Seattle to Doha
Exploring Doha Day 1
Exploring Doha Day 2 & 3
Doha to Seattle
Monday 12th November 2012
I had spent the morning getting myself back from Vegas, and then frantically getting myself ready for another trip almost immediately. Get home, unpack, clean clothes, repack, prep laptop, read emails etc. Pure craziness behind me and I was on the road again. Today’s pre events plans involved getting the truck down to SeaTac, park it (barely 4 hours after just having left a parking facility mind you) and then get the link back towards downtown and check into my hotel for the evening.
The flight on Tuesday was due to depart around 9am and would require meeting the group downtown at 6am for our transfer to the field. If I had done all of this on the day I would have been leaving home around 3am to get it all done with the truck etc. and I really wanted some sleep. So I would rather deal with craziness during daylight hours and when I am fully awake. So I took that option. The group hotel downtown though was the Sheraton and it was running about $30 higher compared to the Fairmont (got to love industry rates), but I can deal with a little bit of a walk (about 2 blocks) with a suitcase, even if it is up hill from the Link Station. $30 is $30!
So after getting myself downtown I barely had enough time to drop my stuff at the Fairmont and walk down to the Sheraton in time for the coach departure for that evening’s start of events. On the agenda was a reception to begin with, a press conference, access to the aircraft then a transfer to that evening’s dinner at a “secret location”. I met up with the group at the Sheraton and got myself introduced to the other few media who would be travelling as well. It was a selection of some heavyweight reporters including Flight Global, Business Traveler UK, Aviation Week Magazine, USA Today, CNBC Dubai, MBC Dubai and a few other bloggers. I could hardly feel like I was meant to be a part of this group or even referred to as media in comparison.
We hopped on our coach heading for Boeing field and the 3-390 hangar. The same one that the unveiling of the 747-8i was done from. This was pretty cool for someone like me. I got access to the leading aviation media, the heavyweights at Qatar Airways all while getting to go behind security at Boeing Field. I would give good money for something like this. The excitement had to be contained as much as possible. As we pulled into the hangar it was set up like an Arabian oasis in the middle of the desert. Palm Trees dotted the middle of the room and the bar set up around it. Plenty of tables around and a stage and a few rows of seats for the media during the press conference. I was told the seating was reserved for media and that I should take a seat when instructed so that we had a good spot for when the press conference started.
Mingling, networking and getting to know some of the other media was conducted and I did relax a little which was good, but the press conference started and my brain went back into “don’t fark up mode”. I wasn’t sure what to say or even if I should open my mouth at all, so I kept it shut, no questions from me, I will let the real media do the talking. The press conference started and the CEO of Qatar Airways was joined by a VP from Boeing and also the Ambassador to Qatar based in the USA. A few tough questions were fired at the CEO as you would expect and he handled it pretty well I think. He seemed to be able to handle it all with a quick remark or comeback. Definitely impressive. An exchange of gifts between everyone and the handover was complete. No signing of financial paperwork etc. as this had already been done about a week prior before the flight was sent to Victorville, California.
The press conference was ended with the screening of a short movie on the Qatar 787 (link to YouTube) on the giant wall screen and when that was finished, the curtain was raised and there she sat. My first shock of the day was that the aircraft we would be flying on would be BCB not BCA. I had figured that the first 787 bound for Qatar would have used the first registration of the grouping. Not so apparently!
A ribbon was cut, more photos taken and then we were all set loose on the aircraft. It was time to make myself useful. Out came the camera at full speed this time. Plenty of photos were taken both inside and outside as I explored the 787 and let’s just say I was totally impressed. The new Business Class cabin looked amazingly comfortable, the Economy seats looked fantastic.
As I explored the aircraft I noticed that the Crew Rest areas were missing. This puzzled me as I thought that they would have deployed this aircraft on the long-haul routes that others are doing. However this was to be a pure midhaul aircraft. Similar to what the 767 does for most operators. 6-8 hours one crew shift essentially. Mind you I didn’t find out till I had been chatting with the Chief Technical Officer of Qatar Airways (which was pretty cool).
After a whole heap of photos were taken and I had my fill of dodging all the guests inside the aircraft, I headed back out and got a few photos of the aircraft. The time was eventually over and we all re-boarded the coach, waving goodbye to BCB for now. We headed to our dinner celebration, which it turned out was to be at Seattle Center at Chilhuly Garden. I had been meaning to check this place out but hadn’t gotten around to it. Now not only would I get a chance to see the amazing glass work, I was there as part of this event and got to relax a little (not fully mind you, cause I was still worried about stuffing up).
The glasswork was stunning, however the typical Seattle weather (aka rain) prevented to many outside photos (that and I didn’t have a tripod with me) but I managed to get a few of the glasswork with the Space Needle. Inside the pieces were immaculate and the dinner was set up with the airline colors on the tables. Drinks were consumed, more mingling and networking, dinner was consumed and I enjoyed the food which was pretty good and not at all to over the top yet still refined enough for a big dinner. The alcohol was flowing freely and with what was on offer was sure to mean some good stuff tomorrow.
After a round of speeches, presentation of gifts for those who had worked tirelessly on the event and honoring the hard work of so many people, it was sad to see the night coming to a close, although I would definitely need some sleep. But just as I was heading out to the coach back to the hotel, some good news (kind of). Delay of departure from the hotel in the morning! Though no delay of the aircraft departure itself. So that was good. But it meant I could at least get a decent night’s sleep before the festivities would begin the next morning. A van dropped me back at the hotel and I settled in for a good night’s rest.