Travelling by Air, Qatar
Doha International Airport is the hub of one of the world's best airlines, but the airport itself is no 5-star masterpiece. I have flown in and out of Doha about a dozen times or more, and my experiences have been disappointing. After landing, we had to walk down steps off the plane instead of having a regular gate at the airplane level. Then of course, we had to wait in line around 30 minutes for passport check; I didn't like the set up because everyone in line could watch you hand your documents and bribes to the passport checkers (kidding, I saw no bribes!).
If you ending your travel in Qatar, you will next head off to baggage claim, where your bag had already been removed from the carousel because passport control was so slow. After that you have to throw your bags on an x-ray machine that somehow passes for customs declaration. Then you go out into a wide path lined with people yelling and holding signs. If you see your name on the sign, you can't meet the person waiting for you because of the short wall in the way; instead you have to continue straight outside in the sweltering desert heat. To get back inside where your greeter is, you have to go around a security barricade and jump a curb, then re-enter the arrivals area, where the rental car counters, bank machines, cafe, and restrooms are located. Oh, and the restrooms are in a dirty, tiny, obnoxiously smelling room tucked way back in the corner.
If you are just transferring in Doha and continuing to another destination, it is a bit better. After departing the airplane and going through a long security line, you will pass through an x-ray machine and metal detector, then into the terminal. The lower floor is about half duty free shops and about half departure gates, the upper level is perhaps 90 % departure gates with a few small restaurants. As of early 2012, the airport completed a major expansion and added about 10 new gates.
This old airport is suffering from extreme overuse, as the number of passengers per year has increased seven-fold in just ten years, going from 2 million passengers in 1998 to nearly 15 million passengers in 2007.
Luckily, a new Doha International Airport is being constructed just east of the old one. The new airport will open in 2011 or 2012, and when complete, will be able to handle some 50 million annual passengers.
Qatar Airways brands itself as the best airline in the world. The claim to fame is based on some airline industry ratings. Like most sandbox airlines making business on transit passengers, it is hard to discern the culture and origin of the airlines apart from, of course, the repeated message that Qatar is THE place. It is a bit bland, crossover type of atmosphere. Most onboard staff are non-Qataris, service oriented and fluent in several languages.
What I like is frequent and quite good food service.
I am sure their business and first classes are good, but economy isn't much different from any other airlines' cattle class. The seatback is too low, I break my neck sleeping there, head tilted over the top of the seat back. The seats and leg space are cramped and sleep is difficult.
I have run into repeated troubles with seat bookings on Qatar; having secured a seat when booking and arrived at the airport and found that the seat is taken by somebody from Qatar or with some higher priority rating. I do not mind much when travelling alone, and let it pass. However, when travelling with family (4 pax on 4 long-haul flights) in 2011 this was systematically done with our seat bookings, and on one flight (DOH-ARN) a child of 5 yrs was separated from the rest of us and cried and cried and eventually sat on my lap during the flight including take-off, sans seat belt. The staff aboard couldn't care less. On another flight I discovered that we were all spread out over the plane (after initial side-by-side booking and confirmation of seats), including a child of 2 that was given a seat far away from the rest of us, but I made such a row at check-in that the station manager eventually intervened and fixed it. Why, Qatar - the plane was half empty? A friend of mine working in the business warned that muslim children have priority to the front seat row with access to night cribs, so he told me don't travel with infants needing child services on Qatar. I did not need crib, nor front seat or special service, but understood that the best airline in the world award is not be valid on economy class. I try to avoid Qatar now.
Trapped in Doha Airport? Long layover, but not enough time to get out of the Airport? Or do you just want to look cool being greeted at the Arrivals Hall with your name on a sign held by a beautiful young lady. And you get to jump the entire queue at Security. If that was not all, you get all the food and drink you want, comfortable sofas, free internet services and you can sleep stretched out. The price is economical as well.
The Bad Part
• They do not make it easy to book. The booking form is hellish and you have to send a copy of your Credit Card, front and back!
