Doha International Airport (Airport Code: DOH), known as Hamad International Airport is home to Qatar’s flag carrier, Qatar Airways. Opened in 2014, this massive airport is named after the previous Emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
On my return journey from Madrid after spending almost 3 weeks in Spain, I made long stopover at Doha International Airport before returning home. With 20 hours of layover, I took the time to wander around and see what amaze travelers about the enormous airport.
The Center of the Main Terminal
An information counter is located at the grand foyer of the airport to guide passengers to their boarding gates, transit terminals, arrival hall, airport lounges, restaurants and other facilities.
Behind the counter is the most recognizable “Lamp Bear”. This adorable giant bronze statue of a teddy bear with its head in a lamp weighs about 20 tons and stands at 7 meters tall.
There are a few airport lounges at the second floor of the foyer including Al Mourjan Business Lounge, Oryx Lounge, Al Safwa Lounge, and Al Maha Lounge. Their prices start from QAR 99 and guests who hold certain bank credit card or is a privilege club member are entitle for complimentary use of the lounges.
Lift up the 2022 FIFA World Cup football fever
In conjunction with the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup in Doha, the airport has teamed up with FIFA to promote this exciting event. A huge World Cup football is display near the grand foyer. There are several stores selling football jerseys and merchandises by Qatar Airway and Adidas.
Go shopping at the duty-free stores
Doha airport is filled with many duty-free stores that sell alcohol drinks, tobaccos, chocolates, electronic gadgets, perfumes, travel clothing and travel accessories.
Get well-rested at the quiet room
If you are waiting for a long transit hour, you can go to one of the designated quiet rooms at all concourses to take a nap. It is a great alternative than the airport hotel and you can use the facilities for free. Getting a few hours of sleep help you adjust to the timing of your final destination and avoid jetlag after a long journey.
The quiet rooms are separated for males and females since Qatar is a more conservative country. However, I did saw a couple sleep together in the gents’ quiet room. So, it probably does not matter as long as nobody make a fuss out of it.
You can approach the airport staff at the counter of the quiet room to keep track of your flight departure time if you are afraid of oversleeping and miss your connecting flight.
Ample of seats at the waiting area
There are plenty of seats available at the waiting area and are quite comfortable. You can charge your phone at one of the charging ports located at each side of the long seats.
When the quiet rooms are fully occupied, you can rest here too since most of them are empty during the night. Maybe because there are less flights departing at the night hours.
Plan to change your flight seating with Qatar Airway?
Qatar Airway does have self-served seat reallocation machines to allow passengers to switch their seating by themselves. You don’t need to pay anything or go to the airline’s service counter to change your preferred seating. However, this is subject to their seat availability and easy to do so during off-peak travel period.
Want to take a city tour and kill your boredom?
If you have more than 8 hours of layover at the airport, do approach the Transit Tour in the Duty Free Plaza to join their 3-hour “Discover Doha” or 4-hour “Discover the Desert and Inland Sea” tour. The staff will also attend to tourists who need a Transit Visa to enter Doha city for their guided tour.
I was so looking forward to explore Doha city on the way back from Spain. Unfortunately, there are still some restrictions to enter due to the spread of Covid-19 virus. Tourists are required to take a PCR test 48 hours before departure and must have prove of a negative result before that. Probably, Qatar government want to minimize the risk of an outbreak before hosting 2022 FIFA World Cup in November.
But that’s fine. There is always next time and hopefully the government will drop the requirement in a near future.
If you want to book any tourist tour in Doha, do check out their Discover Qatar website.
Craving for food after long hours
If you are a budget traveler like me, Camden Food Court is one of the option to choose, with several stores selling Asian, Middle-Eastern, Italian and American food. The price are still quite reasonable for airport standard, but don’t expect the food to be that great. The Asian mixed rice I had was just average.
The corner of the food court offers a good view of the airport surroundings. You can watch the planes preparing to take off and landing from the window glass. There is a flight schedule display to help keep track of your flight to see if the boarding gate is open or in case there is any flight delay or cancellation.
Apart from the food court, there are a few international food chain stores like Starbucks, illy, Costa Coffee, KFC, Burger King and Gordan Ramsey Burger in the airport.
Providing daycare for children
The airport does provides daycare service for children with some facilities available. It is probably caters for minors traveling alone without a parent or guardian and need to wait and transit to a next flight.
Some airlines like Qatar Airways will provide an option for parents or guardians to book a flight for their minor children to fly alone and seek help from airport staff to guide them to their connecting flight at Doha Airport.
Final Thought about Doha Airport
At the end of the huge airport tour, I was pretty impressed with their quality of customer service to ensure passengers have a pleasant travel experience through Doha Airport. The staff may have been well trained to provide excellent services for the upcoming World Cup game.
It came with no surprise that Doha Airport has stole the throne from Singapore’s Changi Airport after 7 consecutive years for being the “World Best Airport” in 2021. The airport underwent several upgrades to make way to welcome fans around the globe to attend the football tournaments.
Travel or Transit from Other Airport?
If you are traveling or making a transit from other cities, there are some airports that are worth your time exploring from around the world. Check out my other posts on some of the best airports worldwide: