Flying with Qatar Airways and layover experience in Hamad International Airport
Travel looking so different at the moment, I wasn't sure what to expect whilst flying long distance from Latvia to Australia recently. There wasn't much updated information online from peoples recent experiences so I have broken down the main points you may be interested in prior to booking or flying.
Our route was a long 49 hours RIX – AMS – DOH – ADL with a 21 hour layover in Doha but more on the long layovers later on.
As I have gotten older and wiser I appreciate the extra comforts. Gone are the days where I would be content with a kip in an airports corner so experiencing what is available out there has become an interest of mine.
On this page, I will go in-depth about my own personal experience with Qatar Airways and how to maneuver and survive a long layover at Qatar Airways base airport in the capital Doha - Hamad International Airport. All thoughts are my own and purely to assist others with similar queries that I had prior to my journey.
About Qatar Airways
Connecting more than 160 destinations on all 6 continents Qatar Airways is the flag carrier for The State of Qatar Located in the Middle East. The airlines home airport is the Five Star Hamad International Airport located in the country's capital Doha.
Since its launch in 1997, it has won numerous awards and won the World Airline Awards SKYTRAX Top Airline 5 times and most recently the 2019 awards. Adding that the airline only came in a close second in other years.
The classes amongst Qatar Airways fleet are Economy, Business and on only 10 of their Airbus A380 offer First Class.
To book directly with Qatar Airways on their official website here.
Contact details for Qatar Airways can be found on their "help page" here.
As we many of us have learnt the hard way is that booking direct is the safer way to do it right now. I still use skyscanner.com to find the best route but will go directly to the airlines website.
As we were travelling from Riga, Latvia where major international airlines don't fly to we chose Qatar initially for the reason that it did codeshare with Latvia's Air Baltic, which means we could book the whole journey from Latvia to Australia on one ticket. The benefit being that we would be looked after should Air Baltic have changed anything, as well as Qatar Airways large luggage allowance the whole way to Australia.
We booked online via the Qatar Airways Website and found the experience fast, simple and user friendly. I also found that the Facebook messenger of Qatar Airways was more helpful than their call center when there was any question or issue with our booking.
The airline's app is so advanced and easy to use. I could change my seats, select meal preference and be kept up to date with any changes or delays. It had handy real-time information such as "It will take you 27 minutes to get to the airport from your location".
Our onboard Qatar Airways experience began when we boarded our flight in Amsterdam to Doha. Our luggage was checked in From Riga to Adelaide, Australia so it was smooth sailing directly on to the plane.
I usually travel with my 6ft 9 partner so I always ensure to get exit aisles. We did not have to pay for this although it states on the Qatar Airways website that there is a charge for extra leg room seats.
All seats are equipped with a TV with an array of Hollywood, Bollywood movies and TV shows to choose from. Each seat also has a USB charger and universal plug under the seat to charge your devices.
The forward middle seats are equipped with basinets or babies.
There was free Wi-Fi for 60 minutes, although regardless if you logged on and off it was still calculated at 60 minutes. You could purchase unlimited Wi-Fi for $10USD
In-flight food and drinks.
Included in your ticket is meals and drinks.
The airline caters to every food intolerance or religious meal I have heard of. I chose the vegan meal due to my dairy and meat-free diet and I was happily surprised by how delicious it was. You can also order your choice of wine, spirits, tea coffee, soft drink/soda juice and water.
You can choose your meal selection in Manage Booking online or on the Qatar Airways mobile app.
In my years of long haul flights for either holidays or work I have developed an in-flight routine of a meal, wine and movie then sleep to pass the flight time quickly.
Covid19 and hygiene
Throughout our entire journey we felt the highest standards of hygiene were being followed. Everyone had to wear masks and it seemed no one was sat directly next to another person. Once we boarded the cabin stewards gave us all a " Protection kit" which included extra face masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and anti bacterial wipes. The staff were covered in full PPE which surely cannot be fun to work in but they do it with what I think is a smile behind the mask!
Hamad International Airport / Doha Airport.
Hamad International Airport is Five Star Airport and some of its top notch facilities include.
