As an avgeek, I was excited that I would be flying a lot throughout my trip. Below are the list of the flights
- QR945 Singapore Changi (SIN) – Doha Hamad (DOH) by Airbus A330-300
- QR109 Doha Hamad (DOH) – Rome Fiumicino (FCO) by Airbus A330-200
- FR9112 Turin Caselle (TRN) – Barcelona El Prat (BCN) by Boeing B737-800
- TO3133 Barcelona El Prat (BCN) – Paris Orly (ORY) by Airbus A320
- FR1243 Budapest Ferenc Lisz (BUD) – Athens Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH) by Boeing 737-800
- A3990 Athens Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH) – Istanbul Atatürk (IST) by Airbus A319
- QR246 Istanbul Atatürk (IST) – Doha Hamad (DOH) by Airbus A330-200
- QR946 Doha Hamad (DOH) – Singapore Changi (SIN) by Airbus A350-900
- SQ950 Singapore Changi (SIN) – Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta (CGK) by Boeing B777-300
- SQ957 Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta (CGK) – Singapore Changi (SIN) by Airbus A350-900
This flight report covers the first two flights which brought me to Rome.
After I finished my internship on Friday 27th May, it was time to move on even though I enjoyed it. On Monday afternoon, I finished packing and sent my stuffs to a storage service. I checked out from my university dorm at 4 PM and that means I would be homeless for a few hours, so I decided that I just went to the airport straightaway even though my flight was very late in the night.
Actually I had another reason for that. When doing online check-in, I just realized that my SIN-DOH flight’s aircraft had been changed from A350-900 to A330-300. I was so devastated because this was the second change. Initially my following flight to Rome was going to be operated with B787-8 Dreamliner but it was later changed to A330-200; and now this??
Knowing that the earlier SIN-DOH flight (QR947 departing at 21.20) was still going to be operated with A350-900, I wanted to try asking if I could move to earlier flight. I would have had longer stay in Doha, but the flight would arrive at midnight and I could sleep more peacefully there rather than on the plane.
I arrived at Singapore Changi Airport at 5.45 PM. Too early. Even early check-in counter for QR947 had not opened yet. However there had already been a few passengers queuing at the counter, so I just joined the queue. When it opened, I directly went to the general counter and asked if I could fly earlier.
I have always liked Changi’s Terminal 3
The result was negative.
Actually they told me that they did not have the right to do that, and I had to call Qatar Airways reservation for rebooking. Thinking that it would be troublesome, I just took my original flight. I went back to the check-in counter and retrieved my boarding pass for QR945. It went smooth, I did not drop any baggage and they did not even bother weighing my backpack. The staff just looked at it and said: “ah can already” even though its weight was actually 11 kg,
There were still 8 hours before my flight, so I went downstairs and had a dinner at Kopitiam as one of my friend wanted to meet me before I left. We spent around 3 hours there, and after she went home I went up again to the departure area.
Initially I wanted to enter the airside, but I decided to went up to T3 public area to see what was there. I found Changi Aviation Gallery, which gave information about airport and its facts. Quite interesting.
Finally I entered airside. It was a quite crowded night at Terminal 3 because overnight SQ flights mainly departed from there. Since my flight was still 5 hours away, I directly went to the snooze lounge because I did not actually feel quite well. It is good that an airport have a sleeping lounge!
I spent 2-3 hours lying there. Not really sleeping because I knew I might overslept, I just lied there checking internet. After that I went to my gate. My gate was A3, so finally I got the chance to use Terminal 3 common gates! (Err is there something special about it?)
Since the departure was scheduled to be 02.25 AM, it was stated on the boarding pass that the boarding time would be 01.25 AM. However, even until 01.20 the gate was still not ready. Some passengers had started queuing in front of the gate because they had nothing to do. When finally the gate opened at 01.20, I straightaway went in. It did not take too long until the boarding call was made.
