I have never flown with Qatar Airways before, or even yet since my flight hasn’t actually happened yet, but any company that has me dancing around my kitchen and jumping up and down in excitement must be a good one.
Let me tell you about my dilemma.
I’m climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with 4 other friends and once we finish the climb, they are headed off to Zanzibar for a few days while I am heading back to Naples Italy and work.
Looking at the tickets back the cheapest flights were with Qatar Airways with one stop in Doha Qatar. My perfect flight would arrive in Doha at 1800 and then I would catch a plane to Rome at 0200 arriving at 0600. Booked it on the spot. A couple of days later I needed the information for the flight and when I went and checked, I had made a big error.
Instead of leaving at 0200 that morning, my flight wasn’t scheduled to leave until 1400 the next day. I would be in Doha for 18 hours and would have absolutely nothing to do!
I mean how much would it cost to get a visa to enter the country, a hotel for the night, and the transport to and from the airport to do all that?!
I immediately checked the American Express list of Airport Lounges and nope, no lounges located in Doha.
Trying to call the booking agency I looked up the difference of price in flights between the one leaving at 0200 and 1400. There was no difference, maybe they could just change it for me and that would be that.
Then again, what was I thinking, in what world has there ever been a forgiving airline, even for a small mistake? N.E.V.E.R. When I called the booking agency, they told me it would cost $290.00 just to change the flight, even though it was the same exact price as my other one online.
After scouring the internet for anything that could help my situation, I saw this post from 2006 about a layover service that Qatar airways provides for travelers in transit that have a layover for longer than 8 hours. It was called STPC. This service is specific to Doha Airport.
Apparently they always have rooms blocked out at certain hotels for just this reason, and although its not advertised, all you have to do is call the Qatar help desk and ask for it! They’ll sign you up even if you booked through another booking agency. Although if you are within 3 days of the flight you may or may not be able to get the stop over service, so remember to call in advance if you can.
Which is precisely what I did. Living in Italy, I waited until it was “during working hours” for the U.S. Qatar Airways help desk and I called and asked about this layover service, if it even still existed.
The woman was very pleasant, helped me in answering all my questions, and within 10 minutes I received a confirmation email that included the entry visa, shuttle service to and from the airport, one night at the hotel, and a free dinner voucher for the hotel during my stay! Wow! I was so excited I couldn’t even sit down while I was finishing the conversation. Once getting off the phone I was doing loop de loo’s around the kitchen.
Wbat’s even better news is you don’t even have to worry about picking up all of your luggage and taking it back the next day. You only take your carry on with you, which means you will have to plan ahead a little but that’s just schematics. All of the information for this stopover service is located here on Qatar Airways official website.
Also make sure to check the listing, because if you are flying from any of these airports to Doha, Abu Dhabi (AUH), Bahrain (BAH), Dubai (DWC), Dubai (DXB), Kuwait (KWI), Muscat (MCT), and Sharjah (SHJ), then you are not eligible for the stop over service.
Qatar airways, I haven’t flown with you yet, but I’m excited to! Thanks for all the help!
This article appeared first on Dynamic Soarer.