By Amelia Miller*
Selected images courtesy of iStock by Getty Images
I've always flown Qatar Airways; they've been my airline of choice since my husband and I moved to Qatar nearly seven years ago, and continued to be so when we made the full-time leap to Dubai four years ago. Why? Well, partly because of my frequent flyer status and the airline’s flexible extra baggage allowance which, as an expat returning home at Christmas, I've relied on every last kilo. But also partly because even though I have a love-hate relationship with them at times, when I've cheated on them with other airlines I've found that really no other carrier is as good as Qatar Airways – especially in the air.
Midway through this blockade, I've had to take two return flights with other airlines due to not being able to access Qatar from here in Dubai. As this feature is published, I'm about to embark on another long-haul flight with my infant son, and I genuinely have cold sweats thinking about flying for 16 hours with a baby on another airline and, as such, have tried to put off this trip as long as possible in the hope that things would have blown over by now and I could once again fly Qatar Airways.
So, why do I feel like this, and why do I miss flying Qatar Airways so much? Here’s five reasons for starters:
1. Onboard comforts
It may seem small (and likely something we all overlook on most flights), but when we don't have it, we miss it. Not having headphones available when I board – or for the first hour after take-off – is something I've really missed. Also, not being provided with a toothbrush or earplugs (especially on overnight flights), although something small, can have a huge impact on the enjoyment of your flight. I miss not having to ask for these things and just knowing that every time they’ll be there.
2. Onboard service
I'm yet to find an airline that is better than Qatar Airways when in the air. Their staff are just so helpful, and when flying with my son I know I’ll have all the assistance I’ll need, and nothing will be too much for the amazing cabin crew.
From knowing they’ll hold my meal if my son isn’t sleeping yet, to playing with my son if they aren't busy, to coming up and introducing themselves before the flight and asking if there's anything I need – these superstars of they skies make traveling a breeze, and I really don't want to face a flight without them.
3. Hamad International Airport
I love transiting through HIA because I know I can get a stroller for my son rather than carry him. I've never even entertained the idea of buying one of those onboard strollers until this trip because I'm not flying Qatar Airways – so suddenly I'm faced with airports that aren't as child-friendly as Doha’s.
Also – I never thought I'd miss that giant bear, but now that I haven’t seen him for a couple of months, all I want to do is hug him.
4. Prices/Flight schedules
Believe it or not, Qatar Airways is significantly cheaper than most other GCC and European carriers – but the thing I've missed the most is their flight timings. They’re so well thought-out you can tell they’ve been done with the passenger in mind. Added to that are stopovers that are neither too long or too short. You can tell Qatar Airways really thinks about its customer.
I've had more five-hour stopovers than I care to remember on other carriers, and trying to work out flight timings that actually aren't the most inconvenient times you've ever come across, just gives me a headache…all for sometimes double the price. Please Qatar Airways, come back to me soon…
5. A symbol of a country I love
The first time I saw that beautiful maroon oryx tail since the blockade started, I stood at the terminal window just staring at her beauty – wanting to protect her, hug her, and make a run for it to board her.
Since this blockade began, I've become very protective of Qatar more than ever, like a mother protecting her baby. However, seeing that beautiful plane sitting there to me was a sign of strength from a country that won't be bullied, from an airline that took so many kicks but got back up stronger every time, and who showed the world just how smart they were.
To me, every single time I see the beautiful oryx tail – no matter the country I’m in, nor the airport –now it's a show of strength and courage, and I just want to scream out from the sidelines like that crazy soccer Mum “You can do it, keep going!” For now, I’ll continue to cheer you from the skies, never being prouder – but Qatar Airways…I miss you.
What are your thoughts on the blockade against Qatar and how has it affected your travel plans this summer? Do share a similar point of view as the author? Or do you have a different opinion? Drop us a line in the comments below and tell us your thoughts. Also, don’t forget to give us a like and a share – it keeps us going!
*[Editor’s Note: The author’s name has been changed to protect their identity due to the recent implementation of strict penalties faced by UAE residents speaking out in sympathy towards Qatar in the wake of the GCC crisis.]
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