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Friday, December 3, 2021

Hamad International during the summer rush: What you need to know

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Hamad International Airport finally opened to passenger traffic at the end of April, and following a successful phased transfer of airlines, it’s now the city’s only commercial airport.

So, if you’re flying out of Doha in the next few weeks – a traditionally busy period, as the academic year draws to a close, and the summer holidays begin – you’ll pass through Hamad.

To help make your journey go as smoothly as possible, here’s an update to our popular guide to the airport’s facilities, this time covering things like car parking charges, kids’ facilities and lounge access.

If you have any other tips to add, please comment below to share your advice with others.

Car parking charges

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The short term car park at Hamad, which until now has been free to use, will begin to charge on Sunday June 22nd.

The charges will be as follows:

  • First 30 minutes: Free
  • First hour: QAR 5
  • Every consecutive hour: QAR 5
  • Lost tickets: QAR 35

All tickets must be paid for at the payment machines located in the bridge connecting the terminal to the short term car park, before you reach your car.

Anyone who parks their car in the short term car park before the 22nd, and leaves after charging has been introduced, will not be charged, airport officials have said.

If you do want to leave your car for an extended period after this date, however, the long term car park at Hamad will open on the 22nd, and it will be free of charge.

At present the signage for the car park is a little confusing, but these photos and directions from Brian Candy should help.

Check in times

Hamad Airport officials recommend that you should ideally arrive 3 hours before your flight departs. To avoid queues during busy times, they also suggest passengers make use of web check-in and e-gate facilities.

A note about e-gates: There’s currently no office issuing them at the new airport, so for now, applicants need to visit the immigration department in Al Gharafa (click here for a map.)

Facilities for families

playarea

Play areas: In the center of the air side departures area, you’ll find ‘Playground’ by Tom Otterness. It’s a piece of public art which doubles as a fun play area for children. The installation is surrounded by an internet hot spot with some seating, so parents can rest a while here while their children work off some energy.

You’ll also find five so-called ‘activity nodes’ dotted around. Each feature televisions, internet terminals, some toys, and a small play area. There’s one located in Concourse A, one in Concourse B, and there are three in Concourse C.

strollers

Family toilets and parents’ rooms: The airport also has several unisex “family toilets” equipped with baby changing tables, as well as parents’ rooms, which apparently offer milk warming facilities, and a quiet place to feed children. There’s one of these in each concourse.

Strollers: If you’re flying out of Doha, you’ll be able to find lots of free strollers dotted around the departures area.

Although an airport spokesperson has told Doha News that strollers are also available in arrivals, some passengers are reporting that they appear to be in short supply:

Passengers are advised to speak to a member of airport staff if they need a stroller.

Currency exchange

There are now four Travelex currency exchange desks open at the airport.

These are at the end of Row 9 in the check-in area, on Concourse B in departures, towards the end of Belt 2 at baggage reclaim, and at the ‘meet and greet’ area in the Arrivals Hall.

Eating and drinking

There are more than 30 cafés and restaurants now open at Hamad.  Brands include  ‘Eat Street,’ the Camden Food Company, Soho Coffee, Farggi, Red Mango,  the Marché restaurant and several branches of the ‘Jamocha Café’, the airport’s own brand of coffee shops. There are also numerous fast food outlets.

Currently, at least one restaurant – the Caviar House and Prunier – is serving alcohol to passengers in the public area of departures. Alcohol is also served in all premium lounges.

Shopping

Not all of the airport’s retail outlets are open yet, but at the moment, passengers can choose from stores like 24 seven, Bally, Bvlgari, Chocology, Esquire, AU Gold Boutique, Hugo Boss, Burberry, Chanel Watches, the Cedar Room, Harrods, Hermes, Michael Kors, Rolex, Tag Heuer, Tiffany, Swarovski, Virgin Megastore, and WH Smith.

An airport spokesperson has told Doha News that “many more brands” will open stores at the airport “in the coming months.”

Lounge access

lounge

Qatar Airways’ bespoke lounges for its premium passengers aren’t expected to open until next month at the earliest, due to delays in their construction.

As a result, the airline’s First and Business class passengers (and premium passengers on other carriers) are currently being accommodated in a variety of different lounges, and access depends on availability, frequent flier status and whether passengers are transiting or departing.

In some cases, premium passengers are being provided with free air miles and a voucher to spend at Qatar Duty Free in lieu of lounge access.

Doha News understands that an announcement – and clarification – about lounge provision at the airport is due very soon, but in the interim, passengers are advised to contact their airline for advice about their specific case.

