Qatar Airways Economy Review Malta (MLA) to Addis Abeba (ADD) A320 and 777ER
For this Qatar Economy flight from Malta to Addis Abeba, I had reviewed a few options. I wasn't sure what kind of aircraft Qatar Airways would use for the Doha to Addis Abeba leg (the equipment varies from an A320 to a 777W/L and B787). I also assumed the A320 from Doha would just come with a recliner seat Business Class which I reviewed a number of times (i.e. Qatar Business Class A320 to Entebbe and Qatar Business Class A320 from Dar es Salaam). It was a stormy day in Malta with dark thunderstorm clouds hanging all over the island. At 6.30 AM the Qatar Airways check-in was buzzing but it moved quickly and there were plenty of helpful employees. Check-in was done with a smile and lots of knowledge! I made my way to the La Vallete Priority Pass lounge which has a beautiful view over the runway. There were some decent breakfast items as well - alas no drinkable coffee came out of the espresso makers. Boarding was right on time and seemed extra orderly using the bus gate provided. To my surprise, Airbus A320 (A7-AHT) which was delivered in 2012 had been upgraded to 12 lie-flat seats in Business Class. The economy was about 70% full and the empty middle seats made this more akin to the European style Business Class in Economy. There is plenty of seat pitch (even my knees can't reach the seat in front of me). Unfortunately, two little toddlers next to me did not like the flight much and threw high pitched tantrums almost half the time. Despite the ominous clouds, we took off towards the northwest. Turbulence wasn't as bad as these thunderstorm clouds made me think but with a rough tumble, we stayed a take-off power for 10 minutes and climbed out as fast as we could. Just 10 minutes later it was all clear skies. Qatar Airways had seven (!) flight attendants working the rather small cabin. After about 90 minutes a breakfast service came through and the noodles (called vermicelli euphemistically) were certainly edible. None of the other breakfast items were my favorite though. Most of the flight was uneventful - with the exception of some sudden but major bumps over Lebanon and Syria. Here is the pricing for the Wifi (which I did not use). My ears were tinning when landing on Qatar with the toddlers making this flight a nightmare in terms of my impending headache. Doha airports was almost empty during the midday (Crowds can be menacing during the night when most connections run). The excellent Priority Pass lounge was empty too. I love the hummus served at the various lounges at Doha airport (it all seems to come from the same catering company). My mood improved until the lounge filled up at the Internet died a slow death. I got to my gate a bit early only to see a raucous ensemble of Ethiopians eagerly awaiting boarding. The gate agent was strict about the zone boarding making the pushing and shoving quite a nightmare. Eventually, everyone got on a bus and we went past seemingly one hundred planes and surprise/surprise we stopped in front of a massive 777-330 ER. These planes usually go to Houston or Los Angeles! And indeed it was equipped with QSuites - but not for me thanks to my Economy ticket. Addis Abeba is usually served with A320s but not today. While the pushy passengers made boarding a lot of drama - it turned out the 777 had NO (!) passengers in the huge Business Class cabins and was just 50% full in Economy. Only Allah knows why this route was upgraded to a 777. I moved the seats to get a poor man's' Business Class' and enjoyed myself quite a bit during this flight. It was eerily quiet the whole time - I could barely make out any engine noise, there was no turbulence and the food was pretty good too. I had my own little QSuite laying down on four seats in the middle. The only negative comment I can make is that the flight attendants seemed to disappear for the entire flight - I was trying to get a drink but failed before the fasten seat belt sign came back on for landing. The landing was fast and furious into a windy evening (at 7,500 feet landing speeds are higher). We were bussed to the old terminal where a single officer handled all visas on arrival procedures. Of course, no credit cards are accepted and he had to disappear for minutes to a bank to get change for US currency. Oh, Ethiopia! In sum, this was a VERY decent Economy flight. Both flights mirrored each other with a loud flight but jovial and friendly flight attendants and a second flight that seemed to become stressful but ended up being very relaxing.