Hamad International Airport Lounges In Doha, Qatar

The Hamad International Airport is the new mega-airport which is presently being opened in Doha, Qatar. Some airlines began operating out of it as of April 30, 2014, though Qatar Airways hasn’t yet made the transition. The airport looks stunning, as you’d expect from a new build in a Middle Eastern country with bottomless pockets.

Hamad-International-Airport

The old Doha International Airport was an absolute dump. There weren’t even gates, but instead passengers had to be bussed to the planes.

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The only exception was first class passengers traveling to Europe, who would be driven to the plane in a (shared) BMW.

Qatar-Airways-Doha-Airport-1

The only good thing about the old airport was that they had a Premium Terminal, so first and business class passengers would never enter the “normal” terminal.

Qatar-Airways-Doha-Airport-3

Which all leads me to some interesting updates regarding the new Hamad International Airport:

Qatar Airways will start operating out of Hamad Airport on May 27, 2014

This isn’t news, but it’s worth mentioning that Qatar Airways will commence service out of Hamad International Airport as of next Tuesday, May 27, 2014. For most passengers this is fairly exciting news. Check out the pictures of the terminal and you’ll see why.

Qatar Airways first & business class lounges won’t open for two months

Now here’s the really crappy part. The opening of Hamad International Airport was already delayed substantially. They were supposed to begin passenger operations in January of this year, but were delayed several months.

So next week Qatar Airways is transitioning over to the new airport. Only one slight problem — their first and business class lounges aren’t ready, and they won’t be ready for another two months.

I’m a big fan of the CEO of Qatar Airways, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, as he’s one of a kind in the industry.

Per Gulf Business, why are the new lounges delayed so much?

“It is such a complicated and high-end [operation] that the contractor is having difficulty keeping up with the kind of finishes we want,” he said.

Other CEOs might say “yup, sorry, this sucks, we screwed up.” But not Mr. Baker — the lounges are simply so high-end that they couldn’t possibly be finished already!

How will they accommodate first and business class passengers?

Al Baker said that in the intervening period, business and first passengers “will be accommodated in lounges we already have and if we find the capacity is getting filled we have vouchers for them to use.”

I’m booked in first class on the Qatar Airways A380 inaugural from Doha to London, so I quite look forward to using some Priority Pass lounge or getting some vouchers for the food court.

Don’t get me wrong, I get their struggle here. They can’t delay the opening of the new airport any further, since they’re about to take delivery of their first A380, and they can’t fly it to the old airport. So they don’t have a choice.

Qatar Airways will allow oneworld Emeralds into first class lounges

As a oneworld Emerald (top tier) member, you get access to first class lounges regardless of which class of service you’re traveling in. There are three exceptions, however:

The airlines have created exception whereby only first class passengers can use those lounge, and not oneworld Emerald members.

However, per Australian Business Traveller, Qatar Airways does plan on admitting oneworld Emerald members into the Doha first class lounge, whenever it may open. So that’s certainly good news for oneworld Emerald members. However, they don’t plan on admitting oneworld Emerald members into their London Heathrow first class lounge, as they’ll continue to send elite members to the SkyTeam Lounge London Heathrow (ironically enough).

Qatar Airways restriction was always silly in my opinion, since they market their regional flights as offering first class and economy class. So the first class lounges are filled with “actual” first class passengers traveling to London and Paris, as well as anyone traveling in a premium cabin within the Middle East. That always seemed silly to me.

Bottom line

I can’t wait to check out the new Hamad International Airport, despite all the struggles they’re facing with the opening. I look forward to using the first class lounge as a oneworld Emerald, though it sucks that it won’t be ready for another couple of months.

Comments

  1. Hi Ben. I’m kind of surprised you’re flying them, given the way they treat their FA’s. To each their own, but having read a large number of your flight reviews, you seem to prefer genuine hospitality.

  2. MisterChristian,

    Ben flies Qatar for the same reason why he never helps others via charity and is currently trying to get people to pay for him to sit in a new first class seat- he focuses soley on ‘Lucky’. Not a big suprise here.

