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Why was I in Doha last week?

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Starting tomorrow on Head for Points, I will be running a series of articles on my trip to Doha last week.  I will be looking at the Qatar Airways Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 business class products and lounges, as well as the new Hamad International Airport in Doha and the St Regis Doha hotel.

To avoid repeating myself numerous times in the different articles, I wanted to use this post to explain the background to the trip.

I have always written very positive things about Qatar Airways on HFP.  Even before they joined oneworld – and it became possible to redeem Avios for Qatar flights – they were a partner with bmi Diamond Club.  The airline has a good reputation, flies a modern fleet and, importantly, has a large and growing route network which can get you to pretty much anywhere via Doha.

Despite all this, I had never actually flown them.

Qatar 787 business class seat

The Qatar Airways office in London reads the site and got in touch to offer me a free return flight to Doha in business class.  It seemed a good opportunity so I accepted.  This was effectively worth 65,000 Avios and £385 of tax which would have been the cost had I redeemed for the same flights (London – Doha – Zurich).

However, Qatar did NOT pay for my transfers in London and Doha, my hotel stay at the St Regis Doha or my food and drink costs whilst I was there.  I settled all of those costs myself.  Neither did they pay for my connecting flight on the return from Zurich to London (long story ….!)  The flights were booked in a way which meant I did not earn any miles or tier points from them.

I think that my Qatar Airways pieces are as objective as any of the other airline reviews on HFP.  Given that flights are high value products, though, it is only fair that you understand the background to the trip before you read the reviews.

ALL of the flights I review on HFP, of course, have been booked using Avios or other frequent flyer miles.  To that extent, I always have less ‘skin in the game’ than if I had paid hard cash for them.  Take my review of British Airways First Class on the A380 last month – someone who paid £13,500 of their own money for that flight – which is the fully flexible price – would presumably review it differently from someone who used 150,000 Avios points.

It was an interesting few days last week and I look forward to sharing it.

Comments (51)

  • Jeff says:

    I know Raffles will say their biz class product is great. Most things are when they’re free.

    Should anyone be interested, I flew their in their best biz class 787 product (and paid for it myself, no freebie) and had an awful experience. Broken USB, no dessert cheese (even though order for it was accepted, they later told me they forgot to load it at DOH!) no night flight PJ’s (apparently they had ‘just’ run out) No inflight wifi service (or rather, it wasn’t working) Shockingly poor selection of movies on their IFE (Robocop anyone?) and aloof staff.

    Post flight, I brought matters to the attention of QA customer service which was a waste of time – they weren’t remotely interested, or rather ‘apologised’, offered 5000 Qmiles (essentially worthless) and that was it.

    Summary? An appalling experience.

    As for DOH airport and their lounge – sprawling & poor.

  • What's The Point says:

    Will these articles create as much noise as the infamous Yacht-Gate!

    I am not bothered if you got the flight for free or paid for it using cash/Avios, I would expect a fair handed review either way.

    • Rob says:

      No-one has actually offered me money for a sponsored post since then, luckily, so I haven’t been in a position to decide how to deal with it. 90% sure that any future ones – if there was one – would just appear on the site and not be sent to the email list.

    • plastikman says:

      the ‘roamer’ piece was one that left me feeling a bit ‘meh’. clearly some comments on that piece added by the guys from roamer without any declarations. Roamer is now the most prominent ad on the site!

      • Rob says:

        It says in the article that Roamer had booked some advertising which is why I started to take a look at them.

        Anything which sounds like it was copied from their website is probably because I am the least techy person you will ever meet who actually runs a techy business and so I just copy stuff hoping that it makes sense 🙂

  • Waribai says:

    I’ve got a BKK-DOH-LHR flight coming up at the end of December with the wife and our 3 year old. All in C and the second leg on the all business class flight. We do have a 3 hour stopover so as a father in 40’s I’m looking forward to your report especially on the new airport and how you imagine the whole experience would be with a toddler! Thanks in advance!

    • Rob says:

      The lounge has a small kids playroom which is OK but not lifechanging. However, what I had never seen before, in the dining room is a separate eating area with a door marked family eating area. You can go in there with your food, your kids can cause complete chaos whilst you eat, and no-one else will hear or see them.

      Should you be able to shake off the family, there is also a pinball room in the lounge. I kid you not. Table football as well.

  • Waribai says:

    “You can go in there with your food, your kids can cause complete chaos whilst you eat, and no-one else will hear or see them.”

    Thanks for the tip Raffles. This is music to my ears, and also I’m sure to the people not travelling with kids!

  • Simon Robshaw says:

    Looking forward to what you have to say. I’m in Doha right now having just flown from Manchester and about to fly to Seoul. So far I’m must say I’m not that impressed. Service is sloppy, and the slants bed did not impress me at all. I already have half a customer service letter written.

    • Simon Robshaw says:

      Should have said slanty bed.

    • Simon Robshaw says:

      Just this second boarded the 777 to Seoul and the difference in layout is vast. I wish I’d started the trip in London now!!

      • Rob says:

        Basically – A380, B787 – flat bed business class with solo seats if you want one; A319 / B777 – flat bed business class but 2×2 or 2x2x2; A330 / A340 – slopey business class which is best avoided, planes on the way out as soon as the new ones arrive.

        • Phil says:

          I flew DOH-LHR back in April in First with Qatar. Even though it was old First, the best bit was being driven from the premium terminal to the steps of the plane in a Merc. I was first on the plane too. Felt like royalty!

          • Mikee says:

            Reminds me of my Diamond Club miles redemption from Frankfurt in First with Lufthansa and the drive in a Porche from the First Class Terminal to the aircraft steps, then the handshake welcome at the door and direction to seat 2A as they closed the aircraft door behind me.

            Lots of pax peering out the windows and staring…if only they new it was a 25,000 miles/£200 redemption using a couple of MBNA credit card sign-up bonuses! 🙂

          • Deenesh says:

            Mikee, thanks for the info above, would not let me reply directly to your comment. will get back in touch with QR and see where they go from here.