Aurora Hunting: Cheap Qatar Airways flight from Kuala Lumpur to Oslo in Y

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by calvinoeh, Oct 17, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    Couldn't resist the cheap promotional Qatar Airways launch fares to Oslo from the far east. Could only squeeze in 4 nights in Norway with 2 nights in Tromso with the hope to catch some Auroras. As usual, the trip report will be on my blog with the installments below:
     
    OY-JFS and nime01 like this.
  2. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    We were already traveling too much and had exceeded our travel budget for this year. It took 3-4 days of research and deliberation before deciding that a fare of ~$450USD from Kuala Lumpur to Oslo via Doha was too good of a deal to say no to. Qatar Airways was just launching flights to Oslo and as part of the launch promotion was offering fares of ~$400-500USD from their Far East destinations like Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Sure, it would have been great if this was a business class fare but heck, you can't even get to London from Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia for that price.
    Since we already took one too many days off this year and with another trip to Australia in December, we were limited in the number of days we could go. Lydia had to tell her boss that this was a surprise anniversary trip and I had to negotiate with mine that I would be having my laptop and working remotely to make this trip happen. Why can’t we have better jobs that allowed us to travel guilt free whenever we wanted but I digress. Our trip consisted of only 4 nights in Norway with a purposely planned long layover in Doha to visit the city since we’ve never been to Doha before. We eventually splitthe 4 nights in Norway with the first 2 nights in Oslo and the other 2 in the northern town of Tromso after recommendation from mwinger Naim with the hope of catching the Aurora or Northern Lights.
    The journey itself wasn't too exciting since it was going to be in economy and we were actually apprehensive about it since we had no status on Qatar. Oh the horror of not having business class line check-in, priority boarding and lounge usage. Since the Qatar flights originated in Kuala Lumpur, we had to get down from Penang. Flights on Malaysia Airlines direct to KLIA would have costs us 3 times more than our eventual Air Asia flights to the Low Cost Terminal. The slight annoyance with the Air Asia was having to transfer to KLIA via a crummy 2.50 ringgit 20 minute bus transfer. The flights on Qatar were all operated by A330 aircraft on all 4 legs so can't compare the hardware on their other aircraft.


    Our flight details:
    • Penang - Kuala Lumpur LCCT on Air Asia
    • Kuala Lumpur - Doha - Oslo on Qatar Airways with a good 2.5 hour layover in Doha.
    • Flights to and from Tromso were on SAS.
    • Oslo - Doha - Kuala Lumpur on Qatar Airways with a 18 hour layover in Doha.
    • Kuala Lumpur - Penang on Air Air Asia
    [​IMG]
     
    nime01 likes this.
  3. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    We had flew in to Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia and took the bus shuttle from the LCCT to KLIA. For the benefit for others who might go cheap like us, the shuttle costs 2.50 ringgit a person and is available on the outer traffic lanes of the airport right outside arrivals. A taxi transfer instead would have cost 15-20 ringgit but we didn't check.

    After flying first and business class on our last few holidays, I kinda forgot how it felt like to fly economy. As we arrive at KLIA, we were greeted by a long queue of passengers already waiting in line to check-in. Like everyone else we got in line and then at that point appreciated flying in business or first class. It took about 30 minutes before we got to the check-in counter where thankfully it was only a couple more minutes until our boarding passes were provided and bags tagged all the way to Oslo. Calvin tried to see if there were cash upgrades available but the check-in agent said they didn't do that kind of thing. Oh well..



    [​IMG]
    Long Check-in Line​
    We made a short stop at the plaza premium lounge thanks to Calvin's priority pass card where I had a shower and some snacks before we headed to the departure gate.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Read more »
     
    nime01 likes this.
  4. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    It was still bright and sunny when we were done with the hotel check-in and a quick shower at about 4pm. Despite being somewhat tired from the flight, it was time to head out and explore the city. We just walked and walked while enjoying the great weather and beautiful architecture. We made our way from our hotel near the main train station all the way to the water front area of Aker Brygge.



    [​IMG]
    City Hall​





    [​IMG]
    Nobel Peace Center​



    [​IMG]
    Boats at Aker Brygge​




    [​IMG]
    National Theater​




    [​IMG]
    Parliament Building​

    Read more »
     
    nime01 and milchap like this.
  5. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    We spent two nights in Oslo. Hotels as with everything else in Oslo is EXPENSIVE. A room at a decent hotel would cost about $200-$300 USD per night. We ended up splitting the two nights with the first night at the cheaper Radisson Blu Plaza thanks to a friends & family rate and the second night at the Doubletree to get a stay count to eventually get a free night as part of Hilton's Q4 Promo.