  3. Tyler & MisterChristian,

    Troll much?

    —–

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)

    In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[4]

  4. @MisterChristian: enough with this BS about how Qatar treats their FA’s. Unless you prove me they are being slaved it is their option to work for them. There is no obligation and there are enough airlines in the world and other jobs that they can take that not a Qatar FA. Thus, if they work for them they are well aware of their working conditions and if they work there it is because it is not that bad and there are more pros than cons in working for them. I can guarantee you they provide a way more plesant service than grumpy FA’s in US airlines that believe they own the plane and can dictate orders to passengers like we are a liability for them. Customer service is a word that is missing in the US dictionaries lately.

  5. Tyler…. How on earth do you know Ben “never helps others via charity”? What do you do for a living? Do you not require income and perhaps go around constantly helping others? Clearly you get something from his blog…or you wouldn’t be reading. Just wondering. Tired of haters.

  6. Agreed that no one should have to share a BMW. And a 6 cylinder BMW at that.

    That is NOT luxury.

  7. Victor-

    Troll? I’m simply providing feedback. After the kickstarter joke asking us to give him even more and the nonstop Lufthansa FC trip reports that seem on repeat mode, it finally dawned on me that I’ve never seen a single post on giving back. Even The Points Guy did a big miles donation a few months ago. I’d be happy for Lucky to prove me wrong, because it will show that someone is being helped after so many of us used his cc links for years.

  8. @ Tyler — Maybe I’m old school, but I don’t believe in grandstanding about the charitable things I do. When I do good it’s not so I can show off and say “look at what a good person I am,” but because I genuinely want to do good.

    I can appreciate people that want to “give in public” and totally respect that, but hopefully you can respect that this isn’t the approach everyone takes.

    There’s such a thing as being a charitable person that gives in private and doesn’t feel the need to talk about it in public. If that’s not your style I respect that, but it is mine, and hopefully you can respect that as well. Though judging by the fact that 31 of the 34 comments you’ve left on this blog have revolved around charity, I’m guessing maybe not?

  9. @Tyler: this is a travel blog and not a forum for discussions about who gives to charity or not. If you are not happy with Lucky and what he writes you have the right to not access his blog. It is that simple. Regarding making donations and giving out to charity let share something I learned from my grandfather when I was little. He was a very successful businessman in my home country and well known in the city we lived. He always gave a lot to charity, sometimes in money, sometimes in food, sometimes if clothes. One day I saw him ask his driver to take a truck full of fruits and vegetables to one of the local institutions that was a shelter for homeless people. The only advice he gave to the driver was to say the donor was anonymous. I asked him why he did not want people to know who was giving out that much food. His answer was:” if you are giving from your heart you don’t need people to know about it. They will feel it.”. From that day any donation I make comes from my heart and I have no need to tell people what I am doing.

  10. I’ve found the CEO to be a sexist creep who preys on/craps on women, and for that reason I’ll avoid Qatar.

    However, I’m in no position to tell others who to fly, and I’ll certainly read any trip report coming out of it.

  11. They’re planning to use the Priority Pass lounge for QR passengers, so no lounge for Priority Pass. From their website: Please note due to relocation of Doha International Airport (DOH), the Oryx Lounge located in Terminal A will close effective 27MAY14. A new facility Al Maha Transit Lounge will open in the new Hamad International Airport (HIA) and be available for Passengers at the end of AUG14. There will be no temporary Lounge facilities available between this period.

  12. @Victor: Never. Although I appreciate the definition, since I’ve seen the term a couple of times, but never had a context. Ben flies first a lot, and sees an awful lot of flight crews. Accordingly, I know I personally would prefer to go with a carrier like SQ or CX, where the FA’s smiles are a little less contrived. I thought he would too. You’re hunting for offence where none was intended. The point was genuine, and not meant in a snarky way. I most certainly don’t agree with Tyler. If I didn’t like the blog, I’d, oh, not read it. My intent was not to turn this into some weird debate about charity or other strange tangents.

