Report No: 2022-601
Dear Flight-Report community, I am backed up with previous Flight-Report's that I've written in 2022 thus I would be start sharing them within regular intervals before I head up with newer 2023 ones which I'm also more excited to share with you.
Welcome to this new series where I would cover another trip to the US with Qatar Airways. As I had an American Airlines voucher to be used, I booked this trip via American Airlines as flying with BA via London and QR via Doha was the same price when booked through American Airlines, I obviously chose the QR option as QR has better service compared to BA and flying a westbound transatlantic on a red-eye flight would allow me to sleep more easily reducing and almost eliminating jet lag.
To fly a transatlantic flight with Qatar Airways, first I would need to get to Doha and on this occasion I was surprised that the aircraft type was change to an ex-Cathay Pacific 777-300ER which has Premium Economy seats sold as Economy so I had the occasion to experience them for the first time. This report would also cover the iGA Lounge at Istanbul which I covered several times in the past.
The routing for this series would be as following;
Loads for this flight
First Class: 85-90%
Business Class: 80-85%
Economy Class: 90-95%
I have completed online check-in about 24 hours before my DOH-IAD flight as QR doesn't open OLCI for passengers transferring to the US until 24 hour before the scheduled departure time of the flight to the USA.
I have kept my pre-selected Premium Economy seat for this leg. As a QRPC Platinum member, I was able to get this seat for free of charge in advance.
For the long leg, there were seat blocks at most seats so I kept my previously selected seat.
When I completed OLCI, a mobile boarding pass could not be issued as at the time I flew this flight, the US still had their vaccination and testing requirements for people arriving from international flights which must be checked by the ground staff.
I was also hoping to buy discounted Wi-Fi access but I didn't get the offer this time as the ticket was issued on 001- American stock. In some cases, Qatar Airways would sell $8 Wi-Fi flight passes at the end of online check-in.
At the day of travel, I have arrived at Istanbul Airport about 3 hours before departure by a relatives car who dropped me.
The airport was not that crowded that day.
The entrance to the airport was not crowded and I didn't wait for the initial security check entering the airport.
After clearing security, it was time to head downstairs to the COVID test center as I need a test to travel to the USA.
Since most countries has dropped their COVID test requirements, the lines at the COVID test center wasn't long and I was able to pay for an antigen test ( which costs ₺175 ) and I had the printout of the results 20 minutes after the test.
FIDS: Despite European airports dealing with staff shortages and long delays and cancellations, the situation at IST was pretty normal with only a few flights being delayed and no cancellations.
The check-in process was quite smooth as my documents were checked and I was handed a boarding pass. While I was in line at the Priority lane, there were ground staff checking eligibility and sending smart Economy Class passengers with no status trying to seek into the First and Business lanes back to the Economy lane which had a queue of 40-50 people waiting at that time.
I was promptly handed both of my boarding passes.
Passport control and security was a breeze as I had access to the fast track lanes with no wait. I haven't checked if e-gates were working but e-gates didn't also have any queue at the time I was clearing these checks.
After an efficient security process, it was time to proceed to the iGA Lounge until boarding starts.
After going upstairs to the lounge level, I realized some construction going on at the lounge entrance as apparently they are moving the lounge check-in desks outside
As the entrance could get easily jammed due to the layout. After waiting 3-5 minutes for my boarding pass to be scanned and checked-in, I was inside the lounge.
The lounge was quite busy at the time I entered.
It was difficult to find a table as an area of the lounge was also roped out due to a video production being filmed
Since my last visit, I realized that the buffed food is now self-service rather than food packed in individual small plates.
However, hot food is still served by a chef
The lounge also has a bar where you could find alcoholic beverages.
Here was my initial food selection with cold options on the left and hot options on the right which includes chicken and içli köfte ( Turkish meat dish ).
Later on, I had some pide ( flatbread pastry ) with minced meat.
Shortly later, I have proceeded to the shower area to have a shower as I was outside all day long since the morning of the flight and needed a refreshing mood.
The shower attendant asked me to wait until a shower becomes available, thus while waiting, I was enjoying a cup of tea.
After one the shower cabins, became vacant, it was quickly cleaned and I was in the shower room.
All amenities including towels and slippers were single use.
And here is how to shower cabin looks like
After having a shower, it was time to leave the lounge and head to the gate.
The main duty-free hallway was crowded as usual and while heading to the gate, I bought two books that I would read on this trip to the USA.
As gates are located at the lower level, I took the escalator downstairs.
Today's gate was A2 which is one of the closest gates to the duty free hall which reduces the wait.
Today's aircraft A7-BOD was at the gate and cargo was being loaded while I arrived at the gate.
Boarding started about 40 minutes before departure with the respect of priorities. Passengers in Economy Class trying to use the priority lanes were promptly directed to the Economy lane.
