Booked On A350 To Position For Qatar Airways A350 Inaugural Flight!

Filed Under: Qatar

On Friday I wrote a post entitled “I WANT TO REDEEM MILES FOR THIS FLIGHT SO BAD!”

As I explained at the time, I’m enroute to the Middle East in order to catch Qatar Airways’ inaugural A350 flight from Doha to Frankfurt on January 15. I actually already flew the Qatar Airways A350 for a media flight in Toulouse a couple of weeks back, so the inaugural flight won’t even be my first.


As I was trying to find award space from London to the Middle East, I noticed a mysterious flight in the schedule between London and Doha, QR3352. It was an odd flight number, and after some further digging I realized that it’s actually operated by an A350.


As it turns out, Qatar Airways is flying the A350 to London in order to do some noise testing at Heathrow Airport. Tomorrow morning they have a media flight around Heathrow, and then tomorrow afternoon they’re flying the plane back to Doha.

As far as I know they’re flying the plane back to Doha empty. They zeroed out all the inventory, and there wasn’t a single seat occupied on the seatmap.

Except while they zeroed out all revenue inventory, they didn’t zero out business class award inventory, as four seats were showing at the time.

I tried to book using American AAdvantage miles, and while the agents saw the space, they couldn’t get it to confirm. The same was true on British Airways’ website, which showed the space, but on the booking page it couldn’t complete the transaction.

Reader Ed left a comment indicating that he had no trouble booking over the phone with BA. So I tried that as well, and sure enough, it worked. The rates desk had to manually price the ticket, but they confirmed it without issue. While not cheap at 40,000 Avios plus $412 in taxes and fuel surcharges (over half of which is the pesky UK APD), it’s not a price I mind paying for the shot at a more-or-less private A350 flight. 😉


So now I’m confirmed in business class on a Qatar Airways A350 in order to position myself for… the Qatar Airways A350 inaugural flight.


So far it’s just Ed and I that have assigned seats on the flight. That’s two seats assigned in business class and no seats assigned in economy class.


This should get really, really interesting. Presumably Qatar Airways flew out a full cabin crew for this trip, since they need them present on the quick media flight around Heathrow. In which case it wouldn’t surprise me if they were all expecting just to fly back on that plane as well.

There are a few ways I see this playing out:

  • Maybe there are a few other executives that were at Heathrow that are also hitching a ride on the flight, and they’ll be caught off guard by the fact that there are two passengers.
  • Maybe the intent was that the flight would just be a total ferry flight so that there are just two pilots and no crew.
  • Maybe it will literally just be two of us with a full crew and full catering.
  • Maybe they try to kick us off since this perhaps wasn’t intended to be a passenger flight.

Regardless, something tells me this will get really interesting.

Anyone care to wager a guess as to how this will play out?

Stay tuned, you can bet I’ll be sharing the play-by-play here. And if two more people want to get in on the fun, there are still two business class award seats available… 😉

  1. i think they will ask you politely to get on another QR flight. Think of the effort for catering just for 2 people!

    I think it will go something along the lines of “Mr Schlappig, please step this way onto another of our flights!”

  2. Are you rehearsing how to argue for the situation as they will try to kick you out? Im very excited for you , and of course waiting how this will turn out when u try to check in at airport. 🙂

  3. I’ll guess you aren’t allowed to board. So they’ll need to figure a way to accommodate you on another flight.

  4. Or maybe you will fly with His Excellency and will be able to chat with him about the super business class Qatar will have or how great Etihad first class is on the A380.

  5. I wish I didn’t have to work tomorrow! I would love to book myself onto this flight! Will tune infor sure 🙂

  6. Thinking of changing my whole day about so I can rock up at LHR and watch the show! Make sure you keep those tweets coming throughout the afternoon. Very excited for you

  7. This sounds awesome! I think they will be dumb founded when you arrive that day at LHR to check in with the flight number and a confirmation. Can’t wait to see how it turns out, hoping you both get a private flight on the A350 though.

  8. If you have a ticket but not a boarding card you will be moved to another flight. If you gave a boarding card a small chance you will be allowed to board. There is a risk if biz is sold out you will either have to skip the inaugural or fly coach. Hopefully you have a plan B!

  9. My guess is there will be no physical gate for this flight so no boarding announced, no staff at boarding gate and therefore no way to board. The plane will just eventually take off from somewhere remotely.
    You’ll get a much better idea at check – in though….

  10. I really hope it works out! I will be working tomorrow but the flight leaves at 2pm London time, which is 9am EST so do let u know what happens! If anything I think the A380 is scheduled to depart a few minutes after the A350 so they may put you two in that one?

