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Qatar Airways Horrible Experience

New York
posts: 5
reviews: 178
Qatar Airways Horrible Experience

I recently flew four family members business class on Qatar Airways (Hanoi to London) and we had a HORRIBLE experience. The service was virtually non-existent on two of the three flight segments, and we were handed a piece of paper upon check-in informing us that the lounge in Doha would not be available for our use... which we were planning on since this was the mid-point in about 17 hours of flying! With children! To make matters even worse, one of us has a food allergy that we informed the airline about well in advance (via our travel agent), and which the airline acknowledges, yet no special meals were prepared for this individual and the flight crews were completely unaware of the situation (again, in business class). The airline claims that they needed a form filled out, and admits in email correspondence that they never sent the form to our travel agent and they don't make the form publicly available. So we experienced horrible service in business class, one of us got no food (other than some fruit!), and business lounge access was denied despite having paid for this. The airline representative actually emailed me to explain that "There is a difference between Business and Economy which is the comfort of the seat itself." Hmmm. what about Service? Food?

What advice do others have about this? Given what we paid for the service, what kind of response should I reasonably expect from the airline? What would be fair compensation given others' experiences? To date, all they've done is apologize via email and offer 5,000 points. Am I crazy, or is this simply insulting? Seeking suggestions...

Elk Rapids, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Lanai
posts: 8,749
reviews: 39
1. Re: Qatar Airways Horrible Experience

"handed a piece of paper upon check-in informing us that the lounge in Doha would not be available for our use"

Did it say why?

Florida - Alaska...
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Province, Outdoors / Adventure Travel
posts: 3,738
reviews: 1
2. Re: Qatar Airways Horrible Experience

Was the lounge in Doha closed to everyone or just your party? A lot of times lounges are closed for repair or renovation by the airport and the airlines have no control nor really any alternative. It is just the bad luck of timing. But lounge access is a bonus of business class travel, not an inalienable right.

Realistically seat comfort and more personal space are the major advantage of business class over economy. Service in business is usually a bit better as there are less passengers per flight attendant, but I have been on flights where service by the economy FAs knocked the socks off the business FAs. It just depends on the FAs mood that day.

They missed the special meal due to a break down in communication, but they still got you from A to B which is mostly what you paid for. I am not sure how Qatar's "points" count in terms of value, but 5K seems a bit small and perhaps they could be a bit more generous. Though I wouldn't count on other forms of compensation (like partial refunds).

Edited: 10:14 am, July 24, 2014
New York
posts: 5
reviews: 178
3. Re: Qatar Airways Horrible Experience

Yes – it was a form letter from their Chief Commercial Officer explaining that they were working to "finalize our [new] lounge facilities" and that "During this transition, your lounge is temporarily unavailable..." The gate agents in Hanoi seemed horrified that they had to hand this out, and admitted that it was unfair to spring this surprise on customers. It's certainly not what we expected from our first experience with Qatar Airways, and seemed contrary to all of the company's standards, CEOs message, advertising, website, etc.

Lounge upgrades are clearly necessary and great, however the construction plans must have been known to the airline well in advance. For them to hand us a letter at check in(!) denying us services that we were led to believe were part of business class service seemed to us more like a classic "bait and switch" than delivery of world class service from this supposedly great airline.

New York
posts: 5
reviews: 178
4. Re: Qatar Airways Horrible Experience

@MrCycling

Thanks – this is helpful! And I agree that we were transported from Point A to Point B. It's unfortunate that this (and every other airline, I suppose) is more concerned with fulfilling their legal obligations and doesn't seek to abide by a higher standard... suppose I overestimated Qatar Airways commitment to their customers!

Edited: 10:23 am, July 24, 2014
Florida - Alaska...
Destination Expert
for Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Province, Outdoors / Adventure Travel
posts: 3,738
reviews: 1
5. Re: Qatar Airways Horrible Experience

Marketing always likes to paint a picture of heaven in the skies. And flight attendants strive to bring that to life. But we are all humans, with good days and off days, and sometimes those off days gang up to disrupt someone's travel experience.

Cala d'Or, Spain
posts: 3,652
reviews: 101
6. Re: Qatar Airways Horrible Experience

I to would be very annoyed if I received this level of service from a so called 'five star' airline.

The excuse of FA's having a bad day doesn't wash with me. Consistency of service is what counts.

Closing the BC lounge at Doha without a viable alternative seems incredible. This is Qatar's hub airport!!

San Francisco...
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
posts: 27,443
reviews: 132
7. Re: Qatar Airways Horrible Experience

Not having the correct food is an issue on many airlines and if there is an allergy, that is a huge issue. It has occurred a few times out of the many times we fly so we just go with the flow -- Almost always in First or Business the attendants go out of the way to find food that the person with allergy can eat

We go FC and BC for a whole host of reasons, sleeping, better service, but food while we do need on longhaul flights is the last of the reasons.

I get it you are unhappy and the food was missing but compensation for horrible service which is very subjective and for a lounge that is closed for repairs sounds strange.

Was the flight comfortable ? Did you enjoy the other aspects of the journey ?

Edited: 12:08 pm, July 24, 2014
Fredericia, Denmark
Destination Expert
for Bentota, Beruwala, Sri Lanka
posts: 37,362
reviews: 7
8. Re: Qatar Airways Horrible Experience

The lounges are simply not yet ready at the new Hamad Airport.

London, United...
posts: 19,696
reviews: 23
9. Re: Qatar Airways Horrible Experience

I thought it was notified at time of booking or on their website that the lounge was closed and a compensatory voucher was given instead? Did you not get this?

Only one meal was missing, I assume the other two were fine? I'm failing to see the big drama here. What do you mean service was non existent? So far all you have told us is the business lounge was closed and one of the special meals was missing,

England
posts: 90
reviews: 16
10. Re: Qatar Airways Horrible Experience

Sorry to hear about your poor experiences, QR are normally up there with the best but it seems they've dropped the ball on this one. As a QR Gold member I can assure you this isn't their normal standard.

One of the things you'll find repeated on this forum is that booking flights through a Travel agent isn't always the best option. Foul ups occur far more often than if you book directly with the airline, dietary requests for example.

Also, currently the lounge situation at HIA is stretched to the limit. The QR lounges aren't open & everyone is using the OneWorld First & Business lounges. The problem is, as you've found out, passengers transiting at peak times max out the lounges very quickly. Consequently admission is limited to those with OneWorld status. 'Ordinary' F & J pax are given notice at check-in that they can't access the lounge. However, the piece of paper you were given should have contained instructions on where to report to within HIA to pick up a food & drinks voucher plus a Duty Free voucher as compensation & apology.

A shame this has soured your QR experience!