Check-in We arrived at Chongqing International Airport at 2300 for our 0115 departure for Doha. Note that the domestic terminal / airport is separate from the international one and much smaller, there are presently only eight desks for all international departures, the majority of which were taken for the Qatar Airways flight.
Check-in was slow because of a computer problem, but there were apologies for this, and then we took an escalator upstairs for immigration, which despite only having a few passengers queuing took a further 20 minutes. We went through security and walked to the lounge.
The lounge this is Lounge No.1, on the right after the shops (I went to look at Lounge No.2, but the door was padlocked.) Lounge No.1 is a small room with large comfortable cream coloured leather armchairs and a few snacks and cold drinks (I didn’t see any alcohol being offered). I asked for a Pepsi Max and was handed a cold can from the fridge behind the counter.When I asked for a cup the lady gestured at some cardboard cups next to the snacks. I laughed, and a minute later she brought over a glass for the drink to the table where we were sitting and from then on everyone was offered a glass with their (soft) drinks. There is free wifi so I worked until the flight was called from Gate 3.
Boarding Very easy since the walk was short and there was no queue, the other passengers having boarded. Once on board my jacket was taken and I was offered a choice of juices, soft drinks or water.
The seat Qatar Airways has many different configurations of the A330. This one was two class, economy and business, with four rows of business class seating. To see a seat plan, click here.
At the seat were a bag contained flight socks and an eye mask and a toiletry kit with Molton Brown products. There is no seat pocket in front, instead it is like a magazine holder between the seats where a large leather folder contained the food and wine menus. To read a review of the flight on the way down to Chongqing a few days previously, click here.
Which is the best seat? Very difficult to choose on this cabin since they are all very similar. If you are a light sleeper, avoid rows one and four in case of galley noise, and if you want uninterrupted access to the aisle, avoid the window seats. The overhead lockers seem smaller on the A330 than on the B777 aircraft, but I had only a laptop bag so it was not a problem. I was in seat 3E with the seat next to me – 3F – which was vacant.
The flight we set off on time. By the time the seatbelt sign was extinguished it was 0145, so despite excellent wines, food and inflight entertainment, I just wanted to sleep. I got changed into the provided sleep suit (still no size large, so I went for extra large), had a drink of water, put in the ear plugs and pulled on the face mask, and slept with no problem until 30 minutes before landing.
The wine selection was the same as the flight down:
- Champagne: Laurent-Perrier Brut 2002
- White wines: Meursault, Vincent Girardin Vielles Vignes, 2007, Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc, Cellar Selection 2010, Riesling, Markus Molitor, Zeltinger Sonnenhur, Spatlese 2007.
- Red wines: Chateau Mobousquet St EMilion Grand Cru 2002, Sangiovese, Poggio Antico, Altero, 2005, Hollick Shiraz 2009
- Tawny Port, Kopke, Colheita 1974.
The port I had tasted on the way out and it summed up the list for me. Superb.
Menu selections follow, please skip if they are of no interest. Pre-dinner, there was a “amuse bouche of egg pancake parcel with black chicken julienne, then a fish and tofu soup. Main courses were a choice of poached salmon or a warm chicken sandwich. I slept through this, and also the breakfast which was muesli, fresh fruit, salad of smoked marlin and charsiu snow fish or congee, with a choice of pancakes or an omelette. Instead I had a glass of orange juice and changed ready for landing.
Arrival we arrived 15 minutes early into Doha and then business class passengers were bussed to the arrivals terminal or premium transfer terminal, depending on whether they had onward journeys. Once at the Premium Terminal I tried to change my flight to an early London departure (0615 instead of 0750, but was told ticketing needed to be open for this to happen and it did not open until 0600 which was a disappointment. Instead I waited in the lounge for a couple of hours as it gradually filled, then went to my flight at 0720.
Verdict Good. I have no problem sleeping on these lie flat seats and did just that for practically the whole of the flight. I like the sleep suits, though it would be good to have a size large on offer. The crew were flexible about allowing me to have orange juice and get changed even as the seat belt light came on for the descent into Doha.