QR - is it really that bad?

Old Jan 8, 09, 10:27 am
  #1  
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QR - is it really that bad?

Hello all

I pretty much always fly BA/Qantas, and Virgin, but we're heading to the Maldives on holidays and none of those airlines fly there, so I was going to book QR as it is the cheapest and the timings work best for us. We're flying Y, which will be a bit of a shock as I am used to J and F with BA etc., but I'm not too bothered, credit crunch and all! What I am concerned about, however, are the numerous threads on here slating QR and particularly the Doha transit experience, and the ground support in case things go wrong.

We will need to transit both ways on our flights, with about 2 hours between flights. Is the experience really that bad that you would recommend paying more/going for less desirable times, just to avoid Doha airport? There is only one flight to connect to on the outward journey, and from some of the posts on here, I would hate to be a pax arriving late and having to rush to make the connection. Related to that, are QR generally on time leaving LHR on their evening flights?

Perhaps this is a silly question, as I am an experienced traveller and appreciate there is no such thing as a "great" airline, but there do seem to be a disproportionate number of horror stories on the QR threads....

FYI, I have never previously transitted through either Doha or Dubai or flown QR.

Cheers
Bigmerv
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Old Jan 8, 09, 5:23 pm
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Bigmerv, honestly, in all truth, I don't know what all the fuss is about transiting Doha. It is a non-issue. It's a bright, clean, modern airport which BTW consistently delivers unusually tight connections (an hour or less) with no fuss or bother. Some of the recent posts on this board have been moronic and you should take them with a pinch of salt.

Doha has no airbridges but somewhat perversely I have found the bussing system works very efficiently, perhaps because buses are the norm there and the entire airport operation relies on them.

Things only go wrong when you start trying to change something or get clever at Doha. For instance, suddenly decide you want to upgrade, change your flight, whatever. Keep it simple. Just make sure you get your connecting boarding pass at your point of origin and relax. You can't miss transit security, the bus drops you straight there (no walking! the perennial benefit of bussing!) and once you are through you should head upstairs where there is usually a lot of space and what seems like thousands of seats.

Good luck, why not come back and share your experience here?
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Old Jan 9, 09, 6:58 am
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Hi bigmerv!

I agree with the previous poster that if you don't have any special changes to your flight schedule, then all should be fine. Just follow the "herd", arriving on the bus to the main terminal, then follow the herd to your connecting flight. It's really no fuss. It's really not that horrid.

If, however, you're like me, I didn't follow know how to follow the "herd". I traveled in C, and I missed the bus to the Premium Terminal, and got off in the main terminal (because someone told me to get off there). I had to go through security in the main terminal, stayed at the business lounge in the main terminal, and then being told that I was not supposed to be there, got sent to find my way to the Premium Terminal ('cos there was totally no service in the business lounge in the main terminal ). After I arrived at the Premium terminal, everything was fine from then on. Weird, but that's what happened.

So, it's really not that horrible, if you follow the masses. Everything is just like every other terminal in the world. People sometimes have different expectations when they pay more to travel in premium classes, and esp. bad when they're not getting what they expect from their prior experience from other airlines. So, enjoy, take it easy. Have fun.

Just a side note though. Qatar is better in the air then on land
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Old Jan 9, 09, 8:13 am
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QR in the air (particularly J and Y- not so much F) is one of the best I have been on. Food and drink is good and plentiful in Y. From LHR there is AVOD (much better than BA's for example) and seat is fine. Crew are polite, attentive and professional without being over friendly.

On the ground, QR use T3 at LHR. QR tend to be punctual and I've never experienced a delay departing LHR. Returns from DOH are OK although QR17 (late afternoon departure is prone to suffer up to 1 hr delay from time to time). If you have status on Virgin you may be able to use the VS lounge as that is the one QR is using at the moment until they move to T4 in March.

I'd agree with Mr Soft's comments re DOH airport. It's fine. I'm there every month, both in premium terminal and main terminal. The airport is small, there are no long walks. You'll be bussed from the plane to the main terminal and the transit point is no more than 20 metres away. There is a compact but comprehensive duty free shop, a fast food place and a couple of coffee shops (www.dohaairport.com has more info). Like he said, keep it simple.

If for any reason you really do want to change a ticket or upgrade best thing to do is go through arrivals and go to ticket desk in departures hall. The problems that many have complained of here could have all been avoided by doing that.
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Old Jan 9, 09, 9:35 am
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Just to add another posative vote for QR and Doha. If you have everything set up it should be painless.

I do have a few tips:

Don't bother with the Al Maha service, it is completely unnecessary if you are just trasiting (you still ride the same bus and the wait for the escorte to the front of the security line is usually longer than the wait in line!)

QR deplanes Y from the rear of the aircrat. If you are concerned about timeing you might look at seats in the back section on your inbounds to Doha.

There are not a lot of food choices in the terminal, but the burgers at A&W are eatable.

You can buy a day-pass to the Oryx lounge which is nice and has some light snacks and soup but if you're only on the ground for an hour or so it is probably not worth it. They do have locking storage if you want to drop your bags and do some shopping but...

The duty free is an outragious rip-off. If you see something you are interested in, check normal retail prices on-line and I bet you will find a better deal at home.

FWIW
dlm
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Old Jan 9, 09, 11:05 am
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Originally Posted by cscube View Post
Hi bigmerv!

I missed the bus to the Premium Terminal, and got off in the main terminal
That's so annoying!

