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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.
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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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.
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Just over a year ago, we reported on the news that Qatar Airways was about to do something no other Middle Eastern airline had done before: join an alliance. More specifically, it accepted the invitation to cozy up to the likes of American Airlines and British Airways to become part of Oneworld. Such an integration process doesn’t happen overnight, but on October 30 - last week - the process was finally complete.
So what benefit is there for you? For starters, if you plan your travel right, you may find yourself in the luxurious environment of the business class cabin on Qatar’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner (flying between home base Doha and London for instance). More importantly, Oneworld alliance membership means more opportunity to both earn and burn miles for frequent travelers.
Now that the details have been published, we’ll have a quick look at what that means for those with American’s Advantage and British Airways Executive Club programs:
Kitty cats. They rule the internet and, whether we realize it or not, pretty much the world too. Ever noticed how cats sometimes stake out the coolest spots in a city? This new featureTravel Catfocuses on exactly that. Submit a photo to be featured by tweeting or Instagramming it to us (details below).
Travel Cat spotted at: The Museum of Islamic Art park in Doha, Qatar.
Of the kitty, he notes:
[The photo] is at the Islamic museum park, I was...out there with my wife and friends then I found this cat starring at the towers. The funny thing that my wife made fun of me for taking picture of a cat [sic].
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An instagram we recently posted with Qatar announced their Oneworld membership
Question or two for you. Have you traveled anywhere recently? Do you Instagram? If you answered yes to both (we hope you did), then you're already half-way to winning roundtrip flight on Qatar Airways.
In what is surely one of the easiest, most open Instagram contests yet, the Qatar Museums Authority is celebrating their "Art of Travel: Bartholomäus Schachman (1559-1614)" exhibition of watercolors from explorer Schachman's travels in the Ottoman Empire. What the Museums Authority wants to see from you is not a watercolor, however, but one great Instagram.
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L to R: Horton, Al Baker, Walsh, Ashby
Earlier today, in a small event room in the middle of Midtown Manhattan, four men sat down in front of four microphones. TheyTom Horton (CEO American Airlines), Akbar Al Baker (CEO Qatar Airways), Willie Walsh (CEO of IAG, parent company of British Airways and Iberia) and Bruce Ashby (CEO Oneworld Alliance)represented their respective airlines but also sat there as heads of companies responsible for billions of dollars in the travel sector and millions of flyers in the air. And they'd come together to get even closer to one another, by inviting Qatar Airways to join the Oneworld Alliance.
Guess what? Qatar Airways accepted the invitation.
From here it'll take another 12-18 months until Qatar completes integration into Oneworld, but now's the time to start smirking at the potential benefits. Yeah, you're probably like, "why should I care?" Well, just think that next time you book a long-haul flight with American Airlines and it has a stopover in Doha, you could actually be walking onto a Qatar Airways plane (ooo maybe even a 787!) with Qatari crew and Qatar's 5-star service and then you'll be googling to see when all this happened while being very glad it did.
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First row: Bangkok, Mexico City, Doha, Santiago. Second row: Jakarta, Rio, Minneapolis, St. Paul.
Yet more international city badges have just dropped, in time for your summer travels! Location-based social network Foursquare is deep into the city badge awarding, and the last week has seen eight new ones, for your checking-in pleasure.
These newest city badges go to Mexico City, Minneapolis and St. Paul in North America; Rio and Santiago in South America; Bangkok and Jakarta in Asia; and Doha in the Middle East.
How to get the badges: First, follow 4sqCities, and just to be safe, it wouldn't hurt to also follow the individual city lists: Rio (list); Bangkok (list); Jakarta (list); Doha (list); Mexico City (list); Santiago (list); Minneapolis (list); and St. Paul (list). Then travel to the cities and clickety-click to check-in to the places on the recommended lists. Five places earns the badge.