Are Qatar Airways still, as they claim, the World’s Best Airline?

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  • Bigfoot
    Participant

    In the last year I’ve made return Business Class flights to Jakarta and Kathmandu and am a Gold Member.

    As I was travelling with a close friend to Kathmandu last month, I twice contacted the airline to ask if I could take a guest into the main lounge. I wasn’t really expecting a positive reply because I think that lounge is actually only for First/Business class passengers. I was pleased to receive a confirmation in writing that I could do this. In fact, I received this in writing twice.

    Checking into the lounge for our transit with my friend, we were refused access sadly. I showed the Lounge Manager the two written confirmations which he simply refused to accept in quite an almost aggresive manner. This episode was embarrasing for my friend and I so we left. This wasn’t what I expected and I remain very disappointed……

    I note that several of the perks have now dissapeared with no fresh hot/cold towels being offered anymore and the fabulous pyjamas are no more.

    I’ll continue to fly Qatar Airways, particularly when they return to my local airpor, Cardiff in Wales.

    Hoping that someone in Qatar Airways Customer Services will read this and reply as my two online complaints to them about the lounge episode remain unanswered.


    AlanOrton1
    Participant

    Hot towels and pyjamas were on offer on 3 out of the 4 most recent legs I flew. The only exception being a sub 5 hour day flight.

    Poor re: the handling of the lounge.
    They were definitely policing entry to it when I visited, with at least 2 staff members at the bottom of the escalator and 1 at the top.
    I hope you do receive a response / acknowledgement of the cock up.

    As some have said, their customer service, when things don’t go to plan, may not be great.
    Onboard and in the DOH J lounge, I can’t think of any better, so I’d say based purely on this, they have a reasonable claim of being the best (albeit it’s a somewhat self-aggrandising one).

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    stevescoots
    Participant

    Overall on board have not seen any noticeable differences, the hot towels do seem to have gone from flights that are not ex-DOH, pyjama are still there but only on overnight flights as it always has been. I still take them even though I never wear them on the flights, just hand out to friends and family. Kits vary from the usual bag type to sometimes just a box. Contents the same and I have so many bags it does not bother me. Overall DOH is good, they have always been strict on lounge entry having staff at the bottom of the escalators. Boarding process Ex BHX and LHR has been messy each time. HKG and SGN boarding has been good. been flying QR 15+ years on and off and always found inflight and hard product one of the best in J, service levels landside very hit and miss when there is a problem. when comparing to other airlines I would say they deserve a top spot but all depend on son the criteria. The pricing does annoy me that on my routings of UK to HK or SGN anything with a decent transfer of 2-4 hours is always 15-30% higher than taking one of those awkward 12-18 hour layovers.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    Enjoyed 1 flight on QATAR, suffered another.

    AMS – DOHA – apart from the temporary (and utterly useless and avoidable) lounges that a lot of airlines are suffering with in AMS, the advice is to take the E20 euro voucher and spend it in a decent food/br outlet. However the onboard service remains a very high hurdle for other airlines to reach. The only lottery is which version of the aircraft you get. The only small issue at check in was that I asked if there was space on the earlier flight and was told it was full in all classes. However, a quick check with Tim F confirmed the flight was wide open, so it appears they just couldn’t have been bothered to change my flight. As far as sleeper suits are concerned, I have changed my travel habits slightly, and now travel (longhaul) wearing a very comfortable tracksuit – it works for me.. and there is no worry whether sleeper suits are being provided.

    DOHA – HKG – the airport (taxi ways ad apron) is just one massive building site. Parked at a remote stand, 20 minute bus ride into terminal. What is nice is the 2 separate buses for front end pax. Absolutely no cramming the passengers in. Transit security is chaotic, but VERY VERY fast. The lounges .. these must still be some of the best business class lounges. Started at the Al Mourjan lounge for shower and a snack. Noticed it was a lot quieter than usual and was then told its due to the newer garden lounge. The Manager checked my boarding card and suggested I go and have a look as it was closer to my gate. Worth the walk. Another superb business class lounge.

    Now the second flight. Not often I have a 2am departure. The boarding was very odd. F, J and Y classes. Another remote stand with Y passengers being called to the buses first. Those in F and J all being turned away at the boarding gate and told to wait till the end. In a bizarre way, I found this highly amusing. The number of fuming faces, with steam coming out of all orifices, you could have cooked an egg on the head of some of them. Mostly complaining about having to leave drinks in the lounges to get to the gate. I thought one women was going to have a heart attack the way she remonstrated to the gate agent, waving her F boarding card in his face – “you know how much this cost”….

    I shouldn’t say this, but it was a highly entertaining half hour. I did offer one word of reassurance to another passenger, saying not to worry, the Y passengers will wait for us before the doors are closed. I thought I was going to get punched 🙂

    When I eventually reached the aircraft, after another 20 minute drive, the 777 was being boarded through only one set of steps and there was a q of 4 buses waiting to unload.

    The flight itself – brutal. Cabin was way to warm, couldn’t sleep. Fortunately there was minimal service with only snack like food being offered, so the cabin was very quiet. Again, sonme pax getting annoyed there was not the full QATAR dinner service, but the crew did a sterling job, except turning the temperature down.

    All in all I enjoy QATAR flights, although a stop in the M/E is not my prefered routing to Asia, far prefer a Finnair style routing, so I get a much better and longer nights sleep. Cabin crew from all corners of the world. All well presented, not chewing gum and very very attentive to requests for drinks.

