Thursday, September 13, 2018

Yes This Is Real Life Part 12 -- The Bittersweet Flightpath

Triple Window Envy
** As with the rest, this is circa 2017 mileage running.  More adventures to follow.

Yes, This Is Real Life- Preview

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 1- Location, Location, Location

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 2- Brits In Beantown

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 3 - Shades On, Wheels Up

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 4 - Welcome to Ghost Port

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 5 - When You Layover During Ramadan

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 6 - Birds In Doha

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 7 - Dealing With Dragons

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 8 - A Place Most Exceedingly Rare

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 9- I Still Can't Believe This Is Real Life

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 10- Royally Jordanian

Yes, This Is Real Life Part 11- Up All Night To Get Miles

And now, the conclusion...

Well friends, here we are.  It's the last beautiful flight of the weekend and, though it's not destined to be my magical '100,000th mile' for the year, it's the last mileage run I'm likely to need since it drops me within 10,000 miles of my goal.

This Qatar air 777-200LR is the longest range aircraft currently taking to the skies.  It's the same configuration they send on the 18 hour flight from Doha to Auckland, NZ, so there's no question it can handle this 'short' 15+ hr hop to Houston.

Though it's not their newest aircraft, it has become one of my favorite.  The layout is 2-2-2 in business class, so technically not the 'all aisle access' selling point that's currently en-vogue, but most seats are on the aisles, and the window ones that aren't can easily step over even the fully reclined seat.  Yes, soon these will be Q-Suites, but at this point let's enjoy what we have going for us.

Big screen, plenty of storage... room for a pony.
Why I love this plane so much is that the amount of personal space and leg room is truly obscene for a business class cabin.  When the seat is in takeoff/landing position, my feet barely touch the ground.  I feel like a kindergartener in a 'big kid chair,' and I could easily fit an emotional support pony between my toes and the seat in front of me.

As with all mid and long range Qatar Air flights, the meal service is as good as the hard product.  It's so good that I've finally gotten to the point on these runs where I actually want the flight crew to watch me taking pictures of the service.  My hope now is that one of them divines that I'm trying out a few options because I'm some kind of well respected travel blogger, and not just a crazy person who can't stop ordering food.  Though, this argument might hold more weight if I didn't eat it all...

First meal...
Though, the woman across the aisle ordered 3 servings of the pasta, so whatever.  Airplanes are a judgement-free zone, just like it's always 5 o'clock on airports.  I don't know her life, she could have just ran an ultra-marathon in the desert or something. (Yeah, no, but still)

Cheese and a movie.
Each business class seat has about three windows to itself, and it's a good thing too.  This flight is simply beautiful.  Daytime flights over unfamiliar parts of the world are worth every sleepless hour.  Every few minutes I get distracted from my writing or watching by something that just needs to be stared at.  There's desert, rows upon rows of mountains, and lakes the color of Caribbean coral.  I'll say it again, 15 hours of this won't be enough.

I give you.... more of the world.
This entire trip has been wonderful and strange, with all the uncertainty slowly working out and fading into yet another memorable adventure that I would do again in a heartbeat.  It does take a bit of nerve to have plans changed at the last minute, and in countries I'd never been to.  However, it's just one more benefit to spending so many hours with one airline alliance.  Whether the treatment is overt or not, there's a sense that somehow they'll get you where you need to go.  It might not be the original plans, but it literally comes full circle. 

More than half of this trip was also solitary.  Surrounded by people (except in the ghost town that was Doha) but still, I was probably left to my own thoughts entirely too much.  This flight is no exception.  There's no one in the seat next to me, or the two next to that.

Four nights, three hotels, 8 flights, and 6 airports later, I'm about to take my final rest before touchdown into Houston.  Every time I manage to put a trip like this together, I have to remind myself to enjoy the moment, because the honest truth is I won't likely be able to do it again.  Life changes, fares disappear, and the stars align differently each year in one way or another. 

15 hrs, done and done.
So, what did I take away from this weekend, aside from a hefty load of miles?  On the serious side, a better understanding of middle east geography and politics.  Given the way things felt on that first week of the blockade in Qatar, it's amazing it's ongoing, and much seems to be life as usual. 

On the lighter side, Ramadan is a great time for hotel deals, if not for airport amenities.  Oh, and that sign blocking the buffet in CMB means it's closed, please wait 5 minutes, you heathen.

It doesn't need to be said really that I enjoyed pretty well every jetlagged-insane hour of this thing.  I arrived back to the US on schedule, and ready (kinda) to get back to real life.  Maybe also a little ready to start planning the next one....which I did...

Next up, I think... the final weekend of the Scandi Run, plus a little detour back to Doha.  You know, the usual.

Travel well, and may three windows be in your near future.