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Old Jun 16, 17, 5:37 am   #1
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Talking Qatar Ban and how I scored the greatest deal in First !

Introduction :

The best deal ever, is a way I could describe my journey because of the Qatar Ban.

For the last decade I had the chance to snag few deals out there, to name a few from Tripoli, Cairo, Karachi, Jo'burg.
We all have different views on what a great deal is.

I will focus on my frequent flyer program from British Airways since it's the easiest to put into perspective. Being a Gold card holder for years I'm still 60% away for lifetime Gold. My goal is to hit LTG asap, means in less than 10 years which is more than doable. Bear in mind you need 1500 Tier Points to either qualify or renew your Gold card.

Since I have joined BA in 2009, I've been focusing on earning as much TP as possible for the lowest cost in either Business or First. Flying in premium cabins is cheaper than ever.

But let's rewind first to give you the whole picture.

Back in November the IMF suggested a currency devaluation from Egypt. Along with a sale at the time, I bought 2 round trip Cairo to Bangkok (I should have bought more, damn me). The first was done in February and the other one was in June.

Everything was set... Until I woke up on the Monday morning to find out there was an ongoing ban with the State of Qatar and thus Qatar Airways.

With 5 days out before I take off, I was already looking for options to fly to Bangkok where my wife is due to land at 1 pm on Saturday with Cathay Pacific.

Being in France I called QR customer service in Paris 3 days prior to departure, it took me 35 minutes to reach an agent.
- I suggested to fly from Paris instead of Cairo = Denied
- I suggested to fly Emirates or Swiss from Cairo = Denied
- I suggested to postpone my trip in October (I would have bought another ticket with RJ) = Denied
- I was offered Turkish Airlines or Royal Jordanian in Business = I denied
- I was offered a refund = I denied

At the end I told the agent to make me fly British Airways to London and then I could resume my Qatar Airways flight. It was also denied after being on hold for 15 minutes.

At that point, I just thanked the agent for the time and wished him good luck with the amount of incoming calls from passengers. After I hung up, I was confused on what to do.

Even If Iím told no, I need to try another agent from another country. I called the US number. I was on hold for about 20 minutes before a lovely agent picked up the phone. I explained my issue.

Once again, I told the agent that the best way for me is to stick with Qatar Airways and suggested to take BA to London and then back with QR to BKK. With the flight numbers in hand, she could quickly found the flights I wanted.

After 2 minutes she sent me a mail to sum up the itinerary and I confirmed it was just perfect. Within 10 seconds my new ticket was issued and I was thrilled about it. I told the agent that sheís been kind and wished her good luck for all the calls.

While I was happy, I donít understand why on earth the agent in Paris denied my suggestion and 1 hour later another agent was willing to. It happened to me again in March with AA EXP line for a request.

I checked my trip on BA website and noticed that I will collect over 1120 Tier Points and more than 30,000 Avios for only 800Ä paid in the first place. One of my best deal for past decade. Someone in my family told me, Iím a freeloader! Happy to be!

Here is the recap of my original trip:

Marseille to Cairo via Istanbul in Economy with Turkish Airlines.
Cairo to Bangkok via Doha in First Class with Qatar Airways
Bangkok to Cairo via Doha in First Class with Qatar Airways
Cairo to Marseille via Istanbul in Economy with Turkish Airlines.


Here is the recap of my new trip:

Marseille to Cairo via Istanbul in Economy with Turkish Airlines.
Cairo to London in Club World (Business Class) with British Airways
London to Bangkok via Doha in First Class with Qatar Airways
Bangkok to London via Doha in First Class with Qatar Airways
London to Cairo in Club World (Business Class) with British Airways
Cairo to Marseille via Athens in Economy with Egypt Air and Aegan.

The only issue I had with the new booking is my arrival time. It means I will miss my TK flight. Since I booked a cheap fare I canít make any change. Aegan was the cheapest option and it would be a good to experience them for the first time.

Next part : Turkish from Marseille to Istanbul.

Stay tuned.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 7:48 am   #2
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Tk y mrs-ist

Enough said, letís review Turkish from Marseille to Istanbul:

For the full report :
http://www.youtripreport.com/report/flight/106

Flight # TK1366
Seat : 8D Exit row
Duration : 2h45
Aircraft : Boeing 737-800
Date : 06/08/2017

I arrived in the airport just after 10am. The check in counter wasnít busy. I got my boarding pass very quickly. I had the priority for the security which was very much welcomed.


I headed straight to immigration and the lounge. The lounge in Marseille used to be shabby in many ways. For a few years from 2008 to 2011 I used to fly to Algiers twice a month with Air France. In 2014 the lounge was completely refurbished.