Qatar Airways Flight 945
Changi International Airport Singapore, Singapore (SIN) – Hamad International Airport Doha, Qatar (DOH)
Scheduled Departure Time : 02.25 (UTC +8)
Actual Departure Time : 02.52 (UTC +8)
Scheduled Arrival Time : 05.00 (UTC +3)
Actual Arrival Time : 05.59 (UTC +3)
Indeed, it was Airbus A330-300. Actually there was nothing bad with the aircraft. I have been flying with this aircraft a lot of times. I just wanted to try the new A350. I went in the aircraft and was welcomed by the flight attendants. They did not smile that much, perhaps smiling all the time is only done by Southeast Asia flight attendants. Seat was decent, seat pitch was enough for me.
But then I realized… that IFE box was really huge. And they combined both seats (in 2-4-2 config) in a single box below the window seat. It was quite torturing as I could not make my left foot straight throughout the flight. I would have preferred their A332 setting (on DOH-FCO sector below).
The A333 deployed for this flight was also quite old (A7-AEE for you avgeeks out there), so I also got quite old IFE.
Being among the first to board the aircraft, I had plenty of time to discover what did I get. Just like other red-eye flight, I got amenity kit, pillow, headset, and blanket.
Boarding started a bit late, and even though the plane was not full (the seat next to me was empty), eventually pushback was a bit late too. It was 2.35, 10 minutes late from the scheduled departure time. As T2 runway was used for take-off, we had to taxi for quite some time before we took off.
45 minutes after take off, snack service was done. I deliberately requested low fat low cholesterol meal for all of my QR flights because normally in Singapore Airlines or Garuda Indonesia special request meals are served first. If the same practice is done in Qatar Airways, I could sleep earlier. However that was not the case. I was still given the menu list even though they knew I requested special meal. They also gave me the requested meal at the same time with other passengers. Not a bad thing actually, but in this case SQ/GA have better personalized service.
I was given chicken breast sandwich for snack. It was good, however the food was served cold and packaging was so simple compared to the normal meal (served in a box).
After that I directly went sleeping and I had a solid 4 hours of sleep. I woke up when we were above Mumbai and breakfast was served shortly after that. For breakfast, I was served egg dish.
The breakfast was decent, though I would have preferred more taste for the egg. After breakfast, we still had around 1 hour before scheduled landing time. Unfortunately, we landed 55 minutes behind schedule despite not having any deviation along the flight path. Late departure was there to blame and unfortunately Qatar did not set any buffer time on their schedule (flights between Singapore and Jakarta always have some buffer time on the schedule).
Touchdown Hamad International Airport in Doha. My first time in Middle East.
Must be a QR base huh?
The aircraft parked on the remote area, and passengers were brought into the terminal building from the furthest E concourse. Perhaps because we were already late and some passengers might be catching up on their connecting flights, we were directly put to the departure hall without having to go through transfer area. As I thought 6 AM was still quite early, I walked a bit slow while informing my family and friends that I have arrived and took some pictures.
Arrived at the furthest concourse
It turned out to be a wrong prediction from me. I wanted to register for the free Doha City Tour. People on the internet always say that only a few people join the tour and sometimes only less than 10, but when I arrived at the registration counter it was full of people. When it was my turn, the person-in-charge (which happened to be Indonesian) told me that the quota for 8 AM departure was already full because there was a huge group of people registered altogether. The next departure would be 11 AM and I could not join because my flight left at 2 PM. Shit, had I been earlier for 15 minutes I might have been able to catch the tour (and catch some tan from Doha’s blazing hot weather). You have to increase the quota in the future, QR!
The Doha City Tour Booth
I looked at the flight information and found out that there was a flight to Rome at 07.35 AM. Further research on the internet showed the aircraft deployed was B787! Apparently the B787 was supposed to be on my flight but shifted to this flight. I went to the Qatar Airways customer desk near C1 gate to ask if it was possible for me to change my flight to the earlier one – because anyway, 8 hours in Doha were too much without City Tour – but later my request got rejected. So yeah, I had to spend the next 8 hours at the airport.
First thing I did was to look for place to eat. There was a food court near A concourse, so I walked there as other options were Marche or other fancy restaurants and I did not want to burn my money that way. As expected, you could find fastfood chains there like Burger King. So I ate there and luckily I could get a nice apron view and spot this B77W A7-BAG in Oneworld livery.
