Qatar Airways Adds A Great New Route To Asia….But It’s Only Seasonal


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I’ve been writing quite a bit about Qatar Airways recently and that has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve flown with the airline quite a few times this year and the fact that you can often get some very, very good Business Class fares on Qatar Airways for travel between Europe and Asia.

I love the service you get from Qatar Airways crews and I like most of the airline’s Business Class products too (follow this link to find out which routes offer the best Qatar Airways Business Class cabins) so most new routes the airline opens up are bound to get me at least a little excited.

In this case I have to admit to being more than a little excited as Qatar Airways has finally confirmed a route to a city I’ve been wanting to visit for quite some time – Chiang Mai in Thailand.

Chiang Man Chiang MaiWat Chiang Man in Chiang Mai – image courtesy of Paul Arps via Flickr

The airline has suggested that it would start flying to Chiang Mai in the past (I wrote about it in May 2016) and there had been a suggested start date of mid-December last year….and then again this year. But nothing had been firmed up until now.

Qatar Airways’ New Route To Chiang Mai

From 7 December Qatar Airways will operate a 4x/week service between Doha and Chiang Mai in Thailand on the following schedule:

QR822 DOH 20:05 – 06:00+1 day CNX (Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun)
QR823 CNX 07:10 – 10:55 DOH (Mon, Wed, Fri, Sun)

It will be interesting to see how well the timing on the Doha to Chiang Mai leg works for connections from Europe – it’s definitely an earlier departure time than I’m used to catching when flying to Asia via Doha.

Unfortunately, for the time being at least, the new route will only be operating for the winter season – Qatar Airways press release confirms that the route will run “until May 2018”.

The Aircraft

Apart from the fact that the new destination is one I’ve wanted to visit for some time the other good news is the aircraft that Qatar Airways has scheduled on the route – a 787 Dreamliner.

I flown in a Qatar Airways Dreamliner twice this year (reviewed here) and the Business Class cabin is one of the best you’ll find.

The reverse herringbone layout (my favorite) gives all Business Class passengers direct access to the aisle…..

….and the seats offer comfort and privacy in equal measure:

Qatar Airways 787-8Qatar Airways 787 Business Class Seat

Not All Good News

As good as I think Qatar Airways is for Business Class it’s important to point out the airline’s deficiencies in Economy Class.

While the service in Economy Class will still be noticeably better than you’ll get on most European and US airlines the seating is an issue.

Qatar Airways has squeezed 232 seats into its Dreamliner’s Economy Class cabin with 9-across seating across the cabin. This leaves passengers with just 31” of seat pitch (legroom) and a little over 17” of seat width – that’s not good.

If you’re tall-ish, broad-shouldered or wide you’re going to find these seats a squeeze and I can’t in good conscience recommend them – I wouldn’t fly in them unless I absolutely had to.

If you look around you’ll find other airlines offering flights to Chiang Mai with considerably more space in the Economy Class Cabin – THAI, for example, offers 32” of seat pitch and 18” of seat width on a number of its aircraft and, while those difference may seem small, they make quite a difference on a long haul flight.

Bottom Line

It’s great news that we’ll soon have another Qatar Airways route to Asia (all be it for the winter season only) and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some very good Business Class fares offered before the route starts up in December (I’ll post these to the blog if and when I notice them).

For non-Business Class passengers the news isn’t so good on the comfort front so, if you’re looking for a cheap fare and a modicum of comfort, I would suggest looking at other airlines and using seatguru.com to get an idea of how much space they offer in Economy Class.