Departing from Qatar
Qatar’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) has 5-Star status and numerous accolades to its name. The airport is ranked as one of the World’s best airports, as the best airport in the Middle East, as offering the best staff service in the Middle East, and as having one of the world’s largest Duty-Free shopping areas. So, even when you depart there is much to enjoy and admire as you wait for your flight.
If you are preparing to leave Qatar, it's worth noting that the recommended arrival time for departing customers on international flights is at least 3 hours before your flight takes-off. Three hours will ease you through the official procedures involved in departing from the country, but it will also give you time to enjoy the experience.
If you’re checking-in online, arranging transport to the airport, or packing your cases; don’t forget to plan for some extra time to enjoy everything Hamad International Airport has to offer.
For help planning your journey to the airport, including parking if you are driving, check out our Onward Travel article.
Once you arrive at the airport the pre-flight experience is generally quick and easy. The Check-In Hall is very spacious and check-in aisles are wide. So, even when the airport is busy the Hall never feels overcrowded.
Prior to check-in or dropping luggage off at the baggage drop counters, there are a variety of facilities you can make use of:
- Information desks;
- Ticket Offices;
- The Ministry of Interior (MOI) office, located behind Check-In desks at Row 8;
- Bag wrapping services;
- Baggage trolleys and strollers for babies and toddlers;
- ATM’s/Currency Exchange counters;
- WC’s and bathrooms;
- Free WIFI - search for ‘Free Internet by HIA’;
- Complimentary internet browsing kiosks.
There is also a Medical Centre in the Check-In area to provide medical assistance as required. The Medical Centre can be contacted on +974 4010 9222.
If you want to take a more relaxed journey through Departures and arrive at your boarding gate hassle free, then you could sign up to Al Maha services. Al Maha offers several services, for varying fees, including a Meet and Greet service. The Meet and Greet service offers passengers personal assistance through check-in, immigration and all the way to the aircraft, as well as access to the departure and transit lounges.
For more information, read our Special Services article.
Checking-In - Which Desk?
Hamad International Airport provides 10 check-in aisles with over 100 service desks for departing passengers. On entry to the airport, check the large information screens for your flight details and corresponding check-in row.
Already checked-in online? Head to the Baggage Drop counter for your flight. Otherwise use the regular check-in desks for your flight:
- First Class - Al Safwa Row 1 (includes private-seated check-in desks, concierges, bell-hops, etc.)
- Business Class - Al Mourjan Row 2
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club Members/OneWorld Customers - Row 3
- Qatar Airways Economy Class - Rows 4-6
- Other Economy Class Airlines - Rows 7-10
Self-service check-in kiosks and bag drop facilities are also available in between Check-In Rows 2 and 3.
Watch out for the new ‘Smart Airport’ facilities coming to HIA - facial recognition technology will revolutionise travel through the airport. Customers signed up to the programme will proceed through the airport using only their face for check-in, security and boarding verification.
Oversized bags can be dropped at the last counters in Rows 3 and 8.
Excess luggage, which will require a fee to check-in, and unaccompanied baggage require registering at the Baggage Offices near Check-In.
Travelling with Animals
If you are taking furry friends with you on your travels, most airlines will happily accept animals on flights. However, it is recommended that you give the airline as much notice as possible when travelling with animals. Airlines will also be able to advise on the correct documents (passport, medical certificates, vaccination records, test results, etc.) and regulations for travelling with animals.
At the airport, check-in as normal, taking animals with you to the Check-In desk for your flight.
Service dogs and falcons can generally fly in the cabin with you. All other animals must be checked-in as baggage.
To check-in you will need your ticket, passport, exit permit (if required) and, depending on your destination, entry visa.
Once you are checked- in, head to the Passport Control counters at the far end of the Check-In Hall. Security staff will check your boarding pass before you enter the Passport Control waiting area. Queues are generally quite short, but if your flight is due to leave imminently, staff will fast-track you through.
Immigrations officers at the Passport Control counters will require your passport and, if you are a resident and your employer requires, an exit permit.
Before You Travel
- Most countries require that you have a passport valid for 6 months upon entry through Immigration. So, check your passport before you leave Qatar to make sure you will be allowed entry at your onward destination.
