Qatar Airways offers a complimentary Doha City Tour for Qatar Airways passengers on a long layover. There are four daily tours and they each last around three hours, and a maximum of 22 passengers can be accommodated on each tour.

The Doha City Tour includes important landmarks and sights such as The Pearl-Qatar, Katara Cultural Village, Museum of Islamic Art, and Souq Waqif. Complimentary visas are issued for eligible passengers on the tour, for entry into Qatar. It is important to note that the tour cannot be pre-booked and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. A complimentary bottle of water is provided to all guests.

There however is one important detail the Qatar Airways website forgets to mention: Qatar Airways must have issued your ticket.

This tiny, omitted detail made my 10+ hour layover in Doha a bit stressful.. Basically, I had booked a flight from Dubai to Doha in the early afternoon and then a flight past midnight from Doha to Abu Dhabi (then continuing to London on Etihad). This was a first class award ticket issued by American Airlines.

I arrived in Qatar only to find out I wouldn’t be accepted for the Doha City Tour because “the money didn’t go to Qatar Airways“. First of all, the lady at the tour desk was so incompetent that she firstly told me that I wasn’t travelling with Qatar Airways (after I handed her my Qatar Airways boarding pass with a QR XXXX flight number). I looked at her blankly as if she had gone mad and pointed to the QR indication on the boarding pass. She kept on saying that I’m not flying with Qatar Airways and I can’t go on the tour…

Ok, so at that point I was literally speechless and didn’t really know how to argue further.. until the passenger behind me had the same issue! I waited to see how it would be handled and she pointed to the ticket number on the Qatar Airways boarding pass and told him “Qatar doesn’t get money, only Qatar flight“. She was referring to the fact that Qatar Airways must issue the ticket. I mean.. couldn’t she just say that?!

Now, obviously, American Airlines reimburses Qatar Airways for award travel and what she was saying isn’t totally true, but she should have rather said that the flights must have been booked through Qatar Airways and not a partner airline.

Al Safwa First Lounge

Al Safwa First Lounge

I headed to the Al Safwa First Lounge and asked the agents if this was true and they didn’t even have any information on the free tour.. and Qatar Airways’ twitter couldn’t even confirm that I wasn’t eligible.. It is times like this where I want to slap someone for the lack of information listed on the website and the poor communication at the airport.

Look, I get it, Qatar Airways wants to provide free tours to passengers they’ve ticketed.. and that makes sense.. I just wish they mentioned this on the website (and had competent agents).. My 10+ hour layover didn’t totally suck since I spent it at the Al Safwa First Lounge.. but still, I could have easily taken a later flight out of Dubai and spent more time on the beach…