Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Qatar Airlines

Yeay, I Made it to Frome, England and its bloody freeeeeeeeeeezzzzzing... which is but not nice and also means there is snow and ice and it kinda makes things more christmasy.
Mum has no decorations up this year as father has been ill and so thats been more of a priority but I dont think it will matter much as the whole family is here together this year and so thats the best news.
So its Wednesday afternoon in England, 2 degrees and gloomy outside. I have been in England for the past 22 hours and I left Jakarta on Saturday?
Where I have been? In transit, in Doha, In Qatar, in the Middle east for 2 nights!
The weather in England is pretty dire, snow, ice, fog and more to come, this has impacted heavily on transportation as England is often not really suited to the cold and cannot cope with snow at all. It has been snowing for a few weeks before I arrived and it has really impacted on the airports and airlines.

The weekend was spent being anxious about flying home and I was packed and ready. I spent the day with Yovita and after some coffee and not much else we went to the airport in Jakarta for around 8pm. I checked in successfully at 9pm, paid my monies owing and the without issue got through Immigration and was then waiting to fly.
Jakarta airport is gloomy and dull at the best of times and when you have to fly internationally it is not much better. Luckily there was a bar so I had a couple of beers but at 39,000 each that was all I could have and then I waited to be called to the flight.
I was flying Qatar Air (The worlds 5 star airline) and it was a nice plane and great flight. We left at 12.50am Sunday morning and so it was a long 9 hour night flight into Doha airport. The food was great although a little slow but the stewardesses were helpful and you did not really want for anything.
We landed early into Doha at about 5.am and then I had a 2 hour wait in international departures for the flight to heathrow. Or so I thought.....

So we get through immigration control and the wait about a bit. I asked at the customer service desk which gate the flight to London would be and I was told that they could not tell me as the previous days passengers were still in the airport and no flights to London had left. So the mood changed quite a lot.                                                     


 Doha airport is not the most interesting or dynamic fun airports to be in, no tv screens, no bar, rubbish restaurants nothing to do. The free wireless spots were all taken and so that meant that it was a case of waiting and waiting.

After a while a gate opened and everyone queued and then an announcement was made to let us a know an announcement was to be made about the flights and what going to happen.
This again did not help. By 10.30am I had been there for 5 hours and still only knew that I was more than likely not to be going to home on Sunday.

 The announcement finally come that we needed to go the transit desk where we were told that we would be put in a hotel for the night as there would be no flights to London on Sunday. This was at 3pm, 10 hours after arriving there. So I went to the bus and then got stamped into Qatar and waited for the bus to come to take us to the hotel. The luggage was to remain at the airport and so that was not too bad as long as I could eat and shower I did not really mind.
The hotel we stayed at was called Retaji Al Rayyan hotel and it was very nice thats for sure. The rooms was big and the food was superb. There was so much help it was almost embarrassing. The hotel was about 30 minutes from the airport and was 5 star luxury.

My room (above) was great and had good views of some of the city skyline. After dinner I took a walk out in the city to have a wander round with some other passengers and the streets were empty and the cars were fast and expensive. The buildings were very impressive. We found a street with all the embassies on and walked through that. One of the people I was with almost had his camera taken as he tried to take photos of the Iranian one but he managed to convince the armed guards otherwise and deleted the pictures.
And that was the first day in Doha, by 9pm I was in bed asleep.





The next day we were told again there was no flights to England and the next announcement would be made at 7pm. So I went back into the city for something to do, found a starbucks and read a book. Feeling hungry I walked back to the hotel ate as much as I could and then spent the afternoon and early evening with the other stuck passengers just talking and resting.
At 7pm we were told that we would fly to Manchester not Heathrow in Tuesday and to be at the reception for 7am. Great.
So about 8 of us decided to go to the Irish bar in the Sheraton and have a few cold g&t's and enjoy a little time before flying on. The Sheraton was so massive and very impressive, we needed passports to get into the bar and the bar was not too crowded but was full only of Expats.

Tuesday morning I was at reception at 6.30am, bundled onto a bus and in the airport by 7.15. We had to check in again to get new boarding passes. By 8.45 I had yet to checking as the computer system struggled with the chartered flight and the change of destination for the baggage, but by 10.15 we were in the air and all good. Lots more gin and wine on the plane and landed in Manchester by 3pm.

With all the weather issues in London and the chaos that it has brought with it I must say that Qatar looked after me very well. A free 2 night break in Doha full bed and board, get in flight service as well makes the airline really competent. Sadly the airport service and lack of communication was a little less than good but they did all they can and I would use them again.

I have however lost a couple of days of my stay here and so have to rethink my plans. I have lots of things to do and people to see, I guess it might not all be possible with the weather and time of year. But regardless I shall enjoy it....
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