- You will not be allowed to leave Qatar if you have any unpaid fines (i.e. traffic violations, etc.) You can check and pay fines before you travel at any of the Ministry of Interior offices throughout Qatar, or via Metrash2. If, at the airport, you discover you have unpaid fines, go to the MOI office at the end of the Check-in desks at Row 8.
If you hold a 1st Class or Business Class flight ticket, you are an Al Maha customer, an unaccompanied minor, or require special assistance, you may pass through Passport Control and Security Screening via dedicated counters to the right of the Passport Control waiting area. Security staff will be able to direct you to the right location.
If you are a Qatari national, an expat in Qatar or from one of the GCC countries, and you have an e-gate card, you can bypass the queues by using the E-Gates adjacent to the Passport Control counters.
Directly after Immigration, you and your hand luggage will need to be security screened before entering the airport’s main Duty Free Plaza and Departures concourses.
Baggage is screened for prohibited items:
- Liquids over 100ml;
- Firearms (including toys and replicas) and weapons (including items capable of causing injury i.e. blunt instruments, workman’s tools, etc.);
- Objects and items with sharp points and edges - blades over 6cm;
- Explosives and incendiary substances and devices.
All passengers must also walk through a metal detector.
To ensure that you progress through Security quickly and easily ensure:
- No prohibited items are packed in your hand luggage.
- Any liquids (under 100ml) are packed in clear, resealable plastic bags - bags are available from the information desk in the Passport Control waiting area.
- All metal items (i.e. keys, coins, watches, belts, phones, etc.) are removed from your person and deposited in the screening trays before you walk through the metal detector.
Lifts and escalators are available from Security Screening to the Departures Hall on the floor below.
The Departures Hall comprises a central Duty-Free Plaza and Concourses (A to E) that radiate out from that central point, plus a smaller Duty-Free Court that straddles Concourses D and E. The Hall has a multitude of services and amenities, entertainment, shops, cafe’s, restaurants and fast-food outlets for you to take advantage of while you wait to board your flight.
The Duty-Free Plaza and Court, are well worth a visit and should keep you and any family members happily occupied until your departure. Indeed, HIA offers one of the world’s largest Duty-Free shopping areas, with over 40,000 sqm dedicated to retail and dining. You can while away the hours browsing through over 90 shops and boutiques, offering designer fashion, jewellery and accessories to electronics, beauty products, toys, souvenirs and local crafts. Or take some time to dine in one of a host of cafes and restaurants offering an array of international cuisine from Arabic to Italian, American to Asian.
It is worth noting that HIA is ranked as one of the best airports in the world for dining. The airport has been consecutively placed in the Top 10 Skytrax World Airport Awards for Dining since 2016 for the quality and variety of cuisine offered to customers.
The airport has also featured in the Skytrax Top 10 World Airport Awards for Shopping for several years running.
The Duty-Free Zones also offer restrooms, a quiet room, a children’s play area, ATM’s, telephone booths, internet and charging stations, money exchange kiosk, and information desks. And, if you are in need of relaxation or to freshen up before your flight, access to several Lounges, the airport Hotel, the Wellness & Fitness Centre, spa and shower facilities, is also provided from the Duty-Free Plaza.
Each Concourse comprises a host of amenities to make your journey easier, quicker and more comfortable.
Moving walkways and golf buggies; lifts and escalators between floors; free to use strollers for babies and toddlers; and, a sleek inter-terminal passenger train, which transports passengers to Departure Gates along Concourse C and those located at Concourses D&E; make moving around the airport easier and more efficient.
Restrooms and quiet rooms, with separate facilities for male and females, families, and those requiring accessible or assisted services, as well as smoking rooms and prayer rooms, are provided at regular intervals. ATM’s, telephone booths, internet and charging stations and money exchange kiosks are also available.
Children’s activity nodes are dotted throughout the Concourses. Each activity node is complete with a play area, TV and internet stations, and comfortable seating, all designed to keep kids entertained and parents relaxed.
Each concourse also offers numerous cafes, food outlets and retail kiosks in case you missed the collosal Duty-Free Zones! And, each hosts an Information Desk for general enquiries, so you are never far from assistance should you require.
