We arrived at the airport earlier than usual, but the schedule worked for the person driving us, so we were flexible. Our airline tickets were with Qatar, an airline we had not traveled with before. Their flight schedule out of IAD (Dulles) is limited so the ticket counter was not yet open. We took a seat and pulled out a book.

Travel Lesson One

Once the ticket counter opened, we headed to the security checkpoint. We both have Global Entry, which comes with TSA pre-check. Although I meticulously entered the numbers into our reservations when making them, Jim’s boarding pass did not have the coveted TSA Precheck indication on it. The line at the Qatar check-in counter was long at this point, so Jim gave me his liquids, dropped me off at the TSA pre-check line, and promised to see me on the “other side.” I flew through the checkpoint and waited patiently for Jim to show up.

After about ten minutes, I asked the TSA agent where the regular screening folks would come out. She gave me detailed instructions on how to get there; at IAD, the standard screening was not even on the same floor. Lots of walking and two escalators later, I found the exit point, but not Jim. We texted back and forth and finally decided to meet at the gate. Another escalator, a train ride, and lots of walking later, I made it to the gate, but Jim was not there. Eventually, we caught up with each other, but the first lesson of the trip was we both went through the standard checkpoint if one of us didn’t get the TSA Precheck stamp!

Qatar ticket counter at IAD
Security check point

Everyone we encountered at Qatar Airways was friendly and helpful. Our first flight from Washington, DC, to Doha, Qatar, took 13 hours. We traveled in a newer Airbus A350; the plane was full, and there were few open seats to be found. The boarding process was well organized; we were directed to step aside for additional document checks; we’re lucky that way. A few short minutes later, we boarded and found our seats. Our seatmate, in our row of three seats, was on her way home to Bagdad. I knew Doha was in the Middle East somewhere, but I couldn’t tell you exactly where. I pulled up a map of the entertainment system and located our destination, an area we had not traveled to before.

Travel Lesson 2

Limited wiggle room in our economy seats made it hard to move around much, let alone eat a meal. We had preordered vegetarian meals but had limited success with them being available on other airlines, so we remained flexible. Qatar came through, and our meals were provided as ordered! I had worn a comfy white pullover for the flight, which was a mistake. With limited space, some of my meals ended up on my white shirt. Next time I will wear a dark color! I crossed my fingers that I remembered to pack my Tide stain remover pen (I did).

Qatar’s seatback entertainment system was excellent, providing everything from movies to TV shows to various music choices and even podcasts. I had loaded my Kindle with books, hoping to fall asleep reading. I finished the book but never fell asleep.

Every time I looked up, it seemed a flight attendant was offering us food. From dinner after take-off to breakfast shortly before landing, snacks and drinks were readily available throughout the flight. The food was good for airplane food. It is probably the best we’ve had on any international flight.

Jim settling in on the plane
Plane tail camera view Qatar A350
Seat back flight map

Our Flight Connection

The flight was a little bumpy but otherwise uneventful, and we eventually arrived in Doha. Since we had not been there before, we followed the masses exiting the plane. Usually, when you land in a foreign country, you must clear immigration/customs before going to your connecting flight. There were airport personnel waiting as we exited the plane who informed us that since we were transferring to another flight, we should head to our next gate. This was a pleasant surprise; we searched for our next gate.

The Doha airport is enormous, clean, and absolutely beautiful. We had a couple of hours, so we wandered around the airport, checked out some lovely gardens and water features, marveled at the expensive stores, and found a place for a light dinner before our next late-night flight. Those high-end stores related well to the high-end cost of a sandwich and beverage. This is the first place we have been that I can remember that did not provide a glass of water with a meal; we had to purchase a glass of water and milk for Jim’s coffee. No wonder this place is so pretty.

Doha airport waterfall
Doha airport garden and shops
Doha airport cafe

Flight Number Two

Our second leg of the trip was a 7-hour flight from Doha to Singapore. This flight was also with Qatar Airways but on an older Boeing 777, which had not been fueled. After waiting about an hour to get the necessary fuel, we boarded the plane; it was a light flight passenger-wise, and Jim and I had our three-seat row to ourselves. As with the first flight, we were served a vegetarian meal, and the food was once again quite good. I added a few spots to the already soiled white shirt. This was not our first long flight, but it was the first time we did them back to back. Jim sleeps pretty well when we fly, but even he had a hard time this trip. We were exhausted by the time we landed.