_ QATAR AIRWAYS- THE WORLD’S 5-STAR AIRLINE (TAKING YOU MORE PERSONALLY)
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 109 destinations using 103 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. 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.
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. When the Boeing 787 comes into service, Qatar Airways hopes to use it for the London-Doha route. I was on the flight from Doha to London Heathrow on Qatar Airways’ Airbus A330-300 to check out their Economy Class seats! What a flight it was…check this out:
Route: DOHA (DOH) to LONDON HEATHROW (LHR)
Departure date and time of flight: January 2012, 07:30am
Flight number: QR005 (ICAO callsign: “Qatari 005”)
Flight duration: 5 Hours 40 minutes
Class: ECONOMY CLASS
Aircraft type: AIRBUS A330-300 (13 in service)
Aircraft registration: A7-AEQ (First flight 6th March 2008)
Engine Type: 2 x GE CF6-80E1A4B (General Electric)
Aircraft Serial Number: 918
Aircraft Name: Shadeedah
Frequent flyer programme: Qatar Airways' Privilege Club- Q Miles
Seat configuration for this aircraft:
First Class: 12 flat bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration (6.5 Feet legroom)
Business Class: 24 lie-flat seats in a 2-2-2 configuration,
Economy Class: 217 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration
Presently the Airbus A330 and the Airbus A340 are the only aircraft where Qatar Airways offers First Class cabin. However the CEO of Qatar Airways Mr. Akbar Al-Baker has announced in 2010 that Qatar Airways plans to eliminate First Class cabins from existing A340 aircraft, as well as new aircraft deliveries, except the A380 aircraft (of which Qatar Airways will have 5 aircraft in service). In fact all the Business Class seats on the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft offer the same features that are offered by most airlines in most their First Class cabins (such as in seat massage, extra legroom, and more entertainment channels).
Any baggage issues:
My baggage was checked in at Beijing. For Economy Class Qatar Airways have a checked baggage allowance of 23 kg total for all routes excluding transatlantic routes. Therefore, for the Beijing-Doha-London route, they have a 23KG luggage policy. All routes have a carry-on allowance of one piece not exceeding 7 kg (50x37x25 cm).
Comments on the check- in staff and flight route:
I was on a connecting flight in from Beijing Capital Airport. Passengers that are in transit are whisked by bus from the arriving aircraft to the transit terminal (and vice-versa). My connection time between the two flights was around 40 minutes (this was welcoming!). A standard flight route from Doha to London Heathrow was taken (flying north-west wards towards Kuwait, Iraq, Kurdistan, Turkey, and then entering Eastern Europe, then Germany, and onwards to Heathrow). We entered London airspace at the holding pattern over Lambourne VOR before making a 180 degrees turn over central London on for a straight in approach into runway 27L at Heathrow (beautiful views of South London on the way from my side of the window- including Wimbledon, Richmond Park, Twickenham Rugby Stadium, and Crystal Palace.
Punctuality of the flight:
The flight departed bang on time, and landed 35 minutes ahead of schedule. 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. 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.
Comments regarding the pre-flight service:
Upon embarking the aircraft, passengers in first, business class, and economy class were offered welcome drinks consisting of fresh orange juice, fresh apple juice, mineral water (champagne, wines, and caviar in first and business class only). As opposed to other airlines, Qatar Airlines offers refreshing towels to all passengers in all the classes prior to departure, prior to their meals and prior to landing. This is part of the true 5-star service that sets Qatar Airways apart from the rest. The cabin crew are truly one of the best trained I have met on any other airline. Customer comes first and Qatar Airways truly define the meaning of a 5-star service.
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Passengers in Economy Class were offered a packet of fresh pretzels packed in Qatar Airways branded packets, and a choice of drinks from the trolley service. Wine in Economy Class is provided by Fortant De France by Syrah. The cabin crew were so nice and friendly. Because the flight was so empty, so they took their time to serve every customer. There was no rush.
Comments regarding the first meal:
Before each meal service in Economy Class, the cabin crew place a coloured mat (paper mat) on the tray table. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, the mat is slightly static so it will stop your cup of drink from sliding away if there is turbulence; secondly it will act as a sponge in case you do spill your drink or drop food (keeps everything clean!); and thirdly, it’s to give that extra personal service to passengers even in economy (if Business Class passengers can get a luxury white cloth, then there is no reason why Economy Class passengers cannot get a similar service).
