Background/Ticketing for Qatar Airways Flight 1366(Full Disclosure this flight was taking by my girlfriend Suzanne. What follows is her thoughts as dictated to me.)
The trip was part of a two leg return flight from Cape Town International to Johannesburg to Hamad International Airport in Doha to Washington Dulles. Hopefully we can feature all four of these airports on the tripchi airport app and don’t forget sign up for our Airport Improvement contest to win an Iphone 5 case!
The tickets were purchased for two main reasons; price and overall flight time. Flying from South Africa can get pricey so anything in the $600 range one way is a good deal. These tickets were had for $629. There were cheaper flights on Etihad Airlines but required a long layover in Abu Dhabi that would have made the overall flight time significantly longer. The overall flight time was 27 hours, which is relatively short for such a cheap ticket. The first leg of the flight was on Qatar Airways new 787-8 Dreamliner with a fuel stop for two hours in Johannesburg followed by a 2hr layover in Doha before boarding a 777-300ER bound for the Capital. We will focus in on the 787-8 experience as we have covered the 777 before.
Check In/Boarding Process
The tickets were bought direct from the airline via the Qatar Airways website. At the time of purchase you can choose your seats for each flight. This was all well and good until you try and retrieve the reservation later and find the seats you have chosen for the first flight are not selected and you have no option to select seats. Hoping this was a front end malfunction, using the self check-in kiosk seemed like a good way to test this theory. Unfortunately the theory was debunked and the machine spit out 33B. Not wanting a middle seat in the back of the plane, a visit to the customer service desk was in order. The Qatar Airways rep was more than hospitable and gladly switched the seat to 22A over the port side wing which would provide great views during takeoff.
|Departing : Cape Town to Washington /Wed, 08 Oct 2014
|Total Trip Time: 27:15 hrs
|Cape Town (CPT)
Wed, 08 Oct 2014 18:25
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 06:20
O.R. Tambo International, Johannesburg, South Africa (ZA), 01:00 hrs
|Time between sectors : 2 hrs 10 mins
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 08:30
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:40
Much like other Middle Eastern airlines the boarding process was hectic. Qatar Airways 1366 is a two class setup, Business Class boarded first followed by Economy using the same air bridge. Although zones were designated on everyone’s ticket, it meant virtually nothing. When boarding started, very few people waited for their zone to be called. The flight wasn’t completely full, so even though boarding was a mess, passengers were on in 10 minutes. As with many long haul aircraft when you enter the boarding door you turn right for economy and left for business and first class. On this aircraft however there were two business class seats 6E/F that were just inside the entrance, sandwich by the bathrooms and segmented away from the rest of business class. An elderly couple were seated there and had to endure the stampede of boarding while the rest of business class lounge in peace, receiving their champagne before liftoff. The business class seating layout might maximize space and revenue but if you are paying for a business class ticket be sure to avoid these seats. The rest of boarding was uneventful but unlike other airlines like Emirates and Turkish Airlines, no hot towels were handed out before takeoff, a disappointment to all.
Qatar Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner:
- Total passengers: 254
- Cabin pressurized to 6,000′
- Text and Internet at each seat
- iTouch touch screen over 1,000 movies, iPort, USB port, remote data outlet
- inseat power
- Engines: GE GEnx
- More than 20 mood lighting settings
- Height: 55′ 6″ tall
- Length: 186′ 1″ long
- Cabin width at widest point 18′
- 197′ wingspan
- 3,501 sq ft
- Windows: 19″ high x 11 ” wide; 176 sq ft; Dimmed from the handset in Business Class
- IFE screen size: 10.6″ screen
- 232 seats 3-3-3 in Economy
- Lavs: 6
- Overhead Bins: Holds 226 bags
Flight Details for Qatar Airways Flight 1366
- Route: Cape Town – Johannesburg – Doha
- Scheduled: 6:25PM and 9:25 SAST
- Scheduled Arrival Time: 8:05PM SAST and
- Actual Arrival Time: 2:09 PM and 6:00 AST
- Time in flight: 1h 30m and 7h 06m
- Aircraft type: Boeing 787-8
- Distance traveled: 791sm and 3,894sm
- Class: Economy
- Seat: 14A (was supposed to have 32B)
- Load factor: 70% full
Interior/Seat/Takeoff of Flight 1366
As the cabin crew prepared for takeoff and the passengers settled in for the quick hop to Joburg, two facts became very clear. The 787 has an amazing aesthetic interior. The mood lighting when entering the cabin is calming and high ceilings create a spacious interior. The large windows let in an incredible amount of light and provide excellent viewing of the outside world. The aircraft is made of carbon fiber and does not suffer from metal fatigue which allows the cabin to be pressurized at 6,000 ft which can reduce aches and pains associated with long haul travel. The cabin to, was very clean and the crew was hospitable and courteous when helping out passengers which created a relaxed atmosphere for all aboard.
The second and most important fact is the 787 seat design on Qatar Airways is TERRIBLE! For starters each aisle and window seat have an entertainment box at your feet. The box occupies a quarter of leg room under the seat in front of you and juts out beyond the seat. It is big, bulky, an eye sore but most of all Annoying! If you have somebody in the middle seat (only seat without an entertainment box) your leg room is extremely limited. The seat itself was very uncomfortable due to the tight width of 17.2″ and the seat pitch was only 31″ which meant when the person in front of you leaned back the tv screen would be very close to your face and it would was impossible to eat. The seat was the biggest down fall of Flight 1366 and the blame goes equally to Qatar and Boeing. Boeing should be able to design a seat layout where the entertainment box isn’t taking away passengers space and there is no way Qatar should have approved such a layout of its newest and most improved airliner.
The aircraft pushed back on time and lined up on runway 19 for takeoff to the south. The takeoff on the 787 was amazing!! It was like riding an elevator into the sky. The engines are unbelievably quiet but posses immense power. Due to the powerful engines and light load the plane seemed to float into the sky effortlessly, really a beautiful feeling. The flight headed south over False Bay and then banked northeast towards Joburg. This provided great views of the coast and of the surrounding mountains.
There was no shortage of food on Flight 1366, but no menus were provided which seemed odd. Even on the hour and half leg from CPT-JHB a full meal was served. Kudos to the crew for getting everyone served in such a short amount of time. On the second leg from JHB-DOH there was two additional meals served, a dinner and breakfast. The choices consisted of Middle Eastern and Indian dishes with fresh fruits and veggies. There was also plenty of snacks offered throughout the flight and an ample offering of alcohol to wet your whistle. Overall the food selection and taste of the food was a positive.
The Oryx on-board entertainment system was very impressive. It claims to have over 1,000 options for movies, tv shows and games. The screen is a whopping 10.6″ wide and can be control by remote which clips into the seat back or by touchscreen. The screen itself didn’t tilt much so when the person in front of you reclined the screen was very close to your face. The screen is HD with a very clear picture and the sound quality is top notch. The Oryx system definitely fits the bill in the entertainment department.
Overall Grade for Qatar Airways 1366
Overall, Qatar Airways 1366 gets a B-. The service, food, entertainment were great. The 787 with it’s different mood lighting, huge shade less windows, powerful engines and pressurized cabin at 6,000 feet made the passenger experience delightful. However, the seat was so awful that it came close to spoiling the entire experience. Qatar Airways really needs to re-think the economy seats on the 787. The entertainment box under the seat makes you feel cramped and if you have a someone in the middle seat you will feel very claustrophobic. If Qatar can work out the issues with the seats, their 787 Economy offering should stand up against other long haul providers and provides great value for money.