Photo: Julie Zeveloff/Business Insider
For most travellers, a seven-hour layover between connecting flights sounds like a nightmare. But for Qatar Airways’ first- and business-class passengers at Doha International Airport, the experience is downright cushy.I recently spent that long at the airline’s Premium Terminal on the way to Tanzania, and between the snacks, massage chairs, and duty-free shopping, the time passed quickly.
The 10,000-square-foot terminal is completely separate from the rest of the airport, and feels more like a bustling hotel lobby than an airport waiting room. The two-story structure, which cost nearly $100 million to build, was completed in 2006.
Click here to tour this awesome terminal >
Disclosure: Our trip to Tanzania, including travel and lodging expenses, was sponsored by the Tanzania Tourist Board, Africa Adventure Company, Singita Grumeti Group, Coastal Aviation, Qatar Airways, Tanzania National Parks, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, and Wildlife Division.
Passengers arriving at Doha International hop on a shuttle bus to their arrival terminal. To get into Qatar Airways' first- and business-class lounge, they need to have a special purple ticket.
After passing through a security checkpoint, we were ushered into a massive duty-free store. There were tons of electronics, cosmetics, booze, and jewelry for sale, and browsing there was a good way to kill time.
At the top, two Qatar Airways attendants checked tickets and directed passengers to either the business-class or first-class lounge.
Have questions about your connecting flight? Stop by the concierge desk, which looked like it belonged in a city hotel and not an airport.
On the left side of the water fountain was the first-class lounge. I couldn't get inside with my ticket, but it looked like a smaller and quieter version of the business-class section.
The room, decorated in soothing tans and reds and accented with Middle Eastern touches, had several separate dining and lounging areas.
There were also a ton of salads, mostly with Middle Eastern or Asian influences. Chefs and kitchen staff constantly replenished the dishes, making sure none were empty or sat for too long.
On the other side of the room was the continental hot buffet, featuring a beef stew and seafood curry.
When I sat down to eat, a waitress came over and took my drink order. Instead of plastic and paper, I ate off a ceramic plate with real silverware, and used a linen napkin.
Some were pretty fancy. There wasn't a whole lot to do in the terminal other than eat and relax, so it was nice to have some variety.
There were even little bags of dried fruit and nuts to take on the plane, even though there would be tons more food once we boarded our flights.
Outside the first-class and business-class lounges, there were several areas around the lobby that anyone could use.
There was even a playroom equipped with Sony PlayStations. Not a bad place to hang out if you're a kid.
There was an executive boardroom as well, for business meetings on the go. It had views of the runways.
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