World Cup travel: what you need to know about Qatar's newly expanded airport

Doha's Hamad International has an indoor orchard with a 250-square-metre water feature, 300 trees and more than 25,000 plants

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This week, football fans from around the world will descend on Doha for the Middle East's first World Cup.

In time for their arrival, Hamad International Airport has unveiled its latest expansion, which includes a massive indoor orchard and a 268-square-metre water feature.

The extension boosts the airport’s passenger capacity by nearly 50 per cent, meaning it's now able to handle 58 million travellers per year.

Here’s everything you need to know if you’re flying to Doha for the Fifa Wold Cup 2022.

Which airlines are flying to Hamad International Airport?

Travellers flying to Doha for the World Cup will be arriving in one of two airports.

Thirteen airlines will use the smaller Doha International Airport, including Etihad Airways, Air Arabia and flydubai. Located about 15 minutes from Doha city centre, the airport is about a 30-minute drive from most of the World Cup stadiums.

All other airlines, including Emirates, British Airways, JetBlue and Qatar Airways, will operate to Hamad International Airport, Doha’s main airport.

Travellers don’t need to worry about which terminal they are flying in or out of as the airport consists of one expansive terminal, divided into different concourses.

How to get from Hamad International Airport to Doha city centre

If you’re driving, there’s plenty of paid parking available at the airport. Car hire is also available in the arrivals hall, however authorities advise visitors to use public transport within central Doha during the tournament.

The metro runs directly from the airport to central Doha. Take the red line and use your digital Hayya Card or app for free travel. Five stops takes you into the city centre, and it's easy to change to other lines if you need to travel elsewhere.

Metered Karwa taxis are available 24 hours a day outside and to the left of the arrivals hall. Payments accepted include cash, card or mobile. Uber and Careem taxis provide on-demand services to and from the airport from their apps, with pick-up points at the short-term car park within walking distance of the arrivals hall.

People arriving at Hamad International Airport and heading to fan villages can board direct shuttle bus services to Barwa Madinatna, Barwa Barahat Al Janoub and to cruise ship hotels at Doha Port. The free, 24-hour services will be in operation until December 22.

How early should I arrive at the airport in Qatar?

Due to high passenger numbers, travellers will only be allowed access to Doha airports within four hours of flight departure times. Passengers arriving between four and eight hours before departures will be directed to specially constructed passenger overflow areas at both Doha International Airport and Hamad International Airport.

Inside, these will have World Cup activities and activations, including football pitches for children and large screens showing all the action. There are also shopping and eating facilities, gaming areas, quiet zones, free Wi-Fi and an outdoor play area.

Luggage can be left in baggage storage areas, but travellers will not be able to check-in here. A shuttle service outside the departures hall will take passengers between here and the passenger overflow area.

What is there to do at the airport in Doha?

Football fans can get into the World Cup spirit at the airport as all the live action will be broadcast from two fan zones. There will also be 22 themed parades and performances taking place across match days.

Sport aside, the highlight of the airport’s new expansion is the Orchard, a 10,000-square-metre indoor tropical garden with more than 300 trees and 25,000 plants sourced from sustainable forests from around the world. A column-free 85-metre grid shell roof made with special glass filters daylight to ensure it is at optimum levels for the 30 different species of trees and more than 90 different species of plants to acclimatise and grow. The Orchard tropical garden also has a 268-square-metre water feature, elevated walkways and recorded bird song.

Elsewhere, there are several public art installations, including the original Untitled (Lamp/Bear), a seven-metre Urs Fischer sculpture of a yellow teddy bear, and Small Lie, a towering figure by Kaws.

For those with time to kill, the recently launched Discover the Art of the Airport walking tour is a free immersive experience where guests can take in all the pieces on display throughout the terminal.

For travellers who simply want to unwind, the BeRelax Spa at concourse C offers massages, manicures, facials and more.

Where to eat at Hamad International Airport

There are more than 30 restaurants, cafes and bars in the passenger terminals serving a variety of international cuisine.

Express options abound with KFC, Burger King, Starbucks, Costa Coffee and more, and there are also favourites such as L’Eto and jones the grocer.

Upscale options include the Emporio Armani restaurant, the world's first Ralph's Cafe from Ralph Lauren and Harrods Tea Room, where David Beckham recently enjoyed afternoon tea.

Harvest Market is an all-day, open-cooking market concept venue serving counter and self-serve options.

Vegan travellers can head to Evergreen Organics and there’s also Yumcha, Negroni, wagamama and the first Oreo cafe themed around the sandwich-style cookies.

Shopping at Qatar airports

Football fans can head to Qatar Duty Free where a Fifa shop, complete with replica players’ dressing rooms, has merchandise from all of the countries competing in the World Cup, as well as plenty of club apparel.

There's also a new adidas pop-up store and a racing simulator driving fans can try out inside a Capi technology store.

Luxury shoppers will be in their element at Hamad International Airport, which is home to some of world’s biggest upscale retail names and boasts some beautifully designed boutiques from Hermes, Fendi and Louis Vuitton — the latter features a towering replica of the maison’s renowned mascot Vivienne looking at the airport’s famed bear sculpture. There’s also Dior, Thom Brown, Burbery, Gucci, Tiffany, Bulgari and more.

The world’s oldest toyshop has a boutique at Hamad International Airport. Hamleys stocks more than 20,000 toys and has a life-size teddy bear on hand to greet children as they enter.

Other fun stores to visit include the Middle East’s only two Harrods Signature stores, the world’s largest in-airport Ray-Ban store and Qatar’s largest Apple store.

Can travellers sleep at Hamad International Airport?

If you need to spend the night at the airport, there are two hotels on site.

The Oryx Airport Hotel in the South Plaza has a swimming pool, squash courts, a spa, gym and a virtual golf simulator.

The recently opened Oryx Garden Hotel offers a place to stay for travellers departing from the North Plaza. It has 100 rooms and suites and guests can also use the leisure facilities at its sister hotel, with a free train service available between the plazas.

Travelling to Doha airport with children

If you’re flying with little ones, there are some facilities designed to make your trip easier. These include free baby strollers available throughout the terminal — you’ll find them at arrival gates and at arrival immigration while departing passengers will be able to pick them up just after departures immigration.

Hamad International Airport also has five activity centres designed specifically for families. Each has televisions, Mac stations, interactive art sculptures that children can climb on and quiet rooms for when youngsters need some time out. They’re free to use and you'll find one each in Concourse A and B and three in Concourse C.

Parents' rooms are available throughout the airport and have nappy changing stations and milk warming facilities. There are also family toilets designed to make it easier for parents travelling with older children of the opposite gender.

If children are travelling as unaccompanied minors, they will wait in a lounge that’s only for minors. Stocked with snacks, juices, toys, puzzles and more, the lounge has child-friendly washrooms and amenities, as well as specially trained attendants to supervise.

Scroll through the gallery below to see World Cup fans arriving in Doha for the tournament

Updated: November 15, 2022, 7:56 AM