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If you go to the Dubai Airport (DXB) website at the moment, and ask it about checkin times, it has a popup that warns that at this time of year, you should allow 3 hours for checkin and departure from Terminal 1. For a 6.30am flight, that doesn't sound much fun, and I'm wondering if it really applies.

If I head to the Qatar Airways airports and checkin page, it says that:

Check-in typically opens 3 hours prior to departure and closes one hour before departure

Then suggests I might want to ring their local office to check the exact times for each airport. Unlike most other airlines, they don't seem to post exceptions to their normal checkin times on their websites, which is pesky.

I'll be flying from Dubai (DXB) to Doha (DOH) with Qatar Airways, which I think makes things a little different. As explained in this press article from a few months ago, and slightly less clearly on this Qatar Airways page, their DXB-DOH and DWC-DOH services are now running on a semi-flexible air-shuttle basis. The Qatar Airways page makes no mention of checkin times, but this press article and this one (and several others) all mention (presumably cribbed from the same press release):

Return flights from Dubai to Doha also require check in of a minimum of one hour before the scheduled departure time for all passengers, including those with only hand baggage.

So, when's the latest I can turn up at Dubai (DXB) terminal 1 to checkin for a Qatar flight from Dubai to Doha, and have a good chance of both being allowed to checkin and also make my flight? Is it 1 hour before as the press releases mention? Or a bit longer? Or a full 3 hours, as the airport website currently warns?

  • Given the shuttle status, I'm wondering if they have some sort of fast-track / escort thing in place to ensure it's not a 3 hour queue, The qatar 1 hour thing is a vague thing not confirmed for all airports, if I could see that confirmed on their website I'd be happy, without that I'm worried I'll miss the DOH flight and hence my onward connection... – Gagravarr Aug 10 '15 at 20:20
  • But a big deal if the next one then misses your onward connection from Doha! – Gagravarr Aug 10 '15 at 20:24
  • Have you ever tried emailing one of the ME3? Their on-board service is brilliant, but otherwise they're notoriously terrible at contact / offline customer services / etc... There's probably one rant a week about their customer service / lack of responses / unclear or incorrect responses on Loyalty Lobby, and many a day on FlyerTalk :( – Gagravarr Aug 10 '15 at 20:33
  • I always love these questions where people try to play russian roulette with the timings; I guess for a short flight like this it won't have too much of an impact if you miss the flight (as there probably another shuttle you can catch), but I've seen similar questions for long-haul flights. Also, why risk it? – Burhan Khalid Aug 11 '15 at 5:37
  • @BurhanKhalid Once I know when they officially close checkin, I can decide my chosen sleep/stress ratio and pick my arrival time. Until I know if it's 1 hour, 90 minutes, 3 hours, whatever, I can't! – Gagravarr Aug 11 '15 at 8:21
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  • Airport is huge, a lot of passengers show up late for the check-in.
  • Airport has a huge duty free, they need you to come early to shop.
  • GCC freedom of movement is only for GCC nationals, it is a domestic flight for GCC nationals but international flight for the others, causing the whole flight be to treated as international
  • Locals in the area do not travel light. We love luggage, lots of them. Almost all the airports in the area say "allow 3 hours" because of that.
  • A lot of holidays in the area (2 eids, haj, ramadan, summer, etc.) making almost all the year high season except for 3-4 months.

For the check-in counter, it closes 1 hour before the flight (no more checked-in luggage), online check in closes 1h30 before the departure. Gates close 20-30 minutes. This is not constant and can change depending on the type of the airplane and other factors.

Showing up early is always safer for airlines, saves them a lot of headache. If you are travelling light (no checked-in luggage) and know your way around, one hour is definitely enough.

  • All handy information, but doesn't quite answer the question of officially when Qatar close checkin... – Gagravarr Aug 11 '15 at 8:19
  • @Gagravarr There is no specific time in general that's why you do not find it in their website. The type of the aircraft, the airport and a other factors control that. But usually 1 hour the check-in closes, and around 30-20 minutes for the gate to close. – Nean Der Thal Aug 11 '15 at 8:32
  • The airlines I work for has a ground services arm, which serves Qatar airways in the country I live at currently, So times might be a bit different (a few minutes more or less) but this is the rule of thumb for Qatar. – Nean Der Thal Aug 11 '15 at 8:36
  • AA have a big page listing their default timings and any exceptions to it for certain airports. BA list it for a few airports, for the rest they give it in "Manage My Booking". All seem to have a fixed time for a given airport. Just trying to find the Qatar one for my flight! – Gagravarr Aug 11 '15 at 8:50
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Its the busy summer travel season. Do not gamble with the timings. This is why there is an extra notice at the DXB website.

Note that Qatar Airways is using Terminal 1 - which is used by everyone other than Qantas, Emirates or Flydubai.

If you are traveling Business, you may be allowed a late checkin, but you will still have to go through immigration and security (where the priority queue is only for nationals and diplomats), and then security (no priority queue at all) and then make it to your flight.

If have no check in baggage, you can also skip a few minutes (in the check-in line), but then you still have to deal with immigration and security.

In the time frame you are traveling (0600 - 0700) there are 11 flights departing from Terminal 1.

I would not risk less than 2 hours before the flight; keeping in mind the gate closes 30 minutes before flight time.

From Official FAQ:

The check-in counter closes 1 hour prior to departure. This may vary depending on your airport of departure. Please contact your departure airport or your local Qatar Airways office if you require additional information.

Further:

It is recommended that you check-in two to three hours before departure. Some airports could have different check-in times. Please contact your departure airport or your local Qatar Airways office for more information.

Further, Qantas provides the following helpful information:

You must clear Immigration at least 40 minutes before your flight departs to be allowed through the Security screening point. It takes up to approximately 20 minutes to proceed from Security screening to your aircraft departure gate

I would like to add that they are talking about Terminal 3, but the above is a good guideline.

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I emailed Qatar, who replied saying "please ring our Dubai office and ask them, we don't know". Brilliant! Rang the Qatar Dubai office, and they said that their checkin at DXB opens 3 hours before, closes 1 hour before. However, they also said they normally start boarding 45 minutes before, and stop dead on 20 minutes before

On a Sunday morning around 5am, it took me about 30 minutes to get from the entrance to Terminal 1 to the D concourse departures area, including checkin, bag drop, exit immigration, security, and the shuttle train to the D area. (It previously took 20 minutes at a similar time at T1 before Qatar switched to the D concourse)

Turning up pretty much dead-on the 1 hour mark could work, if you didn't mind boarding last, and you potentially ran some of the way if you hit any holdups! Not for the feint of heart though....

  • 1
    You can't be accepted for checkin, because the counter will be occupied by another airline (counters are rented out, and not exclusive to Qatar). It would be different if you were on Emirates and at Terminal 3 since all counters are exclusively for Emirates (and Qantas) - you might have a chance then. – Burhan Khalid Aug 16 '15 at 4:58

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