All photos by Chantelle D’mello
With Eid al-Fitr almost here and summer travel picking up the pace, Qatar’s new airport appears to be handling the holiday exodus smoothly so far.
During a visit to Hamad International Airport this morning, a buzz of activity could be observed as many passengers queued up to check in for their flights.
But wait times were not high, and due to the larger space compared to the former Doha International Airport, congestion was minimal.
Speaking to Doha News, one airport staffer said:
“It does get much more crowded around Eid, with people leaving or visiting relatives here, but I don’t think we’re noticing it as much because we have such a huge airport this time around. Things seem to be going fine.”
She added that the most crowded times are around between 5 to 7:30am and 5 to 9 pm.
The smooth process this year stands in stark contrast to the experience of travelers last Eid, when passengers were advised to turn up some four hours early during peak travel times.
At that time, during Eid al-Adha in October, traffic snarls to DIA’s terminals forced many passengers to abandon their taxis and walk with luggage to make it to their flights on time.
Construction also exacerbate congestion then, as several diversions caused traffic overflow onto the roads leading to the airport.
To accommodate the expected increase in travelers, HIA has opened some 16 web self-service check-in stations, where passengers can check into their flight up to 36 hours prior to departure.
Numerous passengers were seen avoiding the lines at the manual check-in stations in favor of self-check-in, which takes around 10 minutes to complete.
After completing the process, passengers queued up to drop their luggage at dedicated stations nearby.
However, as this is a new feature, many travelers unfamiliar with it still seemed to prefer checking in with an attendant, despite the extended waiting period, said the staffer.
Elsewhere, passengers were seated, waiting for their bays to open, or buying magazines and foodstuff from the HIA’s store, and the 24 Seven downstairs.
Jamocha Cafe, however, still remained closed due to Ramadan restrictions on eating and drinking publicly during the daylight hours.
For those driving to the new airport, paid short-term parking spaces are available, with cars being allowed for a maximum of 15 days.
The first 30 minutes is free, after which a fee of QR5/hour is charged.
Free long-term parking is also available for residents who wish to leave their cars in a shaded parking space.
While considerably filled, the long-term parking lot still had several open spaces this morning.
Are you traveling this Eid holiday? What has your HIA experience been like?