Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Singapore & Malaysia 2014

Flight Log 3: QR938

Doha (DOH) - Singapore (SIN)

ABOVE: While I didn't get any external shots of my own aircraft, I did capture these views of sister ship A7-BCA from the comfort of my seat

It was my first-ever flight on a Boeing 787 'Dreamliner', and despite feeling mildly under the weather due what appeared to be the onset of a cold, I was surprisingly excited and filled with anticipation. I climbed the steps at our remote stand with considerable enthusiasm, eager to see what the much-publicised aircraft would be like inside. My first impression on boarding via Door 2L was that the Business Class cabin was certainly very appealing from an aesthetic point of view, with the door area resembling more the Reception space of a small business than a typical aircraft entrance.

RIGHT and BELOW: Initial impressions of the Qatar Airways Business Class cabin on the Boeing 787

I already knew that the seats would be laid out in a 1+2+1 formation, with every seat having direct access to the aisle - very much the way that the Business Class market is now moving. (Nobody relishes the prospect of climbing over a fellow passenger.) The seat 'pods' were certainly packed into the available space, giving a busy overall impression not dissimilar to the standard version of British Airways' First Class. Within each pod, however, the amount of personal space was impressive: I had more shelf storage directly beside my seat, for example, than on my previous sector in Qatar First Class!

As I settled into my seat, I couldn't help noticing the large video screen in close proximity. More unusually - although again, well publicised in advance - there was no sign of the familiar sliding shades on the large windows. Instead, a dimmer switch did all the work - and it was much more pleasant to look out of the whole of a partially dimmed window, compared to the usual compromise of squinting out of the lowest 20%. A menu booklet and drinks list, Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit, bottle of water, set of headphones and a supplementary bag of socks, earplugs, etc, were all already in place in my seat area. I was given a choice of hot or cold towel and the conventional side of me prompted selection of the former, despite the already warm conditions outside. I confined my fluid intake to a glass of apple juice at this stage, probably because the same side of me was keenly aware of the time of day.

RIGHT: The large 787 windows gave some good post-departure views

We moved off-stand a couple of minutes early and made the short taxi to Runway 34L. When the time came to begin our run, there wasn't much of a kick from the engines - just a smooth, steady build-up of speed. And what happened to the celebrated Boeing roar, which had apparently been replaced by a constant and rather grating high-pitched whine? Despite the difference in aircraft size, the take-off experience reminded me of that on an Airbus A380: gradual, lumbering and with a constant feeling of being just that little bit underpowered.

Once airborne, cabin service got underway fairly quickly and featured Qatar's 'anything you want, at any time' model. That having been said, I expect that almost everyone regarded this as 'the breakfast service'.

