Tag Archives: DOH

Koh Samui: Part 2 – The Oryx Lounge Saves the Day

This is the second post in a multiple part trip report of our long weekend trip to Koh Samui, Thailand.  If you just want to see pics of the lounge scroll to the bottom.  

Koh Samui: Part 1 – Any Hilton in the World
Koh Samui: Part 2 – The Oryx Lounge Saves the Day

Once we had our Hilton booked, all we had to do was get there.  Seems easy, right?  Doha to Bangkok is just a short little 6 hour flight, and then you take a quick little hour and fifteen minute flight to the island of Samui.  Well, nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

First off, I think I have learned that booking day flights is a very poor idea.  I’m a most talented procrastinator, and so trying to pry myself away from the office to get to the airport seems to be difficult for me.  I know I have enough time to get just one more little thing done…  That one more thing turns into 3 more things, and before I know it, Dawn’s sitting in a taxi in the site parking lot waiting on me for 15 minutes.  I should mention the parking lot has very little space, strong rules against idling taxis, and is heavily guarded by at least three men (about two too many).  The guards were lenient with Dawn (she brings them baked goods), but I doubt they were happy about it.

By the time I finally shutdown my computer and hopped in the taxi I realized that, this being Doha and it being the middle of the day, traffic was going to suck.  I hadn’t eaten lunch yet (see procrastination noted above), but luckily for me, my wife had the forethought to bring me lunch (including a much needed Coke) to eat on the way.  We certainly weren’t going to have time to grab something at the airport.  So, I’ve got lunch, but traffic is not looking good.  Then the driver pulls out of the parking lot headed in the opposite direction of where I knew the airport to be.  I wasn’t quite sure what he was doing, but he was headed in the exact direction that we try to avoid every day when going out for lunch.  And there was a long line of cars in front of him.  And they weren’t moving.  I had finished my pizza, coke, and cookies by the time we had moved about two car lengths.  Apparently, this guy was not working for a tip.  Nothing we could really do now, though, but wait it out.  Once he made the commitment to head in that direction there was no going back.  We just had to hope for the best.

It turned out that after inching our way along for about 20 minutes, the floodgates opened ahead, and we were on our way at a much more reasonable pace.  We got to the airport with ‘enough’ time to spare.  Although I had checked in online and printed our boarding passes out, we needed to visit the counter.  There are a few things we like about Qatar Airways, and there are a few things we hate about Qatar Airways.  One of the things that Dawn and I are not big fans of is how far the chairs lean back.  You’d think this was a great benefit, right?  Having almost the equivalent of an angled lie flat seat in economy?  Score!  Yeah, it’s totally awesome until the guy in front of you realizes how awesome it is, leans his chair back as far as it’ll go and all of a sudden you’re resting your chin on his bald spot.  Not my idea of a great way to spend six hours on a plane.  Not to mention trying to get out of your seat if you have to get up to go to the restroom.  It makes me think of the scene from Dumb and Dumber where Lloyd and Harry are riding on the motorscooter and Harry has to go to the bathroom.  Just go man.  Yeah, that’s how close you are with your neighbor in front of you when he/she leans his/her seat back.

Anyway, we’re not big fans of sitting behind people if we can help it.  Luckily, Qatar Airways usually blocks off the exit rows and bulkheads during seat selection on the computer, but you can request them for free when checking in at the airport.  Knock on wood, but I think that every time we’ve requested them, we’ve gotten a bulkhead or exit row.  So, it was well worth our time to check in at the desk, even with being on a somewhat tight schedule.  As expected we scored the exit row seats for our flight to Bangkok.

We were off and through customs headed to our gate in no time (E-Gate, which allows you to skip the customs nonsense, both when leaving the country and arriving, is a must have for any Doha based traveler).  Once we got to our gate, there were quite a few people standing around the gate as if some announcement had just been made.  We asked someone what was going on, and he let us know that the flight was delayed.  Approximately four and a half hours.  Four and a half hours?  What’d they have to do?  Fly in a new plane?  Yeah, pretty much.  Some mechanical failure was causing them to switch planes.  I know how these things tend to go (or at least seem to go).  There’s a mechanical problem.  The flight’s going to be delayed 30 minutes.  Thirty minutes turns into an hour, and an hour turns into two.  Pretty soon you’re looking at six hours, and there’s no end in sight.  At least they were starting off with a delay of four and a half hours instead of teasing us with a 30 minute delay.  Whatever it was, they knew it was a big enough issue to get a whole other plane.

