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 101 destinations using 100 state-of-the-art modern, and young aircraft. The airline, which employees a total of around 18,000 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. At the time of writing Qatar Airways has a firm order for 136 aircraft to be delivered within the next 5-7 years. These include 5 Airbus A380-800 (Super Jumbos), 30 Boeing 787-8 (Dreamliner), and 90 orders for the Airbus A350 aircraft (Extra Wide Bodied).
The airline is the proud holder of a number of awards. The latest of these came in 2011, when Qatar Airways was named by Skytrax the "Airline of the Year 2011", at the Paris Air Show in June 2011. At the same time Qatar Airways placed an order for 6 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The ultimate ranking, this rating is awarded to airlines achieving the highest quality performance. Qatar Airways is one of just seven airlines globally to be awarded the 5-star rating.
As the 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.’
In 2011, some new interesting destinations for Qatar Airways include Chongqing (in Sichuan Province where hot and spicy Chinese cuisine derives from), and Shiraz in Iran. The sixth biggest city in Iran, Shiraz is the site of the country’s first solar power plant and was the birthplace of Shiraz wine hundreds of years B.C. It is not the same grape variety as the French Syrah (as served on this flight) because there is no chance of it having migrated there from Iran (the Iranian grape was a white one, and the French is a deep red).
In the United Kingdom, Qatar Airways flies non-stop between Doha and London Heathrow (28 flights a week), and Manchester (14 flights a week), connecting passengers to over 101 destinations worldwide through its hub at Doha. I was on the flight from Doha to London Heathrow on Qatar Airways’ Boeing 777-300ER to check out their Business Class seats! Now, here is the trip report from seat 1A of flight QR11!:
Route: DOHA (DOH) to LONDON HEATHROW (LHR)
Departure date and time of flight: September 2011, 07:45am local time (Doha)
Flight number: QR11 (ICAO callsign: “Qatari 11”)
Flight duration: 7 Hours 40 minutes
Class: BUSINESS CLASS
Aircraft type: BOEING 777-3DZER (16 aircraft in service)
Unit cost of each Boeing 777-300ER: US$284.1 million (2011)
Aircraft registration: A7-BAN (First flight 14th March 2011)
Engine Type: GE90-115B
Aircraft Serial Number: 38246 - line 925
Frequent flyer programme: Qatar Airways' Privilege Club- Q Miles
Seat configuration for this aircraft:
Business Class: 42 seats in a 2-2-2 configuration,
Economy Class: 293 seats in a 3-3-3 configuration
Punctuality of the flight, and flight path:
Departed on time, and landed on time (surprisingly that for Heathrow there are normally delays, but this time it was a straight in approach). Our plane roared off runway 16 into the Arabian Sea, heading initially towards Bahrain control, before making our way towards Kuwait, Iraq (passed over Baghdad), Kurdistan, southern Turkey, Hungry, Austria, Germany (Nuremberg and Frankfurt), Paris, Brussels, Maastricht, North Sea, Lydd Airport, Lambourne control, Bovingdon control, and then finally into runway 09L at London Heathrow. ILS localiser was established somewhere over Slough (7 miles DME from runway 09L), and we had clear views of Windsor Castle (Ma’am was not in the Castle..perhaps she was too busy dealing with her young grandson (the ginger one I mean)!). All throughout the route, we were welcomed by clear blue skies, and lovely sunshine! London was experiencing the hottest late September weather for ages. It felt like summer.
Any baggage issues:
I was in transit in Doha on an incoming flight in from Guangzhou (China). Qatar Airways allows a checked-in baggage of maximum 30kg per passenger in Business Class, 40kg in First Class, and 23kg for Economy Class. Passengers can also take two pieces of hand luggage on board the aircraft, not to exceed 15 kg in total (or 50 x 37 x 25 cm). Passengers may carry liquids, gels, pastes, and aerosols in containers up to 100 ml (3.4 oz) in their hand baggage (I always take a small mouth wash bottle, contact lens solution, mouth spray, anti-perspirant, and an eau de toilette for long flights). Passengers are provided with a transparent, resalable, quart- or litter-sized bag no larger than 20 x 20 cm.
Comments on the check-in staff and any issues:
I was in transit in Doha on an incoming flight in from Guangzhou (China), so not required to check-in. However I did need to register at the Premier Terminal once I landed, and had to check-out before boarding for the flight to London Heathrow. Everything at Qatar Airways works smoothly like clockwork, with every staff member trained for every possible situation that passengers may occur.
Premier Terminal Experience at Doha:
After landing from Guangzhou (on my previous connecting flight), I, along with other Business Class passengers, was transferred to the Premier terminal (the Economy Class passengers were transferred to the normal terminal). My experience of the Premier terminal is listed below.
Doha airport is simply an art of sophistication. It’s located only 5km away from the centre of Doha, but the airport may itself be considered as an oasis city itself. There are FOUR lounges at Doha Airport:
Privilege Club Gold Lounge
Provides a true 5-star service in all the elements that it offers. This lounge is to be used by Privilege Club Gold Card holders (irrespective of the class they travel in). Members will find a warm welcome and world-class facilities in this stylish lounge.