This squeeze on lounge access has led to disappointment for QNB First Credit Card holders, who previously had access to the Oryx Lounge at Doha International Airport. This access appears to be on hold at Hamad for the time being.

Some customers has complained that QNB  failed to give adequate notice of this change, which it has said it is “working on fixing” with Qatar Airways.

Airport hotel

Despite suggestions on the official airport website to the contrary, Hamad’s four star transit hotel is not yet open, according to staff at the airport’s call center. They were unable to tell us when it is likely to open, and told us that it is not yet taking bookings.

However, an email apparently sent by the hotel to potential customers, and shared on a travel forum, suggests that it’s aiming for an opening date of June 30.

Airport authorities have so far been unable to give us more details about the hotel’s opening schedule.

The airport website lists an email address for enquiries and bookings – reservation@hiahotel.com, and you can visit its website here.

Anything else to add?

34 COMMENTS

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Chris
Chris
7 years ago

Last I checked, there are no ATMs at the airport. So if you are short on cash and need to get some….too bad. There are signs up for them, but nobody though to actually install the machines! This was as of a week ago.

Also, regarding the free parking, they will issue an exit ticket if you parked your car before the charges started and arrived back once they started charging. However, this will only be available until July 13th, after which time they will no issue any more free exit tickets! Good luck if you are taking most of the summer off!

Nancy
Nancy
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris

There are, but its really far away. There’s one on the far (like farrrrr) side towards the end of arrival hall on the right. Then there’s one more on the departure level. Both QNB

Jimjam
Jimjam
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris

I have seen two ATM’s. One near the baggage collection carousels in Arrivals. The second is in the coach terminal part of the airport at the far end of the airport. There were none airside in departures. I dont know about landside in departures.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Chris

There are a couple, but they are not signposted and tucked away.

GCC Visitor
7 years ago

Arrived HIA last night. Passport control was a disaster with long lines and slow passport control officers, who seemed to be relaxed and chatting with each other.

Open and obvious discrimination between Qatari and non-Qatari residents is striking. One thing our Qatari hosts fail to understand is that expats are their biggest customers and they deserve a better treatment.

Mili
Mili
7 years ago
Reply to  GCC Visitor

When I arrived to LHR one time, I had to wait 1-1.5hrs in line and only because of my handicapped brother I was able to get through it faster while other European nations enter immediately. I didn’t think of a discrimination. Of course, there will be favor toward Qataris, this our country, we have to privileged.

SullyofDoha
SullyofDoha
7 years ago
Reply to  Mili

I waited 5 hours in a line to clear customs at LHR. This was about 8 years ago and I have not been back since. 😛

Abes
Abes
7 years ago
Reply to  GCC Visitor

It is not discrimination! Every airport in the world has a lane for its citizens for immigration! Plus, in Qatar, it covers GCC citizens too…

GCC Visitor
7 years ago
Reply to  Abes

Thanks for your comment. But it was not about immigration lines, which are slow and ineffective (I guess they better have expats running them).

My comment was about general attitude towards locals and expats, which is striking in Doha.

Abes
Abes
7 years ago
Reply to  GCC Visitor

Ok I get you now. I can’t disagree here unfortunately. I am ashamed of it frankly being a Qatari and all :-/

Faycal Ahmed
Faycal Ahmed
7 years ago
Reply to  GCC Visitor

It’s apparent that the facilities has changed but the total attitude people should attire is simply not there!

Jamal Al-Yafei
Jamal Al-Yafei
7 years ago
Reply to  GCC Visitor

it will be better with time , im Qatari and i keep getting yelled at by the Police for no specfic reason while wearing sports clothing 😛 , so i kinda know how you guys feel 🙂

Joson John
Joson John
7 years ago

I travelled on 9th June from Doha to TRV… I was waiting near gate C2 ( as it was printed on boarding pass) for nearly an hour to checkin.. Suddenly I had doubt since there were only few passengers near the gate.. I went to the customer service & they informed that they hav changed the gate to C29.. So I hav to rush from C2 to C29 since there was only 25 mins left… There were no announcements regarding this,, Disappointed with the service…

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Joson John

Apparently the airport policy is that it will not make audio announcements. Ironically, I learned this by the repeating audio announcements saying there would be no audio announcements, so I am left wondering what the point is.

sicti
sicti
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

Probably it’s a challenge with some awards for those that catch the plane :)))

dubious
dubious
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

They’re definitely going full retard there.
I don’t know why airports deprioritize their job of getting people on and off planes these days. Presumably something to do with announcing departures would disturb your shopping nirvana and prevent you from buying overpriced tat you don’t need? Hello, you’re an airport not a mall!
Also, it’s Doha. Pretty much everything at the other end of your flight (assuming you make it) is going to be cheaper anyway.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago

I travelled through the new airport recently.

