa especially if you come from Asia; but probably more restraining if you are originating from Europe or America.
Thanks for reading
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