Qatar Airways, whose daily Dreamliner flights to Doha connect Dublin to more than 150 destinations worldwide, invited ITTN’s Neil Steedman to check out the airline’s Economy Class and Business Class services to Bangkok.
Those 150+ destinations currently include 50 in Asia Pacific, with five in Thailand: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Pattaya, and Phuket.
Check-in at Dublin Airport’s Terminal 1 was friendly and efficient. Business Class passengers use the daa lounge, but I was in Economy Class so I was asked did I want to purchase lounge access.
Dublin – Doha
The Dublin-Doha sector is operated by a B787-8 Dreamliner with Economy Class seats in a 3x3x3 configuration. Boarding time was supposed to be 07.45 and started late at 08.15 – but the flight was not busy (my estimate was 65-70%) so we still made the scheduled 08.45 departure time.
A refreshing towel (in a packet) and newspapers were offered before take-off and juices and water were offered frequently throughout the flight. The breakfast choice and quality were good – there was a choice of Scrambled Egg with Beef Sausage, Cheddar Cheese Omelette, and Sweet Pancakes with Creamed Porridge Oats, but I wasn’t hungry so settled for a strawberry yoghurt and a light snack of warm croissant, butter and strawberry jam, with pineapple juice.
The film and music choice on the OryxOne inflight entertainment system is quite good (but not as extensive as a competitor airline), and ‘Both Sides of the Sky’ by Jimi Hendrix and ‘The Blues is Alive and Well’ by Buddy Guy passed the time easily.
We landed on time at 17.20.
Hamad International Airport
Hamad International Airport in Doha is an extensive, well laid out terminal, with an overhead monorail transferring passengers from gates A,B,C to gates D,E.
I bought Palestinian dates for €12 using euro notes and got US$3 in change, and had a small chai latte for €5 – it wasn’t particularly good but they did take euro coins.
Doha – Bangkok
Boarding for the Bangkok flight was efficiently done by zones. Economy Class on Qatar Airways’ B777-300ER is in a 3x4x3 configuration and my seat 29A proved to have two vacant seats alongside, so I was able to lie down for a sleep. The seats have a 31-33” pitch and 17” width.
This time, as well as the packaged refresher towel, I was given an amenity kit comprising eye shade, ear plugs, socks, toothbrush and paste.
The dinner menu offered Thai Green Chicken Curry, Braised Beef in Light Soya and Garlic Sauce, or Egg Noodles in Chilli, Ginger and Garlic Sauce. A breakfast snack choice before landing was Warm Sandwich Spinach or Turkey and I went for the Scrambled Egg and Turkey Rasher, Arabic Pastry and Vanilla and Coconut Muffin.
We landed in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport at 06.35, 30 minutes early.
Bangkok – Doha
Check-in for my return flight to Doha was quick and efficient, with Business Class window seats for both sectors, and a Priority Lane pass for Immigration – which was also quick.
Qatar’s First Class and Business Class lounge is on the third level opposite gate D8. However, I was advised that as I was on a complimentary ticket I could not use the lounge – so I can’t tell you what it’s like. C’est la vie. Fortunately there wasn’t a long time to wait for boarding (50 minutes), but I was wondering how my seven-hour stopover in Doha was going to work out. I contented myself with a hot chocolate for 135 baht in a small cafe, Mr CupT.
Boarding was scheduled for 20.10 but I got on at 20.00 into seat 15K. The A380-800 has 48 Business Class seats on the upper deck in a 1x2x1 herringbone configuration and an 80″ x 30″ bed. There is also a relaxing lounge with bar for First Class and Business Class passengers.
I have to say that the cabin crew on this flight provided the best service that I have ever experienced, from the moment that they each introduced themselves by name. A choice of hot or cold towels, a Brics amenity kit (including Monte Vibiano lip balm, hydrating facial mist, and anti-aging moisturiser), PJs and slippers by The White Company, and a “dine at any time of your choosing and in any order” meal service indicate the level of service.
Orders for post-take-off drinks and menu choices were taken prior to take-off and a choice of newspapers offered. I opted for a Pineapple Margarita, served with warm nuts, Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup, Cheese Plate with Danish Blue, French Camembert and Red Cheddar, and a Tomato Juice. All were beautifully served with three bread rolls, butter and oil, still or sparkling water, and a flickering candle light. Mains choices were Gulf-style Chicken Kabsa with Cucumber Raita, Fried Tiger Prawns with Choo Chee Curry, or Grilled Aubergine and Mozzarella Cannelloni.
Desserts comprised Hot Apple Crumble Tart with Creme Anglaise, Fresh Berries with Rose Water Syrup, and Gourmet Ice Cream Selection. There were also light options of Fresh Garden Salad, Phuket-style Braised chicken with Soy Sauce, Afternoon Tea (fresh finger sandwiches, scones, clotted cream and delicate pastries), and Grilled Beef Shawarma Wrap with Chunky Chips.
One is really spoilt for choice when it comes to eating! Meanwhile, the wine list offers two champagnes, three whites, three reds, a dessert wine, and a port, along with spirits, beers, liqueurs, and eight cocktails.
Before sleeping on my lie-flat bed (with a particularly good blanket), I chose to watch some films, but if you are a Guns N’ Roses fan their ‘Appetite for Destruction’ will entertain you for 211 minutes and 51 tracks.
We landed in Doha 20 minutes late due to a delayed take off in Bangkok (which was an airport rather than airline issue).
Once back in Hamad International Airport I was again denied access to the Business Class lounges, but was offered it at US$160 – so I opted for a lounger in the Men’s Quiet Room beside gate A4 for my six-hour wait.
Doha – Dublin
My Business Class return leg to Dublin was on the B787-8 Dreamliner, with five rows of 1x2x1 seats (plus two at the back) offering 80” bed length, plus a small bar with snacks behind them.
The service was again excellent, but the Bangkok-Doha cabin crew just had the edge! For the record, my breakfast was Tomato Juice, Greek Yoghurt and Scrambled Egg, with croisant, vienna and bread rolls, butter and honey, plus chai with cardamom.
Qatar Airways does not offer a complimentary chauffeur service to premium passengers, but its website offers a Blacklane service for €75.01 (including VAT, fees and tip) from Dublin Airport to St Stephen’s Green. There is a free 60 minutes wait time for airport pick-ups, 15 minutes for all others, and free cancellation up until one hour before pick-up.
The price for Dublin Airport to Arklow, Co Wicklow, is €155.19 – so I used my free pass on Bus Eireann.
Economy Class on Qatar Airways flights is very good, while Business Class is excellent. I can only presume that the Business Class lounges in Bangkok and Doha match up to the inflight service.