Number 24 and 25 of Qatar Airways’ 787 Dreamliners at the Everett Delivery Center
Every plane flying today had its delivery flight at one time or another. Many have been built at Paine Field, in Everett, WA and then flown to each airline’s home base to be put into operation. When the opportunity came up to join Qatar Airways on the delivery of their 24th and 25th Boeing 787 Dreamliners, how could I say no? I didn’t!
The 787 line
Down the 787 line
The 777 line
For most airlines, the whole experience is more than just the flight itself. There are pre-events, meals, speeches, and then the best part: the flight. I wasn’t able to participate in everything, but I was able to enjoy a line tour of the both the 787 and 777. Getting into the Boeing Factory never gets old, and seeing how making building complicated aircraft look easy is a feat in and of itself.
The business class cabin in the Qatar 787-8
These media events are also about the people who attend. The airline media world is not so big and made up of many great folks. Part of my excitement was being able to hang out with people like Jason Rabinowitz, Paul Thompson, Seth Miller, and I got to meet Mark Lawrence for the first time. A bunch of AvGeeks flying in a 787 halfway across the world? Yes, please!
Qatar’s first Airbus A350 at Toulouse, ready to fly to Doha – Photo: Chris Sloan | AirwaysNews
This story was written by Chris Sloan and originally published on AirwaysNews.
At 9:28 PM LT on Tuesday, December 23, Qatar’s first A350 XWB landed in Doha–under the cover of darkness–with approximately 70 Qatar employees, VIP’s and media on-board the delivery flight from Toulouse, France.
On Monday, Airbus handed over the first A350 XWB to launch customer Qatar Airways, and shortly after taking delivery of the aircraft, several executives and more than a hundred members of the media flew on a short demonstration flight over the Mediterranean.
The Qatar Airways’ Airbus A350 bar – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren | JDL Multimedia
The delivery flight to Doha would be operated as a normal commercial scheduled flight, but just with fewer people then typical. Business Class was full while approximately ten passengers–who were all employees of Qatar–would have the two economy cabins to themselves.
A Business Class seat on the Airbus A350 – Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren | JDL Multimedia
As much as I was anticipating experiencing the Airbus A350 XWB in a true commercial flight, I was equally as curious in putting Qatar’s renowned SkyTrax 5-star rated Business Class, marketed and self-proclaimed as “World’s Best Business Class,” to the test. Burning questions include: Would it live up to all the hype and marketing expectations? Is it truly a First Class product at a Business Class price? Is the Airbus A350XWB cabin truly an “eXtra Wide Body” experience in the same league as its 787 competitor from Everett?
Continue reading Flight Review: Taking Qatar Airways’ Airbus A350 Delivery Flight to Doha on AirwaysNews.com
Qatar First Class product on the A380. For our flight, there were no First Class passengers.
The more that I fly the Airbus A380, the more I like the aircraft — as a passenger, but I am not so sure as an AvGeek. It is so smooth during take-off and landing, one might not even realize that they happened. Turbulence is mostly absorbed by the jumbo jet, making the flight smooth. The windows and walls are so thick, the aircraft stays quiet and passengers are removed from the flying experience.
As an AvGeek, these are some of the reasons why I am not a huge fan of the A380. I want to feel the take-off, I enjoy a little turbulence, and I want to stay connected to the entire flight experience. But this doesn’t mean I cannot enjoy an A380 flight, especially when it is on a Qatar Airways aircraft with an impressive on-board product.
Recently, I was invited to participate in the inaugural Qatar A380 flight from Bangkok to Doha, and who am I to refuse? Overall, it was an amazing flight, but I wished it was a bit longer — it was only about six hours.
One of the biggest disappointments I had regarding the flight was not being able to get an exterior shot of the A380. And believe it or not, that was partially due to both Bangkok and Doha airports being designed where photos are hard to get, and also because of the King of Thailand.
