Sydney to Moscow via Doha
Taking out the best airline "Oscar" of the aviation industry this year – for a record fifth time – Qatar's success in the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards is due in no small part to its fleet of sparkling new aircraft. The flight to Doha is on a Boeing 777-300, the world's largest twin-engine jet, and on to Moscow in the smaller and very comfortable Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
The Qatar Airways Privilege Club is a OneWorld partner with airlines including Qantas, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and American Airlines.
Fifteen hours and 10 minutes to Doha, departing Sydney at a very civilised 3.45pm, then five hours to Moscow, leaving at 4.15pm Doha time, and arriving in Moscow at 9.15pm, just in time for a welcome vodka cocktail.
Well-organised and orderly in Sydney, with families with small kids and older passengers first, followed by different row sectors. I opted to stay in Doha for a night and a day to break the journey, and tried out the airline's Al Maha Service – this involved being met off the plane, escorted through Hamad International Airport to a private lounge with its own personal VIP immigration counter, helped with baggage, and then taken to where I was being met. It was such a gloriously laidback and stress-free experience, I did it again the next day, going to Moscow, and then on the way back to Sydney. It costs about $US100, depending on the level of service.
33C, an aisle seat in the first aircraft's 3-4-3 seating configuration. The seat was 17 inches wide (43 centimetres) with a pitch of 31-33 inches (78.7-83.8cm). On the Dreamliner's 3-3-3 configuration, I had window seat 29K, 17.2 inches wide (43.6cm) with a pitch of 31 inches (78.7cm).
Up to 30 kilograms of checked luggage in economy and up to seven kilograms of carry-on.
The leg room was pretty good on both flights which made it as comfortable an experience as it could be. There were adjustable headrests and I love the mood-lighting on the Dreamliner and the opaque dimmer-windows, too. Another huge plus was the cheap high-speed internet service on board both flights – plus the USB port, and under-seat plugs – to recharge devices.
The touchscreens on the seat backs are very easy to use; I watched an 18-month-old tot switch hers straight to cartoons, which was terribly intimidating. There's a huge choice of about 3000 Oryx One inflight entertainment options, too, with all the latest movies and TV series. I particularly like that you can go online at home (if you're seriously that well-organised) and work out in advance your viewing program.
Excellent service with frequent water and juice runs throughout the flights, a towel wipe presented on arrival and – joy oh joy! – toilets frequently checked, and cleaned. When I was seen fumbling around trying to plug in my laptop, a steward nearly tripped over himself in his eagerness to help.
It's nice to have a menu in economy to peruse the choices, and strange that airline food always tastes better when eaten with proper metal cutlery. Meals here were certainly better than average, and presented nicely, although portion sizes seemed on the small size. But since you only eat out of boredom anyway, that's no bad thing.
ONE MORE THING
A big plus for anyone travelling over to Russia is that Qatar added St Petersburg to its ever-growing list of destinations in 2017. That means you can fly to Moscow, but fly back from St Petersburg, after seeing everything in between.
Qatar also picked up the annual gong for world's best business class but came only third in the quest for best economy, behind Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines. It's seriously difficult to understand how it was beaten … that Al Maha option pushes it sky-high.
OUR RATING OUT OF FIVE
Sue Williams travelled to Moscow as a guest of APT (aptouring.com.au).