Bad experience with Qatar Airways

Old Mar 23, 09, 4:51 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2009
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Exclamation Bad experience with Qatar Airways

I just completed my first trip in Economy with QR on the JFK-DOH-MAA route. I want to share my experience with other fellow travelers.

First, good things about QR. In-flight service was great - cabin crew in Economy were attentive and meals were good too. Their planes are brand new and seats comfortable. The main reason I took QR was the low fare ($800 return) and the JFK-DOH-JFK route had many empty seats so I could fully stretch.

Now for some cautionary notes for other travelers thinking of flying by this airline. As other posters on this forum have mentioned, ground staff in Doha are quite shocking and don't have any concept of customer service.

Despite my protests, I was forced to gate check-in my hand luggage for the India leg of the trip. I understand QR flies a smaller aircraft on this route and the flight was full. However, they lost my cabin bag and have not been able to trace it so far. Compared to BA or SQ, they have very poor communication about missing luggage and I am not very hopeful of what compensation I will be receiving. The phone agent told me that compensation for gate checked-in baggage is entirely discretionary. So if you have a transit in Doha, DO NOT put any valuables in the bag they make you check-in at the gate.

On my return DOH-JFK trip, I was shocked at how security screening works in Doha. Unlike the US, you will stand at least 10ft away from the screeners. They will rummage through all your cabin bags and throw out things into a large thrash can at will - all without saying a word to you!!! They threw out my rechargeable batteries for the noise cancellation headset as well as an empty water bottle and some lotions. When I tried to politely ask how any of my stuff was against regulation, I was threatened with being deplaned by the rather intimidating security supervisor. I was not the only one singled out, many other passengers on my flight were receiving similar treatment.

So in summary, while QR offers low fares in Economy and their in-flight service is good, I will not be flying them again. The hassle involved in changing flights in Doha is simply not worth the couple hundred dollars you save compared to flying EK, LH or BA.

Qatar Airways needs to make significant improvements to transit operations in Doha to become a true "5-star" airline. Till then, beware of flying QR!
kapt is offline  
Old Mar 24, 09, 4:06 am
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While I am not defending QR for their actions, people know that I have had my share of bad experiences with them. there are some things that one need to be diligent about.

You should have asked for a luggage tag even when they gate check your bag. Not to sound too discriminating, but most Middle Eastern carriers I find tend to be rude to sub-continental Indian nationals irrespective of what class of travel they are in. Ok. They might be a tad nicer to some if you're in Business or First Class. And the ones who are rude also tend to be fellow nationals of said race.

True about the careless disposal of such items. ie batteries. I think they are mistaken for wet cell batteries which are not allowed. And yes, the security management needs debriefing.

It might be better for you to write to the CEO of the airline and tell him of your experience rather than just voice your concerns here on Flyertalk. Nor does writing simply to Customer Service will do any good either. We have no pull towards QR.

I have yet to write my letter regarding the past 3 flights. Yesterday's flights were good, except that most staff seemed very surly. I wonder if there was some sort of pep talk regarding services due to current economic climate.
Guy Betsy is offline  
Old Mar 24, 09, 10:45 pm
Join Date: Aug 2007
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I am glad to you posted your story of QR's deplorable ground staff, especially the security soldiers. I was treated equally as bad recently. I felt like they took pride in the fact they had "power" over you. It definitely was a 'don't piss me off attitude'. There are many ways QR needs to improve but why should they when they always seem to get that 5 star airline award. That's all people see. QR allows their security detail to act in this manner regardless of their nationality or the nationality they are supposedly securing. To ask for a luggage tag for your carry on while they go through it is a bit much. What's a luggage tag going to do when they throw out your stuff?

What gets QR's attention are websites like this which has a large following, not just a letter to QR's HQ which will just get ignored which is probably why letters don't get written.
westernguyriyad is offline  
Old Mar 26, 09, 11:33 pm
Join Date: Mar 2001
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QR Ground Service

Just as a note of support to your experience, kapt. I'm in and out of Doha on QR at least twice a month and there have been quite a few instances I have had dealing with QR ground staff that have been notably bad. Staff at the premium terminal are more often surly than friendly - especially at the supervisory level.

There is a definite culture of "us vs. them" and my guess is that it is exacerbated by the fact that no one on the ground is actually empowered to solve problems. When you really can't do anything -- and you're under strict orders never to say that you can't do anything -- then your only other option is to stonewall. And stonewall they do.