So, there we were.  I had hurried (as much as a procrastinator can hurry) off to the airport only to find out I could have crawled to the airport and still made my flight.  There are many reasons I’m not a fan of the existing Doha airport (and will be very excited if the new one ever opens – I think we’re on year four of the delayed opening of the new one), and a few of those reasons are the seating setup is lousy and there’s not much in the way of shops or restaurants.  To be honest, I like airports.  I like both people and plane watching, but the Doha airport is good for neither of those.  Luckily, I had qualified for Executive Platinum on American Airlines last year thanks to an incredible American Airlines promotion, my Thanksgiving pseudo mileage run, and my trip back to the States over Christmas.  One of the perks of having the top status level on American is access to OneWorld first class lounges when flying on a OneWorld carrier.  I knew that perk was going to come in handy as we fly Qatar Airways quite a bit.  I wouldn’t have guessed I was going to get four and a half hours use out of it for our first visit though.

The Doha airport has two lounges the Oryx Lounge and the Privilege Club Silver Lounge (edit – now I’m thinking it might actually have three with a Privilege Club Gold Lounge in there as well separate from the Oryx Lounge).  I’ve been told the Oryx Lounge is the nicer of the two, but I’ll probably check out the Silver Lounge sometime just to see the differences.  When travel problems arise, I’ve learned that the first thing you need to do is to figure out your backup plan. To be honest, I had little faith in the new plane coming in on time and maybe even at all.  I’ve also learned that the best place to get the quickest service is typically the airline’s lounge.  The lines are shorter, and they put their best people there.  Originally I thought the Oryx Lounge was a Qatar Airways branded lounge that was contracted out to other airlines, but now I don’t think that’s the case.  When I asked the lounge workers about the flight situation they directed me to the transfer desk out in the main portion of the terminal.  They had no power other than to tell me the same information I could get from checking a departure board.

The Oryx Lounge

The Oryx Lounge – full of not so helpful agents

Dawn went into the lounge to get comfy, and after dropping off my luggage I headed to the transfer desk.  The lines for the transfer desk were a mess like any other line in the Middle East.  There were separate lines for passengers with and without status, but they didn’t mean much, and most people just crowded towards the desk asking questions at random people who appeared to be working there.  I waited patiently as I had no where to go.  I had plenty of time to kill.  Eventually, my turn came, and I asked about getting waitlisted or on the standby list for the 9:00 pm flight to Bangkok.  Our originally scheduled 2:00 pm flight was supposed to leave at 6:20, but like I said, I didn’t completely trust it.  Plus, a backup plan is never a bad thing to have.  It turns out they can’t put a passenger on a single itinerary on two different flights.  The lady had complete confidence in the 6:20 flight (that’s her job, right?), and since there was nothing else I could do other than buy a ticket for the 9:00 flight I left it alone and went to wait it out in the lounge.

Now, lounges typically charge around $50 if a regular, economy class passenger wants to visit (the Oryx actually only costs $40), and since I won’t even pay $50 for a meal in a nice restaurant I would almost never pay that kind of money to visit even the nicest lounges.  When it’s free, though, that’s another story.  It really is a pretty nice perk to be able to have a place with a little more comfortable place to sit, food to snack on, and all the Coke you can drink.  Especially when you’ve got 4.5 hours to kill.  Luckily, the Oryx Lounge is one of the nicer lounges that I’ve visited.

Seating Area

The seating area before the evening crowd arrived

It was quite a large lounge, and it was way busier than I would have expected.  The seating areas were adequate, but nothing special.  As it was the middle of the day I had pulled out my laptop to try continue to work a bit.  I’m not a big fan of actually working on my laptop while it’s on my lap.  It would have been nice if they had some seating with actual desk type areas for laptop users.  I guess I could have used the tables in the little cafe areas, but those were pretty full, and there would have been nowhere to plug in the laptop.  In one of the seating areas they had an Eddie Murphy movie playing on a TV.  While it probably kept some people entertained, it was quite loud, and so we moved into another room.

