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Trip Review QR3458 (KHI-LHR) UK Repatriation Flight

Trip Review QR3458 (KHI-LHR) UK Repatriation Flight

Old May 14, 20, 10:32 am
  #1  
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Trip Review QR3458 (KHI-LHR) UK Repatriation Flight


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Karachi Jinnah International to London Heathrow (direct)

Never thought I'd be posting a trip review in these times but hey ho.

When I heard of a UK Repatriation flight heading to the place where I’ve been stuck for the last 40 days, I took the chance in hopping onboard - not really knowing if I would get a seat on the plane or not due to demand and the fact that only one flight would be operating, in a city where there are approx 20 million people and according to UK official stats, 200,000 Brits stuck in Pakistan.


The UK government entered into a deal with Qatar Airways which would bring qualifying Brits back to the UK. The ticket price (one way) was £498.25 (?) which to be fair, in this scenario was rather decent, I assume the UK government paid the other £400 odd quid.



30th April (I got my confirmation 12 hours before the departure time):

On the ticket confirmation, everyone has been told to arrive at the airport 4 hours before arrival due to stringent checks and Covid19 procedures. More on this later, short version - I arrived 2:30 hrs early knowing how small the airport is.



I arrived at a deserted Karachi Jinnah International airport. This was the only flight operating on the day, normally there would be around 5 Emirates flights in the day, Turkish airlines flights, Qatar as well as local carriers.




To enter the terminal building, all the luggage was sprayed using some sort of detergent as was the passenger (yes!). As soon as I entered, baggage was screened (as it always is) and I thought the porter was joking with me about the queues inside at the check-in desk being busy. As I peeked at the desk, oooops, yep that was indeed the case. It took about 45 minutes to arrive at the front of the queue and there was no social distancing reminders.



As I stood in the queue, I was nervous as I was pretty sure I was over the baggage limit (2x 23kg). Got to the desk and the baggage was over by 2-3kg and was let through without any comment. The check-in desk staff were extremely helpful, welcoming and friendly - something I hadn’t encountered with my main carrier, Emirates. Yes, I know, depends on who you get but a very good impression for someone who is using this airline for the first time.





Got my boarding pass, went through the border/exit control and made my way to the boarding gate. Duty free shops were closed (guess they wouldn’t be open for the one flight) with notices on the window saying opening as soon as Covid is over. Passing through the terminal, the few business class lounges were too, surprisingly, closed.




Prior to entering the boarding gates area, another round of security checks with some sort of scanner. I was surprised seeing this thinking it was impressive of the government to lay on Covid scanners - turns out it was simply to check if anything was left in my pockets.




So yeah; no temperature checks, social distancing enforcement or thermal scanning.




The UK government had laid on a food voucher to the value of approx £8, I made use of it but went straight back. I figured I was more likely to encounter food poisoning at this point than Covid19.



Boarding commences and its done so by zones and very well enforced.



Baring in mind I’ve only ever travelled in Emirates on long haul, I was kinda excited trying out Qatar as I’d heard good things about them but sadly not used them previously because they don’t fly from Glasgow (airport closest to me).




As I walk through the upgraded airbridge, I feel relieved going back home. I board the aircraft and all the staff are wearing full 3M disposable suits with specialised eye wear. I walk through business class and then onto 22D. Wow, the cabins look really slick and fresh. Loved the atmosphere, interior, lighting, presentation and seating comfort.



Social distancing? Nop, every seat is occupied including the one next to me.




Captain makes an announcement saying masks must be worn at all times throughout the flight and that ignoring this may result in a fine.



Departure is on time and an hour or so later, food arrives.




Lovely, tasty, hot, good size and nice variety. I wasn’t expecting this to be honest, I thought it would be a simple sandwich job to minimise cutlery etc but no, it was the full whack including cutlery and tray. Did I mentioned the Biryani was delicious?



Crew was fantastic throughout the flight. Smiling and also the fact that they gave chocolates when I requested them (the Godiva ones are heavenly!).




I fall asleep after the meal as the lights were dimmed and window shades were down. I woke up after 20 minutes to find a device being pointed at my forehead by a cabin crew member. You could imagine how I was feeling at that point! No advance warning of temperature checks taking place. Im the worst possible sleeper on flights so I would hear of any announcement after going to sleep. I am politely asked by the crew as she holds up the device in front of my face “are you feeling OK sir?”. Nervous. “Yes, why what’s wrong?”. She responds “sir your temperature is down to 33 degrees”. At this point I was like phew, as long as its down I’m happy lol.




Rest of the flight involved me looking at the journey map thinking about my onward travel to Scotland and how on earth this was achievable given this flight was around 8 hours. Yes, I had hired a car at the airport for another 7 hour journey to Glasgow.



2 hours or so before landing, we are given a smaller but again a very nice snack. This is not something I’m familiar with, having two awesome meals on the same flight. Usually with EK, you get one hot meal at the start and then a colder one near the end. Sliders and chips are served (delicious but Y NO KETCHUP?). As I chew on this delicious slider and the screen in front of me reminding me of my onward journey, I’m thankful that this flight wasn’t stopping at Doha otherwise it would have been super tiring.



I understand that no two flights are comparable, you can get the best crew or the worst in the next one. However, looking at Qatar overall, I will be giving them a shot in the future if they ever think about starting flights from Glasgow - which given the current circumstances, probably won’t be in the next decade at least. Yes, they do fly to Edinburgh but its a mission getting there and I hate the airport so unfortunately that isn’t going to tempt me.

