This flight took place on 8/4/2012. Flight number QR869, Moscow-Doha leaving from Domodedovo Airport at 2:50 PM.
When booking your flight, you get the opportunity to choose your seat, but I had trouble with this because the Qatar Airways website would only let me reserve seats on the first flight (of four total flights). I tried several different browsers to see if that would resolve the issue, but this didn't help.
Ultimately, I ended up calling the airline's customer service center, where I was able to book my seats by talking to a representative. I was not really impressed with the customer service. The rep sounded bored and uninterested in helping me. In addition, the map of the plane's seating arrangement I had found on seatguru.com didn't coincide with the one she was using. I was rather amused by her remark, "Why are you looking at the map on that site?", since it was a link on the airline's official website that had taken me to seatguru.com in the first place.
Online check-in went without a hitch. The seating arrangements I'd booked were confirmed on the boarding passes I printed out. The bag check also went smoothly, without any waiting in line.
As is often the case, my home-printed boarding passes were exchanged for official ones in a special envelope with yellow edges, signifying a transfer flight.
I received boarding passes for both the Moscow-Doha and Doha-Bangkok legs of the flight. My luggage, naturally, went directly through to the final destination.
Supposedly, the yellow color is used to guide passengers on transfer flights through Doha airport. More on that later.
Flight QR869 was an Airbus A321-232, tail number A7-AHG. The plane was made in 2011. I should note that it was in pretty decent condition both on the outside and inside. You could tell that it was practically brand-new.
The cabin was divided into two classes, but in my opinion even the economy class seats offered plenty of leg room.
Each seat in the Airbus was equipped with a touch-screen entertainment system. I've never understood why the developers of these screens thought the best place to put them was on the back of the headrest. Though I was trying to be as careful as possible, I could see that the headrest was moving when I was making my choices, which can't be comfortable for the person in front of me.
Once when I was trying to take a nap on an overnight flight, it turned out that the person sitting behind me was a big fan of Zuma (if you've ever tried it, you know how addicting this game can be ), and his incessant pounding on the back of my head left me no choice but to kindly ask him to stop It was in no way his fault, of course, but I definitely think this is something for the designers to consider.
On the second leg of the trip, the screens came with buttons instead of touch-screen capability, but this hardly resolved the issue of poking at the backs of people's heads. The back of the seat was also equipped with a USB port and a clothes hook.
There was a pillow and blanket on each seat as we boarded.
Earphones were in the seat pockets.
The flight attendants began distributing water before we even took off.
Next we got candy and wet wipes. And before lunch we even got warm wet wipes. It's the little things.
It was a little surprising, though pleasantly so, that the chief flight attendant on the Moscow-Doha was a fellow Russian named Margarita. She seemed to be the gloomiest one of the crew, but I'm not one to judge. This shows that Qatar Airways doesn't discriminate against foreigners when hiring or offering promotions, as many national airlines tend to.
An August 2012 issue of the flight magazine could be found in the seat pockets...
... as well as safety cards.
The view from my window before takeoff:
The entertainment system allowed you to look up the menu for any Qatar flight, although for some flights this information was missing. For my flight, QR869, the entry showed this:
On the other hand, this is what I was actually served:
I was able to identify the potato salad and butter easily enough, but I still have no idea what the side dish was: mashed potatoes (option 1 on the menu) or boiled rice (option 2). Nevertheless, the food was decent.
The next thing I inspected was, of course, the restroom. It wasn't anything special, but then it probably isn't supposed to be. It was clean, though.
We landed in Doha International airpoirt. The time difference between here and Moscow is minus 1 hour.
Doha was awfully hot and humid. Apparently the airport has no retractable ramps whatsoever and we had to suffer through the mugginess as we unloaded from the plane and boarded a bus.