I let the pictures do the talking:








My boarding pass :


Air Transat back to Canada with an Airbus A310. Not the kind of plane you see on a daily basis.


My Boeing 737-800 for next 3 hours.


I passed through the Business Class:


I eventually arrived to my seat with a good legroom.




IFE with bunch of movies:


We took off right on time.


About 45 minutes into the flight the meal was served. I have always been impressed by the cateringís quality served in Coach.

I had the choice between Pasta and Chicken. I selected the latter. Very Tasty.




We arrived at 4pm local time and the aircraft parked in the remote stand. We had to wait 10 minutes until the bus arrived.

Next part. Turkish Airlines Lounge + flight to Cairo.
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Old Jun 16, 17, 8:23 am   #3
  
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A very long way for a short cut as we say! LOL
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Old Jun 16, 17, 6:36 pm   #4
  
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I didn't know DOH-BKK ever had First on it! I've flown it a few times, but always in J (highest Cabin).
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Old Jun 16, 17, 7:26 pm   #5
  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EuropeanPete View Post
I didn't know DOH-BKK ever had First on it! I've flown it a few times, but always in J (highest Cabin).
Has been an A380 route for a while now, think it took a (the?) CDG A380 rotation.

Interesting to know about QR's US agents - I've spoken to them in London, Harrods and Paris and always found them particularly unhelpful. Don't have any travel booked with them at present but will bear this in mind next time I do
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Old Jun 17, 17, 1:34 am   #6
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Here is the report for my flight to Cairo.
For the full review:
www.youtripreport.com/Report/Flight/107

Flight # TK694
Seat : I was on 8D Exit row then 21E because of aircraft swap
Duration : 2h00
Aircraft : Airbus A321
Date : 06/08/2017

After my flight from Marseille I quickly made my way to the lounge, I had to eat my pidesÖ


The lounge is great but tends to get overcrowded easily. When you see the constant flow of passengers leaving or arriving, it feels like a subway station.

Few pics from the lounge:






The billiard where I had one game with a South African guy before I left for my flight.


TK put the Japanese cuisine on the front. With a Japanese chef, the result was fine although I was expecting a bigger spread with Sushi, Miso soup for example. Anyway it worth the shot to capture Japanese passengers.




The pides Chef. One thing amazes me whenever I come to the lounge is the long queue to get the pides.


My choices:




Turkish Airlines also provides massage, I cut my head because I looked like a trash.


Fast forward, it was time to leave the great lounge and go to the boarding gate. It was a mess. With no priority and a lot of passengers coming from Doha.


Boarding was done by bus. I was a bit upset to have my seat changed to the back of the plane and now Iím stuck in the middle seat. The good thing is my Egyptian seatmates were funny. One was living in USA (we discussed about the POTUS and the new French President lengthy). This other one from Cairo passionate about soccer, unfortunately he supports the wrong team in France!!!

Not a bad legroom after all.




45 minutes after departure, a hot cheese and tomato sandwich was served. Itís always the same but itís tasty.


We landed on time, after a long walk, I met my guy from Novotel airport hotel and I was on my way to my room. On my previous stay in Cairo which was last month, I treated myself Le Mťridien located in Terminal 3. Aside from the lovely pool, I canít help to think for a short stay paying $189 for Le Mťridien itís overpriced, hence Iím back to Novotel. I donít mind staying in luxury hotels but with my wife.

TK is a safe bet for your flights.
I would pick TK whenever it's possible to taste the pides again.

Even for a short flight, they give a sandwich and yet it's very good. On the other hand BA removed the little snack...

Next part: British Airways Club World to London.
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Old Jun 17, 17, 1:39 am   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by darthlemsip View Post
Has been an A380 route for a while now, think it took a (the?) CDG A380 rotation.

Interesting to know about QR's US agents - I've spoken to them in London, Harrods and Paris and always found them particularly unhelpful. Don't have any travel booked with them at present but will bear this in mind next time I do
At the moment QR 380 flies to CDG daily but sometimes it's twice a day.
Other than CDG, the 380 goes to : LHR, CAN, SYD, BKK.

Thanks for the comment. Yes you'd better off calling the US line. Go figure.
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Old Jun 17, 17, 7:23 am   #8
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British Airways Club World CAI-LHR

The full review in Club World can be found:
http://www.youtripreport.com/Report/Flight/108Flight

Flight # BA154
Seat : 6K
Duration : 4h35
Aircraft : Boeing B787
Date : 06/09/2017

Iím always having troubles to sleep well when I fly early in the morning. That night was no exception.. I took the shuttle at 5am to T2. It took around 15 to 20 minutes since the shuttle dropped
passengers in T3 first.