Seating Area

All play and no work – TV blasting and no desks to be found

There were two distinct areas of the lounge separated by doors, but anyone was free to be in either area.  Each space had a buffet and dining area.  Most drinks were self serve in see through refrigerators, but if you wanted something alcoholic you had to request it from a server.  The beer, wine, liquor was only advertised on a small 8.5×11 sheet near the kitchens.  With Qatar being a mostly dry country, it made sense.  Thinking about it now, though, I’m not sure how they pull that off as I thought only hotels were allowed to serve alcohol.  Maybe it’s a travel thing?  Who knows.

The Buffet

One of the two buffets from afar

All You Can Drink

Plenty of drink options, you just have to ask for anything alcoholic

The food was quite good, and I wish I hadn’t just eaten lunch as there was plenty there to have an excellent meal.  It was a lot of traditional arabic food along with sandwiches and breads.  From now on, I think I’ll plan on grabbing lunch or dinner there before my flights.

The Buffet

Salads and Meze

The Buffet

Sandwiches, Dates, and Bread

The lounge also features these napping chairs located in front of floor to ceiling windows.  Since the place was busy those were all filled up, but it’s quite a nice little feature – especially since the lounge is open 24 hours/day and Doha hosts plenty of overnight transfer passengers.

Napping Chairs

More seating and napping chairs along the windows

As with most international lounges, it also boasts showers.  While I love taking showers in lounges after a long flight (or sometimes a short flight), as this was my departure airport I held off.  Plus, it didn’t seem like that nice of a shower.  The lounge also had a Smoking Room in the lounge which was a first for me.  The Arabs love their cigarettes, even more so than Europeans I’m pretty sure.

Killing four hours in the Oryx Lounge wasn’t ideal, but it certainly made the delay much better than it would have been without lounge access.  As our delayed departure time came closer we headed to our gate.  Minus the typical line issues I mentioned above that are prevalent in the Middle East, boarding was uneventful, and the plane eventually departed on time (the second time).  Thanks to the long layover we had scheduled in Bangkok, we just barely made our original connecting flight in Bangkok, and were quite ready to explore Koh Samui.

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It’s Not A Small World After All

People say it’s a small world, but I disagree.

Sure, it may seem like the world is getting smaller with the globalization of businesses and the ease of communication and information flow, but there’s still a great big world out there to explore.  Even in this day and age, there are more than a few places that feel completely untouched by the rest of the world around it.

There are 196 countries in the world (195 if you don’t count Taiwan), but there are 321 “countries and territories” (read distinct places) according to the Traveler’s Century Club.  At last count I had been to twenty some countries and six continents, but I haven’t taken the time yet to make a list of the Traveler’s Century Club places I’ve visited.  I may only have one continent left to visit, but there are plenty of distinct places in the world left for my wife and I to experience.  Quite too many in fact.  It’s the reason behind wanting to take that RTW trip.  Sure, we can’t see it all, but we’re going to do our absolute best trying.

Since I know we’re probably not going to be able to visit all 321 distinct places on this earth, I’m going to have to narrow it down a bit.  The question is where to start.  When anyone asks me where I want to go I usually stumble a bit because there are just so many places I want to see.  Eventually, though, there always seem to be three places that always come into my head:  Machu Picchu in Peru, Petra in Jordan, and Angkor Wat in Cambodia.  Why those three places?  To be honest, I have no idea.  If I sat down to really think hard on it, I’m not even sure those would be my top three – top five or ten for sure, but I’m too noncommittal to lock in those as the ultimate.

The other thing about those places is I think they have popped into my head relatively recently (as in the last 5 years or so).  It’s not like I grew up longing to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  I didn’t realize  the treasury in Petra was featured in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade until long after I decided Petra was on my must visit list.  And I doubt I even knew that Angkor Wat was a real place when I saw Tomb Raider for the first time.  Somehow, though, these places have crept into my psyche.  For whatever reason, those three places seem to be at the top of my list, but give it a month or even a day, and I’ll probably have come up with at least one other destination that would give those three a run for their money.  Heck, give me a few minutes.  Patagonia just popped into my head as a destination that would be right up there with any of those three.  

