Qatar Boeing 777-200LR (A7-BBD) at Paine Field.

A Qatar Boeing 777-200LR – Photo: Andrew W. Sleber | FlickrCC

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to fly Qatar Airways on their (current) longest flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Qatar’s home hub in Doha – about 16 hours. Given all the talk about them being named a “Five Star Airline” by Skytrax, and our previous coverage of flying Qatar, I was really excited for this flight.  It would be my first experience on Qatar, and it would be in business class. Unfortunately, I was let down by my experience, at least on the flight to Doha (my flight home to the states was much better at least).

I arrived at LAX via a quick domestic hop from Denver on United. Getting from one side of the airport (T7) to the other (T2) was a mess. I walked outside, on foot, as I had a long layover and it was a decent day out. While the south side of LAX is now fully connected post-security, the north side is still old-school separated.

A busy afternoon at the security checkpoint at LAX's Terminal 2.

The LAX Terminal 2 (T2). My wait started out a floor below this.

Surprisingly, Qatar flies out of the newly-renovated T2, which seems to be the terminal of bastard airlines at LAX. Hawaiian, Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic, and other low-frequency carriers are based there, as opposed to the excellent Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT). Although the actual terminal is updated, getting there did not seem equipped for prime time. Even with a business class ticket, I was held at the lower level of the terminal. Once enough room cleared on the next level at the packed security checkpoint, I was allowed to take the escalator up to join the queue.

Security was an absolute mess. The older facility just wasn’t designed for modern-day TSA security. The floor was sloped towards the gates as my bag was constantly rolling off — it was pretty comical.

Once clearing the mess at the security checkpoint, I wandered in to T2. It looked shiny and new, the result of the upgraded terminal project, but I was looking for my lounge. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be using the excellent oneworld lounge (in TBIT), but rather the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge… eh.

View of my ride from the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at LAX. The airfield views were amazing. - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

View of my ride from the Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge at LAX. The airfield views were an #AvGeek’s dream. – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Despite its shortcomings (not much of a food or booze selection for a Qatar lounge), the views of the airfield were amazing. I picked a seat that gave me a front-row view of the north-side runways and I could have sat there for days. My flight was running late, but once I saw the Boeing 777-200LR land and taxi, I started packing up to head to the gate.

The business class seat on Qatar Airways' Boeing 777-300ER

The comfortable – albeit dated – business class seat on Qatar Airways’ Boeing 777s

Boarding was delayed a few times. They didn’t really make announcements, but a group of  about 15 flight crew were sitting near me (with a few preparing diligently for the flight and taking notes about the passengers – kudos!). At one point, someone came up to the gaggle of flight crew, said a few words, and then half of them headed off towards the Starbucks. I figured we’d be there a while.

A light load in the first row of business class - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

A light load in the first row of business class – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Once I finally boarded, I was led to my seat in a cabin that had a pretty light load. I settled in to 2F (a middle aisle seat, as the 777 on Qatar is 2-2-2 across). As time went on, and the whole first row was open, I asked to move to a window seat up front. Another guy had the same idea on the other side of the plane, but we were the only occupants in row one.

BONUS: Taking the Inaugural Bangkok A380 Flight on Qatar Airways

Up to this point, a majority of my issues were with the airport versus the airline, but do not worry — I experienced a bit more disappointment. The flight attendant working my section asked if I would like a drink. I asked for champagne – I mean, I’m about to embark on a 16-hour flight, in business class, on one of the world’s best airlines. Yeah – they were out of champagne… before we even took off. It was pretty obvious that they were not taking on any booze in LAX, probably to avoid paying taxes on it.  That said, they did have all of the other drinks available, including a tasty rose champagne.  Pink drink for me, I guess.