Plusses:
–No more bus rides to and from the aircraft (*correction, still some busses)
–Much better parking options (as far as I could tell)
–Much cleaner
–Larger immigration area
–Less crowded and faster baggage service area

Minuses
–Premium lounges not ready (and this is a BIG minus for those who pay for the privilege)
–Lots of walking (so I am guessing lots of future badly driven buggies for legitimate users and THOSE people who abhor walking that will be running down passengers)
–Taxi line is not as clear as it needs to be
–More unlicensed taxi drivers harassing exiting passengers as a result of the above
–The giant teddy bear is creepy

Skander
Skander
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

Lol at the teddy bear lol.
Unlicensed taxi drivers or simply smaller companies? There is a difference. Unlicensed taxi drivers are illegal and won’t probably have access to the airport.

Jimjam
Jimjam
7 years ago
Reply to  Skander

There is going to be a train functioning for passengers to some of the furthest parts of the airport. And yes, my last two departures have needed a bus to get to the plane.
And I agree, the unlicensed taxi drivers are more numerous. Of course they will have airport access, the parking is free so they will park and go to the airport at no cost to themselves. Hopefully this will change with the parking charges now in place.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

Friends tell me that some flights require bus on and off. Yes the teddy is just wrong.

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

That is disappointing about the buses.

Observant One
Observant One
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

Very,friends couldnt believe it!! New airport ..then bus…but I noticed Al Bakr was very impressed with his new airport because it has all the high end shops…like really????

David
David
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

Actually not really disappointing. imagine if you departure, then you need to walk more or less 300m to the bus lounge but when you arrive, you need not to walk the 300m plus to get to passport control. Well, you win some and lose some.

٩(͡๏̯͡๏)۶
٩(͡๏̯͡๏)۶
7 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

That’s true, I flew back from a quick trip to Kuwait last week and had to get on a bus, not fun. One positive is the the new e-gate machines are fancy and seem to work better.

GCC Visitor
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

Walking distance (upon arrival) is insane and corridor is too narrow to accommodate for passengers from several flights. Why it is so hard to think of such things in advance?

SullyofDoha
SullyofDoha
7 years ago
Reply to  GCC Visitor

Almost makes you wish for the bus again ;-P

Ahmed A
Ahmed A
7 years ago
Reply to  GCC Visitor

Have you traveled to Dubai? or any large airport for that matter, the walking distances are always ridiculous on arrival especially if you are at one of the far away gates.

GCC Visitor
7 years ago
Reply to  Ahmed A

I actually arrived from Dubai. FYI, Dubai has travelators (moving walkways). Simple solution, isn’t it?

desertCard
desertCard
7 years ago
Reply to  DavidRSS8

KLM to A-dam you ride a bus. Aaaaarggh!!!

The bear has to go.

Big Biker
Big Biker
7 years ago

I left through Hamad on the 13th June and not a good experience. No premium lounges so got squeezed into the silver lounge which was standing room only. Choice of food and beverage very poor.
Departure gate seating was inadequate for the number of passengers so standing room again when I arrived.
No boarding announcement and no priority boarding for business class just one mad free for all rush through the doors to the plane.
From my experience there is still much to do to make using the airport a relaxed and great experience, the operators words not mine.

wee_johnnie
wee_johnnie
7 years ago

Will there be a shuttle bus from the long stay parking when it opens?

Faycal Ahmed
Faycal Ahmed
7 years ago

Is there a self serve machines

bleh!!
bleh!!
7 years ago

no wheel chairs available, on arrival, even after requesting for the same during check in. finally after we got one we were dropped off halfway, citing more passengers required the wheel chair. plus there were lot of staff waiting with wheel chairs and were ignoring us and discussing among themselves regarding whose turn would be to pick up a passenger on a wheelchair. guess its starting trouble.. but the attitude was bad very bad since they saw that i had difficulty walking.

Waveydavey
Waveydavey
7 years ago

I am travelling with my little girl on the 7th of July. The old airport was great, we didn’t have to rush and being a diners card holder, we could sit in the lounge while she had a walk about. Reading this I am dreading the new airport. I was excited…not so much anymore. :(((

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