middleclasstraveller

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  • Hi Andy,

    I’ve flown with them several times over the past few years on J, mainly on the AUH-CGK route (the last was in the end of June this year). I love their hard products, especially in comparison with the price tag. I’ve tried both their old (1-2-1) and new (2-2-2) J seats, and I found both of them pleasant, in fact I liked them way more than EY’s (EY uses A330s on that route). While the new seats offer narrower space, it is also preferred by some because the window seats are very private while still affording direct aisle access.

    Service-wise: consistently good, but not outstanding. EY has better onboard service (QR is still the best, for me). My only gripe with WY is the ground service at their hub (MCT), which ranges between indifferent (normal situation) to poor (when you have problems). Their Business Class Lounge isn’t bad, though, and it offers complimentary 15-minute massages.

    If you have time, take a look at my review here (it’s not the latest, but my experience with them has been quite consistent):
    http://middleclasstraveller.weebly.com/blog/flight-review-oman-air-abu-dhabi-muscat-jakarta-business
    http://middleclasstraveller.weebly.com/blog/flight-review-oman-air-muscat-jakarta-muscat-business

    Safe travels!

    in reply to: Oman Air

    Hello,

    I agree that EY is losing its shine and sparkle. EY used to be my first choice, not only because I’m based in AUH, but because it never disappointed me. Th at’s until recently. I’m not talking just about the perks that they decided to remove from premium passengers, but even the onboard experience has noticeably gone downwards. In my last two experiences with them in short-haul J, the crew couldn’t even explain to me what snacks they were serving. Last month I flew in Y from FRA-AUH, and the entire F & G seats’ IFE didn’t work. Haven’t flown EK for years, so not in the position to judge, but I flew QR J for the first time in January this year, and in all four legs (including 2 short hauls), the service was just outstanding. I was addressed by name (and I had no status in their loyalty program or anything affiliated with it), the cabin manager took time to talk to all passengers, and even helped caring for a passenger’s crying baby, and all F&B were graciously served (not in a rushed manner like EY). I only stopped flying QR because of the political feud between Qatar and the UAE.

    I’m also increasingly agitated by the slow response of their customer service. Been chasing them (through the dedicated EY Gold email address) to credit missing miles from a WY J flight I took in June, and weeks later, a response saying they don’t credit miles for WY flight arrived. I pointed out that their website says the opposite, and I’ve been receiving miles for all my previous WY flights. They promised to get back to me, but I’m still waiting for response until now.

    I still fly EY purely for convenience and as long as the destination is within a direct flight, but I’m becoming more and more open with other alternative options.

    Kind regards.

    Happens to me every time I fly out of SHJ Airport (which, fortunately, is not very often). The check-in agents are just so clueless, and a supervisor seems to always have to be involved every 5 passengers or so. Needless to say, the waiting time at that airport is considerably longer than anywhere else I’ve been.

    That said, this thread reminds me of something similar I encountered in AUH. I was flying WY with a brief stopover in MCT en route to my home country. I gave a print out of my e-ticket to the staff, and a few minutes later, I was still waiting (I only had to drop my luggage and print my boarding pass, so shouldn’t have taken that long). I thought there was some issue with the system, until he phoned one of his colleagues and asked her if I needed a visa for Oman because he couldn’t find the information. I quickly jumped in and pointed out that my final destination is not Oman, and only then he realized it. My boarding pass was printed in less than a minute.

    in reply to: Have you got an ESTA?

    Hi All,

    I agree that letting you know prior to moving the passenger would be very courteous. However, I see nothing wrong with not doing it, considering the empty seat was not yours to start with (except if you have any belonging on the vacant seat).

    Thanks.

    Hello,

    I had the chance to spend a bit of time at Al Safwa Lounge on the way back to Abu Dhabi and you can read about my experience here: http://middleclasstraveller.weebly.com/blog/al-safwa-first-class-lounge-doha-airport-qatar.

    It is also worth noting that despite not having quite the same wow level on my flight back from Jakarta (e.g.: the food was not as great), I received consistently wonderful service from the crew. For example, although there was no pajama offered by default in this leg (CGK-DOH) due to the flight schedule, the CSD (Joan) went around to look for one and gave it to me with a big smile. Also, I overheard another passenger placing a rather complicated meal request (I want this appetizer at this time, and this dish at this time, and I’ll take this instead of that, etc.) and this was also catered for happily. The CS manager (?) in the DOH-AUH flight, however, was not of the same league. She wasn’t rude or anything, but seemed confused and disorganized (it’s a shame because the other crews were fantastic) – and the only CS-in charge not addressing her passengers by name.

