Qatar Airways (القطرية) is the national flag carrier of the State of Qatar (دولة قطر) in the Middle East. Founded on the 22nd of November 1993, the airline has gone through a rapid expansion in a short time span to serve 151 destinations using 167 state-of-the-art modern, and young aircraft. The airline, which employees a total of around 20,000 people world-wide, is based in the ultra-modern Doha Control Tower at Doha International Airport and serves its destinations across Europe, Middle East, Africa, Australasia, the Indian subcontinent, and East Asia. The airline is the proud holder of a number of awards.
As the focused industrialist CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbar Al Baker, says: ‘Travel by air has reached the point where it is now taken for granted in most corners of the globe. With a larger number of passengers and more choice available in the skies today, airlines looking to maintain or grow their position in the marketplace must provide high-quality service with ever-increasing efficiency.’ Mr. Akbar is one of the most influential leaders in the aviation industry. The man lives, breaths, sleeps not just for Qatar Airways, but for Qatar as a whole. It’s because of his deep passion and drive for excellence that Qatar Airways is one of the best airlines in the world. He’s well-known in the industry for this strong drive for results- very enthusiastic person. Personally, I don’t think Qatar Airways should be a member of any airline alliance because they have a class of their own. It is no match to any other airline I have been on. Alliances may the future for other airlines as a way of survival in the aviation industry, but I don’t think Qatar Airways should be with OneWorld or any other alliance. It just lowers the brand image (my opinion). Etihad Airways has partnered with India’s Jet Airways (not good in my opinion) and Emirates has partnered with Qantas (again…Emirates was better off by themselves).
In January 2015, the airline concluded an order for four Boeing 777Fs in a deal worth US$1.24 billion; Qatar Airways also took purchase rights on four more aircraft of the type. In June 2015, it was disclosed Qatar Airways ordered ten Boeing 777-8Xs and four additional Boeing 777Fs for USD 4.18 billion.
The Airbus A320 aircraft is used for regional routes around the Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, and to South Asian routes. I took this flight as part of a package, flying from Dubai’s brand new airport (Dubai Al Maktoum Intl. Airport- DWC) to Hong Kong, via a stopover and change of airline and flight at Doha Hamad Intl. The new DWC airport is located on the outskirts of Dubai, around a 30-minute taxi ride from the downtown. It is in the middle of a desert near Jabel Ali.
Route: DUBAI AL MAKTOUM INTERNATIONAL (DWC) to DOHA (DOH)
Departure date and time of flight: February 2015, 23:35
Flight number: QR1035 (ICAO callsign: “Qatari 1035”)
Flight duration: 55 minutes
Cabin: FIRST CLASS
Aircraft type: AIRBUS A320-232 (31 in service)
Unit cost of each Airbus A320: US$97.0 (€92.0) million (2015)
Aircraft registration: A7-ADJ (First flight 16 September 2004)
Engine Type: Two x IAE V2527-A5
Aircraft Serial Number: 2288
Aircraft Name: Al Samriya
Frequent flyer programme: Qatar Airways' Privilege Club- Q Miles
Seat configuration for this aircraft:
First Class: 12 seats in a 2-2 configuration
Economy Class: 132 seats in a 3-3 configuration
Any baggage issues:
No issues regarding the baggage. For First and Business Class Qatar Airways have a checked baggage allowance of 40 kg and 30 kg total respectively for all routes excluding transatlantic routes. Therefore, for the Dubai to Doha route, they have a 30 kg luggage policy. All routes have a carry-on allowance of one piece not exceeding 7 kg (50x37x25 cm).
Comments on the check-in:
I arrived around two hours early for check-in. I was the only passenger flying in First Class on this flight, which meant the 12 seats all for myself! It was interesting to see that on another flight, four Arab chaps carried a falcon each. They told me that each Falcon is prized at around US$1.5 million. In the Middle East (Dubai Airport here), even Falcons (the national bird of most of the ME countries) get to travel in First Class! They had the whole First Class cabin for themselves on that flight...all 18 seats booked for just four people and their birds. P.S. airlines only need to fill all First Class and Business Class seats in order to break even for a flight (Economy Class is just extra profit...so even if Economy Class is full, the airline will most likely not break-even for the flight if the First Class/Business Class are empty/not fully booked)...so, airlines need people like these rich travellers. They can fly up to 300 km/h and can spot food from around 12,000 feet in the air....smart bird.
The new airport is practically empty. Only a handful of flights go from here, at the time of writing.
