Ayesh Karunaratne: Full-time traveler, freelance software architect and security researcher
Mon, 2016-01-18 21:25
Airlines - The wonderful companies that take our money and take us to dreamy locations, home, or to your loved ones!
I'm not a frequent flier with a considerable tier or work for a company that would compensate me for my flights. When you want to book a flight, you'd search across several of airline web sites that serve your location, use some flight search engine, and buy whatever the airline has the cheapest fare. This has been the case for me too, except with a recent love with Air Asia X, mainly for taking me to Malaysia for 60% of my home country's national airline, SriLankan. I'm still thinking positively about Air Asia X, their comfortable seats even in the budget class, Nasi Lemak, and the really friendly air hostesses who even invited me to her apartment. Their prices are cheap, comes with decent seats, and flies to many destinations if you want to fly within South East Asia.
However, when you want to travel west, you (the Sri Lankans) will have to look for British Airways, SriLankan, or some airline from the Middle East (Turkish serve some of the European destinations too, and there are several other airliners in the list). About a couple months back, I wanted to go to Barcelona, and I, being the cheap guy I usually am, was checking and comparing prices of some airlines. Most of the airlines came up with 80,000-100,000 quote including a reasonably long transit in either Kuwait, Doha, and Dubai. I have never tried Qatar Airways, and their price was great too (about 40% less). I have seen the same fare once in a while in other airlines such as Emirates and Kuwait too. Since I have never tried Qatar Airways, I thought to give it a try.
Nice web site
I could buy the ticket reasonably easy, and the very first thing that impressed me is their web site. I'm a web developer by profession, and I have had some experience with booking engines such as Amadeus. They provide really old and hardly intuitive APIs, but the Qatar Airways had a really great web site (I'm looking at you: SriLankan). I wouldn't care if the site looks like something that a 13 year old script kiddie created as long as it works. But it's definitely a nice touch knowing it was already 2015. I didn't forget to enter my One World details at theirs (I have my account from Malaysia Airlines for providing some cheaper flights back in Kuala Lampur).
Airlines that provide a great selection of food is practically unknown these days. This is the primary reason I'd use Qatar Airways for my next flight too (if available and affordable of course). It's typical for airlines to provide some sort of small meal and provide decent selection. But QR's selection is wonderful, and once they serve it, it's oh-my-god beautiful and big! I received strange looks from the flight attendants when they serve me my diabetes meal. But who cares - I have now tried almost every food on their menu.
It's not the selection either. They were really prompt about what I asked for, and you can always go for some Whiskey, Vodka, Juices, Candy bars, etc. For the extra stuff, I would say Cathay Pacific would be better. But back in turn, their prices are usually high and hardly go low. In addition to the main meals, you can go for a coffee or tea. My return flight was delayed due to weather, and there they came with some large Mars bar and a packets of potato chips. Flight delays are bad. But who would have guessed they had a pile of extra stuff to serve to their 200 pax on the flight.
Middle East people love foot ball and other sports They are fun people. Qatar Airways should be put on top of the people who love FC Barcelona. I wasn't flying directly to Barcelona, but I know for a fact that when the team is playing, they have a whole lot of events and promotions planned. Messi fans, meet the airline who keep him in their hearts.
This should probably be the main reason why I love QR crew. Up to this date, I have missed 2 international flights just because I was late to check-in. Being the overweight guy I am, I usually don't mind the airline marking my ticket as "NO SHOW" because it's actually my fault. I witnessed QR being super friendly and flexible about this once, and it really made me love them. It was in Paris,and a few people were late to come pass the gate. I was late myself too, but even after the time the flight was due, the captain waited 20 more minutes waiting for a bunch of people. Flight delays can hurt the airline reputation and probably captains too. But he didn't care, and said he has to wait for them. Making the wait worthwhile, about 5 people rushed in, and one sat right behind me. He was Chinese and I couldn't understand anything, but I could figure out easily that he was very grateful to the hostess next to him for allowing him to go in.
You have to check-in to the flight early because that gives enough time for the crew to calculate the fuel need for the rough weight to carry the pax, and fuel to carry that fuel. I'm not exactly sure what happened to that poor Chinese guy, but the captain probably had the fuel part done correctly or something like that. You can check-in online too, so that must have given him some clues.
Most importantly, our flight arrived without a delay. The captain managed to land the flight on time despite the 20 minute delay. I, for that Chinese guy and his friends, am thankful for the captain and crew for being cool about such incidents.
QR is a One World partner, so you can make use of miles from other airlines. I abandoned my MH (Malaysia Airlines) branded card for a QR one after my second flight with them (the card arrived two weeks ago). I wouldn't be using it a lot and wouldn't probably go beyond the basic tier. But it's nice to have a loyalty card from an airline that you are actually loyal to.
Disclaimer: I'm not getting paid to post this. In fact, Qatar Airways had a great promotion with 40% prices slashed. I waited to publish this post because this would look like a pure advertisement otherwise.
Image credits: 1, 2, 3.