I recently had the opportunity to fly through the Doha’s Hamad International Airport as a premium cabin passenger. Just to recap, Hamad International is the 9th largest airport in the world encompassing around 11 square miles. It is also one of the nicest looking airports i’ve ever been to.
The airport itself is massive. Due to the size, there is a skytrain that is currently under construction. Most of the airport is still in the process of being finished. In fact, a lot of construction was taking place while we were in transit.
In addition to the construction around the terminal, agents were also limiting access to the Qatar Business Class lounge. As it isn’t completely finished yet, the lounge was extremely busy. It was better to sit outside than in that tiny lounge. The agents seemed to have agreed as they were handing out vouchers worth around $100 to people who would opt to forego the lounges. In addition to the vouchers that could be used anywhere in the airport on any item, they were depositing 5,000 Qmiles to passengers accounts for the inconvenience. At first, this seemed fair and I opted for the vouchers but then I started walking around the airport only to realize that there weren’t many places to sit. The terminals all connect at one central points that is marked by a giant teddy bear. I didn’t really understand the meaning of it and I was too tired to ask someone as well.
As with many Middle Eastern airports, flights leave on a 24 hour basis and the bulk of the flights leave after midnight. Due to this fact, the airport was crowded the entire time I was in transit and at times, I couldn’t find a decent place to sit. This airport lacks chairs like none other. Everything is spread out with little seating throughout.
One benefit that premium cabin passengers were offered was the quiet room. This room consisted of lounge chairs and blankets that were reserved for Business and First Class passengers. It was quite the walk from the main terminal area and was also split into two rooms by gender.
When it came to eating, Hamad International has created a food court with a variety of dining options. Whether it was Indian food or Burger King, the food court had what I and many others wanted. I did notice that there wasn’t much space for people to sit and it there were a lot of cocktail style tables where families were struggling to eat.
Shopping at Hamad International comes first. It almost seemed like it was a mall first and then an airport. Everywhere I walked, I was offered different products. They literally had every type of store imaginable including Esquire for Men. It was interesting to see that the airport was holding a raffle to win luxury exotic cars. The buy-in to these raffles was at a minimum of $250 USD!
When it came to taking our flight, the new airport seemed to be very efficient. Boarding was on time and there was always a friendly person to greet us at the gate or on the plane.
Overall, Hamad International still has a long way to go to achieve the goal of 50 million passengers a year. I think that the airport itself is beautiful and well laid out but there needs to be more seating. This is the airport of the future and I wouldn’t mind flying through it again!