After our boarding passes were scanned, we were asked to wait at the jet bridge about 5-10 minutes for a reason I don't know. At the jet bridge, ground staff was handing masks to those who didn't have one as Qatari law still requires masks to be worn onboard through the entire flight.
While waiting at the jet bridge, this TK A350-900 next door which was going to head to Tel Aviv that evening was getting ready for his next flight.
Apparently, we were waiting for passengers with mobility assistance to be seated before we were able to board the aircraft.
After being welcomed by the crew, I headed to my seat 31A which is located at the first row of the Economy cabin.
As this seat was originally designed for Cathay Pacific Premium Economy the seat width was longer than usual as well as the seat had an adjustable footrest.
Blankets, pillows, headsets and "Travel with Confidence" health kits were available at each seat upon boarding.
Since this row is located at the exit row, the legroom was absolutely perfect.
However, this row lacks a window and the only views that I was able to get was to look from the small window of the emergency exit door.
Since a crew seat is present in front of this seat, the literature pocket is located at the wall next to the seat. Since the pandemic, Qatar Airways stopped offering their inflight magazine and suspended their inflight shopping offering thus the literature pocket only had a safety card alongside with a waste bag.
Although the seat looked a bit old, the recline was very good compared to an Economy seat which I paid for.
This aircraft was equipped with a Panasonic branded IFE system, however, the context differed from what QR offered on their own branded aircraft. As a reminder, USB ports and power outlets were available at each seat.
The IFE screen could be found at the mid seat console.
Since this aircraft was leased, the interface was different than the usual Oryx One IFE product.
Apparently, this aircraft had fewer options.
However, most new release films were available on this aircraft
Another thing to notice regarding these 777-300ER's is that seats doesn't have individual air nozzles like QR 777-300ER's.
Boarding was completed on time and the safety video was screened.
After pushing back and a short taxi, we were going to take-off from runway 35L towards the north.
After taking off the video regarding QR's charity program was being monitored from screens.
Wi-Fi provided by Gogo was available on this flight for $10 for the entire flight, however, no complimentary 1 hour Wi-Fi for Privilege Club members were offered onboard this aircraft. The only option was to pay or use a promo code.
After takeoff, I decided to open the route map and it was buggy with most of the landscape not loading properly.
In addition, the crew didn't come to me before or after takeoff to greet me as a QRPC Platinum member. I had this greeting on all my previous QR flights which was quite surprising.
Shortly later, the meal service has begun with no aperitif service. During the service, the cabin crew addressed me by my name and thanked for choosing Qatar Airways. Today's options were beef, chicken and vegetarian and I have opted for the beef option which was the Hungarian Beef Stew with Turmeric Mashed Potato.
The tray also had a salad and a dessert, alongside with bread and a bottle of water.
I have asked for butter which was also promptly served.
The main course tasted really good.
During the flight, I decided to watch a movie to entertain myself and chose the movie "Fatherhood" which was nice and enjoyable to watch.
After the meal service, the crew came for collecting trays and serving another round of beverage. I opted for a cup of tea which was served with Manner chocolate.
After that the flight was uneventful and the crew did not appear other than once collecting waste until landing preparations. Before landing, videos regarding COVID-19 protocols at Qatar and videos promoting the State of Qatar were monitored from screens.
Upon landing, I didn't get any greeting and thank you from the crew as a QRPC Platinum member and no supervisor has also asked me how the flight was which was the case on all my previous QR flights after becoming a QRPC Platinum member.
Here is a shot of Doha before landing.
After landing, followed by a short taxi, we have parked at a remote stand near the Cargo Building. However, it was really annoying that we waited about 15 minutes for buses to arrive and another 5 minutes for First/Business passengers to disembark which was pretty long.
Later on, we have disembarked from door 2L and I have taken these fuselage shots.
Door 5L at the rear was also being used for Economy Class disembarkation.
After the Business Class bus has departed, we have boarded the bus behind to the terminal.
The bus was crowded with no observation of social distancing, however, on the way to the terminal there were some arguments along passengers regarding masks as some passengers were not wearing masks and the passengers who didn't wear a mask were defensive against those passengers who argued despite Qatari law requiring masks to be worn.
After a 6-8 minute bus ride, we were at the bus drop of point, however, as the bus bay was full with other buses, we waited another 2-3 minutes over there to enter the terminal.
About 35-40 minutes after landing, I was finally inside the terminal and it was time to go upstairs to transfer security for my next flight.
The series would be continuing with the next report.
Thanks for reading this report, I hope you enjoyed it and I wish to see you all on another report.
To conclude this report, the hard and soft product offered on the route was quite decent; however, the crew wasn't perfect and attentive compared to previous QR flights that I've taken and the IFE system and WiFi offerings are inferior compared to QR's own aircraft. Otherwise, having a Premium Economy seat is making the experience even greater providing additional comfort.
Other than that, the airport services in IST was great and organized, however, the lounge was overcrowded and it was difficult to find a seat, despite that, the food offerings are great compared to a contract lounge around the world.