Tempt your taste buds with our on-demand menu designed to your desire, in any order and at any time during your flight.
To revive   Tempting your palate
Raspberry and lychee smoothie   Eel harumaki nobu salsa
Freshly squeezed orange juice    
Laban   On request
    Chicken kofta salad: crisp leaves, grilled halloumi, bell
To commence   peppers, carrot, cucumber, fried sliced potato and mint
Toasted muesli   yoghurt
Nobu fruit plate    
Breakfast plate of prawn and gravlax: crisp leaves,   Classic Arabic mezze: hummus, tabouleh and baba
Gruyère cheese, salmon roe, black lump caviar, crouton   ghanoush, served with Arabic bread
with dill cream cheese    
    Stir-fried scallop and shrimp in Yue Xiang sauce, served
To follow   with Canton noodles and Asian vegetables
Banana chocolate crepe, with crème fraîche, chocolate    
sauce and strawberry   Arabic spiced lamb wrap, served with sumac onion, cherry
    tomato, za'atar roasted potato and raita
Cheddar cheese omelette, with spring onion potato cake,    
grilled Portobello mushroom, herb Roma tomato and   Individual cheese plate of mature Cheddar, Fourme
chicken sausage   d'Ambert and Brie Le Maubert, served with dried apricot,
    prune cake, carrot and celery sticks
Prawn and bamboo shoot in red curry sauce: wok-fried    
meehon with Asian vegetables and tofu   Freshly baked cookies
Arabic breakfast plate: labneh with za'atar, feta cheese,   Bakery basket
herb shanklish, marinated olives and cherry tomatoes,   Granary, herb, cereal baguette, tomato and basil roll
served with ful mesdames and za'atar manakish    
    Relax & unwind
On the side   Tea: Ceylon, Ceylon spice chai, chamomile,
Main dishes are accompanied by your choice of corn   decaffeinated, Earl Grey, English breakfast, jasmine,
fritter, teriyaki salmon and chicken seekh kebab   mint, oolong, rooibos, sencha green
Breakfast bakery basket    
Blueberry muffin, croissant, cereal baguette and Arabic    
Relax & unwind    
Coffee: cappuccino, espresso, caffè latte, macchiato,    
American, decaffeinated    
Tea: Ceylon, Ceylon spice chai, chamomile,  
decaffeinated, Earl Grey, English breakfast, jasmine,    
mint, oolong, rooibos, sencha green    
Champagne   Red wine
Billecart-Salmon   Croix de Beaucaillou 2007, Bordeaux, France
Taittinger Prestige Rosé   Bellingham 2012, Franschhoek, South Africa
    Villa Maria 2010, Marlborough, New Zealand
White wine    
Bouchard Père & Fils Meursault 2011, Burgundy, France Dessert wine and Port
Esk Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Marlborough, NZ   Oremus Tokaji Aszú 2008, Hungary
Dr Loosen Riesling Spätlese 2011, Mosel Valley, Germany   Kopke Tolheita 1974, Douro Valley, Portugal

I had the beautifully presented prawn and gravlax starter followed by the similarly attractive omelette, both accompanied by a typical breakfast selection of bakery products. I remember really enjoying the meal, but my next memory is that of being woken by one of the flight attendants, who wanted to complete the job of tidying up the cabin by clearing my table - oops! Despite also accepting a hot towel at this time, I fell asleep again almost instantly and was out for several hours.

*     *     *     *     *

I eventually woke up, feeling quite refreshed and ready to enjoy what remained of this flight. I abandoned my long-paused movie - I can't even recall what it was! - in favour of a succession of half-hour episodes of both Black Adder and The Big Bang Theory. When I eventually felt peckish again, I pressed my call button and ordered a delightfully non-standard assortment of food that started with the spicy lamb wrap, served with a beer. Having missed out on the cheese service (to say nothing of the 1974 vintage port!) on my previous First Class flight, I also took the opportunity to right this wrong. Finally, I had a big mug of Earl Grey tea and a couple of all-American cookies.

Our route had taken us via Dubai and Mumbai, across the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea towards the Singapore Strait. Already I could see the familiar sight of countless ships at anchor, and then came the sudden appearance of the most densely built-up part of Singapore. We touched down at Changi Airport at 2125 local time, with lots of reverse thrust, and arrived on-stand just a few minutes later. Despite the darkness, it was 28C outside.

This first 'Dreamliner' experience had gone very well indeed. As previously, the Qatar Business Class offering had been pitched somewhere between traditional first class and business class, as exemplified by aspects of the cabin design, food selection, drinks list and style of service. One feature of the 787 that I haven't yet mentioned is its much vaunted pressurisation to something a little closer to sea level, coupled with higher than usual cabin humidity. I certainly felt in great physical shape after this long flight, but the extent to which that was attributable to cabin pressurisation and humidity (as distinct from the fact that I slept very well indeed) is anyone's guess.

One way or another, I left with something of a spring in my step, pondering the intriguing fact that this very aircraft type was now offering direct service between Edinburgh and Doha.

LEFT and BELOW: First meal of the flight (breakfast) RIGHT and BELOW: Pre-arrival selection
Date: Thu 27 Nov 2014 
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Scheduled dep: 0905
Actual departure: 0903
Scheduled arrival: 2130
Actual arrival: 2132
Cabin: Business Class
Seat: 2A

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