Imagine back to 2003 when the preparations for the Summer Olympics in Athens were underway. It was time that the Bush Campaign was back in full swing, the Concorde made its last revenue flight and it was also the same year that the Qatar government was developing the master plan for their new airport: Doha International Airport (DOH). The airport has come a long way since then and is close to being fully complete.
Currently Doha Airport has no jet bridges and every single guest, no matter the class of ticket held, is bused to the gate. This isn’t the most efficient and means long minimum connect times, but it is only temporary.
The Outside of the New Doha International Airport – Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com
The airport was scheduled to be fully operational later in 2013, but there have been construction delays and the official opening has been pushed back.
At present the terminal is approximately 97% complete, the runways are ready for use and most of the major infrastructure is complete. I had the opportunity to tour the facility and if you just cleaned the dust away, you would have an almost fully operating airport — you just wouldn’t be able to shop or eat just yet.
Going on a tour of the New Doha International Airport at the moment means dressing like a construction worker – Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com
The airport is built to accommodate 24 million passengers a year. The airport has 17 million meters (roughly 10,000 miles) of electrical cabling, 9000 phones, 3800 parking spots, two runways (which will allow 100 aircraft movements an hour), a cargo facility (able to handle 1.4 million tons of cargo annually) and a catering facility capable of preparing 90,000 meals per day. This is a huge investment for a relatively small nation in the Middle East.
With design elements taken from two world leading airports (Singapore Changi and Hong Kong Chep Lap Kok), DOH will be an amazing new facility that will allow the passengers to have a world leading experience. Inside the terminal will be 25,000 square meters of retail, food and beverage space allowing travelers to get their shopping fix or grab a meal at a number of outlets between connections.
You should have ample time to go shopping at DOH. The new airport is designed to allow a 30 minute connection between flights; including the time required to disembark and re-board your next flight. This is a staggering figure and one that is going to be a true test. To compare, most professionals suggest you have almost four hours to connect between flights at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
What Airport in the Middle East would not be complete without a Mosque and this one a Fine Example – Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com
Qatar is a Muslim country, where a high majority of its travelers and workers are of Muslim faith. This means that you would need some form of prayer facilities for them as the call to prayer happens five times a day (and is a good sign when you can hear it, that you know you’re in the middle east). Right outside the main entrance to the airport facility is one of the most staggeringly beautiful Mosques I have seen.
The airport also offers a new cargo terminal and a new maintenance facility for Qatar Airways. This impressively large building was essentially raised in one piece from the ground up and is so large that it can accommodate eight wide bodied aircraft at any one time.
The Amiri Terminal at the New Doha International Airport – Photo: Mal Muir / AirlineReporter.com
What would Qatar’s new airport be without somewhere for the Amir of Qatar to spend some time? He has to hop on board his “unconfirmed” 747-8I at some point right? So the airport design also includes a new Amiri Terminal. Again another stunningly beautiful facility, surrounded by water and palm trees.
There are many other VIPs who are expected to visit the airport and many of them have come to expect red carpet treatment. Obviously it would take quite a bit of work to roll out a red carpet upon each arrival and departure, so the designers came up with a novel idea. They created an air bridge that allows anyone to step off their aircraft onto a red carpet and right into a greeting ceremony.
No matter the height of the aircraft, it can be accommodated (although after clarification, they weren’t sure if it was A380 capable, but it is definitely 747 capable). Not even a single step is required. Although it doesn’t look as cool, stepping off waving to the crowd then coming down your steps to the awaiting band, and yes there is a band stand there as well.
All of this high level of service is just the beginning. The airport has already been signed to expand further, adding more terminals, railway stations, metro links, and more facilities. DOH is expected to double in capacity in time for the 2022 Soccer World Cup to be held in Qatar. Given all of this, this will truly be a fantastic new airport.
Disclaimer: Qatar Airways paid for the trip to Qatar, all opinions are my own.
||This story written by…Malcolm Muir, Lead Correspondent. Mal is an Australian Avgeek now living and working in Seattle. With a passion for aircraft photography, traveling and the fun that combining the two can bring. Insights into the aviation world with a bit of a perspective thanks to working in the travel industry.
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