Qatar Travel Guide
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We have all had a terrible meal on a flight before. In fact, we have shown you some of the sadder trays slid in front of us. With this new series of amazing airline meals, we can revel in the airline culinary delights and give kudos to the airlines that got it right.
Qatar Airways welcomes you aboard a tantalizing journey. Should there be anything you require during your flight, Qatar Airways will be delighted to serve you.
That's a high promise, coming from the cover of a menu for in-flight meals, but it's one that delivers. Qatar Airways does not simply serve a few choices of "chicken, beef, or pasta?" during meal times, but elevates their onboard cuisine with a leather-bound menu of a la carte, anytime offerings bridging Arabic and International tastes, often featuring recipes designed by celebrity chefs like Nobu Matsuhisa.
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In the world of premium air travel, there are a handful of what frequent flyers call “destination lounges.” These spaces, luxuriously appointed and exclusively for the use of the highest-paying passengers, are often an embarrassment of riches and, thus, completely worth spacing your travel with time enough to visit.
Qatar Airways’ Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge at Doha’s Hamad International Airport is the newest addition to the list of must-visit lounges, and with good reason. Not only is it massive (30,000+ sq ft!) and filled with features like designer furniture and its own lake, but the Al Mourjan lounge has entire semi-private rooms just for families and a full restaurant with such variety of food and drink as to make other lounges cry into their chex mix with shame.
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Fly from the US to Europe with a layover in the Middle East? How about a long-haul from Europe to Australia with a lunch of Arabic mezze in Qatar? This is the (near) future envisioned by the brand new, superlative city that is Hamad International Airport-DOH in Doha, Qatar.
The numbers behind the $16 billion(!!) project are appropriately gigantic; DOH can handle 8,700 passengers per hour, and has the space and infrastructure to see 50 million passengers annually through 65 gates once all phases are finished. 60% of the land the airport is built on was reclaimed from the Arabian Gulf, and in all that space passengers will find 22,000 sq m of retail, 15,000 sq m of dining, and a gobsmacking 80,000 sq m dedicated to the 16 lounges within the airport.
A simple layover may not be enough to fully enjoy all of Hamad International Airport, so we’ve done the legwork to name the highlights:
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This is the week! From January 15, the brand-spanking-new Airbus A350 begins regular commercial flights and welcomes passengers to the enjoy everything Airbus has been working on since 2004.
As far its place within the range of the newest aircraft out there, the A350-900 is larger than a 787-800, smaller than an A380, and due to replace the A330 for some of the airlines adding it to their fleets. It costs $295 million each, and there's some 700 orders on the books for the plane. With those numbers, more and more travelers will soon find themselves walking down the jetway to board a plane they've never before experienced.
And what an experience. Thanks to technology, modern materials, and a refreshing re-focus on passenger comfort, the Airbus A350 is about to silence many of the most common complaints in air travel. Here are just a few:
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It's not every day that an airline welcomes an airplane so new that no one else has it yet. That was, however, the case this week as Qatar Airways celebrated the arrival of the first Airbus A350. Come next week, anyone can fly on the plane and, with over 700 orders for the aircraft (80 just from Qatar Airways), this will hardly be the last you'll hear of it.
Why is Qatar Airways’ A350 so special? Put quite simply, the airline has it first. The A350 rolled off the runway at Airbus’ Toulouse factory to land at Doha and begin its service, as Qatar Airways is the “Global Launch Customer” for the type; they’re debuting the plane, setting the bar, and offering an experience unavailable anywhere else.
In addition to its body of advanced materials and engines that are the cleanest yet, the Airbus A350 also brings onboard humidification systems (no more dry eyes and skin!), an air management system that filters the entire cabin of air every 2-3 minutes, improved cabin temperature levels (no more “too hot” or “too cold”), and seats designed specifically for Qatar Airways and their heightened standards for both luxury and comfort.
Speaking of the seats...
