Doha's relatively new Hamad International Airport connects Qatar Airways passengers across the globe, particularly from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to a host of European destinations including London, Paris, Rome and Frankfurt.
After touching down, your transit begins by following the easy-to-read transit signs and clearing a typical security check, before emerging in the terminal near the airport's now famous teddy bear sculpture:
Right there you're smack bang in the middle of the airport, which is ideal for travellers both with and without lounge access.
All of Qatar Airways' lounges are nearby, while the airport's furthest departure gate is a brisk 10-minute walk or a leisurely 20-minute stroll.
Doha Hamad International Airport: lounges
A host of lounges await eligible travellers in Doha, as follows:
- Qatar Airways first class passengers: Al Safwa lounge
- Qatar Airways business class passengers: Al Mourjan lounge
- Oneworld Emerald flyers in Qatar Airways economy: Qatar Airways First Class Lounge (not Al Safwa lounge)
- Oneworld Sapphire members and Qatar Privilege Club Silver members in Qatar economy: Qatar Airways Business Class Lounge (not Al Mourjan lounge)
If you're flying in Qatar Airways business class or first class, disregard your Oneworld status and head to the Al Mourjan or Al Safwa lounge above, as applicable: each of these is a significant step above the other 'First Class' and 'Business Class' lounges.
That's an important distinction to make as you follow the terminal signage – if you're flying in business class, don't follow the 'Business Class Lounge' signs: follow the 'Al Mourjan Business Lounge' signs instead:
Naturally in first class, look for the 'Al Safwa First Lounge' signs, on the opposite side of the teddy bear.
Doha Hamad International Airport: in the terminal
This is one of those airports where lounge access isn't an absolute must-have, with free wireless Internet throughout the terminal that's easy to use, a plentiful supply of iMac computers near the departure gates for general browsing (also free)...
... a variety of giant sculptures along the concourses to appreciate: some of which children can also climb on...
... and even an airside transit hotel – simply named The Airport Hotel – where you can book rooms for as little as five hours while you work, sleep, relax or freshen up without needing to clear Qatari passport control and enter the country.
Hotel guests also receive free access to the sporting and fitness amenities at the airport's 'Vitality' relaxation centre including a gym, 25m swimming pool, showers and a hot tub...
... while non-staying travellers may use these facilities for QAR130 (A$49.50) without a time limit, and all travellers can pay an additional fee to hire a squash court or enjoy an anti-jet lag massage, facial or body treatment.
Major credit cards are accepted here so there's no need to convert your cash into Qatari riyals.
If duty-free shopping is more your style, there's a plethora of it here with higher-end brands like Hermes, Giorgio Armani, Omega and Rolex to one side – fittingly, close to the entrance of Qatar's premium Al Safwa first class lounge...
... and more 'everyday' purchases like confectionery and alcohol to the other. That's also where you'll find the main food court, if you're peckish.
Doha Hamad International Airport: catching your flight
Take note of the boarding time printed on your boarding pass as announcements here are minimised due to the sheer number of flights coming and going.
Close to that time, hunt down a bank of flight information screens to double-check your gate number and flight status...
... and when it's time to fly, follow the relevant yellow-coloured signs throughout the terminal. Qatar Airways flights normally depart from the A, B and C gates, so double-check that you're heading in the right direction.
The airport is also constructing a free skytrain to help those bound for the C, D and E gates – in future, accessed via escalators up from the main departures level...
... and while the train was being tested during our visit and appeared in working order, a Hamad International Airport spokesperson was unable to share a planned opening date.
Whenever it becomes available to travellers, it's sure to help shed transit times and make things easier for those who struggle walking very far.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to Doha as a guest of Qatar Airways.
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