You can have any size pajamas you'd like. As long as it is XXL. - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

You can have any size pajamas you’d like. As long as it is XXL. – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Next up, for the double whammy, the flight attendant came by to offer pajamas – a very important feature for a flight that lasts two workdays. Unfortunately, they only had size XXL available (and, remember, I was in the first row). I’m a normal sized guy, so they were just baggy on me, but I felt bad for the poor woman behind me, who was like 110 pounds and 5’2”. Is no pre-flight champagne or no PJs the worst thing in the world? No. But when people choose an airline for premium service, these smaller details can really add up.

Once we were airborne (and, man, does a lightly-loaded 777-200LR feel like a rocket, even with a ton of fuel on board), menus were distributed.  I was impressed with Qatar’s “dine at any time” concept, which gives you the freedom to eat based upon what time zone your body is in. It’s especially important, given the amount of ultra-long-haul flying that Qatar does.

As it was evening back home in Denver, I decided to order a multi-course dinner.  It was hit and miss.  The toasted sweet corn soup was by far the best thing on the menu – it was amazing. Then I moved on to the “anti pasti salads” appetizer (that’s really how it was spelled on the menu), which was not good.  It was supposed to be a medley of three sides, but was missing one of them.  Instead, they just “doubled-up” on one of the other items.  There was no explanation from the cabin crew.  The other parts of the meal were all decent, but not memorable (good or bad).

That lack of acknowledgement on the appetizer was indicative of the generally mediocre service I received throughout the flight, and my biggest disappointment with the experience.  Not having champagne or pajamas on board wasn’t the crew’s fault. The poor service was, however.  To give you an example, I don’t think there was a single time that my drink was refilled, or that I was even asked about a refill, without me having to specifically ask for something.  I’m being serious when I tell you that I’ve had better premium cabin service on United.

BONUS: Hitching a Ride on a Qatar Airways Boeing 787-8 Delivery Flight

While the business class product on Qatar’s 777 fleet isn’t industry-leading (with its 2-2-2 setup, it doesn’t offer direct aisle access for each seat, nor the privacy of the newest products), the lie-flat bed itself was great. I was still able to get a full night of sleep — literally a full eight hours. On a 16-hour flight without WiFi, what else are you going to do? I did find the pillow, duvet, and blanket to be very comfortable as well.  I can say that I’ve flown a number of long-haul flights on 787s, and with this super long-haul flight, I really noticed the lack of humidity as we landed. The cabin environmental experience on the 787 (and the Airbus A350 that have the humidity option) is truly superior.

Not a common sight for those of us used to flying around the U.S. - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Not a common sight for those of us used to flying around the U.S. – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Despite our very late departure from Los Angeles, we landed in Doha just a few minutes after schedule.  My overall impression was that the flight was just “ok” – I had managed to get a lot of sleep, the IFE system had a wide selection, and food was decent.  I guess my expectations were just so high with Qatar Airways that it left me feeling disappointed.  Luckily, my flight to Boston on the new Airbus A350 lived up to my expectations. Stay tuned!

Note: I was a guest of Qatar Airways for the purpose of experiencing their inaugural service to Boston. All opinions are my own. 

MANAGING EDITOR - DENVER, CO. Due to his family being split on opposite sides of the country, Blaine traveled frequently as a child, falling in love with the flying experience, and has continued to travel ever since. For AirlineReporter, Blaine edits all content before publishing, assists in story and concept development, and takes every chance he gets to produce original content for the site. When Blaine’s not busy planning his next travel adventure, he spends his time working as a college administrator. If he can’t be on an airplane, he’d prefer to be on a bicycle or playing with his two toddlers with his wife. Email: [email protected].

The Boeing 727 Keeps Making History — And Making Us Smile
40 Comments

so boring, flying is just flying note taking holidays, i guess you are pretty picky next time buy a first class ticket maybe then you will be satisfied.

The Legend

You started your flight on a negative footing and everything else escalated as would the domino effect. Didn’t really enjoy your blog. You don’t seemed to b an experience flyer especially knowing how how to score better seats and service. Next time avoid all Star Alliance airlines and be more optimistic since you hAvent sharpen the skills as a true flyer talker.