I would also add two things which I liked over EK:
1) Blankets weren't taken away prior to landing. I am not sure whether they are normally or not but EK tend to take them 40 minutes before landing and its a right kick in the sack.
2) A passenger sitting next to me fell asleep after the second meal and missed the announcement by the pilot in which he announced 'if anyone wishes to visit the toilet, please do so now'. Seatbelt signs come on and 5 minutes later he gets up to visit the toilet, missing or ignoring the sign. He gets sent back to his seat but a few minutes later the crew come to him and ask him if he still wants to use it. I thought that was a nice touch, I've experienced EK crew strictly enforcing this as soon as the TING is echoed through the cabin and yes, one case out of many but there's way too many coincidences of positivity in this flight.




Arrived into Heathrow Terminal 2, border control was deserted but strangely the baggage area was absolutely bizarre. We were told to form queues (2m distancing) near the carousel for our flight whilst attendants took off all the baggage and put it in a designated area, the staff would then let groups of ten people go into that area to retrieve their bags and then more people would allow to go. ONLY if the staff knew how we travelled to Heathrow in the last 8 hours would they realise this was a wasted exercise.


Last edited by S c 0 TT y; May 22, 20 at 12:34 pm
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Old May 14, 20, 11:35 am
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Thanks for that, very informative and interesting to see a charter flight experience. Great to see QR continue the on board catering as normal (which is something I can't say for other airlines right now!)

I think QR are a great airline from a passenger experience perspective.
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Old May 14, 20, 12:01 pm
  #3  
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A really good report, and thanks for taking the time to write (although let's be honest, we've all got a fair bit more free time than usual ).

Glad you made it back to the UK safely, and a really interesting insight into what happens on these repatriation flights.

Out of curiosity, was the J cabin used?

M
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Old May 14, 20, 12:55 pm
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Originally Posted by msm2000uk View Post
A really good report, and thanks for taking the time to write (although let's be honest, we've all got a fair bit more free time than usual ).

Glad you made it back to the UK safely, and a really interesting insight into what happens on these repatriation flights.

Out of curiosity, was the J cabin used?

M
So this is a bit of a funny / strange one.

When booking the ticket on the UK government portal (not Qatars website), we were only offered Y class @ 498.25. No option for business. I did try my luck to get upgraded due to my onward journey and perhaps some sympathy by QR, but they weren't having any of it lol.

Upon checking in at the airport, I was told that if I had contacted the embassy, I could have requested a business class upgrade at no cost (this seemed strange given that embassy numbers or contact no's weren't shared in any of the communication or mention of business class seats). There were a lot of pax with disabilities and wheelchairs so I had thought that perhaps they were being upgraded to business (as they were the first ones to board).

As we arrived into LHR and I was exiting the aircraft via the business class area, the seats seemed to be unused i.e. all the seatbelts were in the same style and no mess was created in that specific business class cabin, I can't speak for the front business class cabin but I am sure I had spotted some pax in there when boarding.

Last edited by S c 0 TT y; May 14, 20 at 1:02 pm
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Old May 14, 20, 3:37 pm
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Glad you made it back safe and sound
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Old May 14, 20, 4:29 pm
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WB home! Stay safe.
Iím curious, were there passengers in J? Was there an option to buy J or did they just randomly decided who sits where?
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Old May 14, 20, 5:17 pm
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Originally Posted by justsawaufo View Post
WB home! Stay safe.
Iím curious, were there passengers in J? Was there an option to buy J or did they just randomly decided who sits where?
Cheers,

I spotted some PAX when boarding in the first cabin (as you walk into the plane to the left) but the 2nd cabin for business was empty for certain as on the way out, the seats and arrangement of that cabin were intact.
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Old May 14, 20, 6:12 pm
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Updated opening post with a short video:

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Old May 14, 20, 6:26 pm
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Originally Posted by FlightDetective View Post
Great to see QR continue the on board catering as normal (which is something I can't say for other airlines right now!)
Like the one that remains nameless but arrives solely at LHR T5?

Must say it's very sad to see LHR so empty, with shops barricaded...
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Old May 15, 20, 1:16 am
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Thanks - really informative and nice to see good standards being maintained. Do you have any idea how QR crewed this? It may be the front J cabin was needed for supernumerary crew?
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Old May 15, 20, 5:50 am
  #11  
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Originally Posted by carrotjuice View Post
Like the one that remains nameless but arrives solely at LHR T5?

Must say it's very sad to see LHR so empty, with shops barricaded...
Ahhh, you mean Iberia

M
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Old May 15, 20, 6:03 am
  #12  
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Interesting report, thanks.
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Old May 15, 20, 11:43 am
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Originally Posted by mr_botak View Post
Thanks - really informative and nice to see good standards being maintained. Do you have any idea how QR crewed this? It may be the front J cabin was needed for supernumerary crew?
Sadly no idea, I do know that the crew came on the flight from Doha, flew with us to Heathrow and then spent a night (overheard them in the galley of hotels that they were assigned to). I can imagine they were running another scheduled service the following day.

To be fair, the service standards were exceptional, I wasn't expecting all of this in these given circumstances. Drinks were coming round on trays on what I would say every 1.5 hours and I think I forgot to mention how nice the biryani was
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Old May 15, 20, 8:44 pm
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I just noticed OP's comment that "Blankets weren't taken away prior to landing. I am not sure whether they are normally or not but EK tend to take them 40 minutes before landing and its a right kick in the sack."

Gosh, I've experienced flights like MH and TK that take away your headphones before landing... but only if you're no longer using them.

Wasn't aware that EK yanks away blankets from people who're still cuddled up in them. That's just cheap and unnecessary!
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Old May 16, 20, 2:53 am
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Very nice report, glad you made it back safely. Amazing how QR manages to offer this level of service during these times.
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