I finished my breakfast around 07.30 AM and I started exploring the airport. It was still quite crowded as the rush hour for connecting passengers was still ongoing. The airport itself was big enough to accommodate the crowd, and the facilities were also nice. There were a lot of seats with plugs, even they provide you with iMacs! (but I did not like the way we operate the mouse though)
The iconic bear
PSG Official Store?
The Big Whale
Concourse C, still crowded
But the crowd was there only until rush hour. Only silence was left after that…
DOH at 10 AM, only staffs checking things
After I finished wandering around the airport (I did explore all parts of the airport!) I went to concourse B as my flight was going to depart from gate B7, one of the furthest gates in concourse B.
Gate was finally open at 1 PM – 70 minutes prior to scheduled departure – and a bit of “checking” was done to each passenger before being allowed to enter the gate. The staffs checked each passenger’s boarding pass and passport, together with the visa. During my turn, the staff asked me how long will I be in EU and I just answered according to what was stated in my visa. But as a matter of honesty, I told him that I would not return from Rome, but from Istanbul instead. He was surprised and asked me if I knew Istanbul is not in Schengen area. Of course I know! I told him my plan, and I was not going to do something bad in EU. He took my passport and perhaps he went on to check my reservations. After a few minutes, finally he let me in. Not so long until the boarding call was made.
Qatar Airways Flight 109
Hamad International Airport Doha, Qatar (DOH) – Leonardo da Vinci International Airport Rome, Italy (FCO)
Scheduled Departure Time : 14.10 (UTC +3)
Actual Departure Time : 14.30 (UTC +3)
Scheduled Arrival Time : 19.20 (UTC +2)
Actual Arrival Time : 19.21 (UTC +2)
This flight was operated by 13-year-old A7-ACH, an Airbus A330-200. My seat in this flight was 18K. Seat pitch was okay but again, IFE box was a bit annoying even though this one felt better than A7-AEE because the box was divided into 2, letting my feet to be stretched.
Seat pitch and the IFE box
A7-AIC on our right, just arrived from Najaf (Iraq)
A7-ALD on our left, a bit devastated to see because it had just arrived from Singapore…
Pushback was done at the scheduled departure time. While taxiing, safety video featuring FC Barcelona was being played as usual… It was a long taxi because we took of from the runway facing concourse A.
Doha skyline… Hamad Airport itself is one third of the size of Doha
Doha’s artificial islands
30 minutes after take-off, lunch was served. Again, my special request meal did not come first. It did not take that long fortunately because the flight was half empty (I saw a girl taking all 4 middle seats to sleep).
This time, the meal suited my taste better. Perhaps because of rice (oh you, Indonesian) but I don’t know. Fish was good, rice was good, vegetable was too soft but any flight meal is like that, and Mediterranean salad felt nostalgic ahaha. And at the end I got extra drink from the FA.
The extra drink
After feeling full, the rest of the flight was spent… sleeping. When I woke up, the aircraft was about to start descending. I could see hills all over the land, reminding me that Rome was built on 7 hills. Everything was green.
Despite late departure, the aircraft landed on time at Fiumicino Terminal 3. Benvenuto a Roma!
Rome FCO, home of Alitalia
I directly ran to the bus because I did not know how long would it took for passport control. When I arrived there… There were a lot of Asian faces which made me felt for a few seconds that I was in Asia. I just had to realize that Asian tourists are everywhere :’) Fortunately the queue system was pretty efficient and the officers did not ask too many questions so I could go through quickly (around 20 minutes) and catch the bus to Roma Ostiense where my Couchsurfing host lived.
Overall it was a decent experience flying with Qatar Airways, although I would have certainly expected more from an airline which constantly advertises as the world’s best airline. Sudden aircraft changes (without notification) and on-time performance were two most disappointing features for me. IFE was great though, with tons of contents available (and I certainly enjoyed that in my return flight with their Airbus A350). Flight attendants were nice and definitely up to standard even though they smiled less than Southeast Asian flight attendants. As an airport lover, I also appreciate that they have a great hub even though Changi still feels more personal for me.
- Food: 7/10
- Aircraft: 6/10
- On-time performance: 6/10
- In-flight entertainment: 8/10
- Flight attendant: 7/10