I have been literally traveling the world and went to odd, interesting, strange, welcoming, funny and bizarre countries like Greenland, India, South Africa, Chile or Japan. But this week I had to go to a different country. Iran.
In order to fly there I chose to use the direct Finnair (AY) flight from Helsinki to Dubai and to use short Qatar Airways (QR) flights to get to Tehran.
First from Dubai to Doha, Qatar and then Doha to Tehran, Iran. I discovered that it was a mistake because QR is not as reliable as I was expecting. I heard and read it had been elected the best airline in the world and quite frankly I really wonder who could have possibly voted because it was a disaster.
I took the first flight from Dubai to Doha after a 1 hour layover that went very well. No delay with the AY flight. I even had time to take a chicken wrap and a cheesecake slice from the Fivebucks coffee next to the gate of my next flight. Then the problem started. I knew I had a short connection in Doha. 35 mins to make the connection. But I thought that if the airline sold me the ticket, first they knew it was technically possible to do it, second they would make sure I would make the connection. I was wrong on so many levels.
35 minutes to make the connection.
The first flight arrived in Doha late. But that is not the point yet. Let’s assume that the plane was on time. The plane lands somewhere on the tarmac. We park and we wait for a bus ride. First mistake… when there is a bus ride involved, unless the bus takes me directly to the next gate, there is little chance to make it. But the real problem here is that QR has a special treatment for economy passenger. Most airlines offer a special treatment for business and first travelers. But QR decided to it the opposite way. Instead of speeding up the transfer of the premium passengers, they slow down the economy class!
When we were supposed to get off the plane, they closed the curtain between economy and business to let the business pax get out without getting the smell of the stinky eco class. So we were waiting… I was seating quite close to the front but it didn’t make any difference because we had to take the bus.
And indeed no special welcome service, everyone in the same bus. Let’s see at the transfer area. I end up at the counter of the next flight. They say that the plane has already left. I missed it. Great.
I will discover later that the plane for the next flight is parked on the other side of the airport and it takes 20 minutes by bus to get there.
So they sold me a connection which was technically impossible to make. It took a good 20 minutes to get off the plane and reach the gate. And another 20 minutes to get to the other plane. Do the math, it doesn’t work. And that would be in the best case scenario.
So on top of that our plane was late. I reached the gate of the next flight 5 minutes after the time when it should have taken off. I thought to myself that then they would wait for me. NO. They just don’t give a damn. they don’t provide a special transportation from my first flight to my second flight, they don’t delay the second plane. Conclusion, they don’t make sure I will make the connection.
So what happened next is that I went to the transfer desk to get on another flight. My original flight was at 7pm, arrival at 9:30pm. That was very good; I could be at my hotel around 10:30-11pm, get some good sleep before a week of work.
But the next flight on which I flew was at 1:25am, so 6 hours 25 minutes later and arriving at 4:00am. I thought no problem I should get a hotel room for such a big delay. NO. No hotel in the airport, the agent claims there is no hotel close by, so I ask for a place at the lounge. He calls a few people. NO. Sorry, the lounge is full.
I asked, maybe I could get bumped to business class so I would get the best chance to get some good sleep. NO, sorry the business class is full.
But hey since you are a nice guy, you can get a free meal.
I was pissed.
I went to get my free meal… French fries and some deep fried vegetables. Really bad. What a great free meal.
After the “meal” I decided to check out the lounges by myself. I went to the Onyx lounge and what a surprise! It was absolutely empty. The capacity was probably around 200 people, but there was like 20-30 people max.
I took a shower, tried to sleep, kill time, work and phone the family… My boarding pass boarding time said 00:45. Since I really didn’t want to miss the flight I went a bit earlier and I was surprised to see that at 00:25 they were already on last call before gate closure. I even asked and they said, yeah whatever it’s like that.
Had I gone at the gate on time I would have missed it again.
Anyway after that came the 20 minute ride to the plane. We took off, I fell asleep and we landed in Iran. I didn’t see much at the time I was more concentrated on getting as much sleep as I could. So I dozed in the NSN taxi and woke up in front of the hotel and went to bed quickly to get more sleep. In the end I got about 5 hours of hectic sleep instead of the promise of 8-9 hours.
It may sound like it is ok to sleep 5 hours and work right after but travelling is tiring so it is not that simple. The more you sleep when travelling the better.
I made an official complaint to Qatar Airways to which they responded asking for some practical details and I am still waiting for an official answer.