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.
The Qatar Airways A350, simply beautiful – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
Ever since first seeing the Airbus A350 at the Singapore Airshow last year, I have had a soft spot for this aircraft. I was over the moon with excitement when the news came that I had been invited by Qatar Airways to cover the inauguration ceremony in Doha prior to its inaugural flight to Frankfurt on the 15th of January.
The aircraft had been officially handed over to Qatar Airways on the 22nd of December, 2014, in a special delivery ceremony hosted by Airbus.
A nice welcome at the press conference – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
The inauguration ceremony in Doha was accompanied by much fanfare, including a fun-filled three-day activity program for over 130 members of media from all over the world. Although there was no demonstration flight, like the event in Toulouse, it was still a very exciting and fun event to be part of.
The below photo report covers not only the official press conference and aircraft tour, but also the rather extravagant evening inauguration ceremony. This ceremony was one of the most impressive spectacles I had ever witnessed, and it was magnificently organized, right down to the choreographed light show on the aircraft. For the best viewing experience, be sure to click on each photo for the full resolution image to be displayed.
A hybrid Qatar Airways/Airbus livery is painted onto the latest test A350XWB – Photo: Airbus
In Toulouse, France this past week, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker made a visit to inspect the Airbus A350XWB manufacturing line ahead of the first delivery of the type to the airline later this year. As Al Baker inspected the A350 line, along with senior Qatar & Airbus management, Airbus revealed a special livery for their latest aircraft (MSN004).
MSN004 was painted in a hybrid Airbus & Qatar Airlines launch customer livery. Part Qatar Airways at the front, and the standard Airbus livery in the rear, the most noticeable features are the striking Oryx logos, not only on the aircraft body but also on the unique A350 winglets.
The aircraft will soon join the Airbus test fleet, where it will will be used for external noise and lightning tests, avionics development & certification, and training for the first customer pilots & maintenance teams.
Three of the Qatar Executive Jet Fleet, The Challenger 605 and Global 5000 – Photo: Qatar Executive Jet
Qatar Airways already has a pretty good product on their long haul and short haul fleets. A premium ticket will give passengers access to a VIP terminal, delicious cuisine, amazing crew and of course those comfy seats and amenities. But how can you top that? Well what about the ability to come and go when you want, fly where you want and even eat or drink what you want on-board your own private jet? Enter Qatar Executive Jet: A premium airline within an airline.
Only one other airline in the world has a wholly owned executive jet fleet and that is Delta Air Lines. The next closest is Lufthansa who uses NetJets Europe for their private jet flights and even Singapore Airlines has a working relationship with JetSuite. But there is no one in the Middle East/Eastern Europe that offers an executive jet fleet with the facilities and access of a major carrier, like Qatar Airways.
A Qatar Executive Jet Challenger 605 at Doha International Airport – Photo: Mal Muir airlinereporter.com
Qatar Executive Jet is based out of Doha International Airport where they have a small hangar next door to the Qatar Amiri Fleet facility. They currently operate a fleet of six aircraft: 2 Bombardier Global 5000’s, 1 Global Express XRS & 3 Challenger 605’s. They offer 24/7, on-demand service, with the ability to go from booking, to flying in as little as four hours — not too shabby.
Qatar Executive can also be hired for charter work and if the six aircraft in the fleet are not large enough, you can also get access to the Qatar Airways main fleet.
The Interior of the Challenger 605 as it is being readied for a Flight – Photo: Mal Muir airlinereporter.com
I was lucky enough to access the ramp and hangars while in Doha on a quiet Saturday morning. Unfortunately only one aircraft was available. We had only a very short window to tour the Challenger 605, since it was being serviced ready for a flight to Mauritius — wish I could have joined. Even though the 605 looks small on the outside (it is almost 20 feet shorter than its CRJ200 sibling), it is incredibly spacious on the inside. With the ability to turn its seats into two single beds and a double bed along with the sofa… it makes it the perfect size for a few couples heading off somewhere exotic.
Big comfortable leather seats, designer amenities, food and drinks of your choice (McDonald’s anyone?), an amazingly immaculate interior, personal crew and in-flight connectivity all add to ideal you are not an average citizen. Also, smoke ’em if you have ’em. For the smokers out there, you can smoke your favorite Cuban, without a problem. They will even light it for you.
A Comfortable Leather Seat onboard the Challenger 605 – Photo: Mal Muir airlinereporter.com
With only six aircraft in the fleet, Qatar Executive Jet still managed to win Best Business Aviation Operator of the Year 2012. Surely this shows that for a small airline that has been around for just three years, it was a smart business decision. All those little touches and the knowledge that the Executive Jet service is backed by the main airline makes it a sure fire winner in the private jet arena. Now that is the way to travel right?
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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