This morning, Qatar has been wrapping up passenger operations at the Doha International Airport, an overcrowded facility that many of us have flown through dozens, if not hundreds, of times.
Before attention shifts completely to the new, state-of-the-art Hamad International Airport, we thought we should pay homage to DIA by listing the five things we’ll miss most about it.
The answers are culled from tweets you sent us yesterday, and from our own experiences. And just to be fair, we’re also adding five things we won’t miss about the old airport.
What we’ll miss:
Though everyone flying through the old airport is taking international trips, which usually require checking in early, passengers could actually arrive an hour or 90 minutes before and still make their flights. Conversely, HIA is advising travelers to show up at least three hours before flying out – which could put a damper on plans for a quick trip to Dubai!
The old airport was accessible to people coming from the Corniche, or off the expressway and onto D Ring Road, as well as those traveling on Airport Road. HIA is a bit further off the beaten path, past Sharq Village and Spa, and could be considered a trek for many residents – another reason travelers will need to start planning a bit further ahead when preparing to fly out of Doha this year.
When flying into DIA, passengers with window seats were often treated to a scenic look of West Bay, with its lit-up skyscrapers, glittering water and overall impressive landscape. However, planes will be changing route to get to the new airport and won’t pass the area so closely, so that view must be consigned to memory.
It will be some months before the special lounges for business and first class Qatar Airways passengers will be ready at HIA. In the meantime, premium passengers will have to make do with other airline lounges at the new airport, and these are unlikely to be a match for Qatar Airways’ Premium Terminal, which has a spa, private bedrooms and multiple dining options.
For many residents, getting off an airplane and breathing in the steamy Doha air at the DIA was our first impression of Qatar. However different our paths are here, all expats – blue collar, white collar, adult, child – shared that same experience.
Whether that impression spawned terror at the new start, excitement, trepidation or all of the above, that memory – and how far we’ve come since then – is now safely ensconced in the nostalgia bank.
What we (really) won’t miss
Despite recently installing a new parking structure at the Arrivals terminal, pickup there is still an exercise in chaos management. Parking at HIA is expected to be plentiful – and for now, free!
We won’t miss being packed liked sardines into smelly, swaying shuttles that take ages to transport us from our gates to our airplanes, and vice-versa. The experience may have been an adventure in and of itself, but one we’re happy to leave behind.
Trying to get home
Arriving to Doha after a long-haul flight, the last thing a bleary-eyed traveler wants to see is a long line of similarly impatient people standing in an immigration queue. The much bigger HIA promises a much smoother experience. Fingers crossed!
Standing up all the time
Months ago, a senior DIA official acknowledged that the facility was on its last leg, straining under the growing passenger traffic it was never built to handle. The crowding at terminals and gates were a testament to the problem, as there was often nowhere to sit while waiting for a flight to start boarding. At HIA, there are rows and rows of gleaming seats ready to be used.
Lack of food and shopping options
DIA’s subpar food court has been serving the same subpar meals for years, with the injection of a few new eateries in recent times. HIA’s offerings will include some 30 cafes and 70 shops selling clothes, electronics and gourmet food (so far we see a WH Smith, . Let’s hope the prices are right!
Here’s what you told us on Twitter about DIA:
Farewell, DIA! Thoughts?