Date: August 24, 2015
Airline: Qatar Airways
Flight: QR 42
Origin: Paris, Charles De Gaulle Intl Arpt (CDG)
Departing: Monday, August 24, 2015 at 10:30 am
Departure terminal: AEROGARE 1
Destination: Doha, Doha International Arpt (DOH)
Arriving: Monday, August 24, 2015 at 5:55 pm
Estimated time: 6:25
Actual flight time: 5:40
To get from Hotel Castille in Pairs’ 1st Arrondissement (between Tuileries Garden and the Opera House), it took 53 minutes and cost 45 Euros using uberX. Natalie and I were picked up in a Mercedes C-Class. We departed out of Terminal 1 and the check-in counter was number 2. Just look at the screen when you enter to avoid walking around the terminal aimlessly.
There was a good size line for Economy but only a couple passengers in the Business Class line, and none in the First Class line. We were able to check in at Business since we have Platinum status on American Airlines, which is one of Qatar’s Oneworld partners. You can’t upgrade your Qatar ticket using American AAdvantage miles but you can use miles to get a ticket outright. A First Class ticket on Qatar Airways from Paris to Doha is 40,000 miles (here’s how to do it). Fortunately, I’ve worked with Qatar Airways in the past and they put space-available upgrades for us in their system and they cleared. Score!
I love CDG’s Terminal 1 since it has all of those magic carpets that remind me of The Jetsons…but they can get confusing. They do a ticket check in front of the escalator, then again once upstairs when you go through a passport check. Premium customers can bypass the long line by scanning their boarding pass on the automated gate reader. Finally, a stoic French man quickly looked through my passport without saying a word and stamped it.
Once we cleared, we had a choice: Either go shopping (not very impressive) or go to the lounge. Unfortunately, both are on the wrong side of security. Qatar Airways premium passengers have access to Air France’s lounge and I have to tell you, it was very disappointing. It’s nothing like Air France’s lounge in their new terminal or Qatar Airways’ lounge in Doha, which is so incredible you have to see it to believe it. We spent just a few minutes there before making Natalie happy and checking out the shops. I decided to buy some macarons from Laduree (my wife’s favorite), which sells the delicate treats for the same price in the city. Eight macarons cost 18.70 Euros. It was actually cheaper than buying them in the city because once the clerk scans your boarding pass, your purchase is tax-free and the price goes down by a Euro.
It was time to go on another magic carpet ride to the gate. There’s nothing there so do your shopping and bathroom stops before going through security. Security is similar to the US. Shoes off, laptops and liquids out. It’s just a bit quicker. To get on the plane, three different agents checked boarding passes and passports (gate agents, private French security in the jetway and then the flight attendants, though the latter don’t check passports).
Qatar Airways’ A380 has 517 seats. There are 461 Economy seats (32-inch pitch; 18.5-width). The whole downstairs and a small section (eight rows) upstairs in the back is usually reserved for frequent fliers.
First Class has eight open suites with 180-degree recline and Business Class has 48 flatbed seats with 180-degree recline. Between these and the economy section in the back is a plush bar and lounge only for First and Business Class passengers. They set it up right after takeoff and it’s a great place to mingle and have a drink and snacks on long flights.
All classes have individual entertainment systems (26-inch HD in-flight entertainment screen in Business Class and 10.6” touch-screens in Economy Class) at each seat and come with plenty of entertainment options to choose from. The audio-video on-demand service allows passengers to choose from over 2,000 entertainment options: movies, TV box sets, audio, games, and more. There are also electrical outlets and USB power ports, which is critical in helping pass time on long flights.
Qatar Airways offers Wi-Fi on this plane. The first 15 minutes were free on this flight, but not on the following day’s flight, which was on a 787. It only takes a minute to sign up. If you want more, you can pay $10 for 20 MB, $18 for 50 MB or $22 for the whole flight. 20 MB isn’t a lot so I would go for the gusto or just use the free 15 minutes like I did.
Good to know: The flight attendant told me the Wi-Fi doesn’t work in some places, and especially over the mountains of Iran. It cut out on me over Turkey, too. A little phone symbol with a red line through it goes on when you’re out of signal.
There were 25 flight attendants working our flight and the ones I encountered were all stars. Can’t say the same about my DOH-DPS flight the following day. All the crew speak English and announcements are in both Arabic and English and in that order. They also play light Arabic music in the background during boarding, which sets an exotic mood for foreigners like me.
After taking our seats, the purser came around with a tablet with all passenger details and introduced herself. Meanwhile, the flight attendants were already working hard as they go up and down the aisle asking passengers if they’d like a drink and/or a hot or cold towel. They don’t use carts the whole trip, which brings their service to the highest level.
Before takeoff, I had Qatar’s signature lime mint drink, which I sipped while checking out the in-flight Giorgio Armani toiletry kits. They offer his and hers versions, and they’re placed on your seat before you sit down. That’s how much care they put into the details.
Flight attendants come around with two beautiful menus: one for drinks and the other for food. You can see a scanned copy of each in the photo gallery below. What I love about the meal service is that they ask you when you want to be served! You choose the time so you don’t have to eat an hour after takeoff if you don’t feel like it. This customized experience, tailored to your needs, is what sets this flight apart from so many others I’ve taken.
Thanks to the exceptional crew, product, food, and smooth ride, I rate this one of my top flight experiences of all time. What’s your best flight experience? Share in the comments below!