Since it doesn’t make much sense to make a trip to South America from Qatar, we’re probably going to hold off on Patagonia and Machu Picchu until we’re living back in the States.  Petra and Angkor Wat are certainly much more accessible from here rather than the States, though.  Amman, Jordan is only a two and a half hour nonstop flight from Doha.  Angkor Wat is about 10-12 hours away with one stop, but much better than the 28-36 hour travel time from Kansas City.  The plan is to make both of those trips at some point while living here in Doha.

Sure, I’ve got plenty of other places that pop into my head from time to time that I’d like to see while here, but like I said, it’s tough to narrow it down.  Plus, maybe there’s a few places of that I haven’t even thought of yet that would be easier to get to or that I’d like to see more.  One of the great things about being over here is everything is so much closer than it is in the States.  Europe isn’t as close as I thought it was (anywhere from a 5.5 to 7 hours if you can get a decently priced nonstop flight), but there are still quite a few destinations all within 3-4 hours which, to me, makes them great weekend trips.  I could probably make that 7 hour flight to London be a great weekend trip, too, though, if the flight times were to work out.

The question is, how do you discover all of the weekend trip possibilities?  Well, first, you ask around and see what others have done.  Dubai is obviously a standard for expats to visit (clocking in at just a 58 minute flight), and people say that Muscat, Oman is beautiful (1:22 nonstop).  So, both of those are now on my weekend list.  I’ve been told Bahrain is where all the Saudi’s drive to on the weekend since apparently fun is outlawed in their country (although I’d still very much like to visit Saudi).  Bahrain is only a 40 minute flight or a five hour drive through Saudi Arabia (probably the easiest way to visit Saudi is getting the transit visa to get to Bahrain, although I’m not sure if it’s worth the hassle).  Bahrain sounds like a great weekender, but it’s had some issues of it’s own lately.  Ok, so now I’m up to three places, make it four if you throw Abu Dhabi in there as well.  There’s got to be more than that right?

I got this bright idea that I was going to compile all of the nonstop flights that originate in Doha into a spreadsheet so that I could organize them by distance, time of the flight, airline, etc.  Ideally, I’d like it to even include a rough estimate of pricing for a certain time period out, say one month.  I knew that would be a bit trickier to gather that information though.  I didn’t know what it’d take to gather the rest of this information, but gathering the nonstop flights from DOH together in one place seemed like the most definitive way to come up with all of the easiest possible travel options.  It was a good starting point at least.  (I could have tried to gather all the one stop possibilities, but the amount of information would be insane.  You throw a single layover in there, and I bet you could hit almost every country in the world from DOH.)  I really know nothing about gathering all of this information together or if someone has already done it.  Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel, I went to the one guy who might know the best way to gather this information together, The Wandering Aramean.  The guy has built some incredible travel tools, and writes a great travel blog.  I actually got to meet up and grab dinner with him and another friend/reader of his during his 13 hour layover here in Doha.  The great thing about the miles and points community is everyone is so incredibly willing to share their knowledge and help others out.  Sure enough, within minutes of my email, he had responded and told me to start with www.openflights.org.  It turns out that site has most of the information I wanted for my spreadsheet – airport, airline, distance, and length of flight.  All I had to do was type in DOH, and voila, all of that information returned.  It took some massaging of the information to get it into a spreadsheet I liked, but the bulk of the work was done in one fell swoop.  I’m still tweaking two different versions of it, but below is the basic version (without Airline data) sorted by flight time.  There are 102 different destinations serviced by nonstop flights out of Doha, which is quite incredible to me.  Not sure what MCI’s number is, but it’s a lot less.

Nonstop Flights from DOH (taken from openflights.org)

Nonstop Flights from DOH (taken from openflights.org)

Take a look at the list below and let me know if you have any suggestions for must see places – Baghdad and Tehran both look quite enticing coming in at just under 2 hours a flight…  

Wanna get out of Doha?

Wanna get out of Doha?

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24 Hours in Transit: Part 3 – World’s 5-Star Airline (FRA-DOH)

This is the third post in a three part trip report of my big move to Doha, Qatar.  If you’re new to trip reports you may find these boring as I did at first, but now I quite enjoy them.  In other words, I’m going to keep writing them, so get used to it.  If you find yourself falling asleep reading them, just scroll through them really fast to look at the pretty pictures.   

