Home Middle East Trip Report: Qatar Airways Zurich to Doha

Trip Report: Qatar Airways Zurich to Doha

by syed-hassaan-khalid

I had the privilege to visit one of my favorite airports on the return leg of my recent European tour, since we had our final conference in Geneva; we headed towards Zurich for our flight to Doha on QR 96. We decided to opt for the train rather than a bus, to get the experience of the Swiss railways.

There are multiple trains from Geneva to Zurich; each taking around 2hr 40min approximately, with option of choosing first and second class. They serve a vast network of routes throughout the country.

After our breakfast at the hotel in Geneva, we headed out to the Cornavin railway station. The station seemed pretty ordinary from the exterior however, we were quite amazed to see the architecture and the facilities upon entering the building as we made our way towards platform 4.

We started our journey on the RABDe 500, that is a standard ICN (intercity-tilting) train. It ran through the beautiful Swiss countryside and was a scenic ride of almost 3 hours.

Qatar airways operates from Terminal 3 at Zurich, however, we got to see the airside views at multiple points while walking towards the designated terminal. I couldn’t stop admiring the breathtaking views of the runway, the ATC tower, and the gates. The check-in was an easy process and since we were to travel on the Business class, the counters were almost empty.

Our aircraft had arrived on-time from Doha, and to our surprise; it was a brand new Boeing 787-9 (registered as A7-BHI), delivered just a month ago. The 787-9’s are the latest addition to the fleet of Qatar airways. As it was getting ready for the return leg, I spotted a truly rare aircraft; A private Boeing 777-200LR, belonging to the Prince of Saudi Arabia. However, most of the aircraft I could see were of Swiss; they operate a large fleet comprising of A220, A320, A330, A340, and the Boeing 777. The other aircraft that I was able to spot were the Emirates A380, Air Baltic A220, Saudi Arabian A320, British Airways Embraer E190, Lufthansa CityLine CRJ900, and a couple of business jets as well. After all, that’s the reason I love ZRH, it has a great diversity of aircraft; ranging from twin-seat to the double-decker A380. It won’t be wrong to call it an Avgeek’s paradise.

Since my booking was on the Business class, I had the privilege to access the “primeclass lounge”. It was a cozy but well-maintained area, I got myself a quick snack consisting of broccoli and some pasta, along with a cup of orange juice.

Finally, after a long wait, the boarding had started. My seat was 6A, it had a storage compartment at the left, that could be used to store water bottle or snacks. There was an amenity kit and a comfy pillow provided by the airline. The kit included items like Vaporisateur natural spray, face cream, lip balm and body lotion.

While pushing back I got sight of the Swiss A340. Swiss still operates this aircraft, however they will be replaced by the A350 by 2025. We taxied to runway 35 and were second in-position for takeoff after a Germanwings A320. The takeoff run was longer than I expected, which gave a clear idea that it’s a packed flight. We were mesmerized by the stunning views of the meadows for a minute or two, as we climbed above the cloud cover.

Few minutes into the flight, we were given a handful of nuts, served with a glass of fresh juice. Afterwards, I found myself lost into the lush valleys down below, surrounded by the high-rise Alps Mountains. For the starter, we were served shredded tuna in Arabic style, which was followed by the appetizer which was too, a traditional meal consisting of Hummus and various types of bread.

I thought to check out the lavatory as well, and as expected it was pretty clean and equipped with the essentials. I headed back towards the seat and fully reclined it to get a nap.

I woke up when we were cruising above Iraq; I was served with the main dish that I opted. A delicious and traditionally made Chicken Machboos, that consists of spicy rice cooked with chicken and topped with nuts. After getting a satisfying main dish; I ordered the desert, it did not disappoint me either and was one of my favorite desert; a chocolate cheesecake which I enjoyed while watching a movie.

I noticed glowing lights near Basra, Iraq; and at first sight I thought it as some kind of gigantic fire, but was told by a fellow that they are basically oil fields and they are all over Iraq, it was pleasing to learn something new on this flight.

After finishing a cup of Karak tea, I noticed on the in-flight map that we had already started to descend, and the seatbelt sign was on as were flying along the north eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. We continued heading eastwards and entered Bahrain’s airspace.

In a matter of minutes, we were finally in the Qatar’s Flight Information Region (FIR) and took a right turn above Al-Daharia, which too had a couple of oil fields.

The aircraft circled around Doha to position for the final approach into runway 34R of the Hamad Int’l Airport (DOH). The landing was smooth as butter, which reflected the experience and professionalism of the pilots.

The airport’s runway is considered as one of the longest runway in the world with a total length of around 5km! The aircraft exited the runway before even its midpoint. While taxiing, we also spotted a British airways 777-200ER, which had landed a few minutes earlier.

We reached our stands and to my surprise, this was not a jet bridge. The air was warmer compared to Zurich. As we entered the terminal, the astounding and lively atmosphere surrounded us. The airport is rated 5-stars and 9th time in a row regarded as the world’s best airport. Well… in my view, it seemed different and more unique than the other airports I have visited or transited.

Flight Rating

Overall, my honest rating of the return leg is as follows,

QR-96: 9.5/10 (-0.5 for a little delayed service)

Zurich Airport: 9/10 (Too much walking required, but passenger & spotter friendly)

Doha Airport: 10/10 (A perfect airport)


I would definitely recommend Qatar Airways; at least flight for this route. It was a memorable journey and as a spotter, it was beyond anything I had experienced.

I will soon be publishing the final leg of my return flight, that was from Doha to Karachi, so make sure you are subscribed to Airport Spotting!



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1 comment

MERVYN CROWE June 1, 2023 - 10:20 am

We like QATAR AIRWAYS very much and have completed four round trips ( 20 sectors) from Perth to London and Manchester over the past few years. Fortunately have been able to fly on the A330, A350, A380, B777 and 787, all superb and on time. No fuss plain food catering and a decent size mug for coffee and tea.


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