I WANT TO REDEEM MILES FOR THIS FLIGHT SO BAD!

OMG someone get me on this flight please!!!

I’m presently slowly enroute to the Middle East in order to catch Qatar Airways’ inaugural A350 flight from Doha to Frankfurt on January 15.

Qatar-Airways-A350-02

I had the opportunity to fly the Qatar Airways A350 for a 45 minute media flight during their delivery ceremony in Toulouse a couple of weeks ago, and I’m excited to try it in commercial service.

Qatar-Airways-A350-19

Last night I flew from Los Angeles to London, and now I’m trying to eventually get myself from London to the Middle East. So I was searching the BA website for award availability between London and Doha, when I came across something that intrigued me.

Take a look at this screenshot:

Qatar-Airways-Flight-1

I know I’m a total airline nerd, because the above probably look pretty normal to the most people. Except:

  • Qatar Airways’ flight numbers between London and Doha are always really low, usually between 1 and 20 — this flight number was QR3352
  • The search tool indicated that both first class and economy weren’t operating on this flight — Qatar does have an all business class A319 flight between London and Doha, though that’s QR16

So I went onto ExpertFlyer to try and find out more info about this flight:

Qatar-Airways-Flight-2

Woah, QR3352 is operated by an Airbus A350?!?!?! The thought of flying the Qatar Airways A350 to the inaugural Qatar Airways A350 flight amused me.

But I quickly noticed three interesting things:

  • The flight was completely zeroed out in both business and economy, though BA’s website showed four business class award seats
  • I checked in the other direction to try and find the Doha to London flight operated by an A350, but came up empty — this really seemed to be an out-of-nowhere one way flight
  • The seatmap for the flight was completely empty

Qatar-Seatmap-1

Qatar-Seatmap-2

I called American to try and book. They could see the space but it wouldn’t confirm. Then I figured I’d book it using British Airways Avios. I got all the way to the booking page…

Qatar-Airways-Flight-3

…and then this happened:

Qatar-Airways-Flight-4

Gahhhhh! This definitely ranks up there on the list of flights I’ve desperately wanted to redeem miles on.

So what’s the explanation for the flight? I can’t find it operating from Doha to London but rather just from London to Doha. If history is any indicator, it may be a Royal Family shopping trip. They’re notorious for using Qatar Airways planes for their shopping trips, and just leaving them sitting on the ground for them for days/weeks at a time. Maybe they decided to take their brand new A350 for a spin, given that it had nothing better to do?

But why is it showing up in the GDS? I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a glitch. They zeroed out all revenue fare classes, though may have forgotten to zero out the business class award fare class.

Or anyone have a different theory?

Fascinating (to me, at least) regardless!

Comments

  1. I’d do whatever it takes to have a seat on this flight. Hang up, call again. MANY TIMES

  2. Fascinating for sure!
    If only you could get on that plane – would have made hell of a trip report for sure! An A350 all for Ben :)!

  3. After lots of research (read: nerding out) I’m sorry to tell you that this is most probably a glitch, since QR’s only A359, A7-ALA, is has been doing training flights DOH-SHJ-DOH every 1.5 hours starting January 1st. It has been flying every 1.5 hours!!! They wouldn’t get it out of the training cycle for their majesties. Well, unless it’s a training flight to LHR on the 12th. But HIGHLY doubt they can use such a busy, slot-restricted airport for training.

  4. Hi Ben,

    QR will position the A350 in LHR for 2-3 days for noise tests. Then they have a press flight on the 12th in LHR and then at 14:00 A7-ALA will transfer back to DOH for the Inaugural. So not a normal flight, trying to get on it myself 🙂 See you!

  5. Ben,

    Please stop posting during the work day. It’s hugely distracting to me because I can’t keep my mind on my work as I immediately flip over to read your latest post.

    😉

  6. Ben,

    I don’t think the planes the Qatar Royal Family uses are regualr Qatar Airlines planes.

    “Qatar Amiri Flight is a VIP airline owned and operated by the government of Qatar. It operates worldwide charters on demand and caters exclusively to the royal family of Qatar and other VIP government staff. The vast majority of its fleet is painted in the standard livery of the commercial flag carrier of Qatar, Qatar Airways.”

    If you could use points to book a flight on one of the Amari Flight planes – now that would be something.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qatar_Amiri_Flight

  7. @Lucky, actually do keep posting during the work day! I unfortunately can only read your blog during that time since I try not to be in front of a computer when I’m outside of work. 😉
    You’re one of the luckiest people I know (heck you somehow got EY to drop the first leg of your PNR to get on EY A380 inaugural) so I wouldn’t be surprised to see you on that LHR-DOH flight! 🙂 Safe travels!!!

  8. The “Royal Family shopping trips” are actually operated by a dedicated fleet of VIP-interior aircraft that are not even operated by Qatar Airways. Instead, they are operated by “Qatar Amiri Flight”. Most (but not all) of the aircraft are in the Qatar Airways livery, including a C-17.

  9. @ Ben Granucci — Interesting. Could have sworn at some point they took an A340 to SFO and left it sitting there for a while, no?

  10. including a C-17.

    The 4 A340s, the 2 747s (with a 747-800 BBJ on on order… Ok, that’s cool. But, the C-17? For cars presumably. That really takes it to a whole new level.

  11. Could this simply be the positioning flight for the A350 to be at Doha before the inaugural commercial flight?

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