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Turkish Airlines fly to more countries than any other airline. Most of their flights connect through the recently opened Istanbul (IST) airport. They are a great full service option to fly from England to Qatar at a reasonable price. To inform Qatar Quick readers and to save money myself in the process, I decided to check them out.

In this post I will review my first experience of Turkish Airlines from Birmingham, England to Doha, Qatar. So, how was it? Read on to find out…..

Turkish Airlines plane in air
Turkish Airlines Plane – Photo from TravelCodex.com

In this article, I will review my first experience of Turkish Airlines from Birmingham, England to Doha, Qatar. So, how was my experience? Read on to find out…..

Turkish Airlines Air Fare

Getting to Qatar can be a costly experience, but I booked an extremely competitively priced return ticket from Birmingham, England (BHX) to Doha, Qatar (DOH) for just £332.29. Admittedly this may have been cheaper than usual as I was travelling mid March as the Covid 19 virus was reaching the Middle East and Europe. More about this later.

The Covid 19 Impact

As the Covid 19 virus spread across the world, Turkish Airlines announced that passengers who had booked flights within a certain time frame could enjoy changes to their tickets free of charge. As a result of this, I took advantage and found the entire process very simple. I contacted their call centre who explained my options and rebooked my flights without fuss. This policy is in place until the end 2020. Great start!

On the day before my flight, I checked in online finding this process simple. Upon arrival at Birmingham airport I proceeded to the fast bag drop counter and checked in my bags. Turkish Airlines offer a very generous 30kg on their economy flights to Doha – learn all about their baggage policies here.

On Board With Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines operate a zonal boarding process and I boarded from the rear of the plane. Subsequently this worked well and I received a friendly welcome from the hostess.

The flight was a busy one. Once seated I found the leg room ample (however I am only 1.70m tall) Turkish Airlines seat pitch is between 29-33 inches depending on the type of aircraft.

Turkish Airlines Economy Class seats
Turkish Airlines Economy Seating – Beyzanur K

As a consequence of the covid 19 virus ALL passengers were asked to fill in a document stating their seat number and contact details which would be used for contact tracing if necessary.

A tasty brunch was provided and drinks – both non alcoholic and alcoholic were available. Moreover, the flight entertainment system offered a choice of films, tv shows, music and games and the Turkish Airlines crew distributed individually wrapped disposable earphones.

The 3.5 hour flight was soon over and we landed early into Istanbul (IST). I was keen to get off and stretch my legs. I soon realised this would be easy due to the size of the airport. It was HUGE!

Transiting at Istanbul Airport

Having shown my onward boarding pass to Doha, I passed through security which completed the transfer process. Very easy.

In the airport terminal there are loads of TV screens detailing departure gates and clear signage directing you.

I had 3 hours to look around so went to the central area of the terminal. There I found everything. It is hard to explain the size of this new airport. The space is so vast it took around 20 minutes walking through the shopping area. Please note there are limited travellators and no connecting trains. However there is a buggy service for passengers in need.

I felt like I was in a mall. All kinds of shops and restaurants including competitively priced duty free were available. There was a cosy looking bar if you fancied a beer and various restaurants and coffee shops too. All great for passing the time people watching.

Istanbul Airport Duty Free
Duty Free Shopping at Istanbul Airport – Photo by Hurriyet Daily News

Also available is an airport hotel, a sleep pod (€6/9 per hour depending on time of day) prayer rooms, ATMs, several paid lounges, lost and found and an airport assist centre. They even have two exhibition areas displaying photos and the history of the airport. You will not definitely not get bored!  

A top tip is to leave plenty of time to get to your gate for your onward flight to Doha. It took me 30 minutes and I was alone walking reasonably quickly.

Unfortunately the boarding gate was a bit too small for the amount of passengers but you can sit opposite the gate and enter last minute.

Istanbul to Doha

Once onboard, this Turkish Airlines plane was newer and as it was now evening, pillows and blankets were available. The crew were relatively accommodating but it did feel as though you had to ask for something rather than be offered it. Service onboard went relatively smoothly but was continually interrupted by frequent turbulence. Again non alcoholic and alcoholic drinks were available and many passengers enjoyed a glass of wine or a beer. Their food offering was excellent with ample choice.