    2 users thanked author for this post.

    stevescoots
    Participant

    i will have to try out the garden lounge one on Sunday, have 3 hour transit.

    on the boarding as far back as i can remember if a plane is on a remote they board Y first. the annoying thing is often you do not know until you get to gate so its hard to tell if a remote or bridge from the lounge. I will try to ask at the lounge desk on Sunday as see what they say


    Bigfoot
    Participant

    Thanks Steve,

    On at least two or maybe three transits involving a long bus ride, I’ve asked to board as soon as possible, saying I’m very tired – they’ve always allowed this but it’s usually chaos at those gates.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Charles
    Participant

    In answer to one of the above posts, if your gate is downstairs, you will be using a bus, and that means Y passengers will go first. Personally, I prefer this as this would mean not having to crowd around the boarding gate doors while boarding from a finger. So, just check with the staff at the lounge if your gate is on the ground flooror downstairs nefore you head for departure.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    superchris
    Participant

    If the routes work for me I will always find a way to fly Qatar airways. Yes HIA is getting stupidly busy but the onboard service is stunning. First class is disappointing but Q suites are the gold standard for me.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    Inquisitive
    Participant

    The answer to topic question is : Yes, may not be ‘the’ best, but “among the 5 best” airlines of the world. In the market of 100s of airlines that is quite an achievement.

    My 5 bests are all from Asia : SQ, Emirates, Qatar, Ana, Vistara.

    1 user thanked author for this post.

    TominScotland
    Participant

    Interesting discussion all

    In the past 6 weeks, I have flown QR EDI-DOH-CGK return in C (no Q-Suites) and EDI-DOH-ICN return in Y. Mixed experiences, I must say. Boarding is always chaotic in EDI because of the lack of space around Gate 19 which QR always use. Boarding otherwise worked well – my first DOH-EDI in C was to a remote stand and there were plenty of fuming pax as C were left to last!! Bussing seems to be the norm on arrival for routes that I fly and, yes, 20 minutes seems to be common although for our inbound from ICN it seemed to be only about 5. Taxi to take off is also getting much longer – we were over an hour between door closing and take-off yesterday from DOH and the lack of information was annoying – this is where BA are far superior!!

    For lounges in Doha, I used Al Mourjan both ways when travelling in Business and am always underwhelmed by the place. I must try the newer lounge when I get the chance (in March, I think). On my most recent trip, I used both Platinum lounges (for high status passengers travelling in Y) and the newer one in the C gate area is a much better space with good F&B.

    The first EDI-DOH flights and the recent outbound were on B787-800 aircraft and they are not particularly pleasant from a comfort perspective. On the return, the aircraft was upgraded to a A350-900 and this is a far superior experience. My next QR flights in January also show A350s for this route so hopefully that is not the norm.

    On-board, I was underwhelmed by my C-class experience. The food was fine (I am not an airborne drinker) and the service pedestrian – nothing wrong with it but little energy or enthusiasm. Maybe crew are in collective morning for their soon-departing CEO!! I did not find the seat comfortable for sleeping/ resting at all and was awake for much of all 4 flights.

    In Y, I think QR are close to best in class. I am fortunate enough to be able to grab exit/ bulkhead seats for free due to my BA status and find these great for both work and rest. My wife was with me for the ICN trip and for the two return legs, we had a free seat between us, adding to the comfort. I slept rather better and longer in Y than I had in C (and that was not just bank balance comfort!!). In Y, the Cabin Manager (or whatever they are called) always greeted me and we were offered priority in choice of mains which certainly made a difference as they do run out of the favourites quite quickly. The food is very good for Economy and well-presented.

    I have three more trips planned with QR in the new year – EDI-DOH-MCT in Y; EDI-DOH-HKG in C; and EDI-DOH-KUL in Y (although the DOH-KUL may be with MH, depending on timing). I will see whether things change.

    4 users thanked author for this post.

    Johnnyg
    Participant

    Latest Josh Cahill you tube re Qatar (Dec 23), banned for a negative review and staff dismissed. Interesting viewing..

    4 users thanked author for this post.

    MartynSinclair
    Participant

    Just took the 2 return flights – BKK – Doha and then on to MPX.

    Apart from screaming babies (all 5 of them set the others off) meaning there was a constant symphony of babies screeching through the night. At one point it got so bad, one of the sets of parents decided to decamp into the 380 bar, which was when the senior cabin crew suggested they look after their baby instead of just passing it to their helper. That was the 7 hours to Doha, which the cabin crew confirmed to several pax, was one of the worst flights they had endured. Doha to MPX was very quiet but the flight was only just under 6 hours.

    To be fair to QATAR – the screaming babies is more about parenting skills than cabin crew skills. I still think the QATAR J product, across all 3 or 4 sets of seats is one of the best business class offerings. I find the crew very polite and attentive, the seats (even the old 2 x 2, which are bigger than Q suites) very comfortable. Food offering is generally very good and simple touches like the romantic light I find a pleasant touch! Their lounge offering is something you need to consider, as last week, I was allowed into the fantastic Al Mourjam Lounge, but this week I wasn’t. Yes I was pi@@sed, but for the 2 hours I was there, across midnight, food and drink was not a priority and I settled for the Plat lounge. The sparkling water I am sure tasted the same in both lounges. You also need to get used to the 20 minute bus rides and for remote boarding priority goes to economy to board first. None of this really matters to me.

    For me, however good the product is, I find the Middle East shuffle through and across midnight too uncomfortable. At least with a stop in Europe, such as Helsinki with Finnair, the flight to HKG is currently ca. 12 hours, which means a very good nights sleep.

    For 2024, I will not discount using QATAR, but for me, flight timings trump a very good and high level business class product.

    2 users thanked author for this post.
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