Boeing 777 200LR. Qatar Airways uses its long-haul, twin-engined jets for the almighty flight from Auckland to Doha, and after refuelling, the return journey. It really is a stretch — until flights from Singapore to New York start later this year — the long-range journey with Qatar to the Middle East will remain the world’s longest flight.
I was travelling to Iran for a tour with NZ Travel and Tour — for more on them, check out travelandtour.co.nz.
The experience: My seat on QR 921 is 35D. It is as far back in the aircraft as it it possible to go. Behind me is a bulkhead, and behind that the galley and loos. The economy section has a three-three-three configuration but in my row it is two-three-two to allow access to and from the rear of the aircraft. It means there is a little bit more room to stretch, even if the foot traffic might be busier. Even better, the seat beside me is empty on a chokka flight. We take off close to schedule at 2.25 on a Saturday afternoon.
At 4pm, the first meal is served. My choice — red cabbage and apple coleslaw, braised beef with carrots and potato gratin — is perfectly adequate. I like the little touch of a Whittaker’s dairy milk segment for afters. From the wine list I go for a French red, which
completes the circle. The cabin staff are friendly and accommodating as requests from those around me come thick and fast.
Qatar is proud of its inflight entertainment system, but I opt for episodes of Occupied, the Netflix drama about a Russian takeover of Norway. I have all of season two on my tablet, so I settle in, glancing occasionally at the onscreen flight tracker as the miles tick by — Coober Pedy, Uluru, Alice Springs.
Snacks arrive in the form of tasty Greek olives. I had a beer and watched Moscow move on Oslo. Somewhere beyond Broome, and 10km above the Indian Ocean, I doze off. The seat is forgiving, and my mask shuts out shafts of light.
At some point time seems to twist about. I have brunch — or was it breakfast — of yoghurt and fruit, sausages, omelette and coffee. It does the trick. We fly on, and on. It seems dark for an age. We are flying backwards in time.
Just after 10pm the captain comes on to say the end is in sight. The big plane banks and descends to Doha’s Hamad International Airport.