Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Around the World In 80 Hours Part 9: And Then, Everything is Perfect

How we got here:
Well, my friends, here it is- the capstone flight to my first around the world trip.  We've come a long way to get here, and in record time.  Now all that's left is to kick back and enjoy the next 12 or so hours. 
Once again, Qatar's service is in good form.  The champagne corks are popped before the passengers even board, and they get right down to business when you find your seat- Armani amenity kits, comfortable (and more trendy than AA) PJs, and a menu that takes some time to look over. 

Yes, 1,000 times yes.  You can just leave the bottle, I'll be fine. Promise.
What's more, we're getting a first look at QR's new a350.  It's not quite the inaugural flight, but the plane's been in service for less than a year.  It's a snazzy thing, if I do say so myself (though, don't let my hometown hear me actually approving of something not made in Everett).  Qatar's done a good job of their business class cabin design- it's a 1-2-1 all aisle access set up with angle seats that lie flat (of course).  There's a decent amount of privacy, and ample tray table and storage space. 

Oh...and the cabin ambiance is fun.  There's the LED lighting scheme, not to mention the 'walk up bar' in the middle of the cabin that nicely takes up what would otherwise be dead space, or a spare galley, but also.... there's the ceiling.  They've removed the overhead bins on the inside of the business class aisles, since there's fewer passengers and they're not needed.  This opens up the feel of the cabin, and makes it seem much bigger inside.

The a350 being Airbus's rough equivalent of an answer to the Dreamliner, it's always worth making a few comparisons.  Overall, the experience is similar- lighting, modern style, composite materials, and smooth ride.  The differences are in the details- the 350 has snazzy windows with automatic shades, but instead of the dimming screens, they use actual shades that give a nice lighting feel over the blue or bluer scheme of the 787.
The other comparison you notice right off is the 350's modern winglet design which pairs quite nicely with the insanely terraformed 'coast line' of Doha.
Because they can
 So, now that I've set the scene....let the fun begin!  We rolled the runway pretty well on time, and we watched our progress from the HD camera on the plane's tail.  Best. Channel. Ever.
Like the last flight, everything on Qatar is 'on demand' - food, drinks, everything.  I took full advantage of this, and tried a few things from the menu, to the detriment of my potential sleeping time.  No pain, no gain.

Now, I know I post a lot about food and seats and airports, but wait, there's more!  Aside from the little luxuries, the most memorable flights come with unforgettable views that give you a sense of the world as you can't see it otherwise. 
While crossing between Kuwait City and Tehran, I looked out the window to see snow covered mountains on the horizon.  They only got more dramatic as we flew closer.   
It's flights like this that double windows were made for.  
It was at about this point that I 'helpfully' reached over the front of my TV screen to tap (some might say smack) my brave travel companion on the head, lest he sleep through these views.  And yes, he thanked me for it.... as everybody should.  How often do you get to see vistas like this between Baghdad and Tehran??  I mean, come on....
Only complaint about this plane, and for that matter the 787, is that the modern window controls allows the flight crew to take them over and force all the windows to go black when they think it's "lights out time."  While they really lock down on the 787, it appears to be just a 'hard suggestion' on the 350.  Now, I get that it's annoying if you're trying to sleep, and the guy in 6A's got his shade open like a spotlight.  But honestly, that's what eye masks are for.  They even give them to everyone.  On the off chance that you're on a flight that's largely a 'daylight' one, you should have the option to look out and see where the heck you are. 
This flight was a prime example of this quandary.  About the time we crossed over into Europe, the windows went dark until approach into Boston.  Unacceptable.  I'm a grown-up, and I'll decide when it's time for ny-nys, and when it's time for pretending I can tell Sweden and Norway from 31,000ft thankyouverymuch.
ANYWAY, I did need to get some sleep on this flight, so I got my PJs on, and my bed made up.  They provide a comforter and mattress pad, which does make a difference.
After some rest, and browsing through the extensive IFE selections, the lights went back up as we got closer to Boston.  I'll admit, it was pretty surreal to see the other coast of the US come up on the horizon after four days spent flying West.

And with touchdown in my once hometown of BOS, all that's left is the conclusion....

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