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.
People who love to fly don’t fly economy.
For the past several months, my husband has pitched the idea of AirlineReporter readers likely being interested in a trip report written by a ’œnormal person’ like me. In this case, ’œnormal’ is defined as someone who doesn’t choose flights based on the aircraft model, or speak in cabin class codes (e.g. Y, J, M, F). I am not an AvGeek and I am sort of proud of it (although I still love you all).
My husband and I fly together several times a year and, when we do, I am able to piggyback off of his status and occasionally get a free upgrade to business/first for domestic flights. However, the ’œopportunity’ for me to fly long-haul economy eventually arose when I needed to fly from Seattle to Hyderabad, India for work.
British Airways 747 seen at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport flying to London – Photo: Benjamin Whalen | AirlineReporter
To establish some context, I consider myself to be an experienced economy flier. Before meeting my husband and learning of the world of mileage runners and aviation geekdom, I had several flights between the US and Europe to visit distant relatives, as well as a semester studying abroad where I tried to fly to another city every other weekend. In all of these cases, I only ever flew economy, and have fond memories of being nestled under a blanket and binge-watching in-flight entertainment on a few good-length flights. Even though I didn’t pay much attention to the seat dimensions, I enjoyed flying and viewed it as a chance for peace, quiet, and self-reflection.
However, my flight to and from India was going to be much more rigorous than my previous travels. I had two back-to-back ten-hour flights in British Airways’ economy class, traveling from SEA>LHR>HYD. To top it off, I needed to do the reciprocal leg within five days of my arrival.
The A350 flight deck being shown off by its joyful flight crew – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
For press, the delivery ceremony completion usually means it is either time to drive back home, or return to the hotel and pack for the flight.
Not this day.
Airbus and Qatar Airways decided that it would be a great way to enhance the press experience if everyone was given a demonstration flight aboard the Airbus A350.
This was a great idea, so there had to be some kind of drawback! For a demonstration flight that would last an hour with pre-selected passengers, all 200 of us present had to go through security screening. A process that felt like it took longer than the flight itself. What a surprise, no one had any contraband or ill intent!
Rant aside, after what felt like an eternity, I finally made it onto the jet bridge to a crowd that was more akin to being in the last row of economy on a domestic narrowbody. I realized then and there that taking any kind of photographic imagery was going to be a challenge.
Door L1 on Qatar Airways’ first A350 XWB, long after the crowd had dispersed for lunch Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
We boarded via a choice of either L1 or L2, I chose L2 as I wanted to see the lovely dome light and the in-flight bar. The doors themselves do not create any temporary feelings of claustrophobia. In the case of L2, you immediately walk into a spacious and open atrium. The ceiling is higher than one has come to expect on regular passenger aircraft, the walls more vertical.
Virgin America Airbus A320 – Photo: David Parker Brown
It has been a while since I’ve flown on Virgin America, and to be honest I’ve sort of missed it. The purplely-pink mood lighting, good food, and that awesome entertainment system; it was a light cutting through the otherwise dark and dank scene of American domestic economy flying.
Thus I was rather looking forward to getting back in the air with Virgin, spurred on by its new codeshare partnership with China Airlines (which I recently sampled and detailed here). Arriving at SeaTac on November 30th, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, I expected mayhem but was instead met with relative calm.
The economy seats in Virgin America’s Airbus A320 – Photo: David Parker Brown
Virgin provided me a ticket in its Main Cabin Express (MCE) block of seats. The benefits are slight, basically amounting to early boarding after first class, seating in the first few rows of economy as well as guaranteed overhead bin access. The service and product are otherwise identical to the rest of the economy cabin.
Boarding was a bit chaotic, mostly thanks to the gate agent never actually announcing that it was time for MCE to board. Suspecting that I’d missed something, I joined the boarding line which now included main cabin passengers, and was ushered on the plane and into seat 5A.
Ryanair Boeing 737-800 – Photo: Steven Paduchak
That’s right, people, it happened! Last weekend, I flew Ryanair with my buddy Dan. It was a quick weekend getaway from Frankfurt to London. We’re here in Germany on a semester abroad, and neither of us had been to the United Kingdom. Before coming over “the pond”, we knew it was on the list of places to visit.
It all started on a Wednesday afternoon. We booked the trip a few weeks prior, and we were counting down the days. We all know Ryanair. They’re known for having the cheapest airfare in the industry; making the airline beloved here in all of Europe. The Dublin-based air carrier offered us each a forty euro (yes, you read that right) roundtrip from Frankfurt to London. That’s a huge deal, flying between two major European markets.
I knew after a deal this unbelievable, there’d be some sort of catch. In the end, there definitely was. Left and right, we were advised we had to pay for everything; printing off boarding passes, seat selection, food, etc… Being cautious of something like this, we came well prepared with food and boarding passes already printed off, so we managed to avoid all the imposed fees.
The day finally came, and we were on our way. To our surprise, however, the airport we flew out of was FOREVER away. It was one of the biggest catches we didn’t realize until our journey. The airline flies into the smaller and medium-sized airports in order to avoid the hefty landing fees imposed by the major international locations. This is completely understandable – we all want to save money whenever we can, right?