Free sweets, free drinks and hand cream in the loos. It’s been a while since I last took a long-haul international flight. I’ve not quite mastered the art of getting out of the loo, i.e. turning the round, smooth, aluminium doorknob, with fingers smothered in hand cream,
Qatar’s national airline, Qatar Airways, has some pretty amazing figures and accolades, ‘Airline of the Year’ in 2011 and 2012, it has an annual growth rate of 35% and is planning to increase its fleet by 250 aircraft in the 2020s. From a passenger’s perspective it’s also memorable flying with them.
Joanna, who checked us in at Heathrow couldn’t have made the process any easier, despite having some very strange, archaeological equipment with us. Intrigued by the ‘expedition’ she had Hayley writing down the link to the Facebook page so she could ‘Like’ it later. Proudly, she told us she had checked-in Prince Harry on his trip out to Everest. Another expedition party who she had issued boarding cards to were releasing an eagle in Nepal. There is now an eagle called ‘Joanna’ flying around out there; named in her honour. She also gave us great seats with loads of leg room.
The lady next to me is on her way to Doha from Chicago, to join her husband who is working in Qatar, the country with the world’s highest per capita income.
‘I did this one myself,’ she tells me, after I ask about the intricately patterned, red and black henna on her hands and arms. ‘My cousin did the other one.’
“How much longer until we get to Doha?” she asks.
“I think it’s about 2 hours still,” I reply.
She is exhausted. But travelling alone with a 6 month-old and a three and a half year-old, when you’ve missed your connecting flight and had a six hour stopover can’t be easy. Both girls seem perfectly at home in the air. The eldest, in her turquoise, purple and lime green stripy fleece, has been curled-up against me for most of the flight rendering my left arm useless. Her younger sister, in a fetching snow leopard fleecy suit, has barely cried once. At one point I found myself in the middle of a crèche. I had ‘snow leopard’ in my arms (while mum had a drink), ‘stripy’ hanging on my arm and another random little boy wanting to play with the baby.
Eventually dinner arrives, followed by an individually wrapped Valrhona chocolate. This airline knows how to do food properly. I pop it in my pocket for later, ready for the Doha to Kathmandu leg of our journey.
Lat, Long: no idea. Somewhere over Baghdad I think.