    Would be happy to fly with QR again.

    Tchao.

    Hi MartynSinclair,

    Agree with miningguy. It is very important not to take anything for granted as AirBNB does not impose specific standard on what facilities to offer, etc. I tend to take all the listings with a pinch of salt, and would go ahead only if I am really convinced. Read a lot of reviews and don’t hesitate to ask the hosts even the silliest questions. I have only used this service in Japan, but if you’re interested, check my blog post here: http://middleclasstraveller.weebly.com/blog/my-first-airbnb-experience.

    Also agree with Bath_VIP and would recommend going through the reviews in case anyone ever felt unwelcome in the neighbourhood. At the end of the day, not everyone feels comfortable seeing unfamiliar faces getting in and out of their building every day.

    All the best!

    in reply to: AIRBNB (new user)

    Hello,

    I know that you’ve got plenty of things to do in Tokyo on your plate. However, if you do have the time, I would heartily recommend you to have lunch at Ukai Restaurant (the full name is Tokyo Shiba Tofuya Ukai), not far from the Tokyo Tower. I was invited by a family friend recently and was extremely wowed. As the name suggests, they specialize in tofu dishes (“tofuya” means “tofu house/shop”) and have several set menu options to choose from. Some people may not be prepared to pay premium for tofu dishes, but I would argue that it’s not just about the food (which was invariably very good and beautifully presented with Japanese precision). The restaurant occupies an old-style traditional building and has its own (gorgeous) Japanese garden. We had a traditional tatami room for the four of us with views over the aforementioned garden, and the service was just magnificent. Not sure if they cater for foreigners equally well, though, as all of us spoke Japanese.

    More details here: http://www.ukai.co.jp/english/shiba/

    I can also recommend a side day trip to either Kamakura, Ashi Lake & onsen/hot spring experience in Hakone, or Nikko. The Asakusa/Sensoji Temple would also be a good place for a more typical Japanese must-see experience.

    Wishing you a wonderful trip ahead!

    @HighlandTraveller: Upscale hotels in the GCC would normally allow guests to check in early if you let them know well in advance and they have plenty of available rooms upon your arrival. And even if they can’t, they will allow you to use their leisure facilities (e.g.: health club, pools, steam/sauna, relaxation lounge, etc.) while waiting. That said, 5 AM arrival would be way too early to ask for an early check-in, so I suggest you spend a few hours in the Business/First Class lounge and have a light breakfast and leave the airport by around 8 or 9 AM to have a bigger chance for an early check-in. I found Al Mourjan Lounge’s quiet area’s cubicles to be reasonably comfortable for a quick nap (remove the cushions and the sofa will be almost as big as a roll away bed).

    @Iceman2013: AFAIK, QR does offer free accommodation (with flexible check-in/out timings) if you’re on a long transit (>8 hours?) and there are no shorter connections available. Pretty sure it would be a hotel in the city, and not the one at the airport, though. Stand to be corrected.

    PS: I recently wrote about my 11-hour stopover in DOH (did it by choice as I had never been to Qatar before). Would definitely recommend taking a peek at the Museum of Islamic Arts (MIA) and Souq Waqif. You can read my post here: http://middleclasstraveller.weebly.com/blog/my-11-hours-in-doha-qatar

    in reply to: DOHA stopover

    Great idea to generate ancillary revenue, but I’m not sure if EK premium passengers would be okay with it. I’m afraid the lounges would end up being a tourism attraction with tourists snapping loads of pictures and selfies and perhaps also gulping down as much as they can, having paid a considerable amount of money for access. Not trying to sound like a snob here, but it’s natural that anyone would want to make the best of what they have paid for.

    Hi Cloud-9,

    Thanks for the reminder. I don’t know how I could miss it. A lot of fancy safety videos out there seem to have been made more to entertain than to inform. QR’s does both very well.

    Thanks.

    Hi alainboy56,

    QR’s premium hard products are indeed superb, especially when you take into account the entire experience (i.e.: not just what are in the aircraft). And thanks for the clarification. The absence of IFE didn’t matter to me due to the flight duration. Everything else in the plane was actually of a very good quality and more than made up for it.

    Hi goalie11,

    Ditto, especially since EY’s J at that time was priced almost double what I paid for a superb trip with QR (plus I’m not a big fan of their J cabin in A330 – the aircraft used for AUH-CGK flights). I just hope my return trip to AUH with QR would be as seamless and pleasant now that the bar has been set very high.

