Dubai: Still undecided on which matches to fly out for during the FIFA World Cup? Don’t leave the decision until the last possible minute – because you will end up paying dearly for the flight ticket to Doha.
Airfares have soared to over Dh5,000 a pop on UAE-Doha trips, and could yet rise higher depending on the demand for those match days. In fact, shuttle fares, where the return is booked within 24 hours of departure are cheaper than staying on in Doha for a day or two.
Prices of regular return flights from UAE to Doha are averaging Dh2,900 to Dh5,000 from all destinations in the UAE. This is when a passenger decides to stay in the city for a minimum of two days or more.
On the other hand, return match-day shuttle services on UAE carriers – flydubai, Air Arabia, and Etihad – are averaging Dh1,500 to Dh2,000. Match-day shuttle flights from UAE to Doha average Dh2,527 on a Qatar Airways flight.
Be sure to note that most of these flights are non-refundable, and the return flight must be booked within 24 hours to qualify as a shuttle flight return ticket.
“flydubai charges approximately Dh1,500 for a match-day shuttle, where a flyer has the option to return within 24 hours,” said Raheesh Babu, Chief Operating Officer of Musafir.com. “Those wishing to stay in Doha for 2-3 days would have to pay between Dh2,200 to Dh5,000.” (Tickets for match-day shuttle flights to Doha on flydubai are for Hayya cardholders only.)
Airfares after December 1 cool down to Dh1,300 to Dh1,400 and go up again towards the end of the year.
For most football fans, a return on the same day would make sense as a hotel ‘stay in Dubai (would be lower) and Doha rates are very high’, said Babu. Moreover, the prices do not include check-in baggage. Still, all airlines allow you to take carry-on luggage between 7- to 14 kg.
Flights from other GCC countries
Airlines operating shuttle operations in the GCC are flydubai, Kuwait Airways, Oman Air, and Saudi Airways. “The match-day shuttle flights as the cheaper option are a pan-GCC trend,” said Babu. Economy class airfare from Riyadh to Doha are averaging at Dh 2,430 for travel on November 25 and return two days later, for example.
However, a match-day shuttle flight on the same day is priced at Dh 2,290.
That said, Dubai is the most popular destination for day trips to Qatar during the FIFA World Cup. “It is also the most popular among travellers heading to a follow-up destination after Qatar,” said Anic Priye Singh, head of flights at Cleartip.
“Also, most of these visitors would be making short day trips to Doha to check out the games as bookings from UAE to Qatar during the match period have increased seven times versus past months.”
A breakdown of economy fares to Doha from top destinations in the region
* Dubai to Doha on flydubai
November 25 shuttle fare: Dh1,425
November 25 – 28: Dh6,195 *
* Sharjah to Doha on Air Arabia
November 25 shuttle fare: Dh3,127
November 25 – 28: Dh2,937
* Abu Dhabi to Doha on Etihad Airways
November 25 same-day fare: Dh4,375
November 25-28: Dh6,605
(Qatar Airways flights are also available on this route)
* Saudi Arabia (Riyadh) to Doha on Saudi Airlines
November 25 shuttle fare: Dh2,430
November 25 – 28: Dh1,780
* Kuwait to Doha on Kuwait Airways
November 25 shuttle fare: Dh1,720
November 25 – 28: Dh2,390
* Muscat to Doha on Oman Air
November 25 shuttle fare: Dh1,890
November 25 – 28: Dh2,210
Rates are, of course, subject to change depending on demand.