Qatar Airways changed my mind about the narrow view I held of the Persian Gulf states especially Qatar. The reason for that was my interaction with the multinational Cabin Crew as well as the Staff at Al Mourjan Lounge.
In the last two weeks, I have been LUCKY to fly QR
Miami to Doha
Doha to Cochin
Cochin to Doha
Doha to Brussels
How did the cabin crew, over the course so many flights (I have flown them to Doha from PHL, BOS, JFK, IAH, ORD, MIA) and to BRU CDG CMN CAI HBE LCA COK CMB KUL SIN CGK) influenced my thought about Qatar?
The first Cabin Crew I was able to chat in depth was from Philippines and she described to me the delights of being a Cabin Crew of Qatar: the ability to see the world, the chance to go home frequently, plan for a future with a family and business, all accomplished while they were still in their youth. The company policy prohibits the Cabin Crew to be in touch with the passengers outside the flight on a social basis. As AP (Cabin Service Manager on my DOH to BRU flight yesterday) explained: When you have to maintain a high level of efficiency and competence in service provided to the public, certain standards have to be met and followed. I have nothing but respect for HE Akbar Al Bakr, the CEO of Qatar Airways and I will not do anything to jeopardize the many friends I have met while flying QR. It is they, the Flight Crew that have made me love Qatar Airways.
On 7th November 2018 I flew COK to DOH and after a brief stay of only two hours at Al Mourjan (at least three of the staff stopped by to say Hello) on to Brussels. I look forward to the first interaction with the FA: they are truly multinational: India, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Nepal, also other SE Asian countries: Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Thailand. Not to mention delightful people from Romania and Poland. I have also met Jamaicans, Eritreans and even a Paraguayan!
I request seat 1 A (One alpha, for those in the know) or 1 K if it is A350 or 787 or 1B on 777 or A330.
COK DOH seat 1B but no one sitting on 1 A QR 517
DOH BRU seat 1B but no one sitting on 1 A QR 193
Most of the passengers were Keralites returning to Qatar and other regional countries after holidays, the atmosphere was sombre but that did not, like our compatriot Latin Americans, prevent them from breaking queues and pushing and showing forward to get on the plane. I have admiration for these men and women of Kerala who with their hard work in the Gulf States have contributed to the prosperity of Kerala.
There was a seperate line and I was first on board and I love this routine: Clear Champagne and Warm towel, please..
I am a Jew but always I pay attention to this Muslim prayer and feel very soothed by the tone of the prayer. We also have special prayers in Hebrew for beginning of a journey. But the emotion I feel strongly at moments like this: offer gratitude for good things in life and feel humble, in front of these people who make my life so comfortable and interesting.
Because of the blockade of Qatar by Saudi Arabia led coalition of Muslim countries, the flights to Qatar takes a little longer as they are not allowed to fly over their antagonist's airspace. Few more minutes to enjoy the QR hospitality!
The flight from Cochin left at 0330, so sleep was the priority and also the Earth Lounge at COK had a chef who prepared a Masala Dosai for me. As the sun rose over the desert and we were approaching Doha, I decided to nibble on something, it was 5 AM and despite the early hour, I decided to ask for a flute of Pommery Champagne..
It was Deepavali in India, I had a Kerala style fish curry at the hotel and then another repast at the Lounge in Cochin, I was not particularly hungry but who can pass up a QR meal.
When I requested a flute of champagne, it was Miss A who brought it over. We looked at each other for a moment and we both realized that just one and a bit ago on my journey from Tel Aviv to Miami via Amman and Doha, she was on the Doha to Miami flight and we recollected even what we talked about. She is from Osaka and we once again talked about Japanese culture (society before the individual), food (fresh and prepared without too much preservatives). I have a brother Eliyahu who speaks Japanese with a Kansai accent and she explained various accents of the Kansai region, osaka versus Kobe..
This flute of champagne felt special. The sun was rising and this chance meeting, like rediscovering an old friend, brought such a pleasure to me. There are over 10 000 Cabin Crew at QR airways and it is extremely rare to run into the same person again, even though like tonight, it does happen. A was off that night (imagine they had just done DOH COK DOH service, a total of 8.5 hours in flight, she will rest for a few hours and then try to fly DOH to Bangkok then on to Osaka! Good luck to these hardworking dreamers, who try to balance their life, dreams and reality..
After a short stay at Al Mourjan lounge, where I resisted from eating anymore, except a cappuccino brought over by a Filipina whom I had met before at the lounge. More pleasures were waiting on the QR 193 from DOH to BRU
Even though I cannot tolerate wine (I am not a beer or spirit drinker, but who can say NO to a Pina Colada in Havana at my favourite place, CubaPasion?) and tend not to drink unless it is dinner time and a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc would do, I welcomed a flute offered by Miss L S from Thailand. Miss AP from Bombay was the Cabin Senior and had already introduced herself to me.
Middle Eastern and Israeli food is what I call my "genetic food" and it was nice to enjoy an arab breakfast with Foul, and thinking of my brother Eliyahu who would also loved this breakfast.
The Cabin was quiet, this is usually a connecting flight with people coming in from long flights from other parts of Asia and going home for holidays or work (the passengers were mainly European and some Qatari). Miss AP from Bombay came over and we had a nice chat. Cabin Seniors would have been with the company from anywhere from 5 to 8 years and they have the pleasant job of conveying the spirit of the Qatar Airways. I enjoyed talking with her and hearing snippets of her years with QR.
I know the company policy prevents contact with the workers and the travelling public, there are times I wish I could become friends with some of the people I meet on QR flights, like Miss AP who has a portuguese name ..
As I said goodbye to Ms A in Doha and Ms AP in Brussels, I felt such a deep sense of well being. How lovely is to make these pleasant connections amidst the multitudes of people that inhabit our planet, with varying dreams, and realities but sharing a good moment together.
Thank you, HE Akbar Al-Bakr
Thank you, Ms A from Osaka
Thank you, Ms AP from Bombay and Ms LS from Thailand..