• NO ALCOHOL. How bizarre. You can buy loads in Duty Free which is all of 3 meters from the door. Sneak it in. I did. Just watch out. Some staff enforce the rules more that others! And they do not have a corkscrew for wine.
PLEASE NOTE: You can book the Lounge even if you fly Economy
Qatar Airways bills itself a the world's 5-star airline. The airline is based out of Doha, Qatar and operates flights to some 80 international destinations. Now that I have experienced Qatar Airways, I have been lucky enough to fly with three of the world's five, 5-star airlines (I've also flown Asiana in Korea, and Cathay Pacific in Southeast Asia; I have yet to fly Singapore Airline or Malaysia Airlines.)
What does 5-star treatment entail, you might ask? Start with an interactive TV at every seat which offers 175 movies in at least 20 languages, almost all with Arabic subtitles. This entertainment system also have games, live satellite TV, music and much more. The staff was extremely professional and competent in at least five languages. The food was certainly better than average, with a nice selection of entree, fruit, vegetable, drinks, and desert. Despite being an airline of an Islamic country, they do serve wine and beer. Their first class cabin is especially impressive, with chairs that recline 180 degrees into comfortable beds.
Probably my least favorite thing about the airline is exiting from its hub airport in Doha, when you are dumped right out into the street after baggage claim and customs. As far as I could tell there were no restrooms and no place to wait. If you need restrooms, a waiting area, rental cars, money, or food, you have to drag your bags around the barriers, hoist them back up over the curb and re-enter the building.
Qatar Airways has no business claiming to be a five-star airline. After I arrived in India, I received an email stating that the airline had cancelled my reservations for my return flights. Customer service in India was simply horrible. It was the worst service I have ever received from not just any airline, but from any kind of business anywhere in the world. It almost seemed as if their ultimate goal was to make this entire affair as difficult as possible for me. They simply informed me that there was not sufficient time for my transfer in Doha and left it at that, as if they just expected me to stay in India for the rest of my life. Never at any point did they do anything helpful at all. Rather than looking for solutions, they simply threw up more and more roadblocks. They could have found alternate routes, booked me for an overnight stay somewhere between flights, or any of a number of other solutions. Instead, they said I had to fly out of a different city than the ticket I bought. One city was 6 hours away by bus, while the other was 16 hours away. And they said I had to get myself there.
Finally I gave up and emailed my wife in the US to have her try her luck with the New York office. They got me on a return flight, but back in India the insisted that I sign an indemnity form releasing the airline of all liability for costs I would incur because of the change in itinerary. They treated me like a criminal, not a customer. When I finally did get to Doha, the employees there were equally unhelpful. I told them the least they could do is give me a complimentary upgrade to business class, but they balked at every turn and acted like they owed me nothing. Finally one employee at check-in counter went out of her way to get me an upgrade, but she actually disobeyed her supervisor in doing so.
I will never, under any circumstances, fly Qatar Airways again. And I highly recommend that other travelers avoid them at all costs. It is the most unprofessional business I have ever dealt with in my life.
Qatar Airways promotes itself as the world’s ‘Only 5 Star Airline’. They must be the only ones to believe that rubbish. My first flight with tem was on a plane that looked like it had been decorated to look like a bad message parlour/brothel. The seats were poorly covered; amenities poor and the staff looked bored or were extremely indifferent. I would not have given it anything but a 2.5 star rating. Free drinks had to be coerced out of the staff who acted like they were the ones paying for them. The TV screen had a couple of channels that could not be stopped or paused like on GOOD AIRLINES. And their prices can be shocking.
Their organisation on the Ground during a transfer to Yemen was scary. The flight to Yemen was, in my experienced opinion, unsafe. The staff could not control a large group of women and seating was thrown into chaos. The crew did not have a good understanding of English and spoke no Arabic. Arguments broke out among passengers because everyone was in the wrong seat and many would not sit down. We were delayed ON THE PLANE by 1 hour because of this. They disregarded many sections of the safety briefing due to time and seeming lack of training. Shocking. Movies? None. Drinks? 1 and that was trouble to get. I have some peanuts thrown at me and the whole flight was like a zoo. Passengers used mobiles actively the whole flight and no staff member did anything about it.