    Cheers.

    PS: I have also finished my new post about my 11-hour stopover in Doha. If you’re interested (or if you know anyone who would), you can read it here: http://middleclasstraveller.weebly.com/blog/my-11-hours-in-doha-qatar

    Hi Slotski,

    I’m based in AUH so normally fly with EY for convenience, or, when I fly to Jakarta, WY. They drop their prices like crazy, their hard products in J are great and I can earn EY miles there too. But QR as an option has moved a few notches up on my list following this trip.

    I can understand your point of view on Al Mourjan (especially considering your travel pattern). I too normally prefer smaller lounges where I can get coffee or a round of drinks and small bites without feeling cramped or rushed (my favourite lounge for this purpose at the moment is BOM’s GVK Lounge). Al Mourjan, in my opinion, is ideal only for longer connections. Ironically, its biggest advantage (size, zoning & location) becomes a disadvantage in short connections.

    Thanks!

    Hello,

    Yes, the prawn dish was very good indeed. Regarding the city tour, would be quite interesting to see Doha skyline at night, although my cheap pocket camera wouldn’t work as well, I suppose.

    I will try Al Safwa on my way back to Abu Dhabi in two weeks’ time and shall write about my experience. My stopover will be only 2 hours this time, though. Hope it’s long enough to experience it properly.

    Thanks!

    Part 3: Al Mourjan Business Lounge

    The lounge is located on Level 3, occupied mostly by Qatar Airways’ premium lounges and the airport hotel (the arrival and departure areas are on Level 2 & 1 respectively). The reception was massive with a long well-manned counter and dominated in grey colour. I was welcome by a lovely Indonesian staff, Nizma, who immediately offered to show me around. Now I had seen pictures of the lounge, so I knew it was big, but I did not expect it to be that huge. In fact, huge is perhaps an understatement. It occupies an area of 10,000 sqm with seats enough to accommodate up to 1,000 guests (a standard football pitch is “only” 7,140 sqm)! Apparently, I arrived at a very quiet time for the airline with perhaps only 10 or fewer people at the time of visit, so the vastness of the lounge made it feel somewhat eerie.

    The lounge is divided into several separate zones to cater for different types of guests. This includes a sizeable business centre, cubicles with reclining chairs, quiet zone, two restaurants (a large casual deli serving a la carte menu and a huge buffet restaurant with an open bar), a family zone, and two connected “open areas” with comfortable couches and tablets. What’s more, the lounge is exclusively for Qatar Airways Business Class passengers (First Class passengers have another dedicated lounge, Al Safwa, as do premium passengers of other airlines departing from or through Doha).

    In my Abu Dhabi – Doha – Jakarta trip, I only visited the buffet restaurant upon arrival in the morning, and the quiet area in the evening prior to my next flight. I was already quite full when I arrived in Doha, so I did not actually try any of the buffet offering. I only had a cup of café latte and a vegetable omelette. To be honest, neither was outstanding; however, I was quite impressed by the wide variety of the buffet options. There were separate islands for international dishes, Asian/Arabic dishes, and Continental options, not to mention the open bar, which was tempting (unfortunately, after two rounds of champers that early in the morning and a city tour waiting ahead of me, I had to give it a pass). There were enough seats for 160 guests, and given the amount of empty space in between the islands, I am quite sure it would not feel crowded even when the restaurant is fully occupied. The service was courteous and on par with many five-star hotels in the region.

    Later on in the evening, I arrived back and headed straight to the quiet zone. This area is located at the far end of the lounge, next to the casual deli but separated with glass doors. I expected to see an open area with chaise lounges, so was pleasantly surprised to see that they actually had actual rooms, each with a large boarding screen, a one-seater, and a long leather sofa. The rooms were not fully enclosed but felt very private. Apparently the rooms were not made for sleeping, which made me wonder what the actual purpose was. They are clearly too big for reading, and obviously not suitable for business meetings either. Anyway, I did manage to make myself comfortable and took a short nap.

    I then headed for the shower, and again was very happy with what I found. The cubicle had ample dressing space and a toilet attached, making it comfortably practical. The shower attendant was also very courteous. He asked if I needed any dental or shaving kit, and attempted to engage with me and asked for feedback with his limited English.

    So, my overall experience at the lounge was positive. I can understand why some past reviewers felt it to be cold, soulless, and sterile, but I thought the food & beverage offering was great, the service was warmer than many others I have been to, and the separation into several zones served me very well.

