This week, Qatar Airways announced its first foray into New Zealand — one of the world’s most iconic outdoor and adventure travel destinations.
Departing from Doha, the record-breaking route is now the world’s longest commercial flight, covering 17 hours and 30 minutes, and more than 9,000 miles. To put that in perspective, you could watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, plus all three films in The Hobbit series, and still have time to slowly enjoy a whiskey and a massage in Business Class.
Shortly after sunrise on Monday, February 6, the company’s flagship Boeing 777 touched down on New Zealand’s North Island to the customary “fire hose” salute that accompanies all first-time air arrivals. Flyers on the inaugural flight received celebratory cupcakes, Kiwi-inspired Rose Fizz mocktails, and unique beverage and food menus designed in the style of ancient Maori carvings. To further up the ante, the entire event was filmed by Tony Monk — an aerial photographer and cinematographer whose stunning credits include the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Related: The Birthplace of Bungee — Queenstown, New Zealand
On the inside, the 777 is every bit as lavish as one would expect of a luxury airliner in Qatar’s flight. A state-of-the-art entertainment system in every seat offers nearly 3,000 entertainment features in every class of travel. The airline’s Business Class is considered among the best of its kind in the world where passengers are treated to additional upgrades including 180-degree, fold-flat seats with 78 inches of pitch and built-in massage functionality. Gourmet, on-demand food and beverage service is also available at any time during the flight.
Qatar Airways already covers more than 150 destinations worldwide. Throughout 2017 and 2018, however, it will rapidly expand into more than a dozen new cities (including Dublin, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and Las Vegas). The state-owned airline is also hoping the expanded routes will help bootstrap the country’s tourism, particularly to Doha. A new transit visa scheme provides travelers with a generous 96 hours of travel time to and through the country, making it easier than ever to explore in “quick-hit” fashion.