Zootopia

The moment you said, “I was really exited for the flight”, ( even after “editing” ) it does exit your head that flying is to ensure you get from point A to B, safely and comfortably. And the best part, you call other airlines like Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic and Air Canada ‘Bastard Airline”. Wow, for a grown up man, good choice of words. These “bastard airlines” has someone’s mom, sister, father etc working their ass off to get a decent living. Majority of “YOUR” issues were with the airport and airliner. I guess since you like to be on a bicycle so much, go cycle your way somewhere or better still, don’t fly at all coz all you do is whine and complaint. Your blog is full of negativity, assumptions and hate. Stop blogging. Stick to your day job.

Hey Zootopia,

I think the author did a good job of talking about the issues he ran into on the plane itself. I am sure readers can see that there is a difference from complaining about the airport vs the flight. Our site is very positive towards the airline business (and we have many positive stories about Qatar Airways). But sometimes we are going to run into bad experiences and we must share those too.

David | Editor-in-Chief | AirlineReporter

Peter Park

Agree. Still, you can not call these airlines, “bastards.” We, readers, have no idea as why he labelled them that way. Even if he had bad experiences in the past, you got to maintain the rules of journalism.

Rusty Shackleford

When Qatar announced that they were using T2 I knew this was going to happen. No matter how much Lipstick you put on the pig of T2, or how many connectors you build between TBIT and T4- there is only one decent Terminal at LAX. TBIT! T2, however, is the worst. Seriously. There is no reason for a five star airline to be using the dumpster fire terminal. Even as a Premium Customer, you’re going to be there a while. The solution is to expand Precheck automatically to trusted travellers regardless of airline, but that’d be too simple! Part of me sincerely believes that LAWA is responsible for Qatar’s assigning to this terminal. Especially when you look at the fact that the MAPLE LEAF LOUNGE is their choice. Does that place still not have its own bathroom? Also, is there not an extreme irony in Air Canada- Qatar’s sworn-in-blood enemy being their contractor lounge? When you start the longest flight in your system (to date) off with such a crap experience- you are swindling customers with a crap product exactly like everyone else. This is not okay. I am not asking QR to build their own lounge in T2 (there’s no space), but seriously, the MLL? I practically lived in those. Then again, QR does love to use Admiral’s clubs. Perhaps, one could suspect that QR only cares about Doha- the outstations can suffer brand damage all they want. Qatar is a state instrument ruled by one of the smartest and innovative CEOs, so I just am always left flummoxed when the lounge thing never seems to be addressed.

This would also explain the missing pj debacle. Like, I’ll be honest here- I fly Qatar a lot. A metric ton. Why? They’re cheap. Seriously seriously cheap. 1.5EQM for a, dated (or amazing depending on the aircraft) business class seat? I’ve never had anyone sitting next to me either- so it’s basically a free storage seat and some more QR swag to loot. Why would I ever fly BA to competing destinations? This has happened to me, the pj thing. Again, only at stations outside of Doha. It feels like there is a bizarre and logistical error here. Do they only load Pjs in Doha and expect them to last n days? Fix this stuff chief!

The seat itself will be changing in November, so I am unfazed by the fact it’s old. What fazes me, however, is that they never even thought to refit their longest range aircraft to the, far superior, seat found on the 388, 788, and 359!

Thing is, the problem is that if you have never flown any other of the true great airlines- QR blows your mind. A LOT. I am in no way saying they are bad. Thing is, if you have flown any of the real legends in First or Business- you realize that QR is a great option, but you take it because of the trade offs (aka. It’s crazy cheap).

Regarding Mr/Ms. Zootopia? Have you ever flown Air Canada or Virgin Atlantic? Hawaiian is doing their own thing, I’ll let you pass on that one. AC and VS are dumpster fires, they belong in T2- they imbue T2- they are legion, they are Terminal 2. Stuff ’em.

