Qatar (like Etihad) puts most of their aircraft on the routes to India in order to feed the big number of Indian customers into their network. This particular aircraft had been delivered to Qatar in June 2015 and makes its rounds to many European destinations in its regular rotation.
India airports used to be Gestapo-like when you tried to enter an airport without a printed itinerary. This has changed thankfully and an iPhone app does the trick now. Check-In was chaotic with everyone coming and cutting into the line. My itinerary would include Qatar and Etihad flights in one ticket – Qatar could not give me a boarding pass for Etihad flights (no surprise there) but the QR boarding passes printed.
Qatar has no lounge at Delhi airport. However it gives you a choice between the two Plaza Premium Lounges and the lounge run by ITC. They all seem to be run by the same company and look very much alike. They are also Priority Pass lounges. However the ITC lounge had some decent Indian breakfast options and looked the cleanest and best run for me. I could not get the WiFi to work and restricted myself to coffee and breakfast.
When we walked over to Gate 15 (the closest to the main airport hall, which also has its own Starbucks) boarding hadn’t started. The plane apparently got in late but 20 minutes later Economy boarded first. I’m not sure why Qatar does this but unlike pretty much any airline they board Economy first and Business last. In fact had to wait on my last flight to Kigali for the last bus. It’s a good idea if you can sit in the lounge and have an escort to the plane but it does not work like that at Doha airport even – much less at an outstation.
About halfway into Economy boarding the 5 Business Class passengers also got a chance to board (through a separate entrance). The Business Class cabin for the 787 is brand new and I felt a big step up from the Qatar Business Class 777 I flew last year from New York to Doha. The suite resembles (my favorite Business Class for sleeping – Cathay Pacific Business Class) but comes from a different manufacturer. It’s longer but the foot cubby smaller (too small for my feet anyways).
There is plenty of stowage and the remote control looks more like a Samsung phone than a remote. It’s pretty clunky though. The display is big, crisp and close to you. You can watch from boarding to landing without moving the display around.
The flight attendants helped us to get settled in – while the Economy Class seemed full, Business Class had only 6 out of 24 seats filled. We had the full attention of three flight attendants. After four or five security demonstration videos we finally pushed back about 45 minutes late. Qatar does not serve alcohol before takeoff at Indian airports (but does so of course after take off).
After just a few minutes of taxiing we took off and the service started quickly. Barely ten minutes later I had an excellent Rose Brut champagne and nuts on my table.
Shortly after that I tried the Arabian mezze and the lamb kebap. Both were way too salty and not my taste (though I love hummus and Baba ghanoush usually). The main course was a chicken breast and was much better – certainly not as good as any of the Indian dishes I had in New Delhi but decent airplane food.
The dessert options were fruit and chocolate – both were no options for me.
I found the seat to be very comfortable and easy to handle with the many seat controls. It allows fro enough space between the seat, table and display at any time. After lunch and a movie set it to lie-flat and took a quick nap. The big head rest makes it rough to sleep on your stomach but on your back and side this isn’t an issue. I wished I would have had more foot space but i was happy with the position for the nap.
Landing into Doha was quick and hot – the AC seemed to be unable to cope with the scorching 120 degrees as the cabin would be hot from about 15 minutes outside the touchdown.