There are some bright lights amongst the ground staff though, and they are all too well aware of the deplorable state of training and lack of empowerment of most members of the ground staff. Whenever something goes terribly bad, I call those people and see what they can do to sort things out. That usually does the trick.

I have stopped filling out comment cards because I have never received a response. This is surprising since I work for Qatargas, have a local Doha mailing address, and I always fly in J. Perhaps something addressed directly to the CEO would receive more attention. I've experienced some jaw-droppingly rude service from permium terminal staff, but I simply can't be bothered to continue to bang my head against the wall by seding more letters into the abyss.

In-flight staff members are consistently competent, though I have observed some seriously pissed-off looking crews lately as well. It's not just one person, but the entire crew that looks harried, stressed and bothered. I'm not sure what that is about. One thing is for sure; flight crews are light-years ahead of ground staff in the realm of customer service - especially when it comes to listening, understanding, and problem solving.

If I had a choice, I would skip Doha as a connection point until QR gets its act together.

Good luck.
jiminspace is offline  
Old Mar 29, 09, 5:15 pm
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I am beginning to believe some of these bad experiences, although the security check is not really QR's fault - isn't managed by DOH airport?
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Old May 5, 09, 11:19 am
Join Date: May 2009
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I concur

I would like to advise users of your website never to fly on Qatar Airways.

I originally booked a flight to Delhi and back, one part of which Qatar Airways simply dropped a few days before I was due to fly out. They never contacted me about this as I only learned about it when I phoned their Gatwick number to enquire about an unrelated issue about the flights.

As a replacement flight to the one they dropped (Doha to Gatwick), they put in place a flight that was supposed to fly out 11 hours later than the one originally scheduled. The result being that when I landed in Doha, I was denied a hotel room and had to contend with the dreadful food they give to passengers awaiting transfer in the Doha airport. The reason they gave for this is that the original booking I made never included a hotel room as the original transfer time in Doha was less that 8 hours. However, they, out-of-the-blue, canceled this flight and scheduled another one that was 19 hours after I landed in Doha, way over the 8 hours cut-off-point for a hotel. I tried enquiring about paying for a hotel out of my own pocket, but I was again even denied this information.

The upshot of all this is that I was forced to spend 19 hours staring like a mad thing at the floor of an airport terminal.

I had flown Qatar before this and thought their service was good. However, I, along with numerous friends, work colleagues and relatives to whom I have explained what happened to me, will not use this company ever again after the kind of appalling service I was subjected to. I hope you will agree and that your users should review any flight arrangements they have made now and in the future with this company based on my experience.

In short, stay well clear of this "airline".
mgacourt is offline  
Old May 6, 09, 9:49 am
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Originally Posted by UA Fan View Post
I am beginning to believe some of these bad experiences, although the security check is not really QR's fault - isn't managed by DOH airport?
Even though airport security check is not in the hands of QR, it is in QR's interest to get it's act together and do something about the whole Doha transit experience. Since QR is the biggest tenant in Doha airport it is upto them to take it up with the airport authority so that there customers have a smooth transit.
Colts_01 is offline  
Old May 7, 09, 6:40 am
Join Date: Feb 2006
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To be fair to QR, EK has grown quite succesfully with equally shambolic security at DXB and shockingly terrible ground assistance (Dnata). I don't think QR need to worry any time soon... I'll put up with it while flights are 40% cheaper than TG in C.
tlongdon is offline  
Old May 8, 09, 11:43 pm
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Oh dear , this sounds really really bad.
i dont think i will be flying with QR !!!!
CX and SQ will be my choice no matter what

apologies to all QR fans
sealalula is offline  
Old May 25, 09, 4:39 am
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Thumbs down Qatar Airways Experience!!!

Now as a regular flyer with EK and being well versed in the treatment handed out by the ground staff at DXB, I thought that it was worthwhile trying out Qatar, especially considering the 5-star awards they have been winning.

Coincidentally Qatar had a special deal on from flights originating LHR last month. Lo and Behold, I booked a ticket and saved almost 40% of the ticket price compared to EK. SO brilliant start, I thought. checked in at LHR, all very well, except that I did start to miss my EK Lounge!! Walked the normal mile at LHR to get to the gate and straight away started to regret my decision to try out Qatar. The gate was a construction site!!! No exaggeration. There were no more then 100 seats, tightly packed, for a full flight A340-600!!! and unusually for May weather in the UK, the sun was shining through ALL glass walls and it felt like 40 degrees C, inside. Boarding was done with 40 minutes before departure!

