HOT SPOT: Dreamliner

Flying is getting more enjoyable thanks to a new plane now taking to the skies

Flying is getting more enjoyable thanks to a new plane now taking to the skies

Why’s it hot? You don’t need to be an anorak-clad plane-spotter to know that a new, quieter and greener type of aircraft is now whizzing around the world offering passengers a more restful flying experience. After much-publicised teething problems when it launched last December, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has been cleared for take off and airlines across the globe are rapidly adding it to their fleets. In the UK the first carrier to put it into service was Qatar Airways, who operate flights from Heathrow and Manchester to Doha in the Middle East. Flying time is around six hours and the capital of this super-rich emirate is fast becoming a key hub with onward connections to enticing holiday hot-spots such as Goa, Mozambique, Burma (Myanmar) and Cambodia.

Dream moment: business class seats on a Qatar Airways 787

What’s it got? The Dreamliner has a high-ceilinged cabin that is larger than usual, with bigger luggage bins and wider aisles. The windows are 30 per cent larger with dimmable lights, while changing mood lighting makes adjusting to time changes easier. The cabin pressure is lower, too, and the air cleaner and not so dry. All this means a flight is less tiring, and the plane also uses less fuel with CO2 emissions reduced by 20 per cent. 

Wow factor: Flying on the Dreamliner is notably quieter and less stressful, but all the airlines introducing it have their own take on how the cabins are configured and the levels of service offered. It’s a little known fact that Qatar Airways serve complimentary champagne in Economy, and you’ll also get a mega seat-back entertainment system that doesn’t just show hundreds of movies and TV programmes – you can even look up how to knit and make Yorkshire puddings. For detailed layouts and reviews of 787s see seatplans.com.

Let’s turn down the lights… The new Dreamliner is easy on the eyes

Is it worth stopping over in Doha? Yes, if you don’t like flying for a long period or want to soak up some heat and sunshine. At this time of year it will be seriously hot, with Ramadan being observed from now till 8 August. There’s a decent range of high class hotels but note that some don’t serve alcohol. A good choice if you want to be by the sea is the towering Hilton Doha (doha.hilton.com), which has 309 rooms from £127. In the city centre, Souq Waqif Boutique Hotels (swbh.com) has six well-appointed properties in and around the souk, from £189.

Qatar doesn’t have the same super-charged lifestyle as Dubai, or offer the wide variety of experiences you find in Abu Dhabi, but it is still a good place to get a taste of the Arabian desert and to contemplate the mind-boggling transformations now taking place in the Gulf. Two museums worth visiting are the serene Museum of Islamic Art (mia.org.qa) designed by I M Pei, and the Sheikh Faisal Museum (fbqmuseum.org) with over 15,000 exhibits from antique weapons to classic cars. Qatar International Tours (qittour.com) offers sightseeing tours including shopping, cultural and desert trips, and check what’s on at Katara Cultural Village (katara.net), which has strong ties with the UK arts world.

Reflected glory: don’t miss the serene Museum of Islamic Art in Doha

Need to know: Next time you book a flight online, look out for 787 in the aircraft type to see if you’ll be flying on a Dreamliner. This month Thomson (thomson.co.uk) introduces Dreamliner flights from Gatwick, East Midlands, Manchester and Glasgow airports to Cancún in Mexico and Orlando in Florida, with many more destinations to follow in the winter. In August Air India (airindia.com) will launch Dreamliner services between the UK and India, while British Airways (ba.com) commences 787 flights to Toronto on 1 September, then to New York (Newark) on 1 October. Virgin Atlantic (virginatlantic.com) also has 16 787s on order with the first arrivals due in September.

Book now: Flights from London Heathrow to Doha with Qatar Airways (qatarairways.com) cost from £778 return. For more information on Qatar see qatartourism.gov.qa and timeoutdoha.com.

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