Monday, June 16, 2014
The New Hamad International Airport
This weekend I happened to be in Wakra so I figured I'd stop by and take a look at the new Hamad International Airport which opened about a month ago.
First reaction: wow, it sure is a lot farther away than the old airport. While it is close to the old airport it's probably an extra 6-8 km of driving to get to the entrance (unless you live in Wakra in which case it’s probably a bit closer). Bear that in mind when going there, it'll take a bit more time and I'm assuming taxis will charge more.
As you drive in you pass by a small lake with fountains, from which you can see the VVIP “Emiri Terminal”. Looks nice. Naturally I couldn't get any closer than this.
For now parking is free, though that won't last for long and there are barriers and machines already set-up for when they want to start charging fees. I think because of the free parking a lot of people were parking their car at the airport then going on vacation, it was actually difficult to find a parking space. The first lot was completely full, but if you keep going forward to the West Lot there were some spots available there.
The parking spaces have little indicators to track how many spaces are free. Unfortunately some of them were not working properly so there would be a sign saying that there were a few empty parking spaces in this row only for there to actually be no parking spaces available. (In the picture below you can see that the parking space indicator is still green even though there is a vehicle parked there).
In between the two parking lots is a small park area with a mosque in the middle.
What was nice was the enclosed areas with moving walkways that you could use to get from the parking lot to the airport. It was air conditioned so you didn't have to walk too far in the heat.
The arrivals floor certainly had a lot more space than the old airport. This section was nearly empty, most of the people waiting for arrivals were in the middle of the airport. Plenty of seats if you wanted to sit in the areas to the left and right of the arrival doors. There's even some artwork in the area.
Nice new boards with the arrivals information.
Here's a nice touch, the board tells you when all of the bags have been unloaded from a flight, so if you are waiting for someone to arrive you'll have a better sense of when they will be coming out.
In the departures area there is definitely a lot more space than before. There are 10 rows of counters for checking people in. Qatar Airways has the first 6, with check-in for the other airlines in 7-10.
Qatar Airways tried to keep the fanciness of its previous Premium Terminal. The check-in area for Qatar Airways business-class passengers has some nice seating.
Food and beverage was still a bit limited, there was one café (Faraggi) on the arrivals floor and another small café on the departure floor. There was also a small bookshop and store where you could buy things like bags of chips. A few more places were being renovated so there will be other options available soon.
Unfortunately I wasn't flying anywhere so I couldn't go past the check-in to see the rest of the airport. I look forward to seeing it on my next trip.