Agree with all others that the on-board service, I cannot fault. The plane was clean/newish, good ICE, good Food, limited choice in Alcoholic drinks (NO JD!!!!) although the crew were definitely much less friendlier then the EK crew. Overall not a bad flight. I was not prepared for what lay ahead, at arrival at Doha. Waited ages for the bus to take us to the terminal (I had 45 mins for the next connection), got to the terminal, at the same time as PAX from couple of other flights, and only one security gate was open!!! Well over 500 Pax, trying to get through one security gate, and any regular traveler through GCC countries will now, the ground staff work at a very leisurely pace!!! Oh and all ground staff were wearing masks, I suppose to protect themselves from Swine Flu!! So after 20 mins of the queue not moving I approached one of the supervisors and mentioned that I had a connecting flight which should be closing. He said I had to wait in a queue. Then he announces that ALL women can go through the side and avoid the queue. About 5 mins before my connection was departing he comes over and asks me to jump the queue!!! Normal undressing takes place, with shoes, belts and anything else they happen to think off. But my laptop bag does not get looked at! I get to the departure gate and there is no mention of my flight as the next flight details were on display....lot of running around and I am told to ignore the display and board the bus. Luckily I get to the correct plane, A321, a little dinky plane totally opposite to the shiny new plane from LHR. All crew are wearing face masks. I have a pax houston sitting behind me coughing and spluttering and one from San Diego across the aisle. Brilliant I thought, Swine Flu, here I come.

On the flight, no drinks except, water and juice. No time for coffee or tea, too much turbulence. Absolutely diabolical service!
Tonight I have the return flight and am absolutely dreading the journey. On top of that I have 5 hours for a connection to LHR in Doha. No idea what to expect but first experience does not bode well. As much as I and others moan about DXB airport, hell, I wish I was flying through DXB tonight rather than Doha.
Regardless of how cheap and what special offers they have in the future, I WILL NOT be using Qatar again, certainly not until they sort out their issues at Doha.....

Its after experiences like this that one realises that the overall service provided by EK is not all that bad. BA/Virgin, miles ahead.
Good Bye Doha, welcome back DXB, ALL is forgiven.
Panjabijutt is offline  
Old May 25, 09, 7:13 am
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5 star rating - bullocks! Their regional flights out of Doha are on older aircraft with just average cabin service. I have been on the Doha - Khartoum jump many times and I can tell you that the best thing about QR is watching the Sudanese swallow alcohol just before landing.

The airport is a joke but one has to experience the greasy egg and rice lunch served with a slice of white bread to fully understand Qatari airport hospitality.

It's an experience but certainly not a 5 star experience. This said, once you hop on a flight to LHR or JFK, it is like a different airline with modern aircraft and professional staff. It is like QR has two airlines in one!
davistev is offline  
Old May 25, 09, 7:49 am
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Originally Posted by davistev View Post
It is like QR has two airlines in one!
Weren't they starting a new LCC themselves, now that EK has FlyDubai ?
MH017 is offline  
Old May 25, 09, 4:16 pm
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For people considering flying QR, it's worth noting that the above comments relate to transiting in Economy. The experience is totally different if travelling in J and F and using the premium terminal.
MarkLHR is offline  
Old May 25, 09, 11:57 pm
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Panjabijutt, I enjoyed your post but I don't really understand your complaint.

The gate was hot and cramped at Heathrow

You had great onboard service LHR-DOH ^

You then discovered that DOH is one of the best airports in the world at making tight connections happen. They pulled you from the queue and made it happen ^. I assume you were heading to DXB, in which case a missed connection would not usually be fatal.

You got modern equipment (A321) for a short haul connection ^

There was no cabin service because of turbulence - rightly so ^

Some pax coughed on the plane

Plenty of stories for you to dine out on, but all in all it seems to me that QR delivered on a great ticket price.
MrSoft is offline  
Old May 26, 09, 5:38 am
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"The gate was hot and cramped at Heathrow" - this can definitely be the case if it was gate 40 in T3 where the area at the end of the pier is under construction. This is often where the A340 parks.
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