Qatar Airways A340-600 at LHR Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Qatar Airways’ A340-600 at LHR – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

QATAR AIRWAYS A340-600 ECONOMY CLASS FLIGHT REVIEW BASICS:

Airline: Qatar Airways
Aircraft: Airbus A340-600
Departed: Dubai (DXB)
Arrived: Doha (DOH)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Economy Class
Seat: 38A
Length: About 1 hour

On a recent trip to the Middle East, I had to take a flight from Dubai (DXB) to Doha (DOH). While the flight distance is only around 235 miles, with flight times rarely more than one hour, there is a surprisingly large selection of flight options. These range from low-cost carriers such as Fly Dubai right through to the full service options of Emirates and Qatar Airways.

As I had never flown Qatar Airways before, I thought I would give them a go, especially given all the hype about them being a five-star airline. Qatar runs many flights per day between the two cities, and they pretty much utilize their entire fleet on the route from A319/A320s right through to Boeing 777-300ERs. The type that excited me the most, however, was the Airbus A340-600, a type normally used more for ultra-long-haul 14+ hour flights rather than hot hops across the Arabian Gulf.

Economy class on the A340-600, the colour takes some getting used to Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Economy class on the A340-600; the color takes some getting used to – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

I arrived at Dubai Airport Terminal One a little over two hours prior to departure. Having now experienced all three passenger terminals at Dubai Airport, I must say T1 is the worst by far. While the terminal is functional, the demand for the terminal far outweighs its capacity. It took me one hour, yes one hour, to get from the check-in desks to my departure gate. Most of this time was spent waiting in the line for outbound immigration. It was not that there were not enough desks open – in fact they were all open – but there were just too many passengers to process at the time.

I'd like to know where all the passengers in T1 went as my flight was very empty Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

I’d like to know where all the passengers in T1 went as my flight was very empty – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

When I arrived at my gate, I was delighted to see the scheduled A340-600. Apparently Qatar Airways has a tendency of substituting to smaller aircraft last-minute for the Dubai flights when the seat factor is low. Luckily, this did not occur for me, despite the light load of only 65 passengers, due to the inbound flight having a healthier seat factor, thus justifying the use of the A346.

This aircraft was equipped with the older IFE, more than enough for an hour flight Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

This aircraft was equipped with the older IFE, more than enough for an hour flight – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Once on-board, I was warmly welcomed by the crew members who almost outnumbered the passengers in my cabin section. Prior to departure, moist towels and boiled candy was handed out — this was very impressive and a sure sign Qatar is ahead of the competition, even in the economy class cabin.

Despite our light load, there was no spirited take-off from our A340-600. Aside from the shorter take-off roll, you would not notice the difference versus a fully-loaded flight. The climb out was also as equally unimpressive and in true A340 fashion it was very, very slow.

With only 65 passengers, the rear section was completely empty, if only every flight was like this Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

With only 45 passengers, the rear section was completely empty; if only every flight was like this – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Flight time was announced by the captain as being 45 minutes — I was not expecting much in terms of service on a flight of this length. I was very surprised, then, to see the cabin crew begin the service with first a drinks run of water/juice. They were then followed by a warm snack of chicken shawarma calzone and almond cake along with more drinks, and finally a third drinks run to conclude the service. I have been served less on a five-hour transcontinental flight, let alone a 45-minute hop!

I was positively impressed by this experience, although it would be interesting to see how the crew would cope with a full load of close to 300 passengers as opposed to just the 45 flying in economy. While the crew only served water/juice/tea and coffee from the service carts, it was possible to order other beverages which were brought from the galley (this included beer, wine, and spirits, as well as soft drinks).

Impressive, a warm snack on a 1 hour flight Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Impressive, a warm snack on a one-hour flight – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Arrival into Hamad International Airport, Doha was on-time, and I was out of the airport in 15 minutes. This airport is the complete opposite of Dubai, whereby the capacity at the present time far outweighs demand. The airport management has also mentioned that even for the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the airport will still have excess capacity.

A scenic arrival into Doha over the Pearl, Doha's answer to Dubai's Palm project Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

A scenic arrival into Doha over the Pearl, Doha’s answer to Dubai’s Palm project – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Overall, Qatar Airways truly delivered a five-star product even on the shortest flights within their network. I look forward to trying them out on the longer routes in the future and perhaps even on the improved A350.