Inside the Amenity Kit / Qatar Airways / ORD / DOH / Doha Travel / Qatar Travel / Business Class Travel / Amenity Kits / In-Flight Comfort / → All Tags
We come across some downright awesome airline amenity kits in our travels, and the surprises of each zippered pouch can often make or break comfort on a premium flight. With this in mind, here's to our new series: Inside the Amenity Kit, wherein we unzip, unwrap, and expose the loot inside:
14 hours is a long flight. Even with a nice tailwind to slice nearly an hour off the time in the air, a nonstop such as Chicago - Doha on QR722, a Qatar Airways Boeing 777-300ER, can be trying without some small comforts. Luckily Qatar is generous with both meal services and amenities, so even fussy flyers are left purring.
The 777s Qatar flies to their US destinations are two-class airplanes, with both Business and Economy. All of Qatar's long-haul fleet features flatbed seats in Business, and touchscreen in-flight entertainment systems throughout. The cherry on top is an amenity kit of Giorgio Armani products and a few other small surprises.
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We’ve shown you that business class on a Qatar Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner is not a bad place to spend a few hours, but how does one of the airline’s latest additions compare to the workhorse of the fleet, the Boeing 777? With 34 in total, split between 777-200 and 777-300 versions, Qatar has more of the triple-seven than any other aircraft type at the moment. Connecting from a 787 onto a 777 recently gave us a good opportunity to compare.
We flew the 777 between Doha and Bangkok, a flight that connects further to Hanoi (Vietnam) after a brief stop in Thailand. Consistent on both legs? A virtually empty business class cabin, with less than ten passengers across the 42 seats, which guaranteed not just a seat pair to ourselves, but multiple rows.
Inside the Amenity Kit / Amenity Kits / Business Class Travel / Qatar Airways / Airline Pajamas / → All Tags
We come across some downright awesome airline amenity kits in our travels, and the surprises of each zippered pouch can often make or break comfort on a premium flight. With this in mind, here's to our new series: Inside the Amenity Kit, wherein we unzip, unwrap, and expose the loot inside.
If you want to get a sense of how much the Middle East has become a key gateway for international air travel (and feel incredibly small in the process), a visit to Doha’s vast Hamad International Airport (DOH) will do the trick.
We transferred here during some recent travels, only weeks after the much-delayed airport opened its doors, and were suitably impressed by the soaring roofs and seemingly endless gates surrounded by an abundance of space, though not everything was quite as it should be.
If you ever had the pleasure of visiting the old Doha Airport, you'd have experienced the delight of being bussed from terminal to plane in desert heat. Yeah, not fun. The new Hamad and its 50-million-passenger per year capacity should have eliminated that; alas, imagine our disappointment on our first visit to Hamad when, after taking the escalator down to our gate, we descended into absolute chaos with hundreds of passengers camped out on every inch of floor space in front of several bus gates.
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Qatar Airways has 9 Dreamliners operating a number of routes out of its brand-spanking new (and humongous) Hamad International Airport in Doha, and an additional 51 on order from Boeing. We recently did a business class return between Stockholm and Doha, which gave us enough time to explore its swanky interiors.
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There’s a few spots where flying back home is pretty darn easy, as outposts of US customs and border control are set up at foreign airports. This has been the deal up in Canada for quite some time, and there are a few other locations as well. Basically you go through all the welcome to the USA paperwork overseas, and then when you land safe and sound in the nifty fifty you’re free to just grab you bag and head into a taxi.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection opened up a spot like this over in Abu Dhabi earlier in the year, and it sounds like Dubai is getting in on the fun as well. However, we’re thinking officials over in Qatar are jealous over all of this, and now they want their very own chance to throw their very own version of a passport party.
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Getting to the Middle East might seem like a fuss with only a few handfuls of non-stop flights from the U.S. and plenty of hours in a plane, so a welcome addition is Qatar Airways' launch of all-business-class flights from Doha, Qatar to London-Heathrow. This marks the first time for such a service between the two regions.
In all, flights from Qatar to the UK take just about 7 hours. So, for that amount of time, passengers will be able to eat, sleep, and catch up on work with the in-flight SMS and GPRS technology. The Airbus A319 will seat a mere 40 passengers in a 2-2 configuration of lie-flat seats, so the sense of a small domestic flight will be as pervasive as the free-flowing bubbles.