  13. Ben
    There is a reason QR markets them as F class, just as AA markets its domestic flights as F class. QR is based in Qatar! So wants to treats its better paying domestic customers (rich Emiratis) on par with true world class luxury. The economy class is filled with “captive” workers from South Asia or Africa (forget the FAs- they are much better off than the average workers) who go home and US/EU-India/Asia transit passengers.

    “Qatar Airways restriction was always silly in my opinion, since they market their regional flights as offering first class and economy class. So the first class lounges are filled with “actual” first class passengers traveling to London and Paris, as well as anyone traveling in a premium cabin within the Middle East. That always seemed silly to me.”

  14. “Al Baker said that in the intervening period, business and first passengers “will be accommodated in lounges we already have”

    Lucky maybe this means they’ll use the old premium terminal? Unless they have been demolished already.

    While I can’t comment on how nasty Qatar’s management is, regardless of all the stories, I will say the staff itself can be pretty good. My one experience with this airline was very good.

    I work in Saudi Arabia, and a few years ago, my dad passed away. I had 2 days to get back to Lebanon for the funeral, which would be on a Sunday, so booked a ticket on MEA. Unfortunately, the pilots went on strike, and the day before I was supposed to go back (this was a Frida), the flight was canceled. Lucky for me, the travel agency my company uses was able to find a last minute ticket for me on Qatar, though there was no room for error, as it’d be arriving Sunday morning at 2:00am, and there would only be a 50 minute transit period.

    Anyway, I flew from Saudi to Doha. On the flight with me, were a couple of other Lebanese who had the same problem as I did (canceled flight on MEA). When we arrived at Doha, the clock was counting down and I was worried I wouldn’t make it. When the bus arrived at the main terminal, my heart sank as I noticed how long the transit and security lines were (we could see through the glass doors of the terminal), and figured I’d miss my connecting flight.

    Anyway, as soon as me and the other 2 guys walked through the door, we noticed in a QR uniform loudly asking if anyone was going to Beirut. We all showed him our tickets and he told us to come with him. We followed him as he took us to the front of the security line, basically having us cut ahead of EVERYONE. At the x-ray screening he handed us off to another QR employee, and once we were done, she hurriedly took us to our departure gate where a bus was waiting to take just the 3 of us to our plane. And all 3 of us, despite the short layover and how much of a (as Lucky would say) clusterfcuk Doha airport was at that point, made our flight.

    So yeah, as nasty as QRs management may be, their staff? Definitely knows a thing about customer service.

    And for the record, that’s the only time I’ve ever flown on economy, but the DOH-BEY flight was really good for economy. Good IFE, good quality food with generous portions, and the FA were are friendly and professional.

  15. Etihad has opened its new first and business class lounge at Sydney, their first in Australia.

  16. Lucky, your enthusiasm is one of my favorite parts of your blog, but this is a rare instance where I think it’s excessive. This new airport may be a ‘mega airport’ in some cost terms, but to me 10 airlines and ~30 gates isn’t any sort of mega-project. No doubt it’s very nice, but I’d not call a Park Hyatt a ‘mega-hotel’ if it only had 200 rooms even if it was a very nice property.

  17. my daughter is 20 years old and flying on Qatar through Doha on May 29. She has a 12 hour layover, two Qatar employees she could get a free hotel ect.. Then I was told she could not because the ticket was made through a travel agent. I would love feedback on the new airport and its facilities that are open for passengers. I was told no lounges will be open for anyone. They said there will be coffee shops open and a duty free. Does anyone know if this is true?

  18. Glad to hear that Hamad International Airport will now be used by Qatar Airways.

    I love this airline. They have beaten EK with many laps. I was an EK customer, no more though!

    Will be traveling in mid-June to US and from there to Kathmandu.

  19. Can anyone explain why in the world it has taken them so long to get the airport built? Is it CEO being fussy and making vendors re-do work? Doesn’t bode well for the World Cup.

  20. I just visited the new Hamad temporary lounge.
    I cannot believe how wrong Qatar have got this .
    Certainly this is no up to their standards.I used to fly Qatar 4 to 5 times a year on business class plus my converted my parents over . from this trip, i see that Qatar service standards have dropped and will sterr away from them for the next year or so .

  21. We booked our flight (with a 6 hour stayover at Doha international) based on the fact that we could spend most of the time (11pm to 5am) in the lounge. We pre-booked & paid for the lounge acces for 28/29 July. If we new the lounge would not be available we would have changed our routing from Venice to South Africa.
    We were also advised by Qatar Air that no alternative can be provided. This is our 1st time flying with Qatar Air and we are very dissapointed with the turn of events.

  22. I am sitting in the new airport – at least the the wifi works.

    The QA lounge for Silver Card holders is not open – I was directed to the QA Oryx lounge but when I got there was told it was reserved for Business Class customers from other airlines. – the revised opening date for the QA lounge is now September.

    The “compensation” is a duty free voucher – there is no option for meal vouchers which would have been more appropriate – I am encouraged to buy a bottle of gin but not a cup of coffee! Some of the food court kiosks are open, there are signs to a restaurant which turns out to be a builders hoarding . Not an auspicious start QA.

  23. The temporary Business Class lounge is open. I arrived at midnight and it was very busy, but I found a seat. Food and drinks were served until 2.00am, by which time the lounge was very quiet. Breakfast was served from 5.30am. The staff were very friendly and helpful. I was advised that the new Business Class lounge will open next week. For a “temporary” lounge, Qatar have done a good job and there is little to complain about.

  24. Whew.

    The airport is simple not ready. The Business Class lounge is a dump. The staff is ill-trained. And the new airport does not compare favourable with state of the art facilities such as those in Hong Kong and Korea.

    About the only thing that is competitive about Qatar is the pricing for the tickets. Otherwise, they are ill-run.

    I would think that HIA, because it does not live up to expectations, will alienate those who have a choice about upon whom they fly and where the fly from and too. Once you alienate these folks it will be difficult to lure them back.

    A fundamental rule is not to promise what you can not deliver.

  25. The new airport is very disappointing. Just a big shopping mall. Have been flying Qatar business for some years but now feel it’s time for a change. There is a small lounge but staff were manning the escalator, selecting those passengers they felt were appropriate. This was done in quite an aggressive manner. So, despite having a premium ticket as well as being a gold member we were denied access. Also denied access to priority pass lounge which we were told is now only for BA passengers.
    After several hours wandering the airport we decided to stand our ground and insist on access to the lounge which was then granted. Really very poor experience

  26. So my group flight from VCE-DOH on July 13, and has a 8+ hrs layover, then flight to HKG from DOH. Will there has a lounge for us to rest?

  27. I’m scheduled to go through Doha in three weeks. Lucky have you heard anything new about the lounges? I shudder to think that we won’t get into any lounge..

  28. @ Victor — Apparently they’re using one of the business class lounges, but haven’t really heard much beyond that unfortunately.

  29. Just arrived from a layover at HIA – the new premium lounge opened less than 24hrs ago and it is not only huge but beating the premium terminal by service and comfort.

  30. Some people r just so full of shit, I live my life for myself.. the end.. I do not see a need to apologise for it.. neither should Ben…

  31. Ben,
    Just been reading some of the trolling and I think you do a great job! I’m sure it’s not the glamour job people think it is. I think I love flying until I turn up at the airport and hate it all again. So it’s useful to get your opinions on what matters and praise indeed to your professionalism!
    Jane’s experience sounds awful. I was very unimpressed with the Doha mega mall…Equally I’m in two minds over protesting at an airline which clearly has some suspect employment practices v customer experience. The same goes for holidaying in the third world or buying an iphone with parts from the Congo. Unfortunately the customer experience is so bad + expensive on the Euro/American flag carriers that conscience is overridden by luxury. Though there’s no doubt the opposition to the gulf carriers & employment practices is going to grow louder.
    Will

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