Shopping - Duty-Free stores are open, you could purchase things such as luxury brands, alcohol and cigarettes and other tax-free goods. *Be mindful when purchasing Duty Free alcohol and liquids over 100ml prior to arriving into to Doha, I read that if you are transiting on to the USA or Australia and they were not purchased in Doha Airport that they would likely be confiscated. There is extra screening to board the flight even if you have not left the transit terminal. I would purchase the duty free in Doha to be safe*
Food and Beverage - The airport's food court was open and you could also treat yourself to the Harrods tearoom for some afternoon tea should you have wished.
Seating - Regular seating has armrests so it is difficult if you were wanting to try to get a snooze. The main area also has play areas for children and coffee shops next to them for the parents to observe from. The giant slides throughout the terminal will keep children entertained for sure!
Parents room - The parent room is available for those to attend to their infants in privacy. Facilities include water/milk warmers and nappy changing stations.
Wi-Fi - Strong and fast Wi-Fi is free throughout the airport.
Airport Hotel - For those longer layovers, see more below on the Oryx Hotel below.
Prayer Rooms - Prayer rooms are available in the terminal and offer separate men and women areas.
Meet and Greet Services - If you require a little extra assistance or wish to ensure a smooth transit you can pre book Al Maha Meet and Greet Services here.
Mariners Lounge - This one is for all the seafarers out there. As a former seafarer myself I was thrilled to see the mariners Lounge as I left the Oryx Lounge. This is for off shore and seafarers to relax and enjoy complimentary food and beverage as well as use the showers. After or before a long contract this is so unbelievably welcome! I believe you need your Seamans Book and joining documents to enjoy complimentary access.
The Oryx Airport Hotel
The Oryx Airport Hotel is is located right in the middle of the transit terminal and has a fitness center, pool, golf simulator which unfortunately were all close for our visit due to restrictions which was a shame because the pool looks amazing. The bed was ridiculously comfy, I slept a whole 9 hours which is unheard of for me. The view from the room was looking out into the terminal but don't worry, no one can see in. I checked!
The hotel offers 24-hour packages as well as certain hourly rates. You can book the hotel on their website here.
If your layover is more towards the 6-hour mark and you are wondering how you can spend your time then look no further than the Oryx Lounge. Included in Business Class ticket holders but purchasable for economy flights.
For $55USD per person, you can enjoy lounge access for 6 hours from the time you enter, for us this was excellent value and we had breakfast, lunch and snacks here whilst we waited for our connecting flight. I pre booked this with the European Qatar Airways call center prior to flying and ended up paying $88USD for two... unsure if this was because it was charged in PLN but it might be a little hack.
Below is the facilities include in the price.
Food and Beverage – There was a variety of hot food and snacks available as well as a range of hot and cold drinks. Alcoholic beverage were available but you had to order from a Lounge Attendant. The laksa soup while we were there blew our minds, we had 4 bowls each!
Quiet room – A place for you to relax you while you wait for your connecting flight. The chairs are not beds but enough for you to relax in.
Family room – For those travelling with children there is a designated room for you and your children to relax or play in.
Lounge – with chairs and universal chargers for you to work or relax in.
Smoking room – Designated smoking room for the smokers.
Prayer room – As with many airports a prayer room available
Business Centre – Although there were no keyboards when I was there due to Covid19.
Showers - In both the men and women's bathrooms, you will find well-maintained showers for you to freshen up. They also provide towels, shaving cream, toothbrushes and soap.
After 6 hours in the lounge, we collected our bags from The Oryx Hotel and made our way for our third and final flight to Australia.
Overall, we found the cabin stewards more than happy to help with any of our requests and apart from a slight hiccup with a change of seats at the boarding gate everything from Riga to Adelaide was beyond as comfortable that we could imagine. Maybe it's because I have been doing it for as long as I can remember but personally I love flying long haul, I love the experience, and have never had any issue with the Australia - Europe flights.
If you are looking at which airlines to fly for your long or short haul flight I would have no hesitation in recommending Qatar Airways, while I have flown all major Airlines and find them all great each in their individual way I will certainly look forward to flying with Qatar next time.
I hope this can help any of you decide on who to fly with or the facilities available at Hamad International airport. Please feel free to ask me any questions! I am always happy to help and share my experiences.
Thank you for reading and happy travels,