Now, another reason why Qatar Airways is a 5-star airline is because of the high quality of the food provided to the customers even in Economy Class. All Economy Class passengers are treated just they are special VIP customers. The breakfast tray arrived around 35 minutes after departure from Doha. The following were the options for the dinner service:
1. English breakfast with Cumberland sausages (Western option)
2. Classic Arabic Mezze (Arabic option)
I went for the English breakfast. Two hash browns with a Cumberland sausage, and a delicious omelette. All of these were surrounded by a sea of sweetcorn, plenty of Italian tomato & herb sauce, and a cherry tomato. Cute and neat!
Accompanying the breakfast dish was a pot of natural strawberry yoghurt (provided by Qatari brand Ghadeer), and a pot of fresh orange juice. A selection of warm breads and croissants were offered along with cottage cheese and New Zealand butter (Anchor). To top it all up, a dish of freshly cut fruit was provided.
Plenty of hot and cold drinks were offered to wash down the breakfast in style. These included tea, coffee and a selection of cold drinks (fizzy and non-fizzy). Alcohol was freely available for those who needed it (though, I would have been surprised to see anyone drinking alcohol so early in the morning!).
Comments regarding the after meal drinks and in-flight snacks:
Plenty of fresh water, Lily O Brian’s chocolates, and boiled sweets by ‘Zoom’ were distributed throughout the flight. Passengers could go to the galley and get a free flow of pot noodles, drinks (alcohol and non-alcohol) if they wanted. Coffee and tea are offered in lovely Qatar Airways branded paper cups (that can be recycled), and milk is offered by local Qatari vendor, Rainbow. Bottled water is exclusively offered by Evian (I took the 2 litre bottle- I drink a lot of water to keep me hydrated and fresh!).
Comments regarding the second meal:
Qatar Airways is one of the few global airlines that offer a second meal on flights within a 6-hour duration. The second meal was a light one compared to the slightly heavier one offered after take-off from Doha. Offered just an hour prior to landing, passengers were treated to a selection of hot posh wraps by Monty’s bakehouse (tangy tomato, and chickpea and, char grilled chicken with tomato). The hot wraps were accompanied with a choice of non-alcohol drinks (hot and cold), and a chocolate biscuit. All the in-flight meals at Qatar Airways are prepared according to strict Islamic traditions. In economy class, Qatar Airways still provides plastic cutlery to the passengers.
Another round of drinks and refreshments were offered after the second meal.
Comments on the in-flight entertainment system:
Headphones were offered in the Economy Class cabin. The 10.6 inch PTV screen is placed behind every Economy Class seat. Qatar Airways has 3 different IFE systems: Widescreen AVOD, PTV AVOD and Mainscreen. 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 (providing an overall 700 audio and video options for every passengers on every flight). Then there is, Oryx, the five-star quality in-flight magazine of Qatar Airways to keep you mesmerized with many stories and useful information. PTV AVOD is fitted on board all Airbus A330s and Airbus A340s. 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 Airbus A330-300 aircraft is not touch screen (as that’s only available on the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft). The good thing is that on the Airbus A330-300 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.).
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. 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, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, United Kingdom, France and, China. The languages spoken were English, Arabic, Hindi, Thai, French, Spanish, and Chinese. The entire staff at Qatar Airways are thoroughly taught and regularly checked on how to deal with all kinds of situations in a metal tube flying at 37,000 feet in the sky, including first aid, very young children, pregnant mothers, terrorism, drunken passengers (it does happen), bad behaviour by passengers, and any other mayday situations.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
There are 217 Economy Class seats on the Airbus A330-300 aircraft with a 2-4-2 configuration. Each seat has a generous pitch of a 34 inch recline and is 18.9 inches wide. This is far better than most other airlines around the world. All the seats have a PTV displayed at the back of each seat, and a reading light. The seat itself is very comfortable, and for a flight of 6 hours, it’s hard to complain about anything!
Unlike in other airlines, even in Economy Class, the toilets on all the Qatar Airways aircraft are equipped with refreshing towels (various coloured packaging), eau de toilette, and a hand cream (Molton Brown of London). Another sign of why it’s the world’s 5-star airline.
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,, Airbus A330-300, and the 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 A330-300 (as shown in the photos), 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