Qatar: Where the National Airline Gives you a Personal Steward

Qatar. You might have heard of it because it’s that random country bordering Saudi Arabia with a 12 digit GDP and under 2,000,000 residents that won the coveted 2022 FIFA World Cup bid.

I am not sure if I have mentioned this prior or not, but my parents moved to Qatar this past year and this past week was the first opportunity I had to use up 80% of my vacation days of the year to pay them a short visit. Since Qatar is on the opposite end of the universe from Portland, Oregon I had a daunting 30-something hour itinerary involving a stopover in San Francisco, an UNPLANNED detour to Chicago, another painful stopover in Frankfurt…and then finally the beacon of light at the end of it all- a nonstop to Doha (the capital) on a thankfully much more luxurious and service-oriented airline than the prior several flights.

I am not going to go over the first few painful flights I endured (think a Bangalore-bound six year old seat neighbour who repeatedly mistook my ass derriere as a pillow and a shortage of quality foods which resulted in the ingestion of a pretzel packet which included hydrogenated soybean oil on it’s ingredient list), but as soon as I got to Germany I trekked myself past my random security check number three to the Lufthansa Business lounge, took a half shower, had several Espressos and a quark pumpernickel sandwich and then tweeted about the lack of traveling businesswomen in the world (since I was after all the only female slash person under 36 in the entire lounge).

Was that a run-on sentence or what?

Anyhow, finally the moment of glory came- it all started with having a fellow Finnish woman print my boarding pass and us thus engaging in some amicable shared ancestral bonding and then with the very very dashing personal steward I had once I boarded the nearly empty Qatar Airways Doha-bound jet. Yes, personal steward. He sadly lacked a name tag but he was German, looked like a Dietrich or a Franz and pronounced the names of all the French chardonnays he let me taste quite fluently.

He also brought me an armful of goodies…namely some Qatar Airways-logo socks, a massive Menu book, noise canceling headphones, and the little Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries bag as pictured above (which does include several Ferragamo lotions and other scented products which may or may not be unisex)

This was the supper menu; there was a separate wine and other beverages menu; however I didn’t photograph it simply because it was too many pages and I kept feeling self conscious that Dietrich/Franz would think that I was odd for photographing pages of wine lists…

…Regardless, prior to take off he gracefully noted my order. Normally I do not drink alcohol on flights simply because of the already dehydrating state air travel puts one in (and how pallid it makes your face look…not even the best Kiehls moisturiser can solve that); however my mother sent me a lovely text asking me to have champagne on her behalf…but since champagne was not a proper paring for my choice of meal, I ended up with a glass of Chardonnay with my palate pleaser:

Roast beef horseradish rolls

I started watching a film, Safe House I believe, but really I was far too distracted by how ridiculously delightful the food was to even get so much as a grasp on the plotline. Also, at this point I had been awake for a good 26 hours or so

Upon polishing off the palate pleaser, I was brought my appetiser of choice, the Arabic Mezze. Though the caprese with bresaola and the celeriac soup sounded delicious, I will ALWAYS select Mezze when on the menu. This one in particular consisted of the usuals, small bowls of Moutabel, fresh tabbouleh, hummus, and Arabic bread

Of course, I was also brought silverware, miniature S&P, some French butter and a bread basket featuring pretzel, ciabatta roll, and a scrumptious sundried tomato loaf which made a fine pairing with the remaining moutabel

Oh yeah…and if you’re wondering that’s Evian in the other wine glass; gotta stay hydrated, remember?

Main Course: Grilled breast of chicken with Arabic style rice, grilled asparagus, and mixed vegetables

This was restaurant quality, and I am not just saying that because I was sleep deprived and had been subsisting on manufactured packaged carbohydrates. The rice was full of coriander and cumin and meshed quite nicely with the “Arabic” ratatouille of aubergine and onion- and this is coming from someone who normally won’t touch rice due to it’s high levels of boringness and fullness-inducement.

For dessert, I was given two options: Ice cream or “Varm Austrian Cake.” Dietrich/Franz seemed v. enthusiastic about the cake (maybe he’s Austrian after all…), however since I do hold half of my genetics from one of the world’s highest per capita ice cream consuming nations…I went for the ice cream. Mango and vanilla with berries and some chocolate covered strawberry. Not disappointing. Plus Dietrich/Franz probably got to have an extra cake for himself since I was one of THREE other people in the entire cabin.

Post-supper, I decided to stop pretending I knew what was going on in Safe House and choose something a little more…trashy? Engaging? Well I ended up choosing “Gone” starring Amanda Seyfriend, probably because it takes place in Portland and I was already missing Portland

Dietrich/Franz was quite attentive to my penchant for staying hydrated so he just quit with the Evian wine glass and brought me the first of several bottles of Vittel…that and some Godiva.

I eventually finished the chardonnay, passed out (after pressing pause of course) for two hours, woke up to complete the film, watched an episode of Mad Men and then freshened up in the generously sized full-length mirror laden lavs and proceeded to arrive safely in Doha. I even got to go in my own immigration queue (all by myself…again) and endure the uncertain limbo that is baggage claim before finally meeting my elated and adorable parents.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have a pre-bedtime Skype date with the bird from the Lion King.

Ever had a good experience with airplane food?

What’s the longest distance you have ever travelled at once?


5 thoughts on “Qatar: Where the National Airline Gives you a Personal Steward

  1. Wow Qatar sounds so baller…especially after reading this post and your tweets! In terms of entertainment/having things to do, is it like Dubai at all? I bow down to you on being able to survive such a long ass journey…I am not sure I could do it! I think my longest is probably 18 hours (transit time included)!

    I used to think Emirates was the best airline but I might have to start flying Qatar Airlines- everything looks so gourmet & delicious! On my flight back from Singapore, the air hostess started walking around handing out ice cream cones and I couldn’t believe my eyes- I guess airlines really are trying to step up their A game!

    Also thanks mucho for the birthday wishes, Sara! The weekend was kinda wild (insert a long-lasting hangover all of Sunday) but today itself has been super relaxing (insert a massage post-run and lunch with the girls)!

  2. Loved this post. Do they have Astrid/Heidis as well?
    Must say, our air travel regimens are really different – it’s such an unpleasant experience, I always start with a ritual pre-flight martini and typically try to smuggle vodka aboard in those little clear TSA-approved toiletries bottles.

  3. So jealous of your travels, girl! I’m happy to be in NYC this summer, but bummed that I can’t be in Germany, too. Lucky you! Even though you were only there for a few hours. 🙂 But I love traveling (and I know I’m weird, but I love airplane food) so the long trip sounds like heaven, not torture! Especially with that awesome first class treatment! Have fun in Qatar, I want to see LOTS of pictures!


  4. Whoa, I have clearly been flying on the wrong airline. I thought my last airplane dining experience was stellar but yours definitely trumps it! (although to be fair, in terms of a vegan diet it was pretty great). Also I have to agree with Khushboo above, I would go insane if I was ever on a plane (series of planes) for that long.

  5. Oh how fabulous! I’m ready for my personal steward queue the ever so handsome Neil Caffrey from tv’s White Collar. Yes! the Salvatore Ferragamo toiletry case will do nicely as well. Très chic!

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