Cold Lighting, Lukewarm Service: Qatar from Hong Kong to Doha

At the airport

I arrived at the airport a couple of hours before departure and there was only a small queue to check in. The seat for this sector alone had not been assigned on my ticket and at the desk I was assigned 10H. That is an excellent option on this aircraft as it is in the front row of the economy cabin, so is already more spacious than the seats behind it, but in addition the wall in front falls away a little, so it is easy to stretch one’s legs out fully.

Equipment

The plane was operated by a Boeing 787-800.

The seats felt pretty small, and had a slight recline. There was a decent sized television monitor although as I was in a front row seat this was stowed beneath the seat until airborne. Qatar offered a wide range of international entertainment, although it was interesting to see that this was similar but not the same as on my connecting flight from Doha, also operated by Qatar. The controls are not completely intuitive but not too difficult to figure out.

At the seat was a good sized blanket and pillow, as well as an amenity kit including socks, eye mask, ear plugs and toothbrush.

Qatar has a lighting scheme which matches its corporate logo colours of grey and purple. For much of the flight that meant that the cabin had a ghoulish glow which personally I didn’t like at all. You can see this, for example, in the photo below of the dinner, which reflects the lighting scheme in the cabin. This lighting feels uncomfortable to me and reduces my ability to feel relaxed on a long-haul flight.

Flight

The boarding at gate 24 was decently smooth – a long queue, but it moved at a good clip. We pushed back a few minutes after schedule. The economy cabin looked to be almost full, with just a couple of empty seats. We taxied for a while and never made up the ensuing delay. The flight was a smooth one all the way.

We arrived at gate C10 at eleven o’clock, twenty minutes behind schedule.

Service

I hear mixed reports about service on Qatar but in general I am unimpressed. On this as on many other Qatar flights I found the cabin crew to be mechanical, appeared disinterested and lacking warmth. They almost seem uncomfortable interacting with passengers at some points.

Shortly after takeoff the cabin crew passed out wet wipes, and then menus for the flight which are proper menus of a decent size. They did a drinks service and a dinner service, quickly collected the meal trays and then were mostly invisible until breakfast a couple of hours before landing, which also started with wet wipes.

One thing I noticed as on some other Qatar flights was the cabin crew’s habit of passing drinks between each other over the heads of passengers in the middle row, which I think is both impolite and more likely to someone having a drink fall on them.

Food and Drink

                The menu for the flight was as follows.

For dinner I had the fish. The fish was a bit bland but the whole dish was good enough, and well cooked without being overdone.

For breakfast I had prawn congee, which was good and with plentiful prawns.

Qatar uses rectangular meals for their entrees which are hard to eat from and make the dish look less attractive.

Conclusion

This flight did little to change my mind on Qatar’s economy flights. Service and comfort aren’t great, the food is fine but nothing special. I wouldn’t recommend them other than on price.

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