Qatar Airways Lounge at Dubai World Airport
The Qatar Airways lounge is located after security on the second floor. The lounge experience was pleasant, enjoyable and quiet, as it should be, until the loud, boisterous and drunk members of the Qatar Rugby team entered the lounge. Their captain was the worst culprit of all, as he encouraged the lads to (I quote): “help yourselves to the free food and alcohol while it lasts”. Most of the young men appeared to be British (from their accents), and these were men, not teenagers or kids. If these guys are representing Qatar and behaving like chavs in an international airport First Class lounge, then there is a serious issue and problem that Qatar needs to deal with (these guys were flying Economy Class, but had access to the lounge because they had collected the air miles). It’s a serious image problem to say the least. At first I thought they were a bunch of hooligans who had perhaps come a football match and were on a stopover in Dubai. I was quite shocked and disappointed when I learned that they were professional rugby players representing the Qatar national team. Seriously, these guys were behaving as if they’ve never seen food before, and because it was free, so they were drinking alcohol like fish and eating with their mouths open. They had no manners. If anything, it turned out to become one of the worst lounge experiences ever. It wasn’t just me, but others in the lounge also complained, too. I am sure if the CEO of Qatar Airways, Akbad Al Baker, was in the lounge, he would have had a word with them.
Punctuality of the flight:
Departed bang on time, however we landed around 15 minutes late due to the air traffic at Doha. The new Hamad airport has two runways and so it can get busy during the airlines peak hours (which are at night time). Time is money when it comes to the aviation industry as fuel costs, combined with landing fees, take-off slot fees, and airport management fees pile on rapidly the longer the aircraft stays on the ground. Qatar Airways, and the ground-handling agents at Dubai are very efficient in what they do and how they operate on time. The captain had plenty of fuel in the tanks in case we had to do a fuel dumping (god forbid!), and everything was well managed for this flight. Once we arrived in Doha, I had two hours to enjoy in the huge lounge before I had to catch my connecting flight to Hong Kong (with Cathay Pacific Airways as CX640). It was a straight walk into the security check at the Premium Terminal and onto the plane for the next flight. There was a lot of time to shop around or wander around the Premium Terminal (which I have seen before).
Since I was the only First Class passenger on the flight, so I had the transfer shuttle bus from the terminal to the aircraft all for myself. I was the last passenger to board and the first off the aircraft once we landed at Doha. It was a full on VIP experience.
Comments regarding the pre-flight service:
Once you enter the aircraft, the Qatari hospitality makes sure that you have an authentic experience of their culture and customs.
Passengers are greeted with a choice of signature welcome drink (orange juice, champagne, apple juice or watermelon juice), and hot or cold refreshing cotton towels.
On each First Class seat there were a set of noise cancellation headphones, a rich cotton blanket (each one weighs 2KG!). However, because this was a short flight, so therefore there was no luxury amenity kit.
Passengers in First Class can savour the outstanding in-seat service geared to suit their body clock. Passengers can pre-order and can choose to dine, breakfast, or enjoy a light snack at anytime they wish. There was also an antipasti which consisted of fresh olives (without the seeds). I was also provided a small bowl of nuts to go with the champagne drink I had.
Comments regarding the meal:
Dinner was served around 10 minutes after take-off from Dubai World Airport. For this very late night flight, I had ordered a vegetarian option for a meal. The meal tray consisted of hot vegetable noodles, accompanied with two soft bread buns and a bowl of fresh fruit. I took a glass of water (to keep me from being dehydrated). But for such a short flight, and because it was late in the evening, I did not each much.
Comments on the in-flight entertainment system:
Huge headphones with noise cancellation technology were offered in the Business Class cabin.
Qatar Airways has three different IFE systems: Widescreen AVOD, PTV AVOD and Main screen. The digital AVOD (Audio Video on Demand) in-cabin entertainment system is known as Oryx entertainment system, is in use on all the routes. Passengers can select their program either from the panel in the arm of the seat or simply by touching the screen.
The AVOD system fall into three categories: 'Information', 'Entertainment’, and 'Communications'. Altogether, there are over 120 channels and levels of entertainment to absorb during your flight (Overall IFE has over 1,000 Video and Audio on-demand options in First Class). Then there is, Oryx, the five-star quality in-flight magazine of Qatar Airways to keep you mesmerized with many stories and useful information.
It has a PTV and a remote. This was Qatar's first AVOD system. It is the only system that offers live television.
Just like on the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, the Airbus A320 aircraft have all the seats with AC power plugs for passengers to do their work (or if you want to charge up your phone, camera, laptop etc.).