The flight entertainment system was much the same as the earlier flight and thankfully touch down at Hamad International Airport was smooth. Exiting the plane was relatively speedy and after connecting to the free wi-fi I headed to arrivals and immigration.

All in all my virgin experience of Turkish Airlines was excellent. If you want to visit Qatar and enjoy the sights, experience and culture as well as save money then I would not hesitate to recommend them.

Most visitors arriving at Hamad International Airport will just want to jump into a taxi and quickly get to where they are going. But if you are not too tired, can easily handle your luggage and have a little more time on your hands. You can elect to take a bus for a fraction of the cost. Getting around Qatar can be very affordable using the Karwa bus service.

Bus tickets cost between QAR 2.50 and QAR 7.00 but can only be paid for by cash (local cash). Single journey tickets can be bought on the bus.

You can also buy Smart Cards at a machine located in the Bus Terminal at Hamad International Airport. The machine accepts local currency or a credit card.

KARWA SMART CARD

Public transport smart cards are needed to ride Karwa public bus. Top-up amount in multiples of Qr.10. Buy and top-up Karwa smart card at ticket vending machines at Hamad International Airport, Doha Bus Station, The Pearl Qatar and Qatar Mall, also partner merchants.

Three types of Karwa smart card:

  • Classic Card, (Cost: QR.30): Rechargeable card for long term.
  • Limited Card, 24hr (Cost: QR.10): Good for two journeys within 24-hrs of purchase.
  • Unlimited Card, 24hr (Cost: QR.20): Good for unlimited journeys within 24-hrs of purchase.
Sample Exchange Rates0.210.270.2414.44
QRGBPUSDEURPHP
Limited Card, 24hr102.082.752.41144
Unlimited Card, 24hr204.165.494.82289
Information on Karwa Bus Smart Card Machine

For more information and to check the information being given in this article is still up to date and correct, please go to www.mowasalat.com or call Qatar (+974) 443 66 053

Routes and time

Public Bus Routes from Hamad International Airport
Bus No. 777
Bus No. 777 runs from 5am until 11pm every day
Bus No. 109 runs from 4:33am until 10:50pm every day
Bus No. 737
Bus No. 737 operates 24hrs a day
Bus No. 727
Bus No. 727 runs from 4:10am until 10:10pm
Bus No. 747
Bus No. 747 runs from 4:50am until 11:50pm
DOH Airport Bus Terminal
DOH Airport Bus Terminal

It’s easy to get FREE WiFi on Arrival at DOH

When you arrive in HIA (Hamad International Airport) Qatar or DOH as it will appear on your ticket, you can get access to the airports free WiFi. After disembarking from your aircraft simply turn on your phone and connect to #HIAQatar Complimentary

Select #HIAQatar Complimentary from available Wi-Fi to sign into the FREE HIA Wi-Fi
Select #HIAQatar Complimentary from available Wi-Fi

After connecting to #HIAQatar Complimentary you should see the screen below.

Connect using your Qatar Airways QR Booking Code found on your ticket or by receiving a code via SMS

There are two ways to get free internet at HIA, if you flew with Qatar Airways you should select [Connect using QR booking]. You will find your QR booking code on your ticket. If you arrived with any other airline you need to select [Connect using SMS]. If you select [Connect using SMS] you will need to enter the phone number of your mobile.

Select the country your SIM is registered in and enter your mobile phone number
Select the country your SIM is registered in and enter your mobile phone number

WARNING: The only disadvantage of using the [Connect using SMS] option is that you must have roaming enabled on your phone to receive the SMS Access Code if you are not using a Qatari SIM. If you are enabling roaming on your phone you may want to ensure that data roaming is turned off to avoid incurring expensive data roaming charges. Make sure you turn off data roaming before turning off your phone during takeoff.

Once you receive your Wi-Fi Access code, you simply enter it and your free WiFi will begin. Then you can turn off all roaming on your phone if you need to.

