Leaving home again

July 5, 2016 - Wollongong, Australia

5 July Wollongong to Doha

Well the last of the packing is finished, the flat is tidy and we are ready to go.

After lunch made up of the last of our salad vegies we rested up for a bit before driving up to the airport. We had decided to put the car into a long term carpark in Wolli Creek. They would then drive us to the airport and collect us again when we return. We chose this option so that when we arrive home at about 7pm we could drive home without waiting around for trains. We were probably influenced by the thought of the cold weather we have been experiencing lately.

Our drive to Wolli Creek was quick and uneventful so we were there a little earlier than expected and were met by an Asian chap who spoke good but heavily accented English at high speed. It took a bit of to and fro to discover we should leave the car where it was and put our luggage in the little shuttle bus while he rang to see if there were other passengers. Our car was spirited away into the back of the building ... somewhere. You must just trust the system I suppose.

We were whisked away to the airport and dropped at the Departures entrance where we looked on the Departures Board for our Check-in information. The desk numbers were listed but we were early, of course. When we found the counters they were still checking a Singapore airlines flight so we joined three other people waiting for the Qatar Airways flight and stood around for about three quarters of an hour. While we waited we chatted to the others (one couple from Nowra heading for Norway), watched the Singapore Airlines crew dismantle their check-in equipment and the Qatar Airways mob assemble theirs and re-arrange all the maze of tapes for the queue. The line behind us now stretched from E Check-in back to G and beyond perhaps. We anticipated a bit of a surge when we were ushered into the maze but it remained very orderly and civil.

After baggage check we decided to head directly through immigration and security which was all very easy, and quiet. There were very few people and no queues so we were through to the gate areas with nothing to do ... and this time, unfortunately, no Business Class lounge to relax in. With the renovations that are underway at Sydney there were only a couple of choices for a drink and a bite to eat but we settled for a glass of shiraz and a light snack while we waited as there should be meals on the flight. Our resolve didn't last and we also grabbed a coffee and a muffin each to take to the gate lounge.

Time marched on, as it does, and we were soon boarding the aircraft, this one a Boeing 777. We had seats on the aisle and very little carry-on so didn't need to fuss about with the overhead lockers and as the middle group is just four seats no-one to disturb us. As we were in the early groups boarding we did the usual things, explore the seat pockets, read the Duty Free book (nothing there for us, not even any of the 'travel essentials' ... I guess they're not), read the airways magazine and search through the on-board entertainment options.

Our flight took off about 10:15pm and we looked forward(?) to 14 hours trapped (strapped) in a too-firm seat in an aluminium tube careering through the sky. We watched some movies from a poor list of films (our point of view only), played several million games of trivia and Millionaire, read a bit, slept a bit and ate.

I am not sure that the Qatar Airways advertisements and even comments reflect our experience. The service was slow, the popular meals ran out (both for dinner and for breakfast), and the attitude was poor. I ended up having juice from a breakfast fruit plate dribbled over my shirt while it was being offered as a replacement for scrambled eggs. When I suggested it wasn't any sort of alternative to the hot breakfast I eventually was offered someone else's special vegetarian meal but it did not look appealing and I turned it down accepting that a croissant and coffee would have to do. Shortly afterward someone arrived with a breakfast from business class. Scrambled eggs, potato slices, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and a piece of eye fillet. Much better, but by the time I was beginning, they were beginning to collect trays so the price I had to pay was to end up with the tray for a while after. I am usually pretty easy going so I have to say in defence of my manner that I had passed the last tray of scrambled eggs to Margaret so I felt justified in eating eye fillet in front of her.

We landed in Doha at 5am local time (11am Sydney time) so had made up a bit of time on the way. We chose to stroll along from the Arrivals Gates to customs and once the Transit Passengers diverged from our path we could almost hear the echo of our footsteps. Immigration was pretty quick, although we had to pay for a visa (as we knew beforehand). Down at baggage claim there were maybe a dozen bags an the carousel as Doha seems to be mainly a transit stop, Customs was just a wave of the hand sending us to the Exit doors and we were out to look for our driver. Apparently they have recently changed the system and the drivers must wait outside with their placards. Out there they held the placards to the glass and hoped they would be seen. That was not what we were expecting so we had to ask at information before we found our driver. He led us out to the car park where he paid at the machine. I am not sure how long he had been parked but the cost was 10 Qatar Riyals (2.7 Riyals to the A$) so maybe they don't exploit the monopoly like Macquarie Airports Group. When we set off the clock on the dash showed 6:10am so it had been very quick processing.


Sue Bonjer:
July 6, 2016
Glad that you arrived safely, now have a few days to relax by the pool. Bet it's wRmer than Wollongong!
Judy Crewe:
July 7, 2016
Enjoy yourselves. I'm packing today, leaving Saturday, Tokyo first stop. Judy x
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