Notes on Qatar First Class DOH-LHR

Discussion in 'Other Airlines | Middle East/Africa' started by Price123, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. Price123

    Price123 Silver Member

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    Pictures online at Driven2travel. Comparison table here.

    Doha's Premium Terminal is nice if unspectacular. Very clean, cool and quiet. No queue for check in. Fast through security which is worryingly cursory. We ascend the slow escalator as though entering a mall to be intercepted by a smiling lady who checks our boarding cards and directs us to the First Class Lounge.

    Though it is just 10:30 a.m. breakfast is being cleared. We ask but no dice, lunch is already being laid out. So we go for salad, with arab specialities. Wide choice, good quality. The lemon and mint tea is very refreshing.

    Good washroom facilities with Jacuzzi. Segregated of course so we don't use. The washroom attendant standing outside the toilet cubicle is somewhat disconcerting.

    Loads of space and comfortable seating in the lounge. Wi-Fi is free and works ok, not particularly fast but adequate for e-mail. Have to ask for beverage and no top up is offered. Decent Champagne, Laurent Perrier Grande Dame. Departure info clearly in view but no announcements.

    However, there seems to be no communication between lounge and gate. This is mind-bogglingly crap service for a F Lounge in a home airport (and a dedicated Premium terminal to boot!). We ask an attendant when we should go to gate, he asks for our boarding cards and reads off the time. I could do that! We go to the gate to be sent away "for 10 minutes" we return to the gate to be told it is still not time. So we head back to the lounge where the departure board indicates boarding in progress. After another 10 minutes we return to the gate where we are told it is still not time (now 10 minutes to scheduled departure) but are invited to sit down at table nearby. After a further 10 minutes it emerges we are waiting for a car. We had not been told about the chauffeur service. BMW 5 Series takes us across tarmac and we see the cause of the delay. Some rich kid's super car (Bugatti I think) being loaded into the hold. Eventually take-off 1 hour behind schedule with cursory apology from crew blaming "difficulties loading cargo".

    Welcome on board is half-hearted. Most cabin crew seem fairly miserable. Krug is plentiful though not properly chilled. Initial impression of cabin is so-so.The style is ok, very new but the seats are narrower than SQ C or even EY C short-haul. IFE screen is very small. Coffee and dates prior to departure.

    Large Qatari in 1A uses Blackberry throughout take-off despite repeated but excessively polite (supine) requests from FA including PA announcement. FA notifies captain who declines to intervene.

    First in-flight snack is a kind of chewy mushroom ball topped with what looks like Creme-fraiche. Only moderately unpleasant. The big guy ion 1A is now watching RomCom with Arabic subtitles. Not very modest things going on. The FA now seems to be trying harder to please but is getting orders wrong. Possibly inexperienced but seems surprising for F.

    Ah, Caviar and ice-cold vodka, things are looking up. Aaaagghhhhhh! the vodka's warm. Arab meze next and I've had much better in Hammersmith or Islington. Cold limp pitta, tired salad leaves, toasted sliced white bread ffs!! Sashimi including halibut is nice. Excellent wines. Well chilled Montrachet (Domaine Marc Morey et fils, 1er cru virondot chassagne Montrachet 2008) The St Clair Family Estate Pioneer Block 2 (2010) Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is a canny choice. The Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou (AC st Julien 2nd cru 2007) confirms my feeling about French wine. Lost the plot. Too complex, too acid, too much tannin. New World Cab Sauv has it licked.
    Not enough fish on board, so has to be chicken again. Oh well! As feared it is dry, overcooked. Sauce lacking in any particular flavour. Sort of browny red flavour. I would be ashamed to serve this at home. Fortunately, the wine is excellent. The balsamic I ordered never arrived. Not crewed by the A-tem this bird.

    Ahhh, Ben Harper on the iPod. This guy's voice is sweet like molasses. Hope this is what I hear on the staircase to the pearly gates. Steve Jobs really improved my life. I make notes on my iPad, listening to my music collection on shuffle. Ben Harper followed by Bill Withers' "ain't no sunshine", always prefer originals. Tom Waits, Billy Joel......close to heaven now. Carole King sings "it's too late", see, I like girl singers too. Ahh, Janis Ian will always be 17 to me. Why are sad women so beguiling? You guys probably don't know Karine Polwart but check out "Scribbled in Chalk".

    Chocolate cake with orange zest and sauce. Nice idea but stodgy like it was cooked a week ago and lacking in the brown stuff. What I suffer for you people. Coffee with two Godiva truffles in a cute little box cheers me up. Cognac more so.

    Cabin darkened at 4 p.m. Turn down service but no pyjamas "because it is a day flight". Confused? Partner (price123) seeks explanation. "company policy".

    1 hour out from LHR we have second service. Quite pretty array of open finger sandwiches including foie gras, probably the least ethical foodstuff ever devised (we don't) also scones with clotted cream and jam (jello). A nice touch to introduce us to England as we approach, except that no self-respecting Englishman would do that to his body any more. It's all sushi and low-fat Thai cuisine for the middle classes now. Anywho, the sandwiches are dried out from waiting too long. Scones were nice though (without cream).

    Overall, QR F was not quite as good as SQ C which we flew from SIN to MLE (return) and SIN to BKK in April 2012, so if Qatar drop 1st I won't be crying. It is sad because all the shortcomings are easy to fix in principle but I suspect the staff attitude problems are cultural in origin. I would advise QR to recruit senior cabin crew from SQ or send them out on secondment. The best terminal in the world is still the Frankfurt First Class Terminal.

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