CHECK-IN I arrived at London Heathrow Terminal 3 at 0915 for my 1100 flight to Doha. The check-in zone was Zone E. There was little queue at the check-in desk but it was all rather disorganised with so many people hanging around, making it hard to work out who was waiting to check in. It took about 20 minutes before I was able to head upstairs to departures.
The queues in security were not that long and I was in the departure area by about 0955.
BOARDING Boarding took place at Gate 42 which is the furthest gate away from security. I quickly changed some money and walked to the gate arriving at 1020 where I found no queue – most people had already boarded. I walked straight onto the plane, only waiting a little to get down the aisle. It did make me realise that boarding had started really early at 0930, and when I boarding the signage was showing final call. My advice would be to not board too soon or you could spend more than an hour sitting on the ground before the flight.
THE SEAT The Airbus A340-600 cabin is fitted in a 2-4-2 configuration. I was sitting in 29B. This is a good seat in the exit row. Seats A, B, J and K benefit from probably an extra ten inches of legroom. Rather than a footrest in the seat in front, it has one built into the seat itself. The only downside of these four seats is that due to the tables being in the arms the IFE controls protrude at least an inch inwards making it feel very narrow. A table is still in the seat in front so this can be used for drinks. Rows 28 and 29 in the centre (seats D,E,F,G) are also good choices, as their IFE controls are in the arms so there is more room and probably an extra six inches of legroom in each row. In the first cabin, seats A, D, G and K have IFE boxes under them which restrict some of the legroom.
To see the seatplan, click here.
THE FLIGHT Before take-off the crew handed out wet wipes, sweets and a choice of newspapers. No announcements were made and the aircraft pulled away from the gate eight minutes late, and took off about 20 minutes later.
Two hours into the flight there was a drinks service. I requested a Virgin Mary which had to be made from Tabasco as there was no Worcestershire Sauce onboard. This was quickly followed by the main meal service. There was a choice of crab cakes or lamb kofta. I opted for the lamb which was fine. This was served with a pasta salad, bread, apple slice, cheese and biscuits.
The second meal service was about two hours before landing and consisted of a chocolate biscuit and a hot wrap.
The IFE had a good choice of films, TV, audio and games and a reasonably sized screen. After watching one film the system froze and I had to request three times to get the system restarted. It did eventually but this was after more than an hour.
ARRIVAL The flight landed about 15 minutes late. It took some time to disembark the plane and we were taken by bus to the terminal. As most people seemed to be in transit the queues, immigration was short but it was still painfully slow, taking about 25 minutes. When I reached the baggage hall, all the luggage had arrived. The few bags that there were had been unloaded onto the floor.
VERDICT Service was mostly good. When it worked the IFE was very good. I found the seat width a little tight due to the IFE controls.
PRICE A mid-week return in January through Qatar’s website starts at £533.