Connections enabling passengers to listen to, or watch on their individual screens, content on their personal iPods or USB devices are available on this aircraft.
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
The cabin crew were very hospitable, and proud to work for Qatar Airways. There was a genuine smile on every crewmembers face and you could tell that they really enjoyed their job. There was a real sense of teamwork in the cabin. As a customer (or passenger) it is easy to tell if the cabin crew are not getting along with each other (it does happen like any other job!), and on this flight I could see that everyone was in a joyous mood. If there was something I wanted or a question I had, then no one objected to it. Instead, they tried their best to help me as much as they could. The senior purser was just gem of a person. The whole flight experience was like magic, and everything seemed to go smoothly. Therefore, yes the world can be ideal sometimes.
It’s no wonder that Qatar Airways cabin crew were voted the ‘Best Cabin Crew’ in the Middle East for the seventh consecutive year at the 2009 Skytrax airline awards. Qatar Airways has over 120 nationalities as cabin crew who offer a consistent 5-star service to its passengers. Some airline companies have all kinds of motivated mottos that they will look after their customers, but sometimes they fail in this miserably. Qatar Airways however really does make sure that everyone enjoys a smooth, and comfortable flight.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
Qatar Airways have 12 First Class seats on their Airbus A320 aircraft with a 2-2 configuration. Each seat has a generous pitch of a 45 inch recline and is 21 inches wide. Generous legroom allows you to stretch comfortably and the built-in massager helps you relax. This is far better than most other airlines around the world. All the seats have a huge 15.6-inch PTV display screen, in-seat reading light, in-seat drinks holders, and in-seat power units.
Mood lighting is used throughout the flight to keep the passengers in touch with the time zones. So blue, orange, red and yellow shades of the mood lighting is used to highlight the different time zones (dawn, night time, evening and, afternoon). This is so that passengers’ eyes and body can adapt to the different time zones. All the Business Class seats have an electronic touch pad control system allowing them to easily control the seat settings.
Qatar Airways logo and livery:
Qatar Airways logo consist of the head of the national animal of the State of Qatar, the Oryx gazelle, as a motif, stuck on a round background of zigzags which resembles the background of the national flag of the State of Qatar. In line with the colors of the national flag of Qatar, the identity uses maroon as its primary color for all logos and branding.
The airline advertises heavily internationally including on international television channels like CNN, and BBC World. The airline’s motto is ‘The World’s 5-star airline that takes you more personally’, and this is certainly true when it comes to everything they do for their customers and passengers.
The word ‘’QATAR’ occupies the front of the fuselage, using a quite bland font, in huge letters on the livery. The whole logo on the airline portrays the perfect flair and distinctiveness that it deserves. There is a sense of luxury among that design. The grey and maroon colors are adopted from the national flag, and it essentially looks like a large Qatar flag on a plane (with those huge ‘QATAR’ letters on the front of the fuselage).
The Arabic name of the airline ‘Al Qatariyah’ is rendered in a much smaller, light grey font is barely noticeable on the plane. All the Boeing 777-300ER, and Airbus A340-642 aircraft have the world ‘QATAR’ painted on the belly of the fuselage (it is easily visible from the ground when a plane is flying). In addition, there is the Qatar Airways’ Oryx logo on the winglets of the Airbus A340-600, and on the engine pods of all aircraft. Even the wheels have their interior painted in grey to resemble the brand identity. It looks cool!
The Oryx on the plane’s tail is itself a work of art, and suits the airline’s tailfins splendidly. It portrays the authentic culture and heritage of the Qatar people and country. Like most airlines around the world, Qatar Airways have adopted to a more modern and simple livery that portrays elegance, sophistication, and a smooth blend of comfort and imaginativeness. The airline logo stands out like a strong brand, and is proudly displayed on all tableware, cloths, in-flight seat covers, tissue paper, cups, airport buses, and on all the uniforms.
Overall rating 1-10 (worst-best): 10
WORLD'S 5-STAR AIRLINE
About Airline PR
This is a special section on Airline Branding, and Airline Public Relations written by me on all the flights I have been fortunate enough to have been on. These are not records taken from somewhere else, but are actual flights I have been on. Most of the flight trips are officially sponsored by the airline companies in order to promote their certain routes, and aircraft. Airline promotion and PR related work in the aviation industry is one of my expertise.
Watch exclusive videos below taken in the cockpit of a Boeing 777-300ER in-flight over Chinese Airspace.
Special thanks goes to
B777-300ER Cockpit Video 1
B777-300ER Cockpit Video 2
Proud media partner of QATAR AIRWAYS