After security:


The good thing in Cairo when you fly early is not really crowded. I arrived at the counter for check-in. I was handed the 3 boarding pass. I noticed that my BA flight stub does not have my FFP on it but it was on my QR flights. Go figure. The agent tried to put my Gold card but failed to update it. Surprisingly the Purser had my record on its PIL. Nevertheless I had to claim my missing avios and TP!

The laptop ban is just a big pain for me and a non-sense, If you do that, ok, but do it worldwide.. At the end Iím not comfortable to put my laptop in the cargo. Iím really freaking out about losing my laptop. More on that after my arrivalÖ

I proceed to the lounge. Nothing to write about. I only like the view.







At 7:10 I made my way to the gate since you have extra security which was a pain. Like some I have 2 phones, one for work (a Blackberry Priv) and my personal one (Xiaomi Mi Max). For those of you who are tech geek, my personal phone is huge with a massive 6,4 inch. It was an issue. Iíve been told by the security that my Phone is too big and I needed to put it in the cargo. ... #1.
I said no, itís not true. I come to Cairo too often with my phone and nothing happened so far. The guy was still claiming with a raising voice level that If I donít comply, I wonít board. ...#2.
In some cases you just have to ask the right person to unlock a situation. Right after the security there was a young guy from China (I noticed the passport), I told him in Chinese (I used to live in China and my wife is still teaching me Chinese) to get BA Manager at the gate and pointed him. He came, I explained the situation saying that I can make a call and I in the meantime I removed the back of my phone to check inside. ...#3 and last. After the incident, we had to wait another 15 minutes before boarding.


The B787 at the gate:


My seat is located in the second Business Class cabin. Good for me, I have no seatmate.
Itís time for BA to put the cabin into todayís world and try to compete. They might have been the industry leader 15 years ago, not they are just lagging far behind. The new Business Class is due to arrive in 2019, still a long way to go. But do they have to give the best to fill up the cabin? No.

Few pics:






The flight was not full in business with 6 seats available when the doors closed. Boarding was completed by 7:46am. I thought that we would leave on time.. Nope, We took off at 8:35am and service began at 9:15.


I was not hungry and wanted to remain ďlightĒ for my upcoming QR flights. The salmon was tasty and so were the fruits. Iím always puzzled by the lack of salt and pepper shaker. Instead they give you a small bag of each.




Afterwards it was time to catch up on my sleep. I slept for 1H30.

I used the time left to watch The Accountant. The screen:


Enjoying the view:


We were close to LHR:


One world about the Purser. He was outstanding. I sent a mail to BA to congratulate him. When a good work is done greatly, it must be acknowledged. Itís always nice to receive a positive feedback about your service.



We deplaned at 12:15pm. I have time before my next fight and I can enjoy the lounge. Nope.
Remember, I told you about my checked in luggage. Itís something I never do. Back in Cairo I told the agent to check-in my luggage only to LHR. With a day flight I can work from the plane thanks to the wifi. I also prepared my TRs.

First thing, immigration, I used to E-gate but my passport did not let me throughÖ so I made the short line and I ran to the belt number 8. At 12:35 the first bags arrived at 12:50, we were still waiting some (all with priority came at the endÖ), It was eventually delivered at 13:10.

LHR is pain to transit after immigration.

I took the bus 490 to Terminal 4 at 1:19pm.

Next part: QR Lounge in LHR + QR to Doha
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Old Jun 17, 17, 8:28 am   #9
  
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Great TR - looking forward to more. Thank you!
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Old Jun 17, 17, 11:39 pm   #10
  
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Great report - watching with interest. Which lounge is that in CAI? It's way better than the poubelle offered by Egypt Air!
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Old Jun 18, 17, 7:47 am   #11
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Originally Posted by gaobest View Post
Great TR - looking forward to more. Thank you!
Thank you gaobest. The more is coming right after.
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Old Jun 18, 17, 7:48 am   #12
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Originally Posted by ironmanjt View Post
Great report - watching with interest. Which lounge is that in CAI? It's way better than the poubelle offered by Egypt Air!
Poubelle ? Hahah

It's the first Class lounge in Terminal 2.

Thanks for you comment Ironmanjt.
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Old Jun 18, 17, 7:51 am   #13
  
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Well done on the sweet deal!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ironmanjt View Post
Great report - watching with interest. Which lounge is that in CAI? It's way better than the poubelle offered by Egypt Air!
As a recent victim of the Egyptair lounges, I was thinking the same thing!
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Old Jun 18, 17, 7:52 am   #14
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QR4 LHR to DOH First Class review

The full review for both the lounge and the flight can be found :
http://www.youtripreport.com/Report/...-qatar-airways

Flight # QR4
Seat : 2A My all times favorite
Duration : 6h25
Aircraft : Airbus A380
Date : 06/09/2017
Departed: 2/8 in First. 95% in Business.