Privilege Club Silver Lounge
The Silver lounge has all of the facilities as the Gold Members Lounge except baggage storage.
This is 5-star lounge with all of the above mentioned facilities, and can be used by passengers travelling on First or Business Class on any other airline except Qatar Airways.
This is the exclusive Lounge for those travelling on First or Business Class with Qatar Airways. Its looks and feels like a 5-star hotel rather than an airport lounge. Complete with luxurious bedrooms, jacuzzi, nursery for kids, storage space, office facilities (fax, internet, and telephone), massage facilities, separate mosques for men and women, sauna facilities, and a Mecca for dining with a true 5-star service. You can eat whatever you like. The Premier Terminal has its own duty-free shop on the ground floor. Buses whisk passengers to/from their planes.
Overall there was an excellent atmosphere right from the conception phase to the point I had to take the connecting flight. If only airport lounges were of this excellent quality.
Service was exceedingly friendly. As I have mentioned numerous times, the staff all are well trained and offer a genuine hospitality. It shows clearly that the staff care for the customers from their heart. Their smile is a real one and not just to show that you are a customer of Qatar Airways. Its to make you feel special because they understand that:
1. It is not easy to fly Business or First Class
2. Not everyone flies First or Business Class, and those that do have to be flet special because they deserve it (because they or their companies have invested in flying First or Business Class).
It’s all about providing a service where the staff offer a an amazing attention to detail, and this is remarkable.
Selection of both hot and cold food is available in myriad quantities as if there is no tomorrow. I was comfortably able to take a shower and jump into the Jacuzzi in the excellent shower room with quality amenities and excellent staff (Spa is the superlative part of the terminal, and I had massage, which was unbelievably first-class). All toiletries in the bathroom, and showers are provided by L'Occitane en Provence.
In case you are not kept track of your flight, then don’t worry because you will be accordingly invited to board in a timely manner. The First Class lounge is not as busy as the Business Class lounge, nevertheless both are amazing. Perhaps the best lounge experience that I have had on any airline in the world. What you normally find is that some airlines are good, but their lounges are not good, but Qatar Airways
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 Business Class seat there were a set of noise cancellation headphones, a rich cotton blanket (each one weighs 2KG!), a luxury amenity kit containing the Molton Brown toiletries, slippers, eyeshades, and a pair of Qatar Airways designer socks.
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Passengers in Business 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.
For breakfast I took a glass of water and orange juice as this was an early morning flight (to keep me from being dehydrated).
To revive we were offered a selection of some fresh fruit juices. Check these tempting options:
· Freshly squeezed orange juice
· Apricot and bran breakfast shake
· Cranberry juice
I opted for my favourite drink (if you worship orange juice, like I do, then there is no reason to doubt this beautiful liquid sunshine offer by Qatari!). Qatar Airways have sourced out the best partners when it comes to providing excellent food, and their orange juice with the orange bits and skin parts is just awesome. It is good enough to wake you up refreshed, and with just the right amount of pulp, no wonder why it tastes like a cross between a real orange, and a orange smoothie drink! Equally well, the breakfast bran shake was well worth to wash down the throat- it’s just sheer luxury food like this that gives a true meaning to living the good life.
Comments regarding the first meal:
Breakfast service commenced around 35 minutes after take-off from Doha. We must have been somewhere over northern Bahrain (or near enough to Kuwait). The following tempting options were offered:
· Toasted Muesli
· Fresh fruit and fruit compote with yogurt
· Salad plate of Gravlax and branade of salted cod
I went for the healthy option of having muesli with full cream full. Its good to have this kind of food with a significant attention paid to the high fibre in a highly pressurised environment such as an aircraft. What do I think of this? I thought it was out of this world!
Following on from the commencement options were three choices for the main breakfast dish:
· Ricotta hotcakes, raspberries with crème fraiche, maple syrup
· Three cheese frittata with field mushrooms and roasted capsicum sauce and spring onion potato cake
· Classic Arabic breakfast
* and with a choice of Japanese grilled salmon, spring onion potato cake, or veal burger.
I went for the ‘three cheese frittata’, with a spring onion potato cake which went really well with tomato ketchup and Tabasco sauce. The palate is just gorgeous medium sweet and sour, exceptionally smooth flow to the cheese, with powerful mozzarella, red Leicester, and spring onion flavours. The cheese melts away in your mouth with each spoonful, and the amazing complexity of the capsicum aromas and the flavours develops. It’s a journey for the senses to savour. This only allows the finest tastes to touch your stomach as a finale. Don’t rush, but take your time to enjoy the moment that you have with this luxury food. Though I just tried a spoonful of the tempting Arabic breakfast, it had this awesome high quality finish that you would expect along with a strong thread of the spices and aroma of Arabic flavours. Priceless dish to tuck into.
Every passenger was provided with a generous portion of the bread from the bakery basket containing a croissant, banana muffin, and a brown and white toast.
