Our Globetrotters are reviewing 30 of the world’s leading international airlines for their family-friendliness. Our reviews cover the airline’s policies and service offerings that the average family will deal with when flying standard economy class. For more details on the Globetrotters reviews and ratings referenced, please see the lead article.
The second review in our series looks at the Skytrax 2016 Passengers Choice Awards runner-up Qatar Airways (and winner in 2015!). A relatively new kid on the block but leading the way among a number of Middle East airlines.
Base: Doha, Qatar
Skytrax Rating 2016: 2
JACDEC Safety Rating 2017: 4
Qatar Pregnancy Policy
Expectant mothers with an uncomplicated pregnancy can travel without a doctor’s certificate up to the 28th week of pregnancy, but they do suggest you should get one anyway to prevent any delays at the airport.
A multiple pregnancy beyond the 29th week and up to the 32nd week requires a MEDIF form to be completed and a doctor’s certificate, they will not take mothers with multiple pregnancies beyond the 33rd week.
For a single uncomplicated pregnancy, a doctor’s certificate is required between the 29th and 32nd week, and additionally a MEDIF form from the 33rd to 35th week, boarding will not be allowed beyond the 36th week.
MEDIF forms must be completed between 2 to 7 days prior to the flight. They suggest expectant mothers should request the bassinet / aisle seat or a seat with a leg rest.
Passengers are only accepted from 8 days post delivery.
Infants (under 2 years)
Infants (8 days to 2 years) sitting on parents laps will pay 20% of the adult fare.
Only one infant is allowed per adult lap. One additional infant under 2 but over 12 months may sit in a car seat on a child’s ticket. A third infant without another adult would require an escort service to be booked (see below).
Qatar Baby Bassinets
Bassinets are available; they should be booked at the point of payment. Dimensions given for their bassinets are up to 14kg (30.8lbs) 76.8cm x 29.8cm x 15.8cm. Infant care packs are provided as well as soft toys.
Children (2-11 years)
Their children’s tickets vary widely by route but expect to pay c80% of the adult ticket price.
On board, you will find the Oryx Entertainment system one of the world’s best for quantity and quality of movies, music and games. They have a dedicated kids section that’s easy to navigate and contained content appropriate for all age groups.
When we last flew with Qatar Airways (October 2015) we were really disappointed that our children received no free little gifts as you’d usually expect. They were upgrading their kids packs at the time and offered no replacement. Since then they, they have a brand new range of exciting kids products, including two different types of kids packs, as well as the return of their special kids meals in colourful, reusable lunch box containers.
Our friends at Wyld Family Travel recently did the ultra long haul trek Australia to Europe and wrote this review on the new kids packs:
The kid’s packs on Qatar consisted of two different types. There was a Monopoly pack and a Game of Life pack to keep the kids entertained. Both the girls loved these and they got well used.
The Monopoly pack contained
- activity Book – word puzzle, dot to dot, memory game, odd one out and much more
- dry eraser pencils
- sticker money
- grey lead pencil with a rubber
The Game of Life pack contained
- Sticker boards game
- Spinning wheel for game of life
- Activity book – word games, puzzles, math games, etch-a-sketch pad
You can read more from the Wyld’s about their experience flying with older children on Qatar Airways here.
Children between 5 and 15 are permitted to travel as unaccompanied minors and will be cared for throughout the journey by cabin crew. Qatar also offers an escort service where you pay for a member of staff to travel the entire journey with your child. Bookings for this service must be made at least 72 hours prior to departure; you will incur a full adult return fare for the escort in addition to the child’s ticket.
Checked luggage varies by route, but generally, on flights from Doha to the Americas, infants can take one piece up to 23kg, children and adults 2 pieces of 23kg each. On all other routes it is a 10kg limit for infants and one piece of 23kg for children and adults. (Note if your journey is continuous to/from the Americas you get the weight allowance for the whole flight including connections).
In addition for each infant you can bring one stroller, carrycot or pushchair without additional charge. Hand luggage with a maximum weight of 10kg is also allowed.
Frequent Flyer Programs
Anyone from 2 years old can join the Privilege Club to earn Qmiles. An adult can be nominated as the main family member and Qmiles can be pooled for up to 9 family members. They are also part of the Oneworld alliance.
The Globetrotters View of Qatar Airways
We undertook our Florida adventure in March 2015 with Qatar Airways and I must say, I was impressed. From the customer service through to the kids meals, comfort on board and transferring through Hamad International Airport in Doha, I can see why they are considered a 5-star airline. (You can read more about our epic ultra-long-haul experience with 3 under 5 here!!)
Based on this experience, we booked with them again to fly Abu Dhabi to Cape Town via Doha in October 2015. Many of the positives from our first experience were lost, largely for the fact that we received extremely varying levels of customer service – including having our family group split and placed on Stand By – yes on a full fare pre-booked ticket.
See more about our most recent Qatar experience here.
The Middle East airlines are all competing for customers but Qatar seems to be coming up trumps on price every time of late when flying ex-Abu Dhabi. The irony is due to pricing structures our friends that live in Doha fly Etihad as the pricing seems to work in reverse ex-Doha.
Their luggage allowances on the ultra long-haul Americas routes are also one of the most generous I have seen.
UPDATE JUNE 2017: Note that due to diplomatic issues, flights from the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Egypt cannot connect in Qatar until further notice. Other routes to and from Doha International may be subject to delays due to airspace restrictions
Assisted Arrivals at Doha
Have you considered assisted arrival and departure service? See how it works with this review of Al Maha Doha Meet & Greet by Wandermust Family.
Doing a Doha stopover?
Check out these day trip options
Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is informational only, gathered from public sources and correct at the time of going to print (May 2015). Please consult the airline’s own website before booking any family travel with this airline. This review is not an endorsement of Qatar Airways services and I am in no way affiliated with the airline.
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Have you flown pregnant or with infants/children on Qatar Airways? Do you have a review or advice to share with travelling families? Email [email protected]
Before you go! Want more advice on planning your flights or how to tackle flights with more than one child?
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