Before I start the report, I have to admit, Iím a big fan of Qatar Airways despite its flaws. Back in 2006 I was still in college and yet I had to fly to meet my girlfriend in NY (why love must be so complicated?) and I needed to work (grocery store) at night and in the week-end to pay my flights. I was 20 and as I French, my first choice was AF. I quickly moved up between the tiers to end up being Platinum at 20 years old booking only coach. It was once possible to have a status as a coach flyer. I was emotionally in ďloveĒ with AF even if I was the first to criticize the airline. I was literally blinded by AF and I had no desire to sample new airlines. As I grew up, I met another girlfriend who happened to be a Flight Attendant in the Middle East. While it was easier to meet since she asked to have the CDG rotation every week, we flew a lot together in different places where I had to experience new airlines.. My First QR Flight (in 2009) even in coach was memorable. I was blown away by the experience with no idea that I could become QR addict nearly a decade after my first flight.

Back on the topic: QR4 bound to DOHA.

I went to collect my boarding pass, I like QR BP. I then headed to the lounge and cleared security with the fast track.




The lounge is almost identical to the new one in Paris. Itís bright and sleek. I let the pictures do the talking.






Wanna drink ?


I quickly made my way to the restaurant to try the menu.



The menu:


Salmon to start and lamb as main. Both were just beautifully presented and tasted great.


I requested my lamb to be medium rare and it was just pink. Yummy.


A quick shower to freshen up and it was time to leave the lounge. Too bad I did not spend more time there. It would be for next time.




The service was top notch. I left the lounge 5 minutes before boarding.

My bird for the next 6h20:




How not to love flying with such a gorgeous plane?

Upon boarding I was escorted to my seat by Amina, the flight attendant in first Class, who happened to be outstanding. She is from Morocco and has been working with QR for 3 years. I sent a tweet and a mail to QR to congratulate her.

The seat: I wonít go into full review since I have reviewed it countless times. One thing I can say is, I feel ďhomeĒ whenever I come back to the First Class cabin. Yes, Qatar is not the leader in First, the menu can and should be improved to be more First, aside from the Caviar, I havenít been Impressed by the catering, some meals stood out over the time, but nothing memorable. Will this change?

Welcome home Thomas:







Welcome drink with cheese and parmesan + Cold towel:


The menu for todayís flight, the other pax seated in 1A did not eat at all and told the crew not to be botheredÖ Man, take a deep breath and live a little !!!




Not too shabbyÖ


EY bound to AUH:


Right after take off:


Before the service, warm nuts and sparkling water. I have 2 laptops, the one I use the most is my Dell XPS 13 (very thin bezel) with my QWERTY keyboard. That one is a gift. Perfect timing since I had to put the laptop in the cargo ex Cairo.


Such a massive IFE, my only complaint would be the remote. Too slow. QR recently changed the system and itís much more pleasant. Good job QR:


While you donít have an onboard shower, the toilet is large enough and greatly appointed.


Before the service, I made my way to the lounge, as you can see, no alcohols are offered given the Ramadan.


In my previous trip report ďMy quest for Balik SalmonĒ I have another sin: Caviar. May I even consider it as a sin?


I table is now set up. 3 choices for Olive Oil. One thing is weird here. The butter should be removed from its container. Quick appetizer. Good. One thing you should order while you fly with QR n their signature drink: Mint/lime drink and ask lot of ices. Simply stunning.


My first meal arrived shortly after, scallops with pea. Very tasty.


So far so good.. Now the main is the biggest default with QR catering. Unfortunately, my fish was not up to my taste. The fish was wreathed with spices. As a result, I had to remove all to eat it. Too bad:


Enjoying the view:


Next part the desserts:
Fondant au Chocolat with vanilla Ice cream. Fruit.




It was time for me to take a well-deserved nap, Amina made my bed :


I woke up 45 minutes away from DOH.

Bottom line of my first leg with QR:

I had the chance to have Amina, she was truly brilliant. Her job is a calling. Thatís the kind of crew you wish to have, always.

Again I was disappointed by the main, even if I ate the meal.

The lounge is great, I need to go back to have more time to build an extensive review.

Thanks for reading.

Next part: Al Safwa Lounge in Doha + QR833 to Bangkok
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Old Jun 18, 17, 7:54 am   #15
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Originally Posted by mad_atta View Post
Well done on the sweet deal!

As a recent victim of the Egyptair lounges, I was thinking the same thing!
Thank you for your comment. Just lucky.
MS Lounges are not the best. It's very far from fine...
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