This article is sponsored by Qatar Airways
Qatar Airways has returned to Birmingham Airport with a new daily service.
The first flight touched down last Thursday, and I was lucky enough to literally be standing on the tarmac as the aircraft pulled on to its stand.
The return of flights from Birmingham is a big deal for both the airline and the airport, which is now back to the full quota of long haul carriers that it had pre-pandemic.
I got to spend time with Gary Kershaw, UK & Ireland Country Manager for Qatar Airways, as well as Andy Street, West Midlands Mayor, Nick Barton, Birmingham Airport Chief Executive and – not announced in advance – Formula 1 legend David Coulthard.
When is Qatar Airways flying from Birmingham?
The service operates daily, but with two different departure times. If passengers are connecting to an onward flight to another of the 160 destinations served by the airline, they can pick the service which provides the optimum waiting time.
- On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, QR34 will depart Birmingham at 14:45, arriving in Doha at 23:40
- On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, QR36 will depart Birmingham at 09:00, arriving in Doha at 17:55
- On Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, QR33 will depart Doha at 08:05, arriving in Birmingham at 13:15
- On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, QR 35 will depart Doha at 02:20, arriving in Birmingham at 07:30
Gary Kershaw, who runs the UK and Irish operation for Qatar Airways, told me that he is hoping to move to two flights per day in the future in order to maximise connection options.
What aircraft is being used?
The flights are operated with a Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft. This has 254 seats: 22 in Business Class and 232 in Economy Class.
The 787-8 uses a non-suite Business Class seat because the aircraft is too narrow for Qsuite, albeit one that I have flown many times and been perfectly happy with:
In terms of airport lounges, passengers in Business Class (excluding Business Light tickets but including Avios redemptions) can use the Clubrooms lounge. This is, by far, the best lounge in the airport and was where we spent much of our time on Thursday.
Passengers in Economy or on Business Light tickets who hold oneworld Emerald or Sapphire status – which includes British Airways Executive Club Gold and Silver members – can also access the Clubrooms lounge if flying on Qatar Airways.
Why was David Coulthard there?!
David Coulthard was an unexpected guest on the day. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised given that Qatar Airways is now the Global Airline Partner of Formula 1 and Sunday saw the British Grand Prix at nearby Silverstone.
Coulthard won 13 grand prix races during his career and – whilst never world champion – came second in 2001.
Qatar Airways and Qatar Airways Holidays are currently offering exclusive travel packages to the Qatar Grand Prix in October starting from as little as £854 per person for three nights. Paddock Club and other hospitality options are available for those who want to experience the race in style. All packages include complimentary access to the Geneva International Motorshow which will be held in Qatar this year. You can find out more on this F1 section of the Qatar Airways website.
Whilst we haven’t covered it in detail on HfP yet, you now earn Avios and tier points in Qatar Privilege Club when you book with Qatar Airways Holidays.
Remember that you earn Avios and British Airways Executive Club tier points when flying with Qatar Airways
Whilst you can choose to earn Avios and tier points in Qatar Privilege Club from your Qatar Airways flights, for the majority of HfP readers the most relevant benefit is earning Avios and tier points in British Airways Executive Club.
Most long haul routes from the UK on Qatar Airways will earn 560 tier points for a Business Class return flight – almost enough (you are 40 short) for British Airways Executive Club Silver status, as long as you had flown four BA or Iberia-coded flights for cash as well.
You earn 140 tier points each way between the UK to Doha, plus another 140 tier points each way on your connecting flight if it is over 2,000 miles.
Shorter connecting flights under 2000 miles, eg to Dubai, earn 40 tier points each way in Business Class. Birmingham to Dubai on Qatar Airways would earn 140 + 40 + 40 + 140 = 360 British Airways Executive Club tier points.
Earn or spend Avios at Qatar Duty Free during your connection
From earlier this year, you can earn or spend Avios in a Qatar Privilege Club account at Qatar Duty Free, with virtually all outlets in Hamad International Airport taking part.
There are currently some offers exclusively available for Privilege Club members in the UK. These offers are:
- Up to 12% off UK flights to South Africa, India & Doha
- Up to 12% network wide discounts for flights departing from Birmingham
- Up to 12% off Business Class flights on the Qatar Airways network
You can find out more on the Qatar Airways website member page here.
It was good to be back in Birmingham (I’d forgotten how easy it is to reach the airport from London, at just 80 minutes from Euston to Birmingham International) and welcome back Qatar Airways.
The seven weekly flights from Birmingham add to an extensive schedule which includes:
- 47 weekly flights from Heathrow
- 7-14 weekly flights from Gatwick
- 18 weekly flights from Manchester
- 14 weekly flights from Edinburgh
…. as well as a further 14 weekly flights from Dublin.
You can check pricing and timings from Birmingham on the Qatar Airways website here.