Tuesday, May 27, is expected to be a landmark day for Qatar and its residents. As of 9am, all commercial flights in and out of the country will operate from the new, state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport (HIA), signaling the closure of the overloaded Doha International Airport.
Tomorrow, however, heralds the transfer of all remaining flights, including the entire Qatar Airways fleet.
Tips for travelers
For those encountering the new airport for the first time, here are some tips to help with your transition.
If flying on the 27th, check flight details
All flights leaving before 9am on May 27 that are operated by Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines, United Airways, Jet Airways, Gulf Air, Emirates, Egyptair, Cathay Pacific, British Airways and MEA Middle East will still depart from DIA.
However, all flights leaving after 9am on this date will leave from HIA, regardless of which airline you’re flying on.
HIA has both long term and short stay car parks. At the moment, both of these are free. Airport officials have not yet announced how much these will cost when charging is introduced.
You’ll find a Karwa taxi rank to your left as you exit Arrivals. Remember that the standard additional charge for all airport pick-ups is QR25. Additionally, you’ll be able to catch public buses from the airport’s “Bus Pavilion,” which is outside the terminal to the your right – it is signed from Arrivals.
And if you need a rental car, Avis and Europcar service counters will be located at the Ground Transportation Center, which is directly opposite the passenger terminal.
Food, drink and shopping
Up until now, very few of the promised 80 retail outlets and 30 cafes have actually been open. During a visit on May 15, for example, Doha News observed that three branches of Jamocha Cafe, a 24/7 convenience store and a few Qatar Duty Free shops were open for business.
However, a spokeswoman from HIA told Doha News today that all 30 cafes and restaurants will be open at the airport from Tuesday, along with 70 shops selling clothes, electronics and gourmet food. At least one public food outlet, The Caviar House, has alcohol on its menu.
The CEO of airport operator Qatar Airways stated last week that his airline’s business and first-class passengers will not have access to their own premium lounges at HIA for the next two months, as they are not yet finished.
Instead, he said that passengers traveling Business and First with Qatar Airways will be given passes to the other airline lounges in the complex (Al Maha, Oryx, Gold and Silver), or, if these are full, vouchers will be offered.
Note: passengers who are not eligible to enter these facilities can pay for access to the Oryx lounge for QR140/person. An airport spokesman has confirmed that alcohol will be served in lounges at HIA.
Qatar Airways advises that all passengers should try to arrive at the airport three hours before their flight. Check in will close an hour before departure for economy passengers, and 45 minutes beforehand for premium classes. If you have an e-gate, you’ll be able to use it in both arrivals and departures.
Passengers who need to change money will find two Travelex branches open – one in Departures, and one in Arrivals.
If you have time to kill
For those who want to rest, there are quiet rooms located in Concourse B, near Boarding Gate B4. If traveling with children, there are small kids’ play areas dotted around the Departures area, along with internet points and “TV zones.” Qatar Airways strollers are available to borrow if you’ve checked yours in to the hold.
Smokers should note that a smoking room is located at Concourse B. There is free wifi on offer throughout the airport.
Art on show
And finally, HIA is home to some new public art installations, several of which are so big, they’ll be impossible to miss. Of particular note are “Lamp Bear” by Swiss artist Urs Fischer (located at the center of the airport) and “Playground” by artist Tom Otterness (in the Arrivals area.)
Do you have any advice to add? Thoughts?
Editor’s note: Edited at 8pm on May 27 to add that alcohol is being sold to the general public at at least one restaurant in the airport.