Enter the code sent to you via SMS
Enter the code sent to you via SMS

Now you can use the free WiFi to chat with whoever is meeting you on the other side in arrivals, and let everyone back home know you have arrived safely.

Free Visa on Arrival for 81 Countries

Passport holders of 81 countries can get a free visa on arrival in Qatar. They do not need to do anything in advance. No forms to fill in, no paperwork, no online applications. Everything is done quickly and efficiently at passport control in Hamad International Airport (DOH). Some countries get visas for 30 days stay in Qatar, extendable by a further 30 days. And some are entitled to 90 days, but that cannot be extended.

If you are not a passport holder in one of the countries listed below, then you will need to visit the Visas in advance section of Qatar’s Ministry of Interior website.

Country Days
1 Andorra 30
2 Argentina 30
3 Australia 30
4 Austria 90
5 Azerbaijan 30
6 Bahamas 90
7 Belarus 30
8 Belgium 90
9 Bolivia 30
10 Brazil 30
11 Brunei 30
12 Bulgaria 90
13 Canada 30
14 Chile 30
15 China 30
16 Colombia 30
17 Costa Rica 30
18 Croatia 90
19 Cuba 30
20 Cyprus 90
21 Czech 90
22 Denmark 90
23 Ecuador 30
24 Estonia 90
25 Finland 90
26 France 90
27 Georgia 30
28 Germany 90
29 Greece 90
30 Guyana 30
31 Hong Kong 30
32 Hungary 90
33 Iceland 90
34 India 30
35 Indonesia 30
36 Ireland 30
37 Italy 90
38 Japan 30
39 Kazakhstan 30
40 Latvia 90
41 Lebanon 30
42 Liechtenstein 90
43 Lithuania 90
44 Luxembourg 90
45 Macedonia 30
46 Malaysia 90
47 Malta 90
48 Mexico 30
49 Moldova 30
50 Monaco 30
51 Netherlands 90
52 New Zealand 30
53 Norway 90
54 Pakistan 30
55 Panama 30
56 Paraguay 30
57 Peru 30
58 Poland 90
59 Portugal 90
60 Romania 90
61 Russia 30
62 San Marino 30
63 Seychelles 90
64 Singapore 30
65 Slovakia 90
66 Slovenia 90
67 South Africa 30
68 South Korea 30
69 Spain 90
70 Suriname 30
71 Sweden 90
72 Switzerland 90
73 Thailand 30
74 The Maldives 30
75 Turkey 90
76 Ukraine 30
77 United Kingdom 30
78 United States of America 30
79 Uruguay 30
80 Vatican City 30
81 Venezuela 30

You can easily buy a new ooredoo or Vodafone SIM on arrival at Doha International Airport

Once you have made it through customs it may be a good idea to buy a local SIM for use during your stay in Qatar. Qatar enjoys absolutely excellent mobile coms, with fast and reliable mobile data. You will need your passport for ID when buying a SIM in Qatar, and they will take a copy of your passport and register it against your SIM.

There are two mobile networks operating in Qatar; Vodafone and ooredoo. Both charge QR 35

to buy a new SIM. And both have very similar pricing for data and calls. It would take a great deal of comparison to try and decide which one to go for on price alone. And I would not want to be sued by either of them by saying one had a better network than the other. So the choice is yours. But ask them both about their Fexi plans because I believe they represent the best value for visitors.

As you step out of the automatic sliding doors that separate customs from land side arrivals you need to turn left if you want a Vodafone SIM, or right if you want an ooredoo SIM.

Vodafone Qatar

For Vodafone once you have walked out of customs into arrivals. Turn to your left and walk to the end of the building (it’s not very far honestly). You will see the new Vodafone Sales Kiosk at the end of the building. This is where you can buy your Vodafone SIM and loads.

An image of the Vodafone sales kiosk within arrivals at Hamad International Airport
The Vodafone Sales Kiosk within arrival at Hamad International Airport, Qatar

If you walk out of customs and turn right, you need to walk to the end of the building (follow signs for buses) and you will see a big ooredoo stand by the escalators.

Take you new SIM, pop it into your phone and you are good to go.