HIA BearAfter much delay, HIA opened its doors on 30 April 2014 with a few airlines operating from the new airport. It was until 27 May 2014, that all airlines, including Qatar Airways, moved over from DIA to HIA.

It used to be just a five-minute hop to the old airport – Doha International Airport (DIA) – but now you will to drive at least 15 minutes to get to the all-new showpiece that is Qatar’s new international airport – Hamad International Airport (HIA).

And in compensation, it is probably the prettiest road in Qatar that takes you to the edge of the Arabian Gulf waters and then sweeps up and into the majestic entrance that is the Departures Terminal.

Drop-offs are clearly signposted but generally speaking it is Qatar Airways to the right and other airlines to the left. In the light and spacious hall, check-in rows are also clearly and logically set out with Row 1 for Qatar Airways First Class, Row 2 for Business Class, row 3 for Priviledge Card holders and Rows 3 – 6 for Economy Class. All other airlines are located on Rows 8, 9 or 10. Check-in is friendly and efficiently performed, while the number of desks for passport control also ensures that you will not have long to wait, if at all.

So far, so good: smooth, quiet and efficient. Now, you are through and ready to depart. Gates with an A prefix are to the left, B to the right, and C straight ahead. But before we go to the gate, how about a bit of duty-free shopping or a bite to eat? Both operations offer multiple options with both medium and high-end luxury brands in evidence.

HIA Food CourtLikewise for the hungry: there is a Caviar House and a Burger King and all taste points between, with plenty of fresh and healthy dishes on offer.

In spite of the crowds – and there must be with a flight leaving every five minutes 24/7 – there is throughout an atmosphere of calm and purposeful movement. People know where they are going and are quietly getting on with their business. And now, in Doha, it is a pleasure going to the airport, completing the essential paperwork without hassle and then being able to saunter around a beautiful, well-furnished and well-finished building, engaging in some last-minute indulgences and finally strolling to the appointed gate at the appointed time.

HIA Waiting AreaQatar Airways lounges are almost complete, but your writer was able to enjoy the Oryx Lounge thanks to a certain bank’s premium card. The new Oryx lounge is restful and quiet, with even quieter quiet areas and quiet family areas, while the food and beverage offerings are varied and tasty.

So, when you are due to leave, schedule a little extra time to enjoy your departure. Your fond memories of Qatar will linger longer and you will board the flight in a better mood and enjoy the journey to your new destination all the more.

Bon voyage!

Terry Sutcliffe

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