Qatar Airways is the national carrier of Qatar and a member of the Oneworld Alliance. It has an extensive global route network, connecting passengers to over 160 destinations worldwide. We’ve flown Qatar Airways a few times, most recently to Hungary in August/September 2023.
Qatar Airways was voted the World’s Best Airline at the Skytrax World Airline Awards in 2022, for a record seventh time since the awards were introduced in 1999. In 2023, it was surpassed only by Singapore Airlines, coming out in 2nd place. The airline’s business class offering won the “World's Best Business Class” for the tenth time. Other awards for Qatar Airways in 2023 included Best Airline in the Middle East, World’s Best Business Class Seat, World’s Best Business Class Lounge (the Al Mourjan lounge at Hamad International Airport), and World’s Best Business Class Lounge Dining.
Qatar Airways’ frequent flyer program is called Privilege Club. Travellers used to earn Qmiles or Qpoints. In March 2022, Qatar Airways implemented Avios as its loyalty currency, joining British Airways and a few other airlines. For us, this was great news as we accumulate Avios loyalty points on our credit card spend.
Our layovers were only around 3 hours long but that gave us enough time to freshen up, have coffee and transfer to the correct terminals at Hamad International Airport. Qatar's main airport, Hamad International Airport is the main hub of Qatar Airways and is located in Doha. It is named after Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the previous Emir of Qatar. The airport has abundant seating, lounges, shopping, and eateries. It also has quiet rooms, prayer rooms, play areas for kids and a spa. Sleek, glass-roofed trains transport passengers between distant terminals.
The airport recently expanded by almost 50%. The expansion was unveiled in November 2022 and includes The Orchard, a huge 65,000-square-foot indoor tropical garden with a curved glass roof and water feature. It comprises over 300 trees and over 25,000 plants from sustainable forests around the world. There are pathways to walk on and places to sit and rest as well as an overhead walkway for an even better vantage point over the garden.
The Orchard is stunning but take note that as it is located at the end of the terminal, you will probably only see it if you seek it out, or if you are departing from a gate in this section of the airport, which is how we got to see it en route to Budapest. On our return leg to Johannesburg, we didn’t see it at all.
The expansion also added a second airport hotel, four new lounges and several luxury boutiques, including the only FIFA shop in the world, the largest Ray Ban store in an airport, a Dior Boutique, Louis Vuitton Boutique, Gucci, Tiffany and Co. Bvlgari, an Oreo Café and many more international brands.
As always, I compared ticket prices across multiple platforms first. The average price was around R12 000 to R14 000 per person. Then I checked if I could get reward tickets using our Avios loyalty points. Reward flights are often hard to get due to limited availability but thankfully we could, and our tickets to Hungary ended up costing R9952 return for two adults, which was a great deal.
We flew in economy class between Johannesburg and Doha on the Airbus A350-900 which accommodates 300-350 passengers and between Doha and Budapest on the Airbus A320 which accommodates up to 180 travellers. The flights between Johannesburg and Doha were more modern, spacious and comfortable cabin with wider seats and better amenities. All the flights were full.
The food on Qatar Airways was of a high standard and included meals, snacks, and drinks. All meals are halal and special meals like vegetarian, religious and medical meals are catered for too.
All the seats had individual TV screens with headphones. There was a wide selection of movies, series, documentaries, games and audio channels on the airlines entertainment system "Oryx One", and I watched a few movies.
On-board wi-fi is available. If you are a Qatar Airways Privilege Club member, which is free to join, you get one hour free access. Thereafter, there is a charge. We used our free hour to communicate with family back home and catch up on emails and social media.
We were handed amenity kits on all the flights. On the flights between Budapest and Doha, we were given sanitation kits consisting of a face mask, gloves, and hand sanitising gel. On the flights between Doha and Johannesburg, we were given sleep kits which consisted of an envelope-style pouch with eye masks, ear plugs, socks, as well as a small toothbrush and toothpaste.
The service was generally good.
Download the Qatar Airways app for easy online check-in, seat and meal selection and up-to-date information on your flight. You can view the menus and entertainment options available on your flight before you fly. These can also be done under the Manage Booking function.
Passengers who have a transit time of 8 to 24 hours qualify for a complimentary hotel room, airport transfers and a temporary visa.
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