Richard Brantree

Catering supplies i.e pajamas, blankets, dinnerware, etc all come inbound from Doha as the outstation must maintain an inventory for the passengers on the outbound flights.

There is talk of QR opening their own lounge in LAX but that’s heresay for now. And they are upgrading the 777 seat which should be coming online within the next year or two.

Never flown with Qatar but I can understand the frustration. Honestly if you look at TBIT, it is already filled with so many international airlines that’s aircrafts are larger than Qatar. Honestly 175 to over 400 or more passengers plus the wait to get past security. I think t2 is the right place for it. Yes they need to improve many things especially a lounge but let’s be honest other than pre screening is needed. How many airports are threatened around the world? So many incidents in America dealing with terrorism. I like the screenings. I honestly think we should consider this airline being in a less crowded terminal is better for ask travelers.

You write that “The seat itself will be changing in November,” can you elaborate?

Worst airlines ever, they still run commercial airlines policies, specially in their change or refund policies. Very disappointed, dont book unless uread all ur ticket policies. I have spent 2000 dollars on a ticket i wasnt able to ise or replace. Thanks Qatar, that was not nice

Hey Bader,

Non-refundable tickets is pretty common for all airline carriers. It is a risk, where it costs more to get the refundable. Very annoying for sure, but it is not just Qatar Airways doing it.

David | Editor-in-Chief | AirlineReporter

Rusty Shackleford

I must ask, what would an airline be that did not run commercial policies? I don’t mean to single you out- but I see many of these comments any time a gulf carrier is mentioned. Airlines are not charities, all of them exist to make a profit. You offer good advice in that everyone should read the Ts&Cs of the conditions of carriage and the ticket, but that is a global thing!

Yes, Qatar sucks in Economy. But so does everyone. Yes, all tickets have clauses- but you are entering into a contract with the airline. All contracts require an offer, negotiation, and consideration.

Natasha

I’m a flight attendant for one of those bastrard airlines.
I guess you can speak up and ask for a cup of tea/coffee or whatever.You think that we are there to be your waitress.Do you know what to do in case we crash?do you know how to take people out or what to shout to them?No,you don’t.It will take more than 10 seconds to read the sticker on the door to know how to operate.So if no one asked you “oh would you like another drink?” You have one little thing called : flight attendant button.Press it.Or do a walk around and ask for it .Did u ever think that maybe you will put those people in trouble with this article?Maybe they will get fired or they will be called in the office and acused they don’t do their job.Next time when u get a free ticket just enjoy the ride.If not, go with another airline and leave those flight attendants in peace.Is enough they work for Qatar Airways.

Yes, safety is the primary job of every flight attendant but you still have a secondary job to do and that is to take care of your customers. I don’t like to ring the button because F/As are busy and usually my requests is not extremely important. Not refilling the drink is quite a shocking bad experience. I’ve probably been offered a refill 99% of the time I fly domestic first class, even if the flight is 200 miles.

It sounds like to me you are saying if the flight is not actively crashing (which is the case for 99.9% of flights), F/As shouldn’t have to do anything.

Peter B

Why is Qatar in T-2?
Because that is the terminal they chose, not forced by LAWA at all. Each terminal has their own cost structure and lease policy to compete for airlines.
And why did they pick T-2? — its because QR will build their own lounge. There is no spare lounge space available at TBIT for such project, but there is at T-2.
Also in many ways T2 is much preferable. Its smaller facility that allows short distances from the curb to the plane – one of LAX great selling points. No endless walks like the new very much enlarged TBIT.

Rusty Shackleford

Qatar leads the world in promising lounges, then never opening them. Look at the dire situation for their lounging in JFK.! How long has QR been serving there? What about ORD? IAH! DFW? Everywhere QR serves outside of Doha uses someone else’s lounge except for a select few destinations.