If you recall, this was where our yellow-marked "Transfer and Departure" envelopes were supposed to come into play. According to the diagram on the envelope, the shuttle was supposed to take us to a terminal labeled with the same color. No such luck. Instead we were treated to a long trip across the airfield, at the end of which we arrived at a terminal with no signs, labels or colors whatsoever. I got the impression that they were waiting for me to leave the shuttle, so, in a last ditch attempt to make sense of all the diagrams and yellow markings, I asked the airport staff whether this was where transfer flight passengers were meant to disembark. Yes, as it turned out, it was.
This isn't to say that it's easy to get lost in Doha's airport. Rather, I simply don't understand why we needed all these color-coded envelopes, diagrams and instructional videos on the plane explaining that we need to follow signs of the correct color, etc. Strange people, those Qataris
In the list of departing flights, I found mine: QR612. According to the display, it was on time and scheduled to depart at 8:55pm, from gate 8.
An escalator to the second floor, and my gate:
I had time to make a quick trip through the local Duty-Free shops.
For some reason the shopkeepers had to be constantly reminded that you are eligible for a raffle ticket if your purchase is over 500 Qatari riyals (about $137). You could fill out the ticket and slip it into the box right at the checkout counter.
The restrooms left an impression. Firstly, due to the long lines. Secondly, due to the fact that the locals wash their feet in the sinks. And thirdly, due to the warm, and sometimes hot, water that comes out of the faucets when you turn on the cold water. Amazingly, none of the other passengers seemed to be bothered.
And the escalator leading down to the shuttle:
The next leg of our journey was taking place aboard a Boeing 777-300ER. This plane was also new and clean.
Once again, there was ample leg room.
It had the same Oryx entertainment system, but this one came with a control panel instead of a touch-screen. The system even offered a couple of movies in Russian (they had been available on the previous flight too).
Each seat came with a pillow and blanket, as well as some sleeping accessories: a mask and slippers.
I liked the fact that the remote doubled as a phone which could be used to call any other seat on the plane (it's important to note that this feature is turned off by default, probably in order to prevent somebody calling random seats in the middle of the night and waking people up). I decided to test it out and called the person sitting next to me. I could hear him well.
If you have a credit card on you, you can phone home (or wherever) for the princely rate of $5.75/minute. I didn't choose to test this feature
Dinner was tasty and the servings generous.
Recognize these? They are the mashed potatoes and rice that I missed out on during the previous flight.
Into the dawn:
During the flight we received immigration forms, which we had to fill out and hand over at customs. The tear-off bit is returned to you (or sometimes stapled to your passport, as they like to do in the US, among other places), and later taken away when you're leaving the country.
We arrived in Suvarnabhumi Airport, in Bangkok.
I spotted these planes with Thai Airways livery as I made my way through the airport:
The airport was modern and easy to get around. There was lots of colorful artwork. I headed for the passport check and baggage claim. They were close together and impossible to miss.
The indicator board, found before the passport control area, was helpful in locating the baggage. The baggage of passengers from flight QR-612 was being unloaded at conveyor belt 17.
In front of the passport control area, were stands showcasing the immigration forms. Perhaps examples on how to fill them out? No, these were blank, but the forms are pretty simple to complete anyway.
Passport control for foreign citizens:
A second indicator board past the checkpoint directed you to your luggage if you had missed the first one.
A few more photos of the airport:
Now for the conclusion.
The return trip was on the same flights, so there was no notable difference in the experience. Although, when we received our baggage in Moscow it looked like it had been dragged along the ground all the way from Bangkok. I doubt that was the fault of QA, as I had had a similar experience in Domodedovo Airport when flying from Spain.
I don't know if Qatar Airways deserves its five star rating, or the ranking of best airline 2011 and 2012 (I didn't get to try out Singapore Airlines or Asiana Airlines, rated the 2nd and 3rd best, respectively), but I can say for sure that it's a respectable airline, and that I enjoyed their service.
As a national airline, in my opinion it's no worse than other companies I'm familiar with, like for example TAP Portugal, SWISS, AIR Moldova or Russia's own Aeroflot (even when it comes to promotional flights to the US), and might in fact be better. For any future long-distance trips, I'll probably take a transfer flight with Qatar over certain direct flights.
Thank you for reading.
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