There are very few – if any – airlines in the world that are more modern and ambitious as Qatar Airways. Travelling with them should be a joy for passengers.
Qatar Airways is the state-owned flag carrier of Qatar. It links over 140 international destinations from its base at New Hamad International Airport, using a fleet of more than 100 aircraft. This fleet includes all of the Big 3: the A380, the A350, and the B787 Dreamliner. Qatar Airways has been a member of the OneWorld alliance since October 2013, the first Gulf carrier to sign with one of the three major airline alliances.
Qatar Airways is one of the few carriers to fly to all six inhabited continents. As of summer 2015, Qatar Airways served 146 destinations worldwide, with recent additions like Asmara Dallas-Fort Worth, Tokyo-Haneda, Miami, Edinburgh, and Djibouti added to its network. I really haven’t flown with Qatar Airways as much as I would have liked to, but hopefully in the next year or two I can put that right! I would love to experience the first class suites from London to Doha – that’s definitely on my bucket list!
The first flight I ever took with Qatar Airways was a fifth-freedom flight between Singapore and Bali. This was 2 years ago, and nowadays I think they fly direct to Bali from Doha without the need to stop in Singapore. I was so excited to finally fly with Qatar, and almost everything I wished for came true (even on a short flight), such as great food, good personal entertainment, nice seats, clean aircraft, comfortable boarding process, and an extremely friendly member of ground staff at Changi who helped me retrieve my luggage from lost property before boarding (that’s a long story). However, on this flight to Bali I noticed something that has stuck with me on every flight since – the cabin crew always seem so moody and uninterested in the economy class passengers.
When I think back as to this big ‘chink in the armour’ of Qatar Airways, I realise that in recent years several reports have surfaced that confirm Qatar Airways has a reputation for severity among industry professionals, and that harsh treatment and overbearing scrutiny are commonplace in the workplace. The Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker stated that “the allegations are not against the company but against Qatar – they are throwing stones at my country for no reason at all”. Now who knows if this kind of thing has an affect on the attitude and body language of the cabin crew (nobody has any proof, although I would hazard a guess it does), but nonetheless it is a persistent allegation that always seems to be hovering over the airline like a black cloud.
Despite these concerns over the staff’s welfare and living conditions, though, passengers still choose to fly with Qatar Airways more often than not, and not only in the airline’s award-winning economy class. Qatar Airways also has one of the best first class cabins in the sky (along with Garuda Indonesia and Singapore Airlines, in my opinion). Qatar Airways offers first class passengers over 6.5 feet of legroom and seats that fold into flat beds with feather duvets. first class seats are equipped with massage functions and an entertainment system. Qatar Airways plans to eliminate first class cabins from existing aircraft, as well as new deliveries, except for the A380 Super Jumbos. The A380s feature a 90-inch seat pitch, transforming into a fully flat bed, together with an expansive choice of entertainment options displayed on individual 26-inch television screens. It is configured as 1-2-1.
Since May, 2014, Qatar Airways has been using the New Hamad International Airport as its main hub. This change, moving away from its old hub at Doha International, marks the beginning of a new era for this ferociously strong airline. I personally think the new airport is sleek, but soulless, but the infrastructure is there for Qatar Airways to continue to expand, especially into the African and European markets. The one stain on the airline’s copybook, however, remains the allegations that it treats its employees badly. Maybe this is why the ground staff and cabin crew I have encountered on my flights with Qatar Airways have always been so moody?