Flying Qatar Business Class Airbus A330
Prior to taking off on our RTW trip, we had a few flights booked beforehand as our main “guidelines” of where we wanted to be throughout the year. We decided that Turkey would be the last destination in Europe, before heading off to Southeast Asia. Since there are no direct flights from Istanbul to Ho Chi Minh City, we found an award redemption that has a layover in Doha, Qatar. This upcoming flight in particular was pre-booked (and one we were most excited about), because it was prior to the devaluation of business and first class redemptions using British Airways Avios points. We saw there was availability on Qatar Airways, which promotes itself as the “World’s Five Star Airline,” and since this was basically our last chance to redeem a business class flight before the redemption values were going to go up, decided to splurge on the long haul flight from Turkey to Vietnam. We had a business class flight booked from Istanbul, Turkey with a layover in Doha, Qatar before heading to our final destination – Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!
While at the Istanbul airport, we decide to check in at the counter since their e-ticket didn’t look too reliable. We figured it would be really quick since we aren’t checking in any luggage and are checking in as business class passengers. Connie was also at the airport with us, but was flying back to New York on another airline, so we agreed to meet with her after we were done checking in. While checking in, the ticketing agent asks to see our Vietnam Visa and proof of onward travel. Unfortunately, we don’t have it printed out, and there’s no wifi at the counter, so we go to a nearby coffee shop to use their wifi to pull it up. We successfully pull it up, get back in line to show it to the ticketing agent, and she tells us we need to print it out. We get out of line again, find a small shop that has a printer at a kiosk that charges us some ridiculously over-inflated amount to print per page, along with a “computer usage fee.” We get back in line again (all the while, wheeling our luggage back and forth with us!) and finally have all the documents she needs. The woman proceeds to pull out her phone, and takes a picture of each print out on her phone and hands us back the print out! As this was happening, Minh and I just stood there in shock, and all I could say to him was, “Did that just happen!?”
Minh tried to complain to the manager on site about all the running around we had to do – for her to take a picture of a print out – when we could have just sent it to her (possibly even airdropped it! taken a picture of our screen?) when she refused our first attempt of proof. The manager was having none of it and didn’t even bother to let Minh get a word in edgewise. At this point, we knew Connie was waiting for us, so we took our tickets and headed to look for her. I can’t imagine if we were on a paid business class Qatar ticket, I would be pretty upset with their service. Oh well, all we could do at this point is laugh at the ridiculous situation and how what should have taken us no more than 10 minutes to check in, took about 45 minutes. Travel really tests your patience in ways you would never imagine!
Since we took so long, we couldn’t find Connie at our designated “meet up” spot. Minh suggested we go through security and message her when we get wifi at the lounge, since Connie usually finds a way to get wifi. We got a little fast pass to go through security that accompanies our ticket and headed to the airport lounge. Just as I logged onto the wifi, I received a message from Connie telling me she went ahead through security because she couldn’t find us. Lol, Minh predicted right! Connie meets us in the lounge and we hang out for a little bit before we have our last goodbye. (Thanks for being the first person to enthusiastically agree to meet up with us during our RTW trip, Connie! 🙂 )
Before heading to our gate, and what has become our unofficial ritual when leaving a country, is to spend the last of the cash and change at the airport since we don’t want to carry leftover currency with us. We read about a kiosk called Travelers Box, which basically solves this problem and lets you deposit your leftover currency into other forms of credit like gift cards or your Paypal account.
As we were approaching one of their machines, a random lady popped out of nowhere and says “Hi!” and inserts a promotional coupon so we get an additional $2. Sweet! Guess that made up for some of the money we spent on printing out those documents earlier! We were able to deposit our Turkish Lira and even some leftover Euros I had with me from Portugal. It seems like they’re only in a few countries as of now, but I think it’s a great idea and hope that they eventually expand worldwide because I would definitely use it every time!
Disclaimer: Minh and I don’t fly business class very often, so the whole experience is still new and exciting to us and researching flights and commercial airline business cabins has made us semi-undercover flying geeks (Our name is Two Peas in a Plane after all! 🙂 ).
After our check-in snafu, It was time for us to board the flight and business/first class passengers get their own bus to the plane, while all the economy passengers get squished into one! (I never really thought about that or knew that they do this, and now that I do know, it makes me feel even more like a second class citizen when flying economy! =P)
Two women hop onto the bus last minute, and are wearing hijabs (completely covered head to toe), with a personal shopper/assistant who is helping them carry their multiple giant shopping bags with designer purses they just bought from Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Ferragamo. Their passport covers, glasses, purses, and anything visible is all brand name and very expensive. It was such a juxtaposition to see these women fully covered up, but also so flashy at the same time.
Qatar Business Class Airbus A330 IST to DOH
This first leg was about a 5 hour flight on an A330-200 with 2x2x2 spacious seating. I like the window seat, so we opted for the side pair of seats. The customer service was top notch and the flight attendants were very attentive – handing us warm towels and a drink as soon as we sat down.
Shortly after, the flight attendants handed us the food and beverage menus to place our orders before takeoff.
The food and beverages served is definitely top notch and looks and tastes like it would be from a classy restaurant. Definitely not what you would think of when you hear the words “airplane food.”
The in-flight entertainment system was touch screen and had plenty of options to choose from, in several languages.
And also provided noise cancelling headsets for each passenger!
Our seats were angled flat (165 degree), which wasn’t bad since our flight was mid-afternoon and only 5 hours.
Before we knew it, we were arriving at Doha. Flights sure go by much quicker when you’re comfortable!
Up next, the most luxurious layover and newest airport we’ve visited yet!