On my last trip to Malaysia, I had the pleasure of flying Qatar Airways and calling at Doha International Airport.
My first flight was a codeshare with American Airlines from DFW to DUL. The highlight of this domestic leg was the Airports.
TSA at DFW is pretty well manned and very quick, but now, as a member of the US Military, I was able to try out TSA PreCheck. I must admit that this was a pretty nice privilege, as I did not need to remove my shoes or unpack my bag going through the metal detector. It reminded me of the good old days of flying before 9/11. In general, for this privilege, one must undergo a criminal background check at one’s own expense, but, because a member of the armed forces must undergo a pretty extensive background check, we can pass through the same expedited line. I really liked this.
Once I cleared TSA, I set out to find the USO. The USO provides a lounge at many airports to members of the military and their families and is an amazing benefit of being in the military. There were free non-alcoholic drinks, a free lunch, a quiet room, free Wifi, and a luggage check. I hung out here for a little while, played on my tablet, and drank down some coffee before heading to the chapel, and ultimately my gate.
Dulles seemed a pretty busy airport. After deplaning, I made my way to the USO to have some snacks and relax for a bit before departing again. The USO at Dulles was outside of the secure area. It was a bit smaller, but still had a quiet room to nap in, a big living room with a television, and a counter and fridge packed with snacks. I did not stay for too long as I wanted to clear TSA in good time before my flight.
Once again, I availed myself of the PreCheck line and was inside in good time. First stop: the chapel. The chapel in DUL was quite large. It, like most, has chairs lined up before an alter in a typical church formation. Here, however, there was a space carved into the left wall that was lined with carpets for Islamic prayer. There were a few of us present and I had the honour of leading several travelers in salat.
After salat, several of us hung out a bit to chat about where we were from and where we were heading. I stayed there chatting with people until it was time for me to board.
Qatar was, overall, very nice. The fleet seemed newer overall, but I would compare it to Iberia as far as the economy class seats are concerned. There was a seat-back entertainment system that offered a wide variety of programs and movies, both new and old, from around the world. My only complaint about the entertainment was that, although the descriptions were in English, sometimes the subtitles would only be in Chinese or another language and thus the movie was inaccessible to me.
The food was good, but I honestly think that Malaysia Airlines is a little better. Alcohol was complimentary with the meal and was not limited to wine and beer. I would say that the dining experience was a bit better on Iberia though as, on Iberia, one is given metal utensils to eat with. I tend to break the flimsy plastic ones… every single meal.
I managed to nap somewhere over Greenland and woke up over Eastern Europe. I had the pleasure of seeing the outskirts of Baghdad as we made our way to Qatar.
Doha International Airport:
At Doha International Airport, all of the planes park away from the building. One deplanes and, according to the class of seat, boards a bus or limo to take them to the terminal. One’s ticket is in a coloured envelope that tells you whether you are getting off at the Arrivals Hall (to clear customs and passport control) or to the Transfer Terminal (to clear Airport Security and shop). I could not get a passport stamp in Qatar because of this setup.
After clearing Airport Security, one walks through the duty free shopping area and must walk through it to access their gates.
After praying in a much more crowded and dedicated mosque, I proceeded to the gate. At the gate, your ticket is checked and you are ushered into a waiting room with a big glass door. When the bus comes, you get on and it takes you to the gate. Perhaps I was bored, but I recorded the journey from terminal to plane and posted it here.
If you go to the United States from Doha, you have to go through an additional security checkpoint where they make you take off your shoes and toss your water bottles again. I did not have the pleasure of experiencing this extra “freedom” until I returned from Malaysia.