Breakfast was followed with a final round of drinks was completed. This included a selection of beverages, soft drinks, juices, eight types of teas (early grey, English breakfast, green, roasted Japanese, Moroccan mint, camomile, sencha green, and green jasmine), and five types of coffees (cappuccino, espresso, cafe latte, macchiato, and American) were offered after the main meal.
Comments regarding the after meal drinks and in-flight snacks :
A second round of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks (including any coffee, tea and beverages) were offered. I opted to drink plenty of still mineral water. Tempting drinks such as Martini Rosso/Dry, Campari, Glenfiddich Single Malt Solera 15 years old, Chivas Regal, Baileys, and many more were available.
Qatar Airways is proud to offer the finest wines from around the world. Every flight route has a different selection of wines. It’s another minor but important thing like this that differentiates Qatar Airways from the other airlines in the world. Wines and beverages available by the bottle on this flight included the following:
· Champagne: Lanson, Brut, 1998 (France)
· Chardonnay: Chartron et Trebuchet, Meursault, 2007 (Burgundy, France)
· Sauvignon Blanc: Saint Clair, Pioneer Block 11, 2010 (Marlborough, New Zealand)
· Riesling: Fritz Haag, Brauneberger Juffer Sonnenuhr, Spatiese, 2008 (Mosel Valley, Germany)
· Meritage- Cabernet Sauvignon & Merlot: Chateau Brane Cantenac, AC Margaux, 2nd growth, 2007 (Bordeaux, France)
· Grenache, Carinena, Syrah, Torres, Salmos, 2007 (Priorat, Spain)
· Shiraz: Brokenwood, 2007 (Barossa Valley & McLaren Vale, Australia)
· Taylor’s, 20 Year Old Twany (Douro Valley, Portugal)
Passengers in Business Class could go to the galley and get free flowing drinks, fruit, ice cream (Häagen-Dazs), Godiva chocolates, and a variety of hot pot noodles.
Comments regarding the second meal:
SIX options for the second meal were offered- I say again- SIX options! Well, if you are with Qatar Airways then its not hard to believe because they are one of the few airlines that offers a second meal within a 6 hour flight. On this flight, I actually felt as if Qatar Airways was feeding me like as if there is no tomorrow (quick eat everything before it runs out, Navjot!).
So the six options for the second meal were as follows:
· Soup of wild mushroom and pearl barley with gremolata lavosh
· Tandoori king prawns served on seasonal garden salad
· Classic Arabic mezze
· Warm Arabic lamb and cheese sandwich, tomato herb sauce
· An individual cheese plate of farmhouse aged cheddar double cream brie and mild blue
I opted for the ‘classic Arabic mezze’. Mezze is the combination of the myriad dishes of the splendid hors d’oeuvres to traditional Arab meals, comes from the Italian word mezzano. A extravaganza of all the traditional Arabic delicious such as Hummus with meat, plain pitta bread, Pastirma (curried beef), rocket salad, Tzatziki, and plenty of köfte. The tandoori king prawns tasted just like mum’s cooking. These marinated prawns are traditionally cooked in a tandoor, but it seemed like the chefs at Qatar Airways cooked them very quickly in a frying pan. Brightly coliured due to the food colouring the tantalising garam masala, this gem of a dish was just perfect to go with one of the posh wines on offer during the flight.
I wish I had the stomach to eat the remaining dishes and try them out, but I was too full. But looking at the names of the dishes, I hope you get an idea the kind of high quality food that is served in Business Class at Qatar Airways. They really do take their in-flight catering seriously and to high standards.
Lunch was followed with another round of drinks was completed. This included a selection of beverages, soft drinks, juices, eight types of teas (early grey, English breakfast, green, roasted Japanese, Moroccan mint, camomile, sencha green, and green jasmine), and five types of coffees (cappuccino, espresso, cafe latte, macchiato, and American) were offered after the main meal.
Comments on the in-flight entertainment system :
Huge headphones with noise cancellation technology were offered in the Business Class cabin. The HUGE 33cm by 22cm (15.6-inch) PTV screen, which can be easily folded away into the right hand side armrest, can be used to watch movies, choose any kinds of music to play, watch how your flight is progressing, catch up on current affairs, or play computer games with.
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 1000 Video and Audio on-demand options in Business 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. The PTV system on the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft is touch screen.
The good thing is that on the Boeing 777-300ER all the seats have 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 (the Boeing 777-300ER).
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 crew members 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 100 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.
On our flight, we had cabin crew from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Philippines, United Kingdom, Italy and, Morocco. The languages spoken were English, Arabic, Hindi, Thai, German, Italian, and Tamil.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort) :
Qatar Airways have 42 Business Class flatbed seats on their Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with a 2-2-2 configuration. Each seat has a generous pitch of a 78 inch recline and is 22 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.
In Business Class, the toilets are equipped with refreshing towels (various coloured packaging), eau de toilette, moisture cream, and a hand cream (all by Molton Brown). On this daytime flight passengers in Business Class were provided with cotton-lined pure wool blankets (100% cotton sleeper suits are only provided on night time long-haul flights). Another sign of why it’s the world’s 5-star airline.
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 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
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