5 Star Airline? No. 5 Ring Circus and total rip-off? Yes.
Qatar Airways. Do not fly them. Fly Emirates. Wish I had.
Qatar Airways is definatly one of the better airlines I have been flying with. Service is great, staff is friendly, and planes are on time...
All the new planes got a small screen on the seat infront of you, with games, music, and tons of movies. On a 7 hours flight I didnt feel bored for one second...
It was a pleasant experience to fly with Qatar Airways. The staff on board was very friendly and they take care of you very much. Unfortunately, the aircraft didn't have the personal entertainment system like it is present in Emirates but otherwise everything was upto the standard. Cleanliness and tidiness was proper. The also allowed me to take photos, where some of the stupid airlines don't ;-)
In the recent years as Qatar has developed significantly, Doha as being the capital has been the main center for all the development projects.
The new Doha International Airport is 2.5 Kms away from the City Center and it receives many international flights daily from all major destination in Europe, Asia and America. The interesting thing is that it is the Only Airport in the whole country !
Please note that there is No Departure Tax for Qatar !For any flight enquiries you can dial the airport's phone number: +974-4656666. The flights of Qatar Airways arrive here usually on-time but i would recommend you to call enquiry before going the airport either for catching your next flight or going to receive anyone.
Doha International Airport is the main hub for the national Carrier Qatar Airways, which has daily direct flights (7hrs) to London and several direct flight per week for Paris, Milan, Rome, Frankfurt, Munich, Cairo, Kuwait, Jeddah, Tehran, Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, New Delhi, Mumbai (Bombay), Dhaka, Jakarta, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, etc. etc.
PIA, British Airways, KLM, Emirates, Egypt Air, Kuwait Airways, Gulf Air, Saudi Arabian Airline, Indian Airline, Thai Airways and other international airlines operate to Doha every week.
I really love this picture. I took this picture from inside my plane (Qatar Airways) and i saw a Kuwait Airways plane landing and Qatar Airways plane taking-off from Doha Intl. airport. Isn't it beautiful ?
My flight from Karachi, Pakistan to Doha, Qatar was just around 2 hrs. Most of the big airlines Do Not serve you proper food for such a short flight ! but Qatar Airways not even served food but a proper meal ! Here you can see in the picture what a wonderful tray they provided to me as a economy class passenger on a 2 hrs flight ;-) hehehe... Believe me ! it was a good experience to fly with them and i am looking forward it again InshAllah.
This is Immigration area. You will come here just after coming from the aircraft. If you having a connecting flight or a flight next day then you must contact Qatar Airways girls who stand here behind the counter or near the gate for any kind of assistance concerning your travel.
In comparison with Dubai, U.A.E, this is a modern but small Duty Free Shopping Area in the departure building of Doha Airport. You can buy a variety of items from here such as from Electronics to Chochlates! :-) everything is available
It was absolutely smooth landing on Doha Airport. It was a good feeling to be in a new country and among new people. The first impression was okay. But when i saw uncountable U.S. Army war planes, mostly C130's standing on the other side of the airport, I was feeling as if i have landed on Baghdad Airport ;-) It was good that the plane was not full. I had more space for myself in the plane ;-) so there was a small que for getting into the bus which took us from the plane to the main airport building and away from the sight of U.S Military aircrafts.
Qatar is a small country with just 744,000 population. Knowing this the quality of their airline and its service is brilliant ! Their aircrafts are new and in excellent form mashAllah. The seats are comfortable and even the seating configration and spacing is okay. I flew Economy class but i never felt as if i am a typical economy class passenger. I must say that this airline has got everything to be a high standard airline in the years to follow. Well done Qatar Airways !