Airport check: Qatar Premium Terminal

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BACKGROUND

This dedicated terminal for Qatar’s First and Business Class passengers was built at a cost of almost USD 100m and opened in November 2006. Last year the seating capacity in the Business Class section was increased by 80%.

CHECK-IN

This is really the way to travel. It eliminates the stresses and all the unpleasant ‘things’ about airports. On arrival at the dedicated First and Business Class entrance, you are met by a concierge who arranges bellboys to carry your luggage to the check-in counter. He then escorts passengers to the counters where you sit down while they print your boarding pass. The staff is clearly well trained and wear their uniforms with pride.

BEFORE THE FLIGHT

The terminal has its own duty free shopping area, where you can spend the last of your Qatari riyals on perfume, chocolates, cigarettes, etc. It is obviously a lot smaller than what you would find in larger airports. You could also skip the shopping and head straight to the business class lounge which serves a wide selection of snacks, but also has Internet connectivity and laptop plug points. I saw two desktop computers in the lounge but, as you can imagine, these were occupied. There are also plug points in the dining area, I’m assuming for people who want to eat while they work or work while they eat, because passengers aren’t allowed to carry the food out of the dining area into the other parts of the lounge. As previously mentioned, the capacity of this lounge, which is positioned right next to the smaller first class lounge, has been increased quite substantially so it is fairly busy, but there seems to be enough room for everyone. There are no foreign exchange outlets in the terminal, which is not ideal and could leave you with no other option but to buy chocolates, perfume, etc., but there is an ATM.

BUSINESS FACILITIES

The Premium Terminal offers conferencing and meeting facilities in its business centre which is open to both First and Business Class passengers. The business centre also offers computers and work desks which are a quieter alternative to the business class lounge itself.

BOARDING

When it was time to board, my group was notified by a friendly airline staff member and escorted to the boarding gate. Boarding was smooth and seamless, and we were taken to the aircraft in a luxury bus.

VERDICT

If all airlines offered this kind of service at all airports, more business travellers would see travelling as a luxury. You can’t fault Qatar Airways on its staff who exceed all expectations to ensure that their business class passengers are well taken care of. The dedicated terminal is a fantastic idea and travelling through it put me at ease before the long flight. It really makes a difference, and it is a pity that the structure will only be used for a few more years before it is re-created at the new Doha International Airport. The airline has promised to offer an improved service and experience at the new airport, though.