Author Topic: There and Back Again: A Qatar Story  (Read 532 times)

Offline shauly

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There and Back Again: A Qatar Story
« on: October 10, 2017, 10:02:13 AM »
Introduction
I decided to start this one early, in the hopes of actually completing a trip report for once. I may attempt to semi-live post, depending on how much down time I have in lounges.

This trip began with a price mistake on Qatar business class from Vietnam to pretty much anywhere. I did some quick thinking and decided to book tickets for myself and a friend for the week after Succos for $676 per person. JFK was the easiest destination, since we both had where to stay, and we could rest up. I booked the A350 on the outbound and the 777 on the return, as at that point Qatar was still saying that Q-Suites would be flying to JFK in September. I figured even though it will likely get delayed again, by flying in October and doing one leg on the A350 I'd at least have a chance of getting the new seat, and if not I'd still have one leg on the A350. Unfortunately Q-Suites is now delayed until December 16th, so I'll have to try them a different time. I booked to leave Vietnam Wednesday night, and return from New York on Sunday night. This gave me enough time to get to Saigon from Tel Aviv, and to get back to Israel before the next shabbos. Luckily my wife has a guest staying with us for Succos and a bit after, so I was able to get away.

Once I needed to be in Saigon, I of course wasn't going to take the most direct route. After doing some searching, I found Qatar First Class available on the A380 from Doha to Bangkok on Sunday night. The flight is a bit under seven hours, so not really ideal for getting the full first class experience, though unless you are flying it to Australia none of the routes are that much longer. It also gets me into Al Safwa, so I can see what all the hype is about. As with any One World itinerary leaving Israel, the bottleneck is in Amman. There's either no availability, or you end up spending an incredibly long time in just an OK lounge in Amman. Luckily, Royal Jordanian availability has been relatively decent lately, and the connection to Doha is very decently timed. I leave Tel Aviv at 11:45pm on motzei shabbos, and depart for Doha just after 2am, getting in just before 6am. Both flights are operated by the 787 with lie flat seating. This gives me the whole day to experience Doha, with plenty of time to relax in Al Safwa both before and after. I have a 4 hour connection in Bangkok, which is not long enough to make it to the Chabad for lunch, but should be enough time to pop out for a quick massage. I originally booked Cathay's A350 to Singapore, but it has since gotten downgraded to an A330 with their new regional J. I flew it once before, and it's not bad for a flight less than 3 hours. That whole itinerary was 50k AA. I have the night and next day in Singapore, where I'll be staying in the St Regis for $260. The next evening, I'll fly to Saigon on Singapore Airlines regional business class, booked for 20k SQ. I plan on redeeming an anniversary night at the Park Hyatt Saigon, which happens to be a category 4. A night and a day spent there, before flying SGN-DOH-JFK, arriving Thursday morning. I planned on spending shabbos in Crown Heights with Shmueli2007, but he ended up changing a return flight he had on ANA first class (booked for ~98k MR -> VS during the transfer bonus) to Tokyo just before I arrive. Instead, I decided to go visit my family in Virginia for shabbos. There was no avios availability that would work, so I booked an Amtrak for $100 from Penn Station. It may seem like a major step down after all the premium travel, but I actually enjoy Amtrak. There's plenty of room, wifi, outlets, and it's usually not too packed. For the way back to New York after shabbos, there also wasn't any avios availability, so I booked Delta for 20k, and paid $15 for the exit row. It's a shame as this gets me into JFK after the earlier A350 flight takes off, so there is no chance of being able to switch.

On the way back, I have a 9 hour layover in Doha. I guess it will depend on how much I enjoy Doha the first time around whether or not I go out again, or just relax and get some work done in the business class lounge. After I arrive in Saigon again, I have a short connection and then I'll be flying to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific's A350. I booked this for 15k Avios, as I wanted to spend longer than 24 hours in Hong Kong. I haven't decided on a hotel for Hong Kong yet, as I'm unsure if Shmueli2007 will be meeting me there. After a night and a full day, I will be flying Cathay Pacific's A330 to Dubai, where I'll spend another day, before returning to Tel Aviv Friday morning via Amman. Unfortunately this time I'll have a 6 hour stop in Amman, and neither leg is on the 787. I will be watching for availability to open up on the direct HKG-TLV flight with Cathay, and will switch if possible. It doesn't seem like it will open up.

If you'll notice, I started off by saying that I booked this with a friend, but then talked about how I'm doing this and I'm doing that. This is because my friend had to cancel. Luckily, another friend of mine has business in Taiwan, and will be flying with me to Bangkok. I'll then be meeting mmgfarb in Singapore, and he will be coming with me to Saigon. I'll also hopefully be meeting up with Shmueli2007 in Hong Kong.

With 14 flights and 33,000 miles in less than 2 weeks, this is definitely a pretty insane trip, but I can't wait, and I hope to share it with you guys.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2017, 10:11:13 AM by shauly »

Offline mmgfarb

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Re: There and Back Again: A Qatar Story
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2017, 10:06:54 AM »
 You spelled my name wrong
"JS [is] a fetid cesspool of unvarnished linguistic manure, with lots of useless drivel and post-padding." -Moishebatchy

Offline shauly

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Re: There and Back Again: A Qatar Story
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2017, 10:11:23 AM »

Offline mmgfarb

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Re: There and Back Again: A Qatar Story
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2017, 10:12:15 AM »
Fixed!
Why'd you do that? Now nobody will know what I was talking about.
"JS [is] a fetid cesspool of unvarnished linguistic manure, with lots of useless drivel and post-padding." -Moishebatchy

Offline zow

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Re: There and Back Again: A Qatar Story
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2017, 07:58:30 PM »
Looks like a fun trip.
You have an understanding wife.

Offline shauly

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Re: There and Back Again: A Qatar Story
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2017, 08:56:12 AM »
Looks like a fun trip.
You have an understanding wife.

I think she's counting on it exhausting me enough that I won't want to do it again.