As a frequent flyer, I hope to make other travellers on this forum aware of one of the worst check-in experiences I have ever experienced with Qatar Airways.
I frequently travel long haul usually in Business Class. I have three airlines that I prefer, each of whom have a generous checked-in baggage allowance:
• British Airways (2 x 32 Kgs)
• Virgin Atlantic (3 x 32 Kgs)
• Cathay Pacific (3×23 Kgs)
I don’t always read the small print, but as a business class passenger I expect a measure of tolerance and I definitely expect to be treated with dignity and respect.
This January, for the first time I was encouraged to book with Qatar, a long haul flight from LHR to Cape Town via Doha, and a return flight from Sydney back to LHR. My check in at LHR T4 was nothing short of the worst I have ever experienced. I must admit to not checking my baggage allowance, but I did not consider that having two suitcases one of 23 Kgs and the other of 24 Kgs was excessive. However, it seems that Qatar has the smallest Business Class baggage allowance of a total of 40 Kgs.
As I was being checked in I was told that I would have to remove the additional weight. I asked to speak to the manager and someone called Rocky appeared, I said that I would not be able to carry the excess as hand luggage as I had a bad back, but he stood firm either I repacked or I couldn’t check in. I refused to repack in front of everyone so he walked me to a quieter area and the check in staff and other passengers watched while a 62 year old woman with a bad back scrambled on her hands and knees trying to redistribute the weight of her cases. I ended up with four large and heavy pieces of hand luggage which I had to carry around three airports LHR, Doha and Cape Town.
This was a humiliating, belittling and disrespectful experience aimed to strip me, a white western woman of a certain age, of any dignity whatsoever. As I crawled around on the floor I caught one of the check-in staff laughing. I was not given the option of paying for the additional weight.
I started my long awaited trip with a bad back and ‘lost’ several items in the chaos. After spending in the region of £2500 on this ticket it was outrageous to be treated worse than a Ryanair passenger. As far as I know having excess hold luggage is not a crime, therefore, it should not be a punishable offence. I made my representations to Qatar, but the customer services were just not interested and could not care less.
My return flights home were a complete fiasco as the controller operating my in-flight entertainment did not work, not just on one leg of the journey but on both. The first flight supervisor, apologised profusely and promised chocolates and WiFi, but nothing materialised. Doha airport the hub where you will always be transferred to and from, is a huge sprawling disorganised mess. It can take an hour just walking from one gate to another!
Having an ‘award winning airline’ is not just about good in-flight service, it is the whole package. Others do it better, I would not fly with this airline again if they paid me!