24 Hours in Transit:  Part 1 – Adios Snow (MCI-CLT)
24 Hours in Transit:  Part 2 – Crossing the Pond in Envoy Class (CLT-FRA)
24 Hours in Transit:  Part 3 – World’s 5-Star Airline (FRA-DOH)

A five and a half hour international layover is kind of a rough spot to be in.  It’s quite a long time to spend in an airport, but, depending on the airport, it’s probably not enough time to get out and do something fun.  Prior to my trip, I looked into this situation to determine if Frankfurt happened to me one of those airports where I could run out to see the city for a bit before jumping on the plane to Doha.  No such luck.  It sounded like I’d need a layover of about eight hours or so to make something worthwhile happen.  However, in the course of my research I found out that they have airport tours that last either 45 or 90 minutes depending on which one you choose.  I like airplanes, and, while five and a half hours is a long time to spend in one, I do like airports as well.  It sounded like a brilliant option until I found out the tours were only given in German.  What kind of crazy place only offers tours in their own native language?  Ridiculous, I know.  While I would very much enjoy “breathtaking views of the Airbus A380”, I didn’t feel like the other 88 minutes of having no idea what was going on would be worth it.  So it was onto my backup plan.

Originally, the lounge hopping idea seemed like a great way to blow the time in the airport.  A lot of things sound brilliant prior to jetlag, though.  It didn’t help that I didn’t do much research to even find out where the different lounges were located in the airport (most likely nowhere near each other as it would be quite a waste to put them side by side).  Turns out I should have at least figured out where one of them was located.  I had a heckuva time tracking down the Lufthansa Business Lounge.  (Side note:  No, I didn’t fly Lufthansa, but because they’re part of the Star Alliance and US Airways is as well, that was the lounge I had access to as a US Airways international business class passenger.)

Hello rest & relaxation

Rest & relaxation awaits

When I finally found it, I didn’t like what I saw.  Stairs.  There probably was an elevator around somewhere, but in my jet lagged state I didn’t see one.  I dragged my roller bag and backpack up the stairs and into the lounge. 

Stairs are not a traveler's friend

Stairs are not a traveler’s friend

Once inside, though, it was worth the climb.  I was happy to discover it did have a shower as I had hoped, and plenty of food options.  I headed directly to the showers and found them full.  An attendant gave me a pager (like one you’d get at Applebee’s), and told me to come back when it went off.

I went to check out the food spread, and to grab a drink.  I feel like I’m a little bit of an adventurous guy so I went for an Aperol Spritz, having no idea what that was.  I did know it was orange, though, and I like orange.  It came in a bottle, so it seemed kinda fancy, so it should have been a winner.  It was not.  No good.  So, I decided to go back to my comfort zone and grab a Coke while I waited for the shower to become available.

Don't judge a book by it's cover.  Or a drink by it's bottle.

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Or a drink by it’s bottle.

Eventually my pager went off, and I returned to the shower rooms.  The shower room was quite simple but it had everything I needed to wake up a bit after a long flight.  A quick shower really did help to wash away a good portion of the jet lag.

Simple, yet effective

Simple, yet effective

Like I said, anything you need

Like I said, anything you need

With the shower out of the way, I had a solid 4 hours left to kill in the lounge.  I quickly realized that in my infinite planning I didn’t even consider bringing along travel adapters to charge up the laptop and phone during the layover.  I knew I’d have to get adapters for Doha once I arrived, but didn’t think about my time in Frankfurt.  I had kept my phone plugged in for most of the flight from CLT-FRA, but the laptop was dying.  I didn’t really need the laptop, but it would have been nicer wasting away 4 hours surfing  the internet on a 14″ screen rather than a 4″ screen.  I made do, though.  I’m just glad I had kept the phone charged.

As expected, the lounge was full of drink and snack options, but nothing especially great.  I did find it quite funny that in the land of Bratwursts, they were featuring American hot dogs as the Daily Special.  Don’t get me wrong, I love me some hot dogs, but it just doesn’t scream lounge food.  I mainly stuck with some basic snacks, and the pudding was really, really good.  I found it odd that this lounge supplied gummy bears.  The Swissair lounge Dawn and I visited last year also served them.  It just seems like an odd candy to provide.  The fact that both airlines are from German speaking countries along with my recollection that the Disney cartoon series Gummi Bears was set in a German forest (though a quick Google search could not confirm nor deny that) made me wonder if gummy bears were, in fact, a German invention.  It turns out they are German.  You all may have already known this, but it was news to me.

