A fewÂ weeks ago, I had the chance to fly Qatar Airways on their (current) longest flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Qatarâ€™s home hub in Doha â€“ about 16 hours. Given all the talk about them being named a â€œFive Star Airlineâ€ by Skytrax, and our previous coverage of flying Qatar, I was really excited for this flight. Â 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 walkedÂ outside,Â 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.
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 wasnâ€™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.
The static display at this year’s EBACE consisted of 53 aircraft – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
I was fortunate enough to attend the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) again this year in Geneva. This is the premier business aviation event in Europe and is the second-largest gathering of industry professionals, following the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA)Â convention in America.
This year’s EBACE attracted close to 500 exhibitors and 53 aircraft on static display. While this was not as impressive as last year’s event, there were still some new and interesting additions not previously seen. The clear highlight, for me, was checking out the HondaJet.
The HondaJet was the star of the show at EBACE – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
This was the first public appearance of Honda’s new light business jet in Europe. The aircraft is most easily recognizable by its wing-mounted engines, something that is a major first. This unique design, increases the baggage volume and allows for a fully-enclosed lavatory to be fitted in the cabin. And who doesn’t appreciate that?
Qatar Airways’ A340-600 at LHR – Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter
QATAR AIRWAYS A340-600 ECONOMY CLASS FLIGHTÂ REVIEW BASICS:
Airline:Â Qatar Airways
Aircraft:Â Airbus A340-600
Departed:Â Dubai (DXB)
Arrived:Â Doha (DOH)
Stops:Â Non-stop flight
Class:Â Economy Class
Length:Â 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.Â 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 usedÂ 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 sinceÂ 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,Â 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.