airline routes

Qatar Airways Launches New SEA-DOH service early

On Friday, January 29, Qatar Airways kicks off four-time per week nonstop service between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) and Hamad International Airport (DOH) in Doha, the capital city of Qatar. Daily service is set to start in July. The airline is using its Boeing 777 aircraft with 42 business class seats and 312 economy class seats for this new service.

Courtesy Port of Seattle

This new international route for Seattle was originally set to begin on March 15, 2021. But in an unusual move, Qatar moved up the launch date by almost two months.

“Qatar Airways’ decision to begin service to the Pacific Northwest is a testament to the airline’s confidence in the strength of the region and the expectation to bounce back after the past year’s struggles with the pandemic,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Fred Felleman. “We look forward to this being one of the first steps back to recovery as we will soon welcome global travelers into the new International Arrivals Facility later this year.”

In advance of the launch, Stuck at the Airport chatted with Qatar’s Mark Drusch, SVP of Revenue Management, Alliance, and Strategy. [Answers edited for space, clarity, etc.]

Why is Seattle an important market for Qatar now?

Drusch says traffic on the airline’s Los Angeles and San Francisco flights is very strong and the airline is seeing a lot of traffic through Seattle via partners American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, which is joining the oneworld alliance. “Seattle was the largest gateway on the west coast we weren’t operating out of. So this [new route] is just a natural,” says Drusch.

Why move up the launch?

“Our San Francisco service [launched December 15] has taken off so quickly, and the advance bookings for Seattle in March were so incredibly strong,” says Drusch. “With that and the fact that we were making great progress in establishing a partnership with Alaska, we said, ‘Why should we wait?”

Isn’t moving up a launch complicated?

“It is only complicated in that you need to work through the details with your crews – pilots and flight attendants. But we had enough advance notice that we could do that,” says Drush. “And, honestly, pre-COVID it would have been a lot more difficult. During COVID we have extra pilots and extra flight attendants, and we have more flexibility than we’ve had in the past.”

What about the partnership with Alaska Airlines?

“Alaska is joining oneworld at the end of March, and we are a member of oneworld, so we will obviously have a partnership with them via oneworld. But we’ve been talking to them about having an enhanced relationship versus the oneworld relationship. We haven’t announced anything yet, but stay tuned you might hear something shortly.”

How is the inflight service altered in response to COVID-19 concerns?

Qatar is using a Boeing 777 aircraft for this route with Qsuites in business class. The suites have sliding doors, “so when you are in your Qsuite you don’t have to use your mask,” says Drusch. Full meal service is being offered in both business class and coach, with some modifications. Flight attendants are in full PPE, including face shields. All planes are being cleaned every 24 hours with an automated UV machine.

What special events are planned for the inaugural landing and take-off of this new Qatar flight at SEA?

A social-distanced gate celebration will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Passengers will receive gift bags with local treats from Seattle, Qatar Airways, Alaska Airlines, and Boeing.

Free food from United Airlines – on the ground

You may not be getting served complimentary meals in the air, but in Manhattan and San Francisco, United Airlines  is sending out food trucks stocked with complimentary food items inspired by some of the places the airline flies to from Newark and San Francisco.

This week in New York the food truck will be distributing pastries that include rugelach and black & white cookies to celebrate the Newark to Tel Aviv route.

Beginning, July 31, the food truck will be handing out Dulce de Leche doughnuts and coconut cream pineapple doughnuts in honor of the Buenos Aires route.

And starting August 7, to celebrate service to Narita, Japan , the United food truck will offer cherry doughnuts and “Yuzu” lemon zest doughnuts.

In San Francisco, the food truck will be promoting the new SFO to Munich route with horseshoe almond and apple crumb cakes daily.

To find out where the trucks are located in New York, you’ll need to follow @SweeteryNYC on Twitter.

There is no Twitter handle offering clues on where the truck will be in San Francisco, but United says look for it in these neighborhoods:

South of Market – Brannan St

Financial district – Sansome

Outside San Francisco (Retail) – Mission Bay Blvd. N

Pastry from Jet Blue’s inaugural Quito flight


Blue roses from the arrival party for Jet Blue’s inaugural flight to Quito, Ecuador from Fort Lauderdale


I was pleased to join Jet Blue as a guest on their inaugural flight from Fort Lauderdale to Quito, Ecuador on Thursday morning, Feb 25 and will be circling back around with a more details on why this route is especially meaningful for Jet Blue and for Ecuador – but it’s late here in Quito and what’s really important to share are these snaps of the pastry created for the send-off and arrival parties.

jet blue cake


jet blue cookies

I didn’t get to taste the cake (I was wondering what a passport might taste like) but ate two of those Jet Blue shortbread cookies for dinner.

Route round-up: more ways to get from here to there


Increasingly, you can get there from here. Here’s a round-up of some new airline routes that may help.

British Airways will begin its San Francisco – London service with an Airbus A380 next summer. The airline began A380 service between Los Angeles and London last September 2013 and starts A380 service to Washington DC in October.

Air New Zealand announced it is adding more flights to its North American routes. with additional service from Vancouver and Los Angeles to Auckland.

Starting in April 2015, ANZ will fly LAX-AKL three times daily through October. Starting in June 2015, ANZ will fly YVR-AKL five times a week through September.

Southwest Airlines will add service between Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and San José, Costa Rica, starting in March 2015.

And Icelandair announced new seasonal non-stop service from Portland, Oregon to Reykjavik, Iceland beginning May 20, 2015 and continuing through October 21, 2015.