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You could do worse...but you could do better as well
Member Name: caustin10
Advantages: Good prices, good choice of films
Disadvantages: Have to go through Doha airport
I have just got back from a week in Abu Dhabi having flown there with Qatar Airlines. This involved a flight from Manchester to Doha and then a 1 hour flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi. As such I was able to see both the long haul and the short haul service that they offer. On the whole they were pretty good, got me there and back in one piece (despite having to suddenly pull up in Doha when we were 10m from the ground because another plane had not cleared the runway!) and my only real disappointment was simply that they are not as good as Emirates.
I didn't book directly with them as I had found some nice online vouchers for Opodo and saved myself £35/person as a result. Once booked though the communications were very good. We bought our flights many months in advance and were kept up to date via email of any schedule changes - in the end it was only a matter of our flights changing by 5 minutes but it was nice to be kept informed
Online Check In
You can just turn up on the day but it saves a lot of queuing time if you book in online, print off your own boarding passes and use the Qatar Airways quick baggage drop off lane at the airport. We used their website to do this and found everything straightforward and were even allowed to choose our seats at no extra cost. My one slight annoyance was that it was only possible to check in 36 hours in advance. This was fine when travelling out but it is not always easy to get access to a PC and printer when you are abroad so sorting ourselves out for the return journey was a little difficult
On each of the 4 flights we took we found that we were boarded onto the plane much earlier than I am used to - in most cases around 1 hour before the flight left. This meant that the earlier passengers could get sorted out on the plane without having a load of people waiting to brush past them. Equally the late arrivers had clear aisles and could get to their seats quickly.
The staff were well presented and friendly and the pilot kept us well updated with how we were getting on.
The meals onboard are of a decent standard in comparison to other airlines I have used and likewise the TV screens offered a good choice of films, programmes, games and music.
Overall though Emirates are just that little bit better - they have more modern planes and plenty of staff walking the aisles, on hand to provide refreshments if asked. With both legs of the long haul flights there was just one lady stood near the toilet area handing out drinks. This meant that the queues for the toilets and the drinks blended into one with the result that you had to wait a long time for either facility.
The change in Doha was a bit chaotic and for that reason I would not rush to use Qatar airlines again. As we arrived everyone had to go through security check in again and there were only 3 baggage check machines open for all arriving flights which meant there were long queues. I really don't know why they do this, everyone has just got off a plane, they will have been checked at their initial airport, so what is this additional check going to achieve? Also the security guard only seemed bothered that I took my belt off. When both myself and a friend went through the metal scanner and the alarm went off nobody came over to check.
On the short haul flight from Doha to Abu Dhabi the service was similar but I found it a bit strange that they again had the TV screens with the full choice of films etc but did not have any headphones aboard (unfortunately they are bespoke headphones and your usual ones won't work).
Summary: I should have flown Emirates
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