Thanks to my ‘special friends’ at Department of Homeland Security I had a big SSSS on my boarding pass and I knew that without a TSA approval I would not be able to fly. However I had arrived for my Qatar Airways flight from San Francisco with American Airlines First Class and I would not even have to go through security since I never left the secure area. I walked over to the boarding gate and the gate agent confirmed that I would not need to pass security and was ‘good to go’ (even if my boarding pass clearly said SSSS).
Doubtful I approached the TSA supervisor (from within the secure area) and he wasn’t sure either if I would need a secondary security check. He was happy to run a check on me though if I would volunteer for it and so I did. It took a good 30 minutes until it was all done incl. the special ‘JFK pat down’ (quiet a love affair). Now I did this to myself and apparently it wasn’t needed according to the gate agent.
The TSA supervisor stamped and cleared one boarding pass. Come boarding I show up at the gate and promptly the scanner beeps and the agent does snot let me board. I refer to my prior conversation with her co-worker and (seemingly she being more senior) and she flatly tells me that he was wrong. She needed the TSA stamp on the correct boarding pass or no flight for me.
There were just 35 minutes left to departure! Running through a secondary check would have been tight! However thanks to my voluntary check earlier I was able to just get another stamp.
Would I have relied in the QR gate agent I very likely would have missed my flight.
The Business Class cabin on this Sunday evening was pretty full. I had a window seat and a seat mate. The angled lie-flat seat of Qatar Airways isn’t exactly a state of the art product. However the cabin still looks beautiful. I love how they play with the light tones to make it more warm. That’s something Cathay Pacific really needs to work on.
Boarding was quick and we were looking at an on-time departure. The huge engines of the 777 right outside my window screeched at take-off and we made into the windy skies of New York City that night.
Meal service started right away – and by right away I mean right away. At barely 2,000 feet of elevation the cabin attendant came by to ask for dinner choices. Holy cow!
I selected both appetizers (I was more curious than hungry) and the chicken entree. All of them were delicious, well prepared, well designed and just came out at the right right temperature.
My assigned flight attendant was extremely friendly and maybe a bit to subservient. Drinks and food took a while to come out but hey I was also the very end of the business class cabin with 42 seats (about 35 were taken).
I received PJs just after take off and put them on – they were at least 4 sizes too big – but oh well. After the meal service and a movie I was ready to call it a day.
I wasn’t looking forward to sleeping on an angled lie flat seat but after dessert and some more delicious red wine I felt I had to give it a try. Little did I know that I had trouble waking up before getting in Doha (9.5 hours later). I did not wake up once! Indeed I had trouble to take pictures of a stub breakfast and clear up and get dressed before we approached the Hamad International Airport.
The seat was much better than I thought for sleeping and I could sleep in all sleeping positions (it is rather wide). My sleep was even more amazing as the babies and toddlers kept quite a high noise level. In fact I slept better than on my last Etihad Business Class flight (which had a far superior seat).
All in all I’m not sure what to make of this flight. The QR gate agent should have known better – I could have easily missed my flight. He needs to know his work better! The angled lie-flat seat felt odd but I slept like a baby (if not better) and the food was just perfect. I can’t think of a better flight attendant!
I think Qatar could do very well with new planes and better designed seats. Their soft product (the food, the service, the whole cabin layout) is very well done and should get more praise than it usually does. Qatar Airlines feels very much like a good Indian luxury hotel – aging hardware but superb service, awesome food and just a general aura of luxury. Very different than the cold ‘bling machine’ of Emirates.
I’d love to fly Qatar again!