 -

One of multiple counters full of food

Kiwi on wild berry pudding.  Delicious.

Kiwi on wild berry pudding. Delicious.

American hot dogs? In a German lounge?  Really?

Odd choice in my opinion

Plenty of drink options

Plenty of drink options

Gummy bears now really make me want to watch the entire Gummi Bears series.  I loved that show.

Gummy bears now really make me want to watch the entire Gummi Bears series. I loved that show.

As you can see, plenty of options to partake in, but I wasn’t all that hungry, and plus I wanted to to be hungry for the Qatar Airways flight.  I mainly snacked and wandered around the lounge.  Even with the long layover, the combination of jet lag and the hike to find the first lounge kept me from venturing off to look for others.  The one lounge certainly had enough to keep one busy.  They had racks of newspapers and magazines to read, a kids play area, and even a nap room that I didn’t find until I was on my way out.  That’s something I would have liked to have found earlier.

Do people still read on paper?

Do people still read from paper?

The alligator shadow puppet indicates the nap room.

The alligator shadow puppet indicates the nap room.

Eventually my time in the lounge was up, and it was time to experience the “World’s 5-Star Airline”.  With a slogan like that, you better be good.  Truth be told, there are actually seven (7) five star airlines, but the other six are all Asian carriers.  Qatar Airways is the only one who decided to be as so bold as to use that as their slogan.  The only American airlines that are even four stars are Jet Blue and Virgin America.  However, I do question the accuracy of the rating system when Allegiant Air gets three stars just like United and American Airlines.  Allegiant Air is not fun to fly.  Super cheap, but no fun.

As I mentioned previously, I would have loved to get the nonstop DC to Doha or Houston to Doha flights on Qatar Airways, but they were too expensive.  I was glad that at least one of the legs of my trip would be on Qatar’s flagship airline.  One thing that I’ve learned since being here is that Qatar has a lot of money, and they like to show off.  Qatar Airways is a huge marketing tool for the country of Qatar (as is the country’s nonprofit organization – Qatar Foundation).

I boarded the plane and took my seat.  I was immediately greeted by name, and offered a pre-departure beverage.  I took up the flight attendant’s suggestion of lime juice, and it was so good that I ordered it with my meal later as well.

Welcome to Qatar

Welcome to Qatar

The seat was top notch as expected.  I was in seat 10A on an A330-300, and so I was in my own little mini business class cabin as you can see in the pic below.  I was also lucky enough to not have anyone sitting in the seat next to me.  First class was completely empty.  To be honest, I didn’t realize it was first class until I started looking through my pictures and the seat maps of the plane.  I thought that my flight only had business and economy seats (as I didn’t check the seatmap ahead of time).  The first class seats did look slightly different after studying the pictures, but I didn’t notice it on the flight.  From what I’ve read, typically the big difference between international first and international business class is the food and service, not the seat.    As I said, the seat didn’t disappoint.  It was fully lay flat as the US Airways Envoy seat was, but it did feel larger.  I also prefer the seats to not be in the angled fish bone configuration, which probably leads to more space.  It was quite comfortable for a couple hour afternoon nap.

Seat 10A (taken from Seatguru.com)

Seat 10A (taken from SeatGuru.com)

My Business Class window seat for the flight

My Business Class window seat for the flight

First Class Seat - Not much of a difference except for the large counter on the side

First Class Seat – Not much of a difference except for the large counter

First Class Seat Cabin

First Class Seat Cabin

Besides the beautiful seats, another reason I was wanting to fly Qatar Airways was that I had read that you receive pajamas in business class.  This is something that airlines typically reserve for international first class passengers, but being a 5 star airline, apparently Qatar Airlines wanted to step it up a notch.  Yes, it’s a bit ridiculous for an airline to give out pajamas for a flight, but that’s what flying in a premium cabin is all about.  Since my flight was during the day and it was only six hours long, I was a little concerned I wouldn’t end up with a set of Qatar Airways pajamas.  Upon arriving at my seat I found both a  Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit and a small Qatar Airways branded cloth bag.  The amenity kit seemed nice enough, and if I was familiar with expensive brands I’m sure I’d be impressed with whoever Ferragamo is.  The kit included hand cream, lip balm, and cologne (an upgrade from the Envoy kit).

