The check-in staff at Qatar Airways in Terminal E at Boston’s Logan International Airport are very helpful, offering an escort through security.
A Moroccan woman who has lived in Boston for 20 years accompanies me, cutting to the front of the lines and walking me to the lounge, which is shared with Air France and KLM.
The lounge is almost full and the food consists mainly of sandwiches and cheese.
Boarding the carrier’s A350-900, with 36 seats in business class in a 1-2-1 configuration, takes place smoothly, and the large individual video screens are connected to the tail camera showing live footage of the aircraft being prepared for take-off.
The 11pm departure time seems ideal for sleep, though the whole cabin is disturbed by a screaming group of young children about four rows behind me. It’s a relief to put on headphones and watch the entertaining safety video, which features the FC Barcelona football team in various situations – for example, to illustrate the use of oxygen masks, a crowd of female fans swoon as Gerard Pique walks through the airport; passengers are shown buckling into seats at a football match and a smoker is red-carded for lighting up in the toilets.
After a smooth take-off, the cabin crew take orders from the a la carte “dine anytime” menu, and I have antipasti salads and thai vegetable curry with steamed rice. Everything is fresh and tasty and served quickly.
I’m frustrated by the in-flight entertainment handset, which is unresponsive, so I check a couple of emails using the 15 minutes of free Wi-Fi offered (it’s $5 for an hour or 30mb after that, but it only seems to work on my phone not my laptop). Instead I read the Financial Times and then opt for sleep.
A mattress pad is added to my seat by the crew and I sleep for about seven hours using the comfy pyjamas, earplugs and eye mask provided. The amenity kit is by Giorgio Armani and I like the “Si” perfume and body lotion.
On landing at Doha I have an hour in the impressive new Al Mourjan business class lounge at Hamad International Airport, which is blissfully quiet and stylish. The final, 45-minute leg of the flight to Abu Dhabi is uneventful and arrives on time.
When did the Boston route launch and how much do tickets cost?
Qatar Airways’ daily service between Doha and Boston launched on March 16 this year. Tickets from Abu Dhabi cost from Dh4,390 return in economy and from Dh11,590 return in business class.
How long does the flight take?
Because flights from the UAE to Boston with Qatar Airways go via Doha, the quickest outbound trip time is 15 hours and 20 minutes, departing at 6.45am from Abu Dhabi and arriving in Boston at 2.05pm on the same day. On the way back, the journey time is 15 hours, departing from Boston at 10.55pm and arriving in Abu Dhabi at 21.55pm the next day. There are similar connections from Dubai.
What makes the A350 aircraft special?
Qatar Airways was the launch customer for the A350 XWB, and uses the aircraft on its US routes to Philadelphia, New York and Boston. The XWB stands for extra wide body, which gives the cabin a more spacious feel. The aircraft was developed by Airbus to lower fuel consumption by 25 per cent compared to its current aluminium long-range competitors. The fuselage is built with carbon-fibre reinforced plastic and the advanced design of its wings are built for “maximum aerodynamic efficiency.”
How does it feel for the passenger?
The aircraft is extremely quiet and smooth, making it comparable to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Curved, flowing lines, large windows with electrically controlled blinds and pod-like seating areas make its window seats feel both private and spacious. The flatbed is 30 inches wide, with plenty of storage and shelf space. The pairing of both an opaque and blackout blind window option, individually controlled, is one of the ways in which it’s superior to the Dreamliner.
* The writer was a guest of the airline.