I know it’s not cool, but I have to admit I’m a pretty jaded traveler. I’ve clocked my share of mileage over the years and have enjoyed the privilege of flying the Concorde a few times. So, I am picky. I love to fly, but I also expect to be pampered along the way. I’m an old fashioned flier, I guess–spoiled rotten.
Needless to say, I was less than pleased when most carriers stopped giving Business Class travelers pyjamas and downgraded their service, as well as their food and wine menus. Improvements in the seats or the lounge service of some carriers did nothing to improve my spirits. For the past ten years or so, my in-flight experiences have been mostly, well, lackluster.
So, when my favorite travel agent proposed I “try” Qatar Airways for a recent business trip from Johannesburg to Washington, D.C., I was less than enthusiastic. However, Qatar was the only carrier whose schedule and pricing met my needs. The die was cast, and it turned out to be my lucky day.
From the beginning I could see this experience was going to be different, in a good way. The cabin was well staffed, and the crew were friendly and helpful–without being intrusive. They handed out lovely little in-flight bags of Molton Brown products and (my personal favorite) pyjamas. But, that was only the beginning…
The food was fantastic! I did something I never do on a plane and ordered soup as a part of my meal. The soup I was served would have pleased me even in a Michelin starred restaurant. It was extraordinary, full of flavor, and piping hot. Every aspect of the meal was well thought out and generous.
The exquisite food was complimented by an entertainment system guaranteed to please even the most demanding passenger. Never before have I been presented with such a wide variety of timely international hits. I was pleased to note that Qatar Airways flights feature a vast selection of films from across the globe–China, India, Iran, Italy, France, Argentina and beyond–which gave me a chance to do a bit of “virtual” globetrotting en route to my destination.
At “bed time”, I was gently encouraged by a friendly air hostess have my “bed” made up. When she made this friendly overture, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. However, in no time at all, I was delighted to find myself installed in a cozy cocoon, with a slender mattress and thick duvet to complement my pillow.
Every aspect of the flight was relaxing and enjoyable; but, I had a lengthy overnight layover in Dubai and was a bit concerned as to how that would work out. I needn’t have worried, though. My friends at Qatar Airways had things all figured out for me. I was escorted through immigration by a lovely member of Qatar Airways’ ground staff and was comfortably seated in an elegant lounge area, while the agents took care of my visa and overnight hotel arrangements.
Within a matter of minutes, I was escorted to a waiting limousine and swept off into a starry Doha evening to a comfortable hotel in the city. The same limo picked me up in the wee hours of the morning and took me back to the Business Class reception area at the airport–which is more like the check-in desk at a 5-star hotel. The formalities were completed within moments and I was free to explore the business class lounge as I awaited my flight’s departure.
Qatar Airways’ Doha lounge is a cozy space, offering a broad range of food and drink options, including real croissants, good coffee, and a sit-down restaurant. For those who like to use their lounge time to answer e-mails and get a head start on their work, the wi-fi is lightning fast and there are plenty of quiet nooks and crannies (with plugs) to tuck yourself into and get cracking on your daily routine.
My experience with Qatar Airways has consistently been exceptional. I would recommend their business class service without reservation to anyone. Traveling to and from Africa, Qatar Airways is my first choice–bar none. The only thing that could improve their service, for me, would be a direct flight from Doha to Abidjan!