    Radisson Blu Plaza
    [​IMG]
    The Radisson is conveniently located 5 minutes by the main train station. This is the train station that you arrive in if you take the express from the airport. Check-in was prompt and efficient but we were not offered any upgrades as a Club Carlson Silver member. I didn't pursue the upgrade as I was using a friends & family rate and wanted to keep a low profile.

    [​IMG]


    Read more »
     
    nime01 likes this.
  6. nime01
    Original Member

    nime01 Gold Member

    Messages:
    4,837
    Likes Received:
    14,875
    Status Points:
    10,695
    Great trip report! The fare you paid on QR was not that bad :D
    Economy on QR is actually decent, as I've experienced on previous LHR-DOH-SEZ flights.
     
  7. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    Thanks for reading. Yup agree that economy on QR was surprisingly pretty good.
     
    nime01 likes this.
  8. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    We headed back to the airport using the airport express train. Although relatively expensive if compared to other airport transportation options in Europe, it was really convenient. There was plenty of space for luggage, had power points for laptops and the seats were comfortable. We were at the airport 20 minutes after leaving the main train station in Oslo.



    [​IMG]
    Oslo Train Station​

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
    Arriving at Oslo Airport​


    Read more »
     
    nime01 likes this.
  9. Fredrik
    Original Member

    Fredrik Silver Member

    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    175
    Status Points:
    395
    Interesting read but I have to say I wouldn't come to Scandinavia at this time of the year.
     
    nime01 likes this.
  10. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    The Hunt

    Tromso is touted as one of the best places to catch the Aurora or Northern Lights due to it's location within the aurora belt. To catch the Aurora, you would have to be outside the city itself as it is generally too bright to see it from the city due to the city lights. There are many tour or guide services that would drive you out of the city to locations that have a good chance of catching the aurora. The guide service typically range from 700 Nok to 1500 Nok depending on what's included. If you want to go on the cheap, I reckon that renting a car would be an option but you would need to know where to go.

    We had made reservations with Ivar from Natur I Nord before we flew to Norway to go on an Aurora excursion on our first night (still had a second night to try just in case we weren't successful) in Tromso. The main reason for picking Ivar was that he was one of cheapest options at 700 Nok but at the same time had receive good reviews on tripadvisor. The excursion was scheduled for 7pm but he called us at about 5pm to inform us that the tour is cancelled since the weather was just horrible with rain and overcast skies making it quite impossible to see the lights. We were extremely disappointed but at the same time, appreciative that Ivar was very professional made the effort to call (this was to my Malaysian cell phone mind you) and cancel the tour.

    The weather was still sucky the next day but we headed to the tourist information office to see if there were any other guides that would still try to catch the lights later at night even though the weather might not be favorable. We had flew all the way to Tromso so we figured we might as well risk it in spite of horrible odds of seeing the lights. We ended going with Francisco from Artic Guide Service for 850 Nok per person.

    The weather in Tromso continued to be horrible the rest of the day so we had to drive 2.5 hours all the way to the Finnish border where the weather was some what better. When we got to the Finnish border there was some light rain and overcast skies but with some occasional openings. We waited for about 20 minutes with hot chocolate and cookies but the lights never came. They decided to try a different area on the way back to Tromso but the weather was much worse. In hindsight, we should have just waited for the lights back at the Finnish border. Oh well....

    [​IMG]
    At the Finnish border​

    We would definitely recommend Artic Guide Service for anyone intending to go on a Aurora excursion. Their service is very professional with two drivers accompanying us, just the right amount of commentary on Tromso & background on the aurora and a genuine interest in making sure you have the most chance to catch the lights. We were pleasantly surprised when Francisco was deeply apologetic that we did not get to see the lights and offered us a refund stating that it was their fault for not staying longer at the Finnish border. That's some service..

    At the end of the day, we were extremely on a failed hunt and were left with just enjoying the Aurora from pictures in our hotel room.

    [​IMG]
     
    nime01 likes this.
  11. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    The light rain did not stop us from exploring Tromso. Tromso's a pretty small and cozy town with almost everything reachable on foot if you stay in the town center. There's really nothing much to do except exploring the number of churches and buildings while taking in the beautiful (albeit wet and cloudy for us) scenery. In the summer months, the hiking in the nearby mountains and hills should be pretty good also.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
    Catholic Church​

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Read more »
     
    nime01 likes this.
  12. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    Instead of staying in a hotel, we decided to stay in an apartment primarily because it was cheaper than a hotel and there was a fully furnished kitchen allowing us to cook to further stretch the money. We paid about $150 USD a night. In addition, we booked through hotels.com allowing us to earn two night credit as part of their loyalty program.