  11. A quick search on now shows 3 business class awards. The seat map also shows 12 seats are now assigned. Maybe you’ll be able to fly on it after all. 😛

  12. I almost did the same… when I read your previous post and thought how fun would it be? But I can’t take the time off. Shall be living vicariously through you, Ben!

  13. Why didnt you book eco and save yourself the APD?
    That way you could have reviewed economy class as well, if they didnt upgrade you once boarded anyway.

  14. Ben why don’t you come to Italy? You could try Park Hyatt Milan and try the new Emirates route MXP-JFK.

  15. im reading your article smiling and my wife is just shaking her head at me.

    Too bad she doesn’t realize this addiction has taken her all over the world in first class

  16. I think you will not be on the flight and it will be a very exciting day for you. 🙂

    Any chance your new friend Gino will also be on the inaugural flight?

  17. Finally! An interesting blog spot! A+++ would read again.

    Better than reading carbon copies of posts from VFTW.

  18. If this is accurate of what the flight will be, just two of you on an empty airliner, then at least you can shamelessly photograph every crevice of the cabin for the more curious of your readers 😉

  19. If they do honor your tickets I don’t know how will ever top it with any future trips. 🙂 I hope you’re on the flight! Ed too!

  20. Ben – I love your enthusiasm. It sets you apart, and reminds me of how I most want to live/love living life. I don’t know if you realize that you are sometimes inspiring in your work, butthatbisnhe truth. Keep flying and loving life. Thank you.

  21. Could it be a issue of not having the rights to “sell” tickets on the flight with regard to LHR slots etc.. Whereas award tickets are considered “free”… I think your chances of flying are high!!!

  22. That’s pretty awesome. I hope it works out for you. I wonder when/if the issue will be detected and how it will be handled. Can’t wait to find out!

    (On a side note, the practice of flying empty aircraft long haul, while understandable from an operational standpoint, is shocking – what a waste.)

  23. better have a backup! It’s pretty obvious that they didn’t intend to sell any seats on this flight (award or revenue) so they probably don’t have catering set up…

  24. @lucky @tom. Unfortunetly wives, friends, relatives think we are crazy as i explain all these to them,, that i cant sleep for days im so excited because i’ll be flying on new route i’ve never been before or on a plane never seen before. And u have multiple million actual miles behind me as passenger and a few thousnds hours as pilot… Still it is a trill to go and find sonething exciting with the planes every time …. All i hear “u r abolutely nuts doing that route, i would rather drive …” Oh well…. I just smile and fly…

  25. Must be a glitch in the system, wouldn’t be surprised if QR rebooks you on QR 4 which is departing 15mins after yours. I wouldn’t keep my hopes up. All the best!

  26. Some of Ben’s posts as of late have better cliffhangers then anything Bravo has to offer. I am giddy with anticipation to read how all this turns out.

    Hmmmm…an idea has popped into my head. Perhaps that irritating Andy Cohen guy at Bravo should be contacted. Ben’s exploits could be interesting fodder for a reality show. It could replace that tedious Millionaire Matchmaker.

  27. Oh this might be just as exciting as the next episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta! I can’t wait to see what happens!

  28. @ Imperator — Hey, I LOVE Millionaire Matchmaker! What better way to find “true love” than match people up based on their net worth? 😉

  29. @ JOhan — Because ultimately I’m happy paying an extra 20,000 Avios and ~$150 to upgrade to fully flat business class on a seven hour flight.

  30. @ Mitch Cumstein — If you have the cabin more or less to yourself, does it matter which seat you pick?

  31. This QR LHR-DOH A350 flight tomorrow really intrigues me, especially since there is no more award inventory on the inaugural DOH-FRA flight.

    Im thinking of taking 2 days off Uni (ie: skip lectures) and do a quick trip to the middle east.

    Do you think this is a good idea?
    Let me know… I may just be crazy enough to book this within the next few minutes!

    Did you have any problems booking online?
    On I am able to go until the page where I can enter CC info…did you get an error page before or after inputing CC info?

  32. This is so exciting! Can’t wait to see what this leads to!

    And please please please can you send me a card signed by you and Ed and the Captain if you eventually managed to get on that flight! This is just so cool!

  33. If they try to kick you off, act as if you don’t know a thing. LOL

    You tell them you have to go on this flight.

  34. Flight departs London at 2pm and it’s 6am there right now. According to Expert Flyer, 9 seats are now occupied and one is blocked off. This is too funny. Also according to Expert Flyer, there are no meals. 🙂

  35. Just a question! I’m assuming the first picture is posted from Expertflyer? How do you get it to show up as numbers? J7 F7 U7 etc etc. Sorry for the ignorant question!

  36. Good luck. Personally, I’d be reading up on EU denied boarding compensation rules before approaching the check-in desk.

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