Salva what?

Salva what?

What's behind bag #2?

What’s behind bag #2?

The Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit did seem to be lacking the typical toothbrush and toothpaste, socks, eye mask, and earplugs , though.  For a second I held out a little hope they had somehow crammed pajamas into the small bag.  Pajamas are thin and shouldn’t take up much volume at all, right?  No such luck for me.  No PJs in that bag.  Turns out I’ll have to save my first in flight pajamas experience for another flight.  The cloth bag held the aforementioned socks, eye mask, and earplugs as well as a travel hairbrush.  Still no toothbrush and toothpaste, though.

Slightly disappointing

Slightly disappointing

Turns out they keep the toothbrushes in the premium cabin bathrooms.  They also even have shaving kits, but I figured I’d pass on trying those out.  I can’t imagine using one of those disposable razors on my face on solid ground, let alone at 30,000 feet in the air when we could drop 50 to 100 feet at any moment due to turbulence.  A nice gesture, though, and it couldn’t have cost them more than 50 cents to put that package together.

Business class bathroom with amenities

Business class bathroom with amenities

Who can't use an extra toothbrush?

Who couldn’t use an extra toothbrush?

In case the amenity kit wasn’t enough or you prefer the Molton Brown brand over Salvatore Ferragamo, they provide hand lotion, soap, and cologne in the bathroom.  All it was missing was the shower.  And, yes, an airline does have a shower on a plane.  And, yes, that is one of my aspirations in this travel game.  I want to shower mid flight on a plane.  Over the top?  Yes, but, really, what about flying isn’t at least slightly over the top?

Just add shower for the full spa experience

Just add shower for the full spa experience

One of the nice touches that I noticed about the whole plane was how everything had the Qatar Airways logo stamped on it – from the small dish they hand you with a warm wash cloth on it all the way to the seat belt.  They’re proud of their logo and they put it everywhere.  I’d be proud of it too, as it’s a pretty cool logo.  It’s the Arabian Oryx which just so happens to be the national animal of Qatar.

Qatar Airways hot towel tray

A logo so tiny I’m probably the only person who noticed

Qatar Airways seatbelt

A seat belt worth stealing

If they spent that much time on the details of the plane, you’d hope the food would be just as important to them.  I hadn’t had much (maybe any?) Arabic food prior to this little jaunt, but I was excited to try it.

Menu Part 1

Menu Part 1

Menu Part 2

Menu Part 2

The nasu miso was good, although I’m still not sure what that is.  I chose the mezze for the appetizer and the lamb shank for the main course.  I wasn’t used to Arabic food, but I did enjoy it quite a bit.

I may not know what it is, but put it in front of me and I'll probably eat it

I may not know what it is, but put it in front of me and I’ll probably eat it

First taste of the Middle East

First taste of the Middle East

I better get used to something other than pork.

I better get used to something other than pork.

This time I was able to choose the dessert that came with 3 desserts – treacle tart, golden syrup ice cream with carmelized bananas – and that’s what I call a 5 star airline.

Three desserts in one.

Three desserts in one.

Oh, yeah, and afternoon tea a little later on in the flight as well…

Tea menu

Tea menu

Keep them coming

Keep them coming

In between each of the courses and throughout the flight the flight attendant was continually coming by to bring me more lime juice, tea, etc. or to ask if there was anything else she could do.  The service was excellent, but I don’t have much else to compare it to.  While eating dinner I took the opportunity to try out the in flight entertainment and catch up on another movie (Silver Linings Playbook).  Nothing too special about the system, but because I was in my own little mini cabin with no seat in front of me the screen popped out from the console in between the seats.  I actually prefer the screen in the back of the seat in front of me as that’s just one less thing I need to take down if I want to get up to stretch my legs.  After the movie, I took another nap, and before long we were landing in Doha.  It was around 10:30 PM local time, and I had to start work early the next morning.  I was exhausted, but quite happy to finally be at my final destination.  It was a great flight experience, and it might have even been 5 star worthy.  I’m looking forward to flying Qatar Airways again, but there’s a pretty good chance the next time them I’ll be in the back of the plane.  It’ll most likely be my final flight home from this crazy adventure before I get to sit up front with the big kids again, but I can hope, right?

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