“ Doha International Airport (IATA: DOH, ICAO: OTBD). Doha, Qatar. „
I don't really get this airport. It's supposed to be an international hub - mostly for use by Qatar Airways - but it just doesn't seem to be setup right and is far too small.
I went through Doha airport on each leg of my Manchester - Abu Dhabi trip, staying for around 2 hours each time and if it wasn't for the free wireless internet I would have been bored out of my mind.
On arrival everyone is herded into the security check area. There are only 3 or 4 baggage check machines to deal with all the arriving flights and the queue is only really managed for the last few metres. You end up with a mass of people all pushing their way to go to the waiting lane. You then have another longish wait to get to the front of the queue and be called forward. The staff are unfriendly and in my experience inept. The security guard was only bothered that I take my belt off; he wasn't interested when I showed my mobile phone so I walked through the metal detector with it in my hand and unsurprisingly the alarm went off. Nobody confronted me about it so I got my bag and moved on. I still don't understand the need for this security check - if everyone has just got off a flight, why do they need to have their bags scanned again? I have not had it in other countries I have been to.
Once you are in the waiting area things don't get a lot better. The airport seems old and small and on both occasions was overcrowded. After using the toilets on the outward journey I learnt my lesson and made sure to use the facilities on the plane instead! Basically as with the rest of the airport the toilets are old, not particularly clean and overcrowded - if you compared it to trying to go to the gents in a football stadium at half time you would not be far wrong.
There are a few shops that you can go to on the lower floor they are overpriced and not that good. The top floor has the gates, toilets, a sleeping area and a mosque. To be fair there are plenty of seats I really appreciated the free wireless. The connection is a bit hit and miss but I did manage to get a valuable five minute Skype chat to home.
We were grateful to be called forward to go on the plane early and this meant that we had to take a bus ride to the plane. |I was surprised to find the journey took at least fifteen minutes as we had to go right round the end of the runway - seems like a poor design to me.
I transited Doha on the way to and from Hong Kong, last month.
On the outbound flight I had only a 2 hour stopover, while on the inbound it was more in the region of 18 hours! Below i'll impart my experiences of each:
The first thing you notice on arrival to Doha, is the distance between where the majority of planes park, and where the actual terminal building is. Upon disembarking your plane, you'll be squeezed into a bus along with most of your other passengers, and taken on a 10-15 minute topsy-turvy ride around the airport perimeter. After a long flight, it's a bit annoying. But not as annoying as what happens when you get to the airport.
The building it quite small, and so is the area where people queue to clear security so that they can get into the transit area. Thankfully I had a connection time of 2 hours, so I was in no panic - but if you are cutting it a bit finer, you may have something to worry about during peak hours.
Security staff, like the rest of personel at Doha airport, are about the most unfriendly you're likely to come across. Doha is trying to present itself as the next hub of international travel, and specifically, Qatar Airways, but it does itself no favours in the robotic, often rude approach of the staff.
Once through, the departures/transit area consists of two floors. There is a reasonably sized duty free area on the bottom level, with a restaurant, and another duty free shop on top. Apart from one additional (extremely expensive) coffee place - that is it. There's a sleeping room, and a mosque, as well as a decent number of seats. But in reality, you'll find a few hours difficult to pass here. Thankfully on this ocassion I only had 2 to pass, and so was soon on my way to Hong Kong!
The way back however, wasn't so great. I arrived at 5 a.m. and had decided to proceed through immigration in order to gain brief entry into Qatar. This all went fine, except for the once more rude staff, but out the other end I was shocked. THERE IS NO CURRENCY EXCHANGE. THERE IS NO INFORMATION DESK. AND THERE IS NO ACTUAL TAXI STAND.
Never before have I arrived in an airport so badly organised, and i've been through places such as New Delhi, Apia, and Mombasa.
It is very poor.
Thankfully there was one cash machine (which initially didn't accept any of my cards). I was able to get money out though.
Out on the road, I basically just had to approach random taxis myself. It was completely disorganised.
Anyway, I returned to the airport about 8 hours later. Again, immigration was a joke. On this ocassion, the woman actually "tutted" me, for some inexplicable reason.
Once through to the departures hall, I was thankfully able to get some sleep in the quiet room (although this was hindered to an extent by someone playing music videos out loud on their laptop - YES, in the quiet room).
I was also shocked when boarding my flight to London, the incredibly small size of the gate. We were due to board an A330 capable of carrying 250-350 people, and we were cramped into the tiniest of rooms, with people waiting on the stairs, and outside, because there was simply no more physical room.
Overall, I was happy to leave Doha airport. It wasn't quite as bad as i've made it sound, but there are definitely a lot of far superior airport 'hubs' in the world, and the New Doha International Airport really can't come soon enough.
The extortionate prices are expected, and I read about the reasonably small size in advance, but in reality it's the people who run the airport that are the greatest disappointment. It takes more effort to grunt and scowl, but apparently they haven't realised yet.
(Oh, and one other thing, the toilets are pretty disgusting - I heard they have improved, so I dread to think what they are like before).
I flew with Qatar to Bahrain recently which included a stopover for a few hours in Doha airport.
The shuttle bus was smooth and comfortably air conditioned, and the airport looks smart and tidy from the outside.
Queues inside are managed well, and security staff are polite and smart. The duty free is relatively basic compared to other Middle Eastern airports, but I tend not to shop too much so I wasn't too bothered. There was still a large shop! There are plenty of internet booths which I think were free, but I didn't use them. I did go and buy a quick drink in the restuarant area which was ran well and kept clean constantly, always a good thing.
I have to say the toilet's had obviously flooded before we got there, so there were wet floors everywhere where people had walked through the puddles and around the airport. The staff were clearly trying to rectify the problem so I can't complain, but it made the airport look dirtier than I'm sure it is.
Overall, if you've got a few hours between flights then i'm sure there are a lot less comfortable airports to be! A decent place.
I recently spent 8 hours in this airport due to some bad flight connections. It's perfectly comfortable, apart from the chairs aren't really laid out for sleepers! Got a few tips:
1) Free internet booths. There are a few internet stations dotted around the airport, you get 10mins of free internet access at a time, great when it's midnight and you want to update your facebook status!
2) Free food for Qatar passengers. If you're flying with Qatar and have a stopover of about 4 hours or more, go to the little desk near the cafeteria in the terminal, they'll give you a voucher which you can redeem in the cafe for a basic but filling meal. Seeing as snacks in the airport are hugely overpriced, it's a pretty useful option!
3) Lounge. After a certain hour, think around 11pm, you can pay a small amount of money and get into the lounge usually put aside for business/first class passengers. It may be around £15 or so, but seemed like a good option considering the comfort!
All in all, Doha is a very comfortable airport with good facilities and plenty of shopping. Enjoy!
The existing airport will be replaced in late 2009 or early 2010 when the first phase of New Doha International Airport is expected to open.