The journey is the destination! This motto, or even life philosophy, takes on a whole new meaning with regards to the current longest passenger flight in the world. Qatar Airways now offers this on the route from Doha (QR) to Auckland (NZ), with a flight time of approximately 17 hours and 45 minutes.
The Boeing 777-200LR and Logistics
This flight is operated with a Boeing 777-200LR, where “LR” stands for Longer Range. The maximum range of this aircraft is 17,146 kilometers, while our route from Doha to Auckland is “only” 14,535 kilometers. Somehow, this is a comforting feeling. On board are four pilots and 15 flight attendants, who work in rotating shifts. The cabin is divided into 217 economy class seats and 42 business class seats, with no first class cabin offered. On board, there are also 2,000 drinks, 1,036 meals, 1,100 coffee servings, and around 400 kilograms of catering materials and dishes. The maximum takeoff weight is just over 347 tonnes, and when fully fueled, the tanks hold 202,000 liters of kerosene. The route is flown daily, which means that two of these aircraft are constantly in operation on this route.
Qatar Airways Lounge at Doha Airport
After a relaxed arrival from Munich, I headed straight to the legendary Al Mourjan Business Class Lounge at Doha airport. Granted, it could be even more exclusive with the First Class Lounge, but today’s onward flight to Auckland is in the Business Class.
The offerings are varied and plentiful, as is typical of Qatar Airways. From its own restaurant serving fresh or homemade panini sandwiches of choice, to a buffet and à la carte restaurant, to rest and shower rooms, everything is available. The lounge is built around an artificial indoor water feature, and the overall ambiance is best described as sophisticated. All services within the lounge are, of course, free and included in the flight price. Access to this facility is exclusively for Business Class guests. The approximately 3.5-hour transfer time is easy to manage in this comfortable environment.
Boarding and Cabin in Business Class
Boarding begins promptly at 3 am. The waiting area at the gate and boarding for Business Class guests are separated, which is quite advantageous because at 3 am, not only am I glad to be able to quickly take my seat on the plane, but also away from the crowd. The Boeing 777-200LR of Qatar Airways still has the older generation of Business Class seats installed, which means a 2-2-2 configuration with flat beds. The great advantage of this version of Business Class is the significantly larger or wider seat than in the new version. But that is a comparison on a high level.
As soon as I took my seat, the usual Qatar Airways welcome procedure began. Warm nuts, champagne as brut or rosé, water with or without bubbles, freshly squeezed fruit juice with pulp. A look into the amenity kit (cosmetics bag) on the seat makes me happy. Giorgio Armani in abundance. But that’s just the way it should be!
Now all that’s missing is the in-house Qatar Airways pajamas. But before I could think about it, the petite Asian flight attendant asked me whether I wanted an S or M. Smiling friendly, I asked for an L for Large. Equally friendly, she fulfilled the request. How kind. Later on, it turned out to be a perfect fit. A good choice.
Our departure is at a typical time in the Middle East: 03:45 am, in the middle of the night. A look at the menu clearly shows that there is appropriate food for every time of day and night for such a long flight. And there’s something else that’s really special about this flight. Qatar Airways has the “Dining on Demand” principle. This means that the usual and sometimes lengthy catering rounds are eliminated. Each Business Class passenger can order their meal individually and exactly like in a restaurant, à la carte.
So the question was not what to order from the incredibly delicious menu, but in which order. I have to admit, at that moment, I realized that my food management wasn’t optimal this time. The salmon panini and the delicious buffet from the lounge were still sitting in my stomach. Good thing we had over 17 hours of flight ahead of us.
Some of the items on the menu included:
- Soup: Roasted butternut squash soup with crème fraîche and lemon
- Appetizer: Classic Arabic mezze with hummus, tabouleh, and muhammara with Arabic bread
- Appetizer: Smoked salmon with peas and potato salad, as well as tomato and lemon dressing
- Main course: Chicken with Arabic marinade, rice, and roasted onions
- Main course: Grilled beef fillet with horseradish jus, mashed potatoes, glazed carrots, and small baby onions
- Main course: Paneer tikka masala with makhani sauce, coriander, basmati rice, asparagus, and black beans.
- Snack: Cheese platter with a rich selection
- Dessert: Lemon/coconut panna cotta with mango and passion fruit chunks
- Dessert: Fine gourmet ice cream
- Dessert: Fresh seasonal fruits.
On the Longest Flight in the World
Time literally flew by. After a while, you stop checking the remaining flight time on the monitor. The excellent Inflight Entertainment System on VOD (Video on Demand) basis also helped. A nearly endless selection of movies, documentaries, music, and news channels is available.
Before changing into my pajamas and heading to the onboard restroom, I wanted to take a quick peek behind the curtain into the economy class. But then I thought better of it and quickly closed the curtain again. Back on my seat, which had already been transformed into a bed complete with Persil white linens, I settled in for a good night’s sleep in my cozy pajamas, sponsored by Qatar Airways. Goodnight!
The most extraordinary spectacle on this flight is a natural one. Due to the departure time and travel time, it is possible to experience the rare sight of two sunrises on a single flight. One a few hours after takeoff from Doha and the other just before landing at around 6 a.m. in New Zealand. Delightful!
Full, happy, and rested, I step off the Qatar Airways Boeing 777-200LR and am greeted by the friendly immigration officer, who asks if I, as a Swiss person named “Roger,” know Roger Federer. Well then, “Kia Ora!”