I just got back from a trip that has been on my list for years, and it was everything I dreamed it would be! I’ve wanted to visit Thailand for a long time, and finally went for 3 weeks in May. I’m working on writing about the entire trip, but first I wanted to talk about flights. Everyone knows that once you get to Thailand everything is crazy inexpensive (like $10 hour massages!!), but actually getting there can be more than half of the entire cost of your trip! Generally speaking, economy round-trip flights can be anywhere from $1300 to over $2000 depending on when you go. Those prices are a bit steep for me – I like to keep my trips around $2000 total!
In early 2014, there was buzzing online that Qatar Airways was adding service to Philadelphia in April. I looked up round-trip economy flights from Philadelphia to Bangkok, and the price was $940 per person. $940 (!!!) is a price I can get behind, and we booked immediately – even before taking the time off from work! We flew economy class to Bangkok & were amazed by how much better the flight was than any domestic flight in the US, but then were lucky enough to score a business class upgrade for the return flight & were literally blown away. Ready for the recap?
We left Philadelphia at 10am on a rainy Wednesday morning, and arrived in Bangkok at 7pm Thursday evening. The bulk of our travel time was spent in the air, with a quick 2-hour layover in Doha, Qatar. All Qatar flights connect in Doha, then are re-routed to final destinations. The airport is big & bright, and has a lotttt of shopping. In fact, I don’t think I saw much else besides shopping. We saw a small food area when we hit the bathroom, but let me say it again – a ton of shopping. Mostly duty free stuff – cigarettes, perfume, makeup, that kind of thing. We didn’t have a long layover, & just chatted over iMessage with people back home thanks to the free wifi before getting back on a plane for the second leg.
The Boeing 777 planes we flew in were the biggest I’ve ever been on! Economy class had three rows of 3 seats, and each seat had a screen with access to the Oryx entertainment system, small welcome bag & blanket. The welcome bag included a pair of socks, a sleeping mask, and a pair of earplugs – so thoughtful! I also saw flight attendants giving out Spongebob backpacks to children on the flight, I’m assuming they had some sort of activity inside & made parents very happy! I loved loved LOVED the Oryx system… It had access to a ton of new movies (The Lego Movie, Her, Frozen), TV shows (True Detective, Fashion Police, Masterchef), and music (BEYONCE (!!!), Adele, Avril Lavigne). Along with popular American media, there were also movies, music, and TV shows from other countries, complete with captions in different languages. I stuck to mostly American shows/music, but did check out some of the international offerings – all very cool. The one critique I had was that none of the planes were equipped with wifi. In the end it really didn’t make a difference because I had loaded up my Kindle with episodes of The Tudors, Doctor Who, and Downton Abbey, so between those & Oryx & sleeping, I was plenty busy. Another favorite feature – each seat arm was equipped with a USB outlet that could be used to charge a device, and a second regular outlet was near the floor. I think that if you plugged in your phone/media device with the USB, you could access your own music in the Oryx system, but I don’t have music on my phone. As far as headphones, the headphones I brought didn’t work, even though I also had an airline adapter. The sound was really warped & horror movie sounding, even if I just plugged into one of the two headphone holes. Luckily, each seat has headphones included, which were way more comfortable than I expected them to be & worked perfectly.
Now for probably the most important part of an international flight – the food. Full disclosure, I was seriously worried that the food wouldn’t be good, so I brought a couple different pasta salads + hummus w/pita for the trip. I didn’t have an issues getting it past security, just made sure they were in containers with tight-fitting lids & put them in a small lunch-sized cooler pouch. Even so, I really didn’t need to worry at all – not only was the food good, there was so much of it! The only reason that the food I brought was eaten was because my boyfriend has an insanely fast metabolism (of which I’m insanely jealous). Even if I didn’t like everything that was served, there was enough food that I did like to hold me over until the next meal. Oh yeah – everything was included, including ALCOHOL! So awesome. I took pictures of the meals so you guys can see:
On the way back, a friend of mine was able to score an upgrade for us to business class, and I’m forever ruined!!! It was literally the BEST flight I’ve ever had, and much appreciated for the 22 hours of travel time home. I really thought Qatar thought of everything in economy class, but that was taken one step further in business class… every comfort was taken into consideration! After walking past two sections of economy class because we accidentally boarded too far back, we walked into business class & were greeted by a flight attendant that would take care of us for the rest of the flight. We were offered a choice between Brut & Rose champagne, and given welcome packets + Salvatore Ferragamo toiletry bags. The welcome packets were similar to the ones given in economy class, just of nicer material. Inside the toiletry bags was lip balm, hand cream & perfume – Chris had the same but masculinized.
We also were given blankets (softer, heavier material than in economy), pillows, noise canceling headphones (that were amazing) and PAJAMAS. Seriously. Pajamas. So that we could sleep comfortably during the flight. Seriously. I didn’t see many other people else change into them except for a handful of men that changed into the shirt, but I headed straight to the bathroom to put mine on. Obviously the business class bathroom would be nicer than the one in economy class, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so different! It was bigger, had mirrors on three sides, and was fully stocked with refreshing mists, lotions, shaving kits, outlets for your hairdryer/trimmer and toothbrush/toothpaste.
And sweet baby jesus the SEATS! They reclined from fully upright into a number of positions all the way to fully flat. It was so nice to be able to really get comfortable on the plane for such a long trip, and Chris was especially happy. He’s so tall & has such long legs, that he’s rarely comfortable, but here he could really stretch out.
The food was much better than in economy as well. We had folios at each seat with a main menu, a specialty by-request-only menu, and a beverage menu. Some of the food items were created by celebrity chefs, like Chef Nobu of, well, Nobu. Everything as served with a white linen spread in front of you, the cutest little salt/pepper shakers, a bowl of bread, silverware, and a pat of butter. We were told we could have as much as we wanted, whenever we wanted, even if they weren’t serving at that time. That said, there was so much food at each service that I had to cancel dessert every time because I was stuffed. The one time I didn’t like what I had chosen, they immediately brought something else that I picked out. It was heaven! I drank wine for the first, shorter leg, but opted out for the second leg & just stuck to water (of which you could choose sparkling or still).
In between legs, we were escorted from the plane by a Qatar employee & taken to the airport lounge to chill out while we waited to board. I was feeling a little nauseous for whatever reason & didn’t think to take many photos, but did grab a quick video. They had tea, coffee, sodas, water + food that you could much on while you waited, and there was a soundtrack of chirping birds in the bathroom (lol).
Flying with Qatar was completely changed how I feel about flights. I was thoroughly impressed by the care that the staff took to make sure we were as comfortable as we could be, whether in economy or in business class. Toiletry kits & blankets aside, even little things like taking destination landing time into consideration & coordinating meals + windows so that it would be easier for us to get onto the new time schedule. It felt a little weird to be eating lunch at 4:30 in the morning, but it did definitely help me acclimate to the new time zone better. I’m SO glad Qatar has come to Philadelphia, and I’ll definitely fly with them for my next international trip… unless of course they want to start also flying domestically =)