As the school year wraps up and one of Qatar’s busiest travel seasons kicks off, authorities have issued advice to residents to ensure their journeys go more smoothly.
In a series of Twitter messages using the hashtag #SafeTravel, the Ministry of Interior has said that preparation is the key to trouble-free traveling, adding that Hamad International Airport (HIA) will see a surge in demand as the annual summer getaway begins.
Tips included advising residents to ensure they have all the necessary documents for their trip, and that they are valid. This includes passports, visas, airplane tickets and exit permits. Residents should also make sure their residency permits won’t expire while they are on vacation.
Both expats and Qataris can convert their Qatar ID cards into E-gate cards, which allows travelers to fast-track what can be long queues at the airport’s immigration at this time of year, while also avoiding getting their passports filled up with stamps.
E-gate cards can be obtained at the immigration department in Madinat Khalifa for a fee starting at QR200, if residents bring their existing ID card and passport.
If your airline permits, check-in online in advance. Most carriers allow travelers to book seats in advance and order meal preferences, including children’s meals.
To avoid lengthy delays at the airport with overweight luggage, check the weight restrictions and size limits for check-in and carry-on bags for your airline in advance.
Some travel shops sell baggage weighing scales, which allow for re-packing at home rather than at the airport check-in line.
If you know your luggage will be overweight, check if your airline allows you to pre-buy additional luggage allowance. It’s usually cheaper and easier in advance than trying to arrange it at the airport.
The MOI’s final tip includes taking Doha’s traffic into account. With Ramadan underway, peak times for road congestion have changed, so build in extra travel time.
Start to the airport well in advance, in anticipation of traffic congestion and to avoid any delay and missing the flight #SafeTravel
— Ministry of Interior (@MOI_QatarEn) June 24, 2015
Residents driving their own car to the airport should remember that HIA introduced long-term parking fees at the end of April.
The prices are as follows:
- Each hour or any part thereof will be QR2 each;
- The cost is QR45 for every completed 24 hours; and
- A lost ticket will cost QR35 in addition to the actual tariff for the duration of parking.
Passengers transfer from the parking lot to the airport terminal by a free shuttle-bus, which runs around every 15-20 minutes.
However, there is limited luggage storage on the bus and on its website, HIA advises travelers “arrive well in advance to the long-term car park to avoid any incidents or delays.”
For quick pick-ups, the multi-story short-term parking lot is next to the airport terminal. The first 30 minutes are free, and then costs QR5 for each hour or part-hour after that, which must be pre-paid in the machines before you leave the parking lot.
For those traveling over the next few weeks during Ramadan, cafes and restaurants in and around the check-in areas will be closed during fasting hours. However, eateries and lounges are operating normally throughout the day once passengers clear immigration and passport control, HIA said.
Do you have any more tips for travelers this summer? Thoughts?