    Part 2: DOH – CGK (J)

    I arrived at the airport at 16.25, so I could take a shower and relax a bit before my 19.10 flight. As expected, premium passengers of QR have their own dedicated entrance – and an entire check-in section for themselves – separated with partitions and with a lot of couches, a coffee & soft drinks area, and of course, dedicated immigration counters. I was once more blown away by how far the airline would go to please their premium passengers.

    After doing some last minute duty free purchases, I headed for Al Mourjan Lounge. Being more tired than hungry, I decided to go straight to the Quiet Zone for a nap and a quick shower. I finished right about the time boarding started so I walked briskly to Gate A11, where my flight would depart. The boarding room was already almost full when I arrived, an indication of how the flight would be.

    We flew in a B-787, and my seat was 2K. I had flown a few times in a B-787 with WY, and I love the amount of privacy I get in WY’s enclosed cabin design. Compared to that, QR’s reversed herringbone layout offers less privacy, but still provides direct aisle access. There are no partitions between seats; however, the window seats are designed facing the window (not the aisle), which means you need not worry about making that awkward eye contact with other passengers. Of course, this also means that you cannot peer out the windows without getting up your seat (I personally do not feel this is a disadvantage).

    So I would not call the layout my favourite, but there are a few things I liked about it. Firstly, the amount of space around the seat was massive. In particular, the side tables and the compartment next to my legs proved useful. There was also another compartment under my armrest, but this was already occupied by the headphone and a bottle of water. The dining table also quite conveniently slides out from under the IFE screen. The only two things I did not quite like about the layout was the position of the IFE screen (too close to your eyes for that size) and the footrest, which I felt was restrictive in a sleeping position (first world problem, I know!)

    At the seat waiting were a full size pillow, a blanket, and an amenity kit in a Giorgio Armani pouch. The kit contained eyeshade, socks, lotion, and a travel size EDT, while dental and shaving kits were available in the restrooms.

    The premium cabin was full, including the two seats at the back, but the service was great and remained upbeat throughout. The Cabin Service Manager, Moira, was very pleasant and showed genuine care for her guests (yes, she used my name a few times). There was a female guest and her crying baby among the passengers and she took effort engaging and entertaining them during the flight. The other crews, although not as amazing, were nonetheless still better than most others I have flown with.

    I requested for (guess what?) a glass of Billecart-Salmon Brut champagne and a cup of cardamom karak chai (i.e.: milk tea) before take-off. The champagne was of course very well welcome, but the chai was superb. We were also offered a pajama set as well as the menu for dinner and light breakfast, both served course-by-course. For dinner, I selected marinated prawns as my starter, stir-fried beef as my main, and the Dacquiose biscuit as the dessert.

    The prawns were lovely and of a good portion size. I honestly could not trace the saffron, but the rest of the dish was flavourful and left me satisfied. The main course, however, was simply outstanding. Easily one of the best dishes I have had in the air. The beef was very tender and juicy, the rice was fragrant and tasted the way it should, and the black pepper sauce gave the entire dish a kick without being overpowering. Indeed, I was told it was the best-selling option. The dessert was fine, but not something I would write home about. Being one without a sweet tooth, I had perhaps better ordered sliced fresh fruits instead. To wrap it up, I asked for a cup of chamomile tea with honey, and also received a Varlhona chocolate bar.

    I asked to be woken up at 06.40 (local time Jakarta) for breakfast, and selected mango and mint energizer (this was not available, I was told), orange juice, Chinese congee, and Bircher Muesli, with café latte on the side. Again, the breakfast met expectation, especially the congee which was really moreish. All in all, I was very impressed with both meal services.

    During and between the two meal services, I also managed to watch Jason Bourne and a bit of Now You See Me 2. I appreciated the IFE screen size (17”) but unfortunately the resolution was not the best (Oman Air’s was fabulous) and the handheld controller was not always responsive. Also, there were continuous announcements about phone calls being prohibited on board popping up on the screen. This only occupied a few inches at the bottom, but got irritating after some time. Onboard wifi is complimentary for the first 15 minutes, but I only found it out when the flight was descending so I would keep it for next time.

    We touched down slightly delayed at 07.45, but it seemed that we were the only international passengers at that time. As a result, I was already heading out of the terminal around 25 minutes later.

    LIKE: Almost everything. The hard product was superb and the service was among the best I have experienced flying premium. The ground service for premium passengers was also amazing.

    DISLIKE: The IFE resolution could be upgraded and the position was too close. Also the footrest was on the small side (but I am being picky).

    VERDICT: Sold!

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
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