We flew Qatar Airways recently in order to spend a week in Doha. Our expectation were, ahem, *sky high*, given the accolades that they've won, including World's Best Airline Awards at the World Airline Awards in both 2011 and 2012. First signs were good, with generous legroom and reasonably comfy seats.
The crew are friendly but harassed. Unaware how popular Doha would be as a route for transit passengers, we hadn’t stopped to think that for every rare person who fancies getting out at Qatar, there’s about 45 more travelling on to the Indian Ocean, Far East, and multiple other wildly popular end points. The flight was packed.
I'm not quite sure why I bothered pre-booking 2 kids meals and gluten free meal in both directions, because once the inflight dining started there was no recollection whatsoever of anything being pre-booked. In fairness, the staff did manage to rustle up the kids' meals both ways, but it was oddly disorganised. When the kids’ meals finally arrived they were very well-stocked and presented. They provide a notably high quality and sweet kid's activity pack, with Spongebob Squarepants Pirate activity book, notepad, 3D graphic pencil sharpener, pencils and keyring, in a nice-looking zip-fastening fabric bag.
The flaws that I found with Qatar Airways were largely in the details, which is frustrating because they are tantalisingly close to a very high spec flight experience. So, the inflight entertainment system is good, but I had three sets of headphones in a row which didn’t work, to the extent that I began to doubt my hearing faculties rather than the kit until I was presented with a set that worked.
There were also bizarre interruptions to the inflight entertainment, including lengthy hiatuses when the lunch menu options proudly flashed up, which would have been less irritating if they hadn’t run out of all menu options except a beef dish I didn’t want by the time they served me…Occasionally there would be a five or ten minute movie pause for no reason, prompting much yelping and frustrated touch screen-bashing from my three year old, who was otherwise transfixed.
The bathrooms are kept spotlessly clean and if you stretch your legs walking to the back of the plane, the staff are much more chilled and gossipy and very open-handed with complimentary drinks and snacks. They’re sweet with kids there too, and eager to provide unlimited cookies and water.
Slightly the victim of its own popularity, and suffering from the burden placed upon it by the transit crowd, Qatar Airways has many good qualities but needs to raise its game for those people who have chosen to go to Doha and want a pleasant flight there well before they host the World Cup in 2022.