In my experience, the problem is they don't make ANY announcement.

The PT bus just stops outside the main terminal for no reason. It opens its doors for no reason. Nobody moves. Eventually, slowly, the doors close, the bus proceeds. It's just dumb!

But every now and then a first time traveller goes marching off without realising.

Like so many things in the region you spend $749bn or whatever on glitz and the whole thing falls apart on the simplest little training issue
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Old Jan 9, 09, 12:16 pm
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Originally Posted by cscube View Post
I missed the bus to the Premium Terminal, and got off in the main terminal
I've noticed in the past, many many people get off at the main terminal first, thinking that's it - because of the lack of announcements.

Last week, a ton of French people coming with me from CDG all got off, clearly geared up to go on some holiday in Asia. C class, of course. The bus driver who'd got out to open the door seemed surprised they'd be terminating in Doha, but didn't say a word.

They really need to put a sign up in the bus, to "stay put if transiting - you'll be taken to the premium terminal"!

Originally Posted by cscube View Post
Just a side note though. Qatar is better in the air then on land
In Doha, and the Middle East, I would 100% agree.

But in Bangkok they're fantastic - from the booking office in Exchange Tower, to the ground staff at the airport.

And in Charles De Gaulle, the other day I called up to say the train strike would delay me a little, and they printed my boarding passes on trust that I was on my way, with the chief QR guy meeting me at the counter (he's the one I'd spoken to on the phone) to make sure everything was ok!

However, I was told by them it was mandatory to have an outbound ticket from Bangkok (I originate BKK). This never-enforced rule was officially abandoned a couple of years back. So they might now know everything, but I wouldn't say they're hopeless all over the world
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Old Jan 10, 09, 7:01 am
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i transit through doha almost every month - there are announcements on the plane and the bus about the PT and also stating that pax whose destination is doha should use the main terminal - i do see transiting pax who get off the main terminal and get back on when the driver asks them if their destination is doha - some drivers probably don't ask or the passengers dont listen or understand

in all my travels, the bus system in doha is the most efficient - try the buses at IAD, LHR (only on delayed flights), FRA, ... the wait for the bus - wait for the entire bus to full up before they move etc. - granted doha is a much smaller airport
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Old Feb 2, 09, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by ibr2008 View Post
i transit through doha almost every month - there are announcements on the plane and the bus about the PT and also stating that pax whose destination is doha should use the main terminal - i do see transiting pax who get off the main terminal and get back on when the driver asks them if their destination is doha - some drivers probably don't ask or the passengers dont listen or understand
Just transited DOH twice in the last week, and I've noticed that this has gotten much better lately as bus drivers seem to be making a concerted effort to check whether premium pax are destined for DOH or the Premium terminal...when I first started flying QR about 2 years ago, the drivers were like zombies, not saying a word about what the first stop was, etc., and every trip had pax getting off at the wrong place...
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Old Feb 3, 09, 1:49 pm
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I think you're right - I went through four times last week, and on the two arrivals in Doha it was announced.

That didn't stop people from being confused (some people are so eager to be first off the bus that if they opened the doors by the side of the cliff they'd still dive off) and there's always the language issue with some travellers, but the driver actually walked round and checked with the people getting off.
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Old Feb 4, 09, 4:54 am
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I have yet to take a flight where it wasn't announced clearly on the plane before landing. In the bus itself I have seen all three options - no announcement whatsoever, an additional announcement and an announcement plus the driver getting out and asking travellers individually.

However, in the 20 odd flights I had arriving in DOH in the past years it has always been announced onboard before landing.
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Old Feb 6, 09, 12:28 pm
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Originally Posted by capetonian View Post
I have yet to take a flight where it wasn't announced clearly on the plane before landing. In the bus itself I have seen all three options - no announcement whatsoever, an additional announcement and an announcement plus the driver getting out and asking travellers individually.

However, in the 20 odd flights I had arriving in DOH in the past years it has always been announced onboard before landing.
Agree that the inflight crew is always diligent about annoucing the arrival procedure before landing; but the problem is that even with the announcement, it can be confusing for the first-timer, especially at the first stop (DOH arrivals) with no instructions from anyone, most first-timers have no idea whether this is the premium terminal or not; most aren't even aware there is another stop...
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Old Feb 6, 09, 2:30 pm
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Originally Posted by ClipperDelta View Post
Agree that the inflight crew is always diligent about annoucing the arrival procedure before landing;
Exactly - if anything this makes things worse. You hear the crew say this, and relax; and put yourself 100% in the hands of the bus driver.

I just booked my boss on QR and even though I told him not to get off the bus, when it came to it, EVERYONE else on the PT bus got off at the first stop - and, like a true sheep, he couldn't help himself and got off too "Did you enjoy the PT boss?", "What PT?"
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Old Feb 7, 09, 12:04 pm
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there is a reason why QR is 5 star and BA is not. But QR's FFP is not 5 star, hope you don't credit your miles there.
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Old Feb 7, 09, 4:33 pm
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Originally Posted by UA Fan View Post
there is a reason why QR is 5 star and BA is not. But QR's FFP is not 5 star, hope you don't credit your miles there.
What are our choices in this regard? we are likely going to do a one time trip JFK-DOH-BKK in J later this year. I thought we would have to get the miles posted to a Qatar acct and then use them in the future on Qatar or partner airline. We will end up with a lot of miles that I hope to use in the future.
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