Let me give you some (free) advice. Ignore what you are reading about Qatar at the moment. Regardless of what you think you know, it’s been exaggerated (and I should know, I used to be a journalist).
Qatar is safe, peaceful and happens to have one of the world’s best airlines, Qatar Airways as its national carrier.
I’ve been a customer of the airline for 10 years, exclusively for the past four years, and I can honestly say it’s in a realm of its own.
So, with the Summer approaching, you should consider this airline for your next trip for the reasons for the following reasons:
You heard me. FREE for anyone transiting though Doha and that means free luxury hotel stays. You can avail yourself of the Transit Visa free of cost when you add a short transit or stopover between five and 96 hours in Doha to your itinerary without any additional fare charges. You need to book your flight on www.qatarairways.com, select ‘multi-city’ and choose their hotel once they receive their flight confirmation. Also remember that Doha has some amazing restaurants from high end to streetfood. A perfect foodie stopover as well as the opportunity to see the desert, see some unique art or even visit the souq. Doha and the country is your oyster.
Airports are generally not great places to be, but this sprawling, stunning and new-ish airport will wow even the skeptics. From the selfie magnet aka Lamp Bear though to the spa and wide range of places to grab a bite, this is how airports should be.
It even has a train, free computer areas and a plethora of duty free stores to blow your hard earned readies.
Qatar Airways’s lounges have been earmarked by business and leisure travelers as some of the most luxe in the world. Whether it’s quaffing the Krug in the Al Safwa Lounge in Doha or checking the understated luxury of its Heathrow lounge, you won’t be disappointed. Even if you aren’t flying up the pointy end, for QR200 (US$55) you can access the Oryx Lounge in Doha and be fed and watered in style.
4. Their People
This airline’s major asset is its people. They are also their greatest ambassadors. Friendly and helpful, you will see the best Qatari hospitality on display. This is on the ground and in the air.
Perhaps you are short on time between flights or you are on a tight travel schedule but you still want to see a new city. Thanks to the airlines and the good folks at Visit Qatar, you can take one of four tours each day, all designed to coincide with key arrivals. The tour visits four key landmarks including: The Pearl Qatar, Katara Cultural Village, which celebrates arts and heritage; the bustling and fascinating Souq Waqif, for traditional jewellery, spices and handicrafts; and the iconic Museum of Islamic Art.
6. Their Food
I am a fan of Qatar Airways food, even some of their fare served in Economy is pretty good (NOT the hot pockets though), especially the curries and stirfries.
On my recent flights standouts have included a delicious Nobu-approved braised tofu (I know…TOFU), a perfectly cooked veggie lasagne (that managed to be flavorful and not soggy) as well as a challenging yet on point octopus salad. Servings are generous and well executed.
7. Their Routes
Even in the current climate, they still fly to around 150 destinations. This is a mix of the hard core business destinations like Houston and London, though to the leisure locations like Namibia, Zanzibar, Dublin and even Auckland. Whenever I travel the flights are packed with travelers from places like China and Europe taking advantage of the good connections, short-ish transit times and interesting destinations. The route map spans the globe and with them being members of One World you can bulk up your points as well as ensure smooth connections and link-ups.
A bulk of the fleet is less than five years old, giving you confidence as well as a better travel experience. No one wants to be on a plane older than they are (unless you are a toddler!). This includes the massive a380 workhorse and the sexy Airbus a350.
9. Q Suite
Ok so the chances of us flying in this configuration rate up there with Gerald Butler winning an Oscar. But they will revolutionize how we travel when they are launched later this month. The suite has sliding privacy doors and seats which convert into a double bed. With a 1-2-1 layout, all the middle seats which are joined together can potentially become a double bed. You can also configure it so you can dine with a friend or family. We can only dream!
With a competitive season of travel ahead, there really isn’t any reason not to try this airline!