    [​IMG]


    Read more »
     
  13. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    Oslo to Tromso on SAS

    Our flight to Oslo was scheduled to depart at 8.30am. We had pre-booked a taxi for a pick up at 6am with to help of hotel front desk since we weren't sure if catching a taxi that early in the morning would be easy. The airport was still deserted when we got there with no one manning the check-in counters yet. In hindsight, we should just have slept in slightly longer.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Read more »
     
  14. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    Oslo to Doha

    We decided to wait it out in the airport even though we had about 6 hours to Doha since it costs about ~$60 USD for a round trip on the train to the city. There were no lines when we checked in so we were done with the formalities in less than 5 minutes. We did ask about paid upgrade to business class but was told that there was only one seat available. Obviously I didn't leave the wife back in economy. There are only 2 lounges in Oslo airport one for Star Alliance airlines and one for the rest. Both of the them were not associated with Priority Pass so we had to slum it out with the rest of the folks. We had one of the most expensive lunch at the Kontiki restaurant (was more like a cafeteria where you pick up your own food) - ~$45 USD for a beer and chicken curry rice.

    [​IMG]

    The boarding gate was pretty packed when we got there. The ground staff was paging for connecting passengers who flew in on SAS flights to approach the counter to get a Qatar boarding pass. There seemed to be a few that flew in and if that's any indication, looks like the route is doing pretty well for Qatar.

    [​IMG]


    Read more »
     
  15. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    Exploring Doha


    We arrived in Doha around midnight with our flights to Kuala Lumpur only departing the next day at 8 pm. We purposely planned in this long layover to allow us to see Doha since we've never visited before. Immigration formalities through Doha was relatively quick with visa on arrival available for Malaysians albeit at a cost of ~$30 USD per person that was settled through credit card.

    There were no Hiltons or Accor hotels that we usually stay in available in Doha so we had to look at other options. The prices of hotels like the Sheraton and W which were in the newer parts of Doha were beyond our budget so we settled for the Ramada Encore instead. As usual with our non Hilton and Accor hotel bookings, we booked through hotels.com giving us another one night credit so towards a free night.



    [​IMG]
    Ramada Encore - The colorful building in the picture.​

    Read more »
     
  16. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    Doha to Kuala Lumpur with a visit to the Oryx Lounge

    Since we were already bored and running out of things to do in Doha, we headed to the airport about 4 hours before departure. Since we had already checked-in online, we were able to use the internet check-in lines which had no queues. We had our boarding passes with bags checked in to Kuala Lumpur and passed through security and immigration formalities an efficient 10 minutes later. Almost felt like traveling with status or in premium cabins.

    We spent the rest of the time in Doha in the Oryx lounge thanks to Calvin's Priority Pass membership. The lounge is used by all other airlines except Qatar and does accept pay-in passengers although I'm not sure what it costs though. The lounge was busy when we got in with passengers from an Emirates flight to Dubai mostly in the lounge. After that flight left, the lounge was definitely less busy.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Read more »
     
  17. calvinoeh
    Original Member

    calvinoeh Milepoint Guide

    Messages:
    313
    Likes Received:
    343
    Status Points:
    520
    Conclusion

    This trip was definitely a memorable one and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves even though there were no premium cabin experiences.

    Norway and Oslo in particular is now one of favorite cities we've visited even though it's one of the most expensive. Oslo is clean, beautiful and with lots to do. We would recommend getting the Oslo Pass for those visiting for a couple of days. Sure helps save some of the $$. We were and are still disappointed that we did not get to see the Aurora but I guess it just wasn't meant to be. Maybe it's an excuse to come back to Norway or visit Finland or Alaska in the future.

    Qatar Airways was a good surprise after the initial fear of flying this in economy. It does have a good economy class product with good food and service and great seat pitch. We would definitely not mind flying them in the future especially with fares like the ones we purchased. Here's too hoping for a mistake business class fare though.

    We just didn't like Doha all that much. Doha was hot and not too exciting with what seem like very little to do if compared to Dubai. We would try out best not to transit through Doha in the future if the layover was too long. It just does not make no sense to pay for the visa to exit the airport but the same time, there are very little facilities at the Doha airport to make the layover comfortable.
     

Share This Page