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
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
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.
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:
@HIAQatar just arrived back to Doha with 3 kids in tow. VERY disappointed that there are no complimentary strollers available
— Shihaam Bawa (@shamsb) June 15, 2014
Passengers are advised to speak to a member of airport staff if they need a stroller.
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.
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.”
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.
@haji_indoha We apologize for the inconvenience, we will be sending a SMS to all clients & we are working on fixing this with Qatar Airways.
— QNB Group (@QNBGroup) May 29, 2014
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.
Anything else to add?