As you have most likely heard already, several countries – including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt – have cut their diplomatic ties with Qatar. I won’t go into the details of the political situation here, but rather just jump into it’s effect on travellers – especially those booked on Qatar Airways.
Below, you will find which flights are affected and in what way, as well as each of the potential scenarios you might find yourself in if you have a flight to Qatar in your calendar.
Which Flights Are Directly Affected?
The four countries – Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt – banned all flights to and from Qatar. As of the time of writing this article (June 6, 2017), there are no more flights operating between the four countries and Qatar.
As such, if you are booked on a flight between any of those four countries and Doha in the near future, contact your airline immediately to either get a refund or see what alternate travel plans they will be able to offer you.
Qatar Airways has more daily avg flights to the countries severing ties than those countries have to State of Qatar pic.twitter.com/W8AYauyPuV
— Will Horton (@winglets747) June 5, 2017
How About Other Qatar Airways Flights?
Luckily for the rest of Qatar Airways’ passengers, their travel will not be disrupted in a serious way in the short term. The only inconvenience is that because Qatar Airways aircraft cannot use the airspaces of the four countries mentioned above, some of its flights have to take a slightly longer route.
As such, you do not have to expect too significant delays because of the situation. At most, you can expect extra 30 to 90 minutes of flight time depending on your destination. Like the Doha to Nairobi flight pictured below which was 30 minutes longer today than in the past when it flew over Saudi Arabia.
Are the Flights to Maldives Affected?
The one route that stands out is the Doha to Maldives flight given that Maldives severed their ties with Qatar as well. At the moment, however, it seems like Maldives are not restricting Qatar Airways’ access to their airspace. Given that considerable amount of tourists fly to Maldives via Doha (there are two daily flights), I don’t expect these flights to be affected going forwards either.
So, What Should I Do If I Am Scheduled to Travel to or via Qatar?
Below is some quick advice about what you should do in all of the potential scenarios that can arise from this situation.
Case 1 Booked on Qatar Airways Flights Between Unaffected Countries via Doha
This is the most likely scenario, and luckily, as mentioned above – there is no need to worry at this point. Your flight will operate normally, except for a slightly longer flight time for some destinations.
If your flight is further ahead in the future, there is no need for immediate action either. You will likely be alright. Just keep checking on the situation from time to time.
Case 2 Booked on Qatar Airways Flights Between an Unaffected Country and an Affected Country via Doha
In this case, you have two options – either get rerouted to another destination in the vicinity of your original one or get a full refund.
Given that you likely need to be at the original destination, getting a full refund and buying a new ticket on a different airline is likely going to be the best option for you.
Similar thinking applies in the reverse as well.
Case 3 Booked on a Non-Stop Flight Between Qatar and One of the Affected Countries
This is the most “serious” situation. In that case, contact your airline – depending on the airline to get your refund if you haven’t done so yet. Depending on the airline, you might also be offered a flight to alternative destination.
Unless you are a Qatari, you can still book a new flight from Doha to your original destination through a third, unaffected, country (Kuwait, Jordan, and so on).
Case 4 Booked on a Connecting Flight Between Qatar and One of the Affected Countries
In this case, unless you happen to be transferring in one of the affected countries (e.g. Doha – Dubai – Riyadh), you should not have any issues.
In case you happen to transfer in one of the affected countries, see the section above.
As you can see from the above, most of the travellers using Qatar Airways will not be affected (or will only experience slightly longer flight times) by the current situation.
However, travellers booked on direct flights between the affected countries and Qatar will have to get a new ticket with a connection in one of the unaffected countries. That said, they should still be able to get to their original destination – albeit with a bit of a hassle (and perhaps at a slightly higher cost).
The situation is still evolving, and so the above might change at any moment. As such, I will do my best to keep this post updated in case there are major changes in the policies that are currently in place.