SENIOR CORRESPONDENT - PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC A native of Australia, Jacob’s interest in aviation first came about as a child going on a long-haul flight between Australia and Europe to visit relatives. In addition to being a pilot himself, he has worked in operations for a charter airline, been on-the-ramp handling aircraft, worked as a slot coordinator for major airports, and currently works as an aircraft charter broker for corporate and VIP clients throughout Eastern Europe. In his spare time, Jacob enjoys photography, plane spotting, and travel. Email: [email protected].

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11 Comments

Thanks for the fun report, Jacob. Yup, impressive for a 45-minute flight and a light load. Despite the heavier In-bound load, this may have been mostly an equipment and crew positioning flight, insider details that we will never know. The service sounds impressive, but serving 45 souls in coach is not a strain. Yes, I’m LMAO over the decor and those ‘special’ seat coverings. OK, it is dated airplane and likely to be retired, sold, or returned to AB before long. The one item that concerns me is the long, slow, detailed processing at outbound immigration in Qatar and I do not understand their motivation. Do Qatar officials fear that someone might ‘escape?’ Last I heard, that kind of behavior ended in the early 90s. A good report, Jacob!

As I have seen, most of US airlines these days are pretty similar to LCCs on small hop or even medium haul routes. In Asia , Airlines still do have the “Airline experience ” many craved in 1980s, albeit with lower leg room. When I fly Jet Airways on Ahmedabad-Mumbai (frequently) , I m still served with hot dinner, juice etc , and the flight is only 30-40 minutes long ,

As a regular Qatar Airways passenger, I can say that their service is very good. However had you been on a busy flight between Doha and Dubai, there would likely have been one single service of water/juice with the sandwich, and then a follow up at the end to collect the rubbish. Certainly no time for more, and definitely no chance to get a beer or wine (trust me, I’ve asked. I now just have a few extra in the lounge before the flight to tide me over).

On the flights between Bahrain and Doha most carriers either don’t serve anything or, in the case of Gulf Air, hand out a small sandwich and/or water while the plane is still on the tarmac.

Wow! Such an empty flight! Im amazed to see so many empty seats, Im sure that flight would have been cancelled here in Australia!

I am an emirates gold member and I started to fly again and after many years with Qatarairways from March 2014, today I am also a Platinum member of Qatar Airways, the serice is great on board but increadibly when you arrive or leave fro Doha new airport you do not have a priority gate through passport control lime Emirates when you can use the whole business and first class terminal if you a gold or Platinum member.

I really can not understand them, if you do not give priority to your favorit customers who spend yearly something like $ 100.000 then explain to me where is your 5 star service that you are offering??

Now believe it or not the business terminal at Doha airport is always empty and officials are there sitting and waiting for passengers 😳

Really surprisingly I have no comments on this issue, just it seems that somebody at Qatar airways decided that favorit Platinum customers should soffer a little bit so that they do not exagerate with 5 star experience….

Sanjay Sharma

since childhood I was fascinated by the avionics be it the planes or airports or even the airlines crew.Fortunatly I got chances to fly many great destinations in Asia,Europe,North America,Africa.Even now I always look forward for flying.

always i used to read smaller posts that as
well clear their motive, and that is also happening with this post which
I am reading at this place.

morgan

I am looking forward to see if there are any improvements since 2011. Is there any provisions for vegetarian in-flight meals?

morgan

I am looking forward to see if there are any improvements since 2011. Are there any provisions for vegetarian in-flight meals?

Mozhgan Fazel Rastegar

Extremely rude behaviour from check in staff members in Melbourne Airport . The manager was even worse! They unreasonable rude behaviour made my daughter cry and caused us a lot of unreasonable stress. They gave us wrong information. I could not believe it. We had two pillows that were recommended from a doctor. They didn’t let us taking them and said we only can take one bag inside the airplane. I told them I have fragile item in my suitcase however they ended up destroying my suitcase and broke my stuff. I traveled a lot and it was the worst fly that I had ever experienced. First time and last time with Qatar airway. Definitely avoid it

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