It seems very odd to me that QR would build a special lounge for themselves for a single-daily route when they do not have their own facilities in the considerably more popular city of New York.

Peter B

Maybe they are promising lounges left and right, however their LAWA lease calls for a lounge and they are paying for it. Similar to Etihad who has been paying LAWA $500 per square foot in lounge rental since May 2015 though their TBIT lounge wont be ready till this summer at soonest. EY similar is only 1x daily at LAX.

Geez people, when he says ‘bastard airlines’, he obviously means low-frequency, non-mainline carriers, that are all grouped into T2 together, because they don’t have alliance connections to fit into one of the other terminals. Maybe ‘orphan airlines’ would have been a better choice of words? I didn’t read it as a comment on the quality of these airlines at all, just a shorthand way of saying they’re a collection of un-allied, low frequency carriers.

22blades

What “Bastard Company” does he work for?

David desJardins

I can’t understand why you would want to wear the airline’s pajamas instead of your own. I’m also entirely with those who don’t want the FAs asking me over and over if I want anything or refilling my drinks; I will call them if I want them.

Hey David,

I think it is great if passengers want to bring their own PJs, but they take up extra room in a carry-on. Even if I have the room, I rather dirty up their PJs and keep my own for my trip! Those planes can get mighty warm.

David | Editor-in-Chief | AirlineReporter

Stephan

What a pathetic review. Please don’t waste time writing these types of subjective crap.

Hey Stephan,

How is not having amenities that the airline promotes subjective? Not only has the author flown hundreds of thousands of miles, but so have all of us on staff. I think we can make pretty good conclusions based on our flight experiences.

Thanks for reading and taking time to comment!

David | Editor-in-Chief | AirlineReporter

Well i am sure that all crew lost their jobs after this review. Happy flying with many curses

Hello Harry,

That is doubtful. I personally know lots of flight attendants and know the challenges they face. However, we cannot lie and state that a crew did what they were supposed to do, in a premium cabin, when they did not. Expectations are set with every airline (and every company). Workers need to meet or excel at those expectations or they will need to be trained or let go. Many seek to work for Qatar Airways because of their reputation and if they cannot make the cut, there are plenty of other airlines to work for. Hopefully that is not the case for this flight crew.

David | Editor-in-Chief | AirlineReporter

jl johnson

Thanks for the review, Blaine. If anything this goes to show even the most PaxEx-focused airlines get things wrong occasionally. Honestly, it’s refreshing to hear Qatar struggles -just like everyone else- from time to time.

I would much rather prefer that you had an amazing experience, but this piece highlights that running an airline is tricky, and despite considerable effort and planning, not every flight is a winner. Nothing wrong with that, nothing at all. For what it’s worth, I did not find your piece to be overly harsh, or as some suggest, whiny.

I’m looking forward to reading your A350 piece.

JL

poor baby! You seem to want all of the swag that goes with a first class USA, British, Australian or Canadian carrier but seem to have little knowledge of middle east carriers. They should train their crews better on alchoholc beverages, pj sizes etc., but it’s just not that important to them. You live in the world today, not thirty years ago and I’ll bet you dressed up in a sports jacket and tie……..right!

James,

With all due respect, I am not sure what world of airlines you are operating in. All three main, international, middle east airlines (Qatar, Emirates, Etihad) advertise themselves as world leading. Heck, even Qatar’s slogan is “World’s 5 star airline.” People will pay more to fly these airlines because of their high-end product and service. On the other hand, most of the other airlines (especially those in the US) are no known for their high-end product or service.

David | Editor-in-Chief | AirlineReporter

Jonathan

Flight attendants have a very very difficult job. They do not make aitline policy: they are victims of it, and need to deal with the supplies and resources that they are given. I have an easy going attitude to flying. Yes, I fly first class and business. But if they are running late, fine, I listen to music and either read an interesing book or do some work. If they don’t have the drink that I want? I order another. If the seat is uncomfortable? Ok, I am irritated but vote with my feet. The seats are the most important to me. I always carry some bagels–I am on a transport device to get to my destination safely and physically and psychologically comfortably, and even premium food is not wonderful. But remember: airlines are transpirtation. And yes, the supplies are loaded in Doha. We have a choice: react to situations in a manner that makes you even unhappier, or accept what cannot be changed in the moment, make the best of it, and get off the plane relaxed. That’s largely determined by….you. Next flight: relax.

Drew Sommer

You whine that they didn’t have champagne for you prior to departure..I have no idea how a man of your stature was able to overcome that dreadful situation.

So the business class passengers get to use only this priority pass lounge?

just wanted to add – “antipasti” is NOT misspelled, as you suggest.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antipasto

Blaine,

With all due respect I must admit that I was rather confused by the criticalness of some of the comments about your experience.

Per your own words, you were “a guest of Qatar Airways for the purpose of experiencing their inaugural service to Boston. ” Instead of focusing on the lie-flat bed which allowed you to get a full-night’s sleep and the truly superior cabin, I can’t help but wonder why you found it necessary to make the unfounded remark about the airline’s trying to avoid paying taxes on the Champagne you so wanted, or the erroneous assertion of not having received all three salads (which you referred to as “sides”)? There were indeed three salads presented, meaning no “doubling-up” occurred.

Remarks like those not only belie your knowledge of this industry, they are unlikely to curry much favor from airlines gracious enough to provide you with similar opportunities gratis.

Peter Park

Holy Cow! If an airlines puts me on a Business Class for free to write about my experience, I would kiss their a$$es all over. Stop complaining or fly US-flag carriers next time. By the way, Qatar has nothing to do with the TSA or layout of the LAX. I believe there are free shuttles between terminals.

Peter Park

Best comment. 🙂

Interesting review. I appreciate the details. It’s puzzling to me that QR fails to make sure they have all PJ sizes in LAX. A lot of airlines manage to stock PJs and other items at outstations. I wonder if perhaps these were growing pains with a new route, and perhaps they’ve been ironed out now?

Regarding not being offered beverage refills, I’ve experienced this even on CX international long-haul first class (but only sometimes). I don’t know if it’s poorly trained FAs, or a difference in expectations (not wanting to disturb passengers).

We all remember those spoiled little brats we went to grade school with, well they all grew up and now in a grown-up society. But, this is the result.

I have tickets for that same flight next year and I’ll make sure the flight crew are appreciated!

Shreena Patel

Whatever you do, do not book this airline- here’s a timeline of events and a summary of what happened to us in first class!

• In total it took us 24 hours to get to Dubai, when it should have only taken 10 hours max.
• In total we were stuck on planes for 9 hours: 45 minutes on QR4, 5 hours on QR1004, 2 hours 40 minutes on QR1024 just waiting for no substantial reason.
• There was an identical flight landing to DWC at the same time as our flights at 02.30am- they reached fine with no weather issues, so why didn’t we? Why did we have to wait 5 hours on that plane!? So why was everyone blaming the weather because we saw many planes take off and we know that the DWC plane went to Dubai with no issues.
• We are frequent flyers with Emirates and fly first and business class all of the time. We were ‘wowed’ by your advertising campaign on business travel but we are extremely disappointed with the way you handled the delays and treated us at every stage of the journey.

After complaining to them, they gave me a template reply with ‘standard lines’, apologized and said there’s nothing they can do! If they treat first class passengers like this then I’d hate to think what they’d do to economy passengers!

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Thanks

I appreciate your review as I’m going LAX to Johannesburg and I have the choice of Iberia or Qatar. Additionally, I am not sure I want to splurge for business class or not. I flew business from LAX-MAD on Iberia this year and had a very similar experience as you did on Qatar. Actually, my experience on Iberia in coach on the way back to LA was very good. Your review has convinced me to lean towards Iberia rather than Qatar, and to travel in coach rather than business.

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