Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

Flight Log: January 2011: QR45

Doha (DOH) - Manchester (MAN)

Transfer to the A330-300 from the Qatar Airways Premium Terminal was via one of the airline's full-size buses fitted with just twelve individual, armchair-like seats. As I climbed the steps and passed through Door 2L, it was a very short distance to my assigned seat, 5A. The cabin was laid out in five rows of 2+2+2, with the middle seats slightly offset from those at the side. I initially thought that the seats bore a passing resemblance to the Lufthansa design, but soon concluded that they had more in common with those of fellow Gulf carrier, Emirates. With Qatar advertising itself globally as World's Five-Star Airline - which I suppose is a stronger marketing message than 'one of the world's five-star airlines' - my expectations were high as I took my seat.

The cabin crew were instantly on the scene and I had my jacket hung, was brought an apple juice with ice, and was offered a copy of the Wall Street Journal and choice of hot or cold towel. I declined the newspaper and, somewhat conventionally, plumped for the hot towel. The expected flight time was announced as 7hrs 25mins, but we were apparently anticipating a ten-minute delay while we waited for some connecting passengers. In the event, doors were closed at 0755, the safety video was started up and we pushed back at 0757. (Although it was a remote stand, the parking pattern demanded that we push back.)

As we taxied out to the runway, the crew took breakfast orders and asked each passenger whether they would like to be woken up for lunch. The breakfast options were as follows:



To Revive
Freshly squeezed orange juice
Cranberry juice
Strawberry and avocado smoothie
To Commence
Toasted muesli
Fresh fruit and fruit compote with yoghurt
Salad plate of gravlax and branade of salted cod
To Follow
Ricotta hotcakes, raspberries and crème fraiche, with maple syrup
Japanese crab omelette, ponzu sauce, field mushrooms and asparagus, with choice of Japanese grilled salmon, zucchini and marjoram frittata, or veal burger
Classic Arabic breakfast
Breakfast Bakery Basket
Croissant, banana muffin, brown and white toast
Tea & Coffee
Cappuccino, espresso, caffe latte, macchiato, American
Earl Grey, English breakfast, green, roasted Japanese, Moroccan mint, camomile, sencha green, green jasmine

We finally took off at 0815 local time, heading directly towards the city on Runway 34. Once the crew had been released, one of them asked my seatmate if he would care to move to 1A/B, which were empty. His response was to look puzzled for a second and then decline.   Catching the look on my face, the flight attendant said: "Perhaps you would like to move?" I had grabbed my belongings and was on my feet in microseconds. "May as well use the available space," I said to 5B, who shrugged his shoulders. It never fails to amaze me that, even in Business Class, some people have no great expectations or desire to optimise the experience. To me, the flight had just been transformed.

Relocated to 1A, I realised what a great move it had been. First, the partitions between the seats were much longer to allow for screen storage, thereby giving an increased sense of privacy, and secondly, the only other occupant of the row was 1K: result! I decided to watch an episode of the classic TV sitcom Bewitched, which had always been a childhood favourite. I had a satisfying and unusually fishy breakfast of apple juice, salad plate and the Japanese omelette with grilled salmon. Reminding myself that this was a Business Class flight, I thought that the standard of presentation of the food exceeded what some airlines manage in First Class. I had an individual bowl containing all the bakery items and washed it all down with a straightforward American coffee.

When the tables were cleared, a hot towel and bottle of Evian mineral water were delivered, and I settled down to watch the political thriller The Pelican Brief. When the time came to pay a visit to the washroom, I was pleased to find Molton Brown products, including my favourite Naran Ji handwash. Once the movie was finished, I had a short snooze and then passed the time reading. For the second time in rapid succession, I appeared to be having a music-free flight. I wondered briefly if something might be wrong with me.

With three hours to go, a further round of hot towels preceded the taking of lunch orders, the choice being as follows:



Indulgence: Your choice of
Cream of roasted zucchini soup with semi-dried tomato and basil twists
Tandoori chicken kofta served on seasonal garden salad
Classic Arabic mezze
Warm sandwich of pesto chicken, tomato and herb salsa
Sliced fresh fruit
An individual cheese plate of farmhouse aged cheddar, double-cream brie and mild blue


1998 Lanson Brut, Millesime, Champagne, France
White Wine
Chardonnay: 2004Chassagne Montrachet, Burgundy, France
Sauvignon Blanc: 2009 St Clair Wairau Reserve, Marlborough, New Zealand
Riesling Kabinett: 2008 Selbach-Oster, Zeltinger Schossberg, Mosel, Germany
Red Wine
2007 Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, Bordeaux, France
2004 Poggio Antico, Tuscany, Italy
2006 Shiraz Fox Creek Reserve, McLaren Vale, Australia
Taylor's 20-year old tawny port, Portugal

It seemed that lunch was more a varied selection of light bites, rather than a full meal, but frankly that seemed fair enough given that it was the second food offering on a relatively short long-haul flight. I started up a National Geographic documentary on Machu Picchu while I sampled the delicious soup and the chicken 'sandwich' masquerading as a Cornish pasty, washed down with a couple of glasses of the French Chardonnay. I debated whether or not to ask for some cheese, but in the event was content to finish off with a cappuccino. I made some appreciative comments as my table was being cleared, so perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised when, two minutes later, I was asked to complete a survey form!

When the documentary was finished, I switched over to the map and was able to see that our route had initially been via Iraq, Turkey, the Black Sea and Romania. We had then passed just north of Budapest and then directly over Brno, Prague and Amsterdam. A final round of hot towels as we crossed the east coast of England, together with the seat belt signs coming on, emphasised that the journey was nearing its end. We touched down at 1227 local time into a very chilly Manchester Airport, with a midday temperature of just 3C. After what seemed like an unusually slow taxi, we finally parked at Terminal 2, adjacent to the Radisson Blu hotel. 

Date: Tue 04 Jan 2011
Aircraft : Airbus A330-300
Scheduled dep : 0735
Actual departure : 0757
Scheduled arrival : 1230
Actual arrival : 1235
Cabin : Business
Seat : 5A/1A

Linked reports from same trip:

Flight Log LX242



Abu Dhabi