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
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 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.
Etihad Airbus A340-600 taking off – Photo: Jacob Pfleger
Recently, Etihad Airways had a very attractive sale on business class fares between its European gateways and Australia, including codeshares with Czech Airlines from Prague. This was simply too good an offer to pass up, being the AvGeek I am.
Gear retraction on Etihad A340 – Photo: Jacob Pfleger
As I booked via the Etihad website, I was able to partake in the online upgrade auction system. This program is a fairly recent initiative introduced by Etihad Airways, along with other carriers. The program sends out an email approximately a week before the flight, inviting business class passengers to bid on unsold seats in the first class cabin, as well as business class seats for those in economy. Bids for a first class upgrade ranged from $600-$1500 (USD) for the Abu Dhabi-Sydney flight. I bid $1000, as I was celebrating my birthday and thought it would make a nice present. Bidders are advised of the outcome 48 hours prior to the flight. The system is still in the trial stage; I only got an email T-24 hours, advising that my bid had been accepted.
Upon arriving at the combined first and business class terminal at Abu Dhabi, I was greeted by a porter who took care of my luggage and escorted me to the first class check-in area. Unlike conventional check-in desks, the first class area is set up like a classy hotel, where you take a seat at a desk with an agent who processes your booking. The whole process took no more than five minutes and I was on my way to the first class lounge.
China Eastern Airlines Airbus A340-600 B-6055 with Expo 2010 livery.
The Airbus A340-600 is one long plane. With a length of over 246 feet, it is the second longest airliner produced behind the new Boeing 747-8. This gives a lot of room for airlines to show off special liveries and that is just want China Eastern Airlines did for their special Expo 2010 livery.
Sure, the Expo 2010 happened in Shanghai China from May 1st to the end of October 2010, but that does not mean the airline has to remove the icon off their website, or replace the livery. (Even though it is possible they have, the most recent photo I could find is from July 2011).
So does this livery work? In my opinion it is a bit ugly. Maybe if the airline did not try to keep their normal livery and the new design, it would have worked a lot better, but this just seems to be trying too hard with too many colors going all over the place. Although, from the front, is it not too bad.
China Eastern Airlines is based in Shanghai and has been in operation since 1988. It currently flies to over 100 international and domestic destinations and is a member of the SkyTeam alliance. The airline operates a mixed fleet of more than 265 aircraft from the smaller Bombardier CRJ200 to the A340-600, which is the largest aircraft in their fleet.