Rest and Relaxation
Numerous lounges, spa and shower facilities are available at HIA. From 1st Class and Business Lounges to massages, manicures and pedicures, there are services and facilities to suit every pocket and requirement.
Al Safwa First Lounge - Third Floor
Al Safwa First offers luxury lounge facilities to Qatar Airways and One-World 1st Class customers. If you are visiting the lounge, you can take advantage of the A La Carte restaurant, the QSpa luxury treatments and services, showers and restrooms, full business centre, media room, or the exclusive family area.
Al Mourjan Business Lounge - Third Floor
This five-star lounge offers an array of business services to passengers. A fully equipped business centre, conference rooms and private work stations are available. And, if you aren’t working, you can recharge at the A La Carte restaurant or buffet dining room, freshen up at the shower facilities, relax in quiet rooms and the garden resort area, or blow off some steam in the games room. Families and kids are also provided for in family rooms and a children’s nursery. The lounge is accessible to Qatar Airways Platinum and One-World Emerald customers, or Economy Class customers for a fee.
Qatar Airways First Class and Business Lounges - Second Floor
The First Class and Business Lounges are accessed via the same reception point. Offering buffet dining, shower facilities, quiet rooms, family rooms, entertainment, smoking rooms and high-speed WIFI, these lounges are open to:
- First: Qatar Airways 1st Class passengers, Platinum and Gold Privilege Club cardholders, as well as One-World Emerald customers;
- Business: Qatar Airways Business Class passengers, Silver Privilege Club cardholders and One-World Sapphire customers.
If you are an Economy Class customer, you can also make use of the facilities for a fee.
Oryx Lounge/Al Maha Lounge - Second Floor
The Oryx Lounge is open to premium passengers from all airlines and select cardholders, and, if you are travelling Economy, you can enter the lounge for a fee. Customers can make use of the buffet dining, quiet zone, business centre, internet station, gaming zone, and a smoking room.
The Al Maha Services Lounge is open to Al Maha users and Qatar Airways Privilege Cardholders (Gold and Platinum). The Departures lounge offers buffet dining and refreshments, high-speed WIFI, business facilities, a television area, quiet areas, smoking room, and comfortable seating.
For a fee, passengers can also access the gym, squash courts and swimming pool, and the spa at The Vitality Wellbeing and Fitness Centre from the Lounge Reception.
Special Assistance/Young Passenger Lounges
Dedicated lounges are provided for passengers who require Special Assistance or for younger passengers travelling alone.
Special Assistance lounges offer comfortable seating, adapted facilities and entertainment. There are also trained attendants available to offer assistance, as required.
A dedicated lounge is also offered for minors travelling alone. Kids are accompanied to and from the lounge, which is also supervised by trained staff at all times. The lounge is equipped with entertainment and facilities for all ages (5-15 years), and refreshments are available.
For more information on the airport’s special services, click on this link to our Special Services article.
Spa and Shower Facilities
In addition to the Vitality Wellbeing and Fitness Centre, shower and spa facilities are also available at several outlets and kiosks. Be Relax offers spa and shower facilities at the Duty-Free Plaza and Court, and on Concourse C. Massages, manicures and pedicures are available at all of the Be Relax facilities; showers are available at the outlets in the Duty-Free Plaza and Court only. So, why not treat yourself to some preflight relaxation!
The most well-known and probably the first art installation you will notice, is the giant Lamp Bear in the centre of the Departures Hall Duty-Free Plaza. The sculpture stands at 7m tall and weighs around 20 tonnes. This enormous yellow bear, one of the most photographed locations in the airport, was created by Swiss artist Urs Fischer and was bought by the Qatari Royal Family for nearly $7million.
Installed for the opening of the airport in 2014, the Lamp Bear has been joined by more than 20 other art installations throughout the airport. Pieces by local, regional and international artists are dotted from Arrivals through to Departures and include sculptures from the abstract to those representing Arab culture and history. You can spend an interesting hour wandering through Departures taking in all the installations. Kids especially will love to play on any of the eight interactive pieces that also function as play areas.
However you spend your time in this hub of activity, don’t forget you are there to board a flight! Last-call at Departure Gates is